Children’s culture Festival held for the first time in Finland
About twenty children’s cultural centres and other operators across the country provided a versatile, high-quality programme over one week, 15–23 May. The abundant programme included webinars, virtual exhibitions and visits, performances, workshops, remote opera and concerts. The children’s cultural programme reached well over 20 000 visitors and included more than 100 events.
The Children’s culture Festival was mostly held online, but there was also room for other innovative ways to perform culture and create art, inspired by the COVID-19 era.
“The Children’s culture Festival was quite the success story, considering the rules and prohibitions of the COVID-19 era. We took quite a digital leap by producing whole new types of activities, such as content on a YouTube channel, streamed concerts, exhibitions in empty shop windows and fairy tales accessed via a QR code on your smartphone”, says Executive Director at Lilla Villan Petri Pöyhönen.
“In addition to remote teaching, remote exhibitions and visits, we have seen brand-new innovations and approaches, such as Eskarifestarit, a festival that invites pre-schoolers outdoors, due to the exceptional circumstances, in the yards of daycare centres and schools in Seinäjoki, Ilmajoki and Kurikka. Both the children and the teachers praised the festival”, says Tiina Susiluoto, Chair of the Association of Finnish Children’s Cultural Centers.
During the festival week, awareness was also raised on children’s culture and the high-quality art and cultural services produced for children and adolescents. The need for children’s culture has not gone away in the COVID-19 era. On the contrary, there is now a greater demand for it than ever. The week highlighted both the professionals of children’s culture and the children and adolescents who enjoy creating and experiencing art. During the festival week, policy-makers were also reminded of the importance and significance of children’s culture.
“The COVID-19 era has inspired much discussion about the significance of art and culture for the wellbeing and quality of life of children and adolescents both now and after the crisis. It may well be that the demand for cultural and art services will grow, and individuals and the society will acknowledge the significance of art and culture better after COVID-19. The starting festival week is a great way to highlight children’s culture and its professionals and also make more room for children’s culture in the field of culture as a whole”, says Aleksi Valta, Executive Director at the Association of Finnish Children’s Cultural Centers.
In light of the festival week, the Association of Finnish Children’s Cultural Centers also published a petition demanding that policy-makers promote the equal fulfilment of the cultural rights of children and adolescents throughout the country. Signatures are collected until 13 June, after which the Association will present the petition to Minister of Science and Culture Antti Kurvinen and the municipalities. “The right of children and adolescents to art and culture is not yet fulfilled evenly and equally in our country, and we are concerned that the COVID-19 crisis will further worsen the situation. We need decisions that support children and culture”, says Aleksi Valta.
The Children’s culture Festival is coordinated by the Association of Finnish Children’s Cultural Centers, which promotes the operating conditions of professional children’s and youth cultural centres, facilitates the general development and raising awareness of children’s cultural activities and improves the competence in children’s culture in Finland.
Children’s culture includes art, cultural and cultural heritage education as well as art and cultural heritage activities for children and adolescents, in addition to art and culture produced by children and adolescents themselves. Children’s culture covers everything from experiencing art and culture to obtaining knowledge and learning new skills.