Friday, 19 December 2014

In the Media




The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the story has been chosen by Hanna Heiskanen.


The case for an independent London

The debate around devolution in the UK did not end with Scotland voting for staying in the union earlier this autumn. In his article for the Financial Times (“London should break free from Little England”), associate editor Philip Stephens argues that London should acquire independence from the rest of the country and become a mini-state of its own – if one can call a state with an economy about the size of Sweden and with nearly three times as many inhabitants as in Finland small.

Friday, 12 December 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories are from the British Library’s “Digital Conversations: Cultural Heritage Institutions and Videogame Technologies” panel held on the 8th of December and have been chosen by the Institute’s Maria Pirkkalainen.


Minecrafting the British Museum

Putting together the world famous game Minecraft and the even more legendary British Museum might not sound like the most logical pair at first glance. However, like Nick Harris from the British Museum’s Museum of the future project pointed out at the Digital Conversations panel discussion, the mix of these two has proved out to be very fruitful to both parties.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

“Jobs for the Boys” - addressing men’s wellbeing



Head of Society Programme Antti Halonen blogs about the Institute’s new education project.


After co-organising the highly successful Oppi learning festival earlier this year and a  precedent series of education seminars, the Finnish Institute’s education programme is taking a slightly new direction.  

According to latest education outcome surveys, such as OECD’s biannual PISA survey, girls in Finland outperform boys in almost every core skill. Similarly, the gender gap in university enrolment has continued to widen in favour of female applicants. Male students are outnumbered by females in almost every subject, including traditionally male-dominated subjects, such as mathematics and medical studies. Subsequently, boys lack crucial skills and confidence when applying to higher education and when starting their working careers. A recent study, in fact, found out that for the first time in Britain women in the age group of 22-39 enjoyed higher average per hour salary than men.

Friday, 5 December 2014

In the Media



The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Taina Cooke.


A fairer year of 2015 - the new transparency law for oil, gas and mining companies

A miracle has happened! All the UK oil, gas and mining companies woke up on Monday with a newfound social conscience and thought that maybe they should exploit the developing countries a bit less. As a New Year’s resolution they have decided to end the shadiness of global trade and start publishing details of the payments they make to different governments across the world for access to natural resources. The 1st of January 2015 will mark the beginning of an era characterised by more trust, more transparency and less corruption!

Friday, 28 November 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the  worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Maria Pirkkalainen.


Vinyl strikes back

Good news for the UK’s music industry: 2014 marks a record-breaking year for vinyl sales. Over 1 million LP records have already been sold this year, making vinyl a 20 million pounds a year business. Just five years ago that number was 3 million.

Friday, 21 November 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Taina Cooke.


The universal language of money - Express visa service for big spenders to be expanded

Immigration and its effects get a lot of coverage in the news. Generally it is the cons that dominate the headlines: immigrants are without a doubt too many, they are too foreign, too criminal and way too unemployed. The numerous pros introduced by foreign nationals are often dismissed when politicians concentrate on making it more and more difficult for people to enter the country. Outsider swarming into the UK is bad, is the message - unless, of course, there is a flow of cash involved.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Art in the Mass Media


Kim Varstala from the Finnish Institute blogs about the role of art in mass media and the challenges it faces. The text is a part of the institute’s project Visibility and Impact of Contemporary Art in Contemporary Society.


In 2012, the UK communications regulator Ofcom criticised the five main television channels in the UK for spending only 44 million GBP on arts and classical music programming, down from 72 million GBP in 2006. The answer from BBC director-general Sir Tony Hall was clear: arts programming still had its place right at the heart of the BBC. "But I want us to be much more ambitious", Hall hinted. In October 2013 the funding for BBC’s arts programmes was increased by 20 per cent.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

From Big Data to Insight

The Institute’s Communications Assistant Hanna Heiskanen blogs about a recent event on Big Data.

The How We Prepare for a Future of Big Data? event held at the Finnish Ambassador’s Residence in London on 30 October gathered together a prestigious panel of big data experts as well as a knowledgeable and active audience. The event celebrated the recipient of this year’s Millennium Prize, Professor Stuart Parkin, whose innovations have played a large part in raising big data to the prominent position it has today.

Friday, 14 November 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Hanna Heiskanen.


New technologies shaping art

Music, film, television, and literature have already found their way to your pocket, and now the iconic Globe Theatre has announced that its Shakespeare plays will be available on-demand for desktop computers, mobiles and tablets. Museums, too, are keenly exploring the possibilities that various online platforms, apps, and wearable technology offer for reaching new audiences. The ripple effects of change of medium in experiencing art are less well known, however, and are the subject of increasing interest. A recent article in the Guardian outlines some of the changes that mobile technology might bring in the field of visual art.

Friday, 7 November 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Taina Cooke.


Dangerously ignorant citizens what are the real numbers behind the news?
Two wise sociologists famously noted a while ago that if people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences. This idea, which later came to be known as the Thomas Theorem, is extremely valid today as well when considering people’s views on social topics. A recent study highlights the differences between what you think happens in your country and what is actually taking place - and as last week’s Guardian bluntly put it, how you are probably wrong about almost everything.   

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Events as the next step of experiencing and selling art


Maria Pirkkalainen from the Finnish Institute blogs about national and international art events and how them gaining new, larger audiences affects the visibility of contemporary art. The text is a part of the Institute’s new project: Visibility and Impact of Contemporary Art in Contemporary Society.

One of the leading Finnish national art events, Mänttä Art Festival, closed its latest edition this August with a record-breaking number of over 20,000 visitors. On an international scale the numbers are on the rise as well for events such as the Venice Biennale, which passed 400,000 visitors during its 2013 edition. Frieze Art Fair in London sells out its coveted tickets year after year.

Friday, 31 October 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Maria Pirkkalainen.


Spending the night at a bookstore or a museum

It only took one tweet - and thousands of responses. A Texan tourist found himself accidentally locked inside a Waterstones bookshop at Trafalgar Square in October. After trying to find a solution with the security company for two hours, he tweeted about it to Waterstones. He got out in no time after this, but the number of retweets and responses adoring the idea of a lock-in at a bookstore perhaps startled the bookstore even more.

Friday, 24 October 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Taina Cooke.


‘Mowing the lawn’ - What it means to you and what it means to a politician

Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about serious things. For politicians, it seems, talking about anything is often seriously difficult. In this week’s Guardian George Monbiot writes about the peculiarity of political rhetoric and how governments talk about human beings. According to Monbiot politicians don’t, for example, speak about ‘people’ or ‘killing’ because it would make it too difficult to do their job. Monbiot has made interesting observations about how the people in power use dehumanising language in order to detach themselves from the issues they are dealing with.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

How can Institutional Mechanisms Safeguard for Tomorrow, Today?


Head of Society Programme Antti Halonen blogs about a recent conference on long-term decision making.


University of Oxford’s Oxford Martin School Programme of Human Rights for Future Generations organised an afternoon seminar under the title of “How can institutional mechanisms safeguard for tomorrow, today? In particular, the seminar addressed how and what kind of long-term goals should be introduced in today’s policy making and what kind of theoretical and practical challenges should be tackled.

Friday, 17 October 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Maria Pirkkalainen.


For the literary unity of the Commonwealth

When the Trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation announced in September 2013 that they would open up the Man Booker Prize for the first time for all authors writing in English, and not just to the citizens of the British Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland, the rationale behind the decision was clear. Including all the literary works written in English for the first time could easily help the 46-year-old award to enhance its position as one of the most prestigious and admired literary fiction prizes in the world.

Friday, 10 October 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Taina Cooke.

London - the most expensive and most attractive city in the world
London is expensive, that’s hardly any news. It has been made official though that London is not only expensive, but now also the most expensive city in the world. Oh, how we are honoured. This dubious recognition was based on a new study, which showed that London has overtaken Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive city to work and live in. Cities falling a little behind London included New York and Paris. London is nearly twice as pricey as Sydney, and four times more expensive than Rio de Janeiro.

Friday, 3 October 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the  worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Maria Pirkkalainen.


Where does analogue art stand in a digital world?
The distinction between digital and analogue technologies as well as the effects of the rise of Digital Data has had in both contemporary art and our society are topical and dividing subjects in the art world. This was, for example, seen at two events held in London just a few days apart this September.

Friday, 26 September 2014

In the Media

The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Taina Cooke.


Slow but steady devolution and the English question


Losing is never easy. Devoting years and years of your time to one endeavour and realising it didn’t pay off in the end can be soul crushing. Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, learned this the hard way and appears to have done what all bad losers do: blame the game. After a well executed No campaign Salmond could’ve admitted the loss and even celebrated the gained result of a more autonomous future for Scotland, but instead he chose an alternative approach. Salmond decided the no-voters were ‘tricked’  and that Scotland could reach the inevitable, complete autonomy even without the silly referendum by simply unilaterally declaring independence after gaining enough powers. ‘Tricking’ the voters to tick the No box was apparently the result of a last-minute, dubious vow of more devolution by the Westminster leaders. According to Salmond, who is now stepping down as First Minister, the promises have already been dismissed.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Price of Awards

Kim Varstala from the Finnish Institute blogs about the effects awards have on the visibility of contemporary art and the future of art galleries. The text is a part of the institute’s new project: Visibility and Impact of Contemporary Art in Contemporary Society.

Throughout the 20th century, British artists kept gaining international recognition. By 2008, twelve of the top 50 living artists under the age of 50 were British. How was this rapid market success of British art possible? The answer is recognition through awards.

Friday, 19 September 2014

In the Media

The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Maria Pirkkalainen.

Brutalism back in fashion


There probably isn’t a West Londoner without an opinion on the infamous Trellick Tower over at Golborne Road. It’s bold, tall, exposed with concrete and designed for the socially affordable future in the late 1960s as part of the British New Brutalism movement. After decades of bad press and demolitions, these brash concrete buildings are now back in style with more respect and admiration than ever.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Art and the Public


Dr Johanna Vakkari, the Finnish Institute’s Head of Arts & Culture, blogs about the institute’s new project: Visibility and Impact of Contemporary Art in Contemporary Society

“Try to imagine society without the humanising influence of the arts, and you will have to strip out most of what is pleasurable in life, as well as much that is educationally critical and socially essential.”
Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England (The Value of Arts 2014)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

‘Populism, Power and Place’: on Devolution and the Scottish Referendum

Taina Cooke from the Finnish Institute blogs about current issues of devolution and the Scottish referendum.


On Thursday 11th September Policy Network organized a breakfast seminar on ‘Populism, power and place’ in which the questions of Scottish referendum as well as devolution across the UK in a wider sense were discussed. Currently the UK’s democratic structure is centralised and the politics work predominantly from top to down. The potential of devolution, the transfer of power from a central government to local authorities, has nonetheless been recognised for a long time. The structure of UK’s local government underwent a significant reform in the 1990s but now, as a result of Scotland’s situation, the topic of devolution has surfaced yet again. Hope is pinned on devolution as the much-needed tool in promoting democracy, restoring trust in politics and tackling the drivers of populism.

Friday, 12 September 2014

In the Media


The Institute picks interesting stories and news items every week from the worlds of art, culture and social study and presents them in the blog. This week the stories have been chosen by Taina Cooke.


The mystery of Britain's lowering crime rate


Crime experts across the country are facing an unexpected, but positive dilemma: why is crime in the UK falling? Ian Cobain reports about the phenomenon in last week's Guardian and attempts to get to the bottom of it. Indeed, unlike the common man might think, statistics show that the total crime rate in the UK is lowering. The reported crime rate is currently lower than it has been for decades and it is not only the public that failed to see this coming, but it is the experts as well. No one really knows why crime in the UK seems to be falling, but a number of different theories exist.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Community Projects at King's Cross




Maija Bergström blogs about redevelopment of the King's Cross area. This is the third part of a series of posts about King’s Cross, the new home base of the Finnish Institute in London.

My previous post described what community projects are and how they can be of help when developing areas.


Professors Matti Kortteinen and Mari Vaattovaara - a sociologist and a geographer, respectively - from the University of Helsinki recently wrote in Helsingin Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper, about the advantages of local collaboration (1). They referred to a research by Michael Porter from Harvard Business School that points out how differences in dealing with unemployment and segregation have been tackled. The most successful areas managed to recognise local, unique strenghts, and use all resources and get them to work together; not only administration and strong businesses but also grassroot level actors such as local businesses, artists and universities.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Preserving and Sharing Cultural Heritage


Sampo Viiri from the Finnish Institute blogs about the Institute’s new report on digital humanities and digital culture heritage preservation.


The evolution of digital technology and online networks is shaping our lives and societies. At some point in the recent past, digital stopped being something separate from the "real" world for many of us. Now we are constantly in the network and using digital tools without even noticing it ourselves.  Digital information is increasingly everywhere and largely available for everyone.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Visibility and Impact of Contemporary Art in Contemporary Society


Dr Johanna Vakkari, the Finnish Institute’s Head of Arts & Culture Programme, blogs about Institute’s new project.


The Institute launches a new project

Helsingin Sanomat, the leading newspaper in Finland, published an article 26 June 2014  about  the Finnish small and medium large companies’ sponsorship. (Heiskanen 2014). Only 2% of the interviewed directors or proprietors of these companies would support art and culture, while 42% would support sport, 18% health and 15% children’s activities. Does this tell something about the lack of visibility of contemporary art, or art in general, in Finland? Or is it that companies don’t believe that sponsoring art would improve their own visibility while sport is always seen as a solid investment?  Is contemporary art seen as something difficult to approach or something only catering to a specific group? We do have museum collections, galleries, works of art exposed permanently or temporarily in public spaces, environmental art and different kinds of art events, but perhaps all this should be opened even more to the public and to decision-makers.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Wikimania 2014 Highlights



Sampo Viiri from the Finnish Institute blogs about Wikimania, the annual event of the Wikimedia movement, which was held in London this year.


Wikimania, the official annual event of the Wikimedia movement, took place in London 8–10 August 2014. The event was an interesting mix between a conference and a festival, including over 200 speakers in 8 simultaneous spaces inside the Barbican Centre, with fringe events and hackathons running during the event and preceding it. Most participants seemed to be active Wikipedia editors, as Wikipedia is obviously the most well known Wikimedia product. The British have been active Wikipedians, the UK producing about 20% of all English language Wikipedia articles.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Placemaking, Community Projects and Citizen Participation


Maija Bergström blogs about redevelopment of the King's Cross area. This is the second part of a series of posts about King’s Cross, the new home base of the Finnish Institute in London.


In my previous blog post, I wrote about the role of history and culture in the development of places, drawing examples from King’s Cross. This post will look into a more communal way of developing places, especially the so-called placemaking approach I referred to earlier.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Some Reflections from the Open Knowledge Festival 2014




Antti Halonen, the Finnish Institute’s head of society programme, blogs about the recent Open Knowledge Festival and Institute’s future plans.

The Finnish Institute in London were privileged to organise the inaugural Open Knowledge Festival together with Open Knowledge Foundation (recently re-branded as Open Knowledge) and Aalto University in Helsinki two years ago. It was therefore both important and extremely interesting to attend this year’s edition in Berlin and witness how both the festival concept and the international open knowledge community had evolved in two years.