Tell us about yourself. What is your connection to the creative industry?
I am a 35-year-old Minister of Science and Culture and a second-term Member of Parliament from Kauhava in the electoral district of Vaasa. I have been the Minister of Science and Culture since the end of May.
My roots go back to the plains of South Ostrobothnia, to Ylihärmä and Kauhava. My studies and work have taken me alternately to Rovaniemi and Helsinki. I graduated with a Master of Laws degree from the University of Lapland, after which I worked as a lawyer in a law firm.
Culture and the creative industries have been part of my life since childhood, as I have been involved in theatre, among other things. Some of my friends make their living in the creative industries, such as event production.
Which form of culture is closest to your heart?
Having been involved in amateur theatre, theatre will always have a special place in my heart, but I am pretty much a cultural omnivore. I also like going to concerts, art exhibitions and museums and reading books.
You are the third Minister of Culture during this term of office. How do you feel about following in the footsteps of your predecessors? What will you do differently?
I am following my predecessors with humility. The Minister of Culture usually gets to work on nice things, but I have started this job in the middle of a crisis. The prolonged COVID-19 crisis has put many in the sector in deep trouble, and I am also left wondering how we will realise the savings in culture resulting from the decline in gambling revenue. In the midst of these difficulties, I will try to be as approachable as possible, to listen and to act as a partner to the operators in the sector, so that we can get through this and Finnish culture and creative industries can flourish again.
How can the policies of the Government Programme on culture and copyright be implemented in the current situation? What will you prioritise?
It is clear that the situation has changed greatly in some respects since the Government Programme was drawn up and the Government began its work. The cultural sector has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore the objectives of financing the sector and increasing the economic significance of culture and the creative industries cannot be achieved to the extent or within the time frame envisaged when the Government Programme was drawn up.
However, we are trying to keep to the things written down in the Government Programme as far as possible, and many important projects have already been completed, such as the reform of central government transfers for the performing arts. The exhibition payment model has also been prepared, and it was granted funding in the budget session, and the level of grants has been increased.
The creative economy roadmap has also been drawn up jointly by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Education and Culture. Its realisation is being boosted by funding from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. This package will provide culture and the creative industries with 40 million euros, which will be used for the renewal of these industries. This support will be widely available to organisations, companies and other operators in the sector. Furthermore, the Government is implementing the Government Programme policy on a new fund to finance culture, combining private and public money.
Opportunities for children and young people to pursue artistic and cultural activities will be improved in line with the so-called Finnish model that was just completed. I think this issue is important not only for its immediate effects, but also in the long term. Infrastructure projects that are making progress include the renovation and modernisation project of the Finnish National Theatre and preparations for the new Architecture and Design Museum, among others.
The Government Programme includes two items related to copyright: the development of a strategy for intellectual property rights and the development of a compensation system for private copying. Work on the strategy for intellectual property rights, carried out in close cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, began last year. The draft strategy was completed in the spring and has been out for consultation over the summer. The proposed strategy also includes measures to improve the functionality of the copyright system. Based on the comments, the Government will draw up a resolution on the actions to be taken.
Culture is a diverse sector, and therefore many different types of action are needed to promote it. Priority is now being given to all actions that create the conditions for recovery from the pandemic, create new growth and jobs in the creative industries and strengthen the ability of cultural professionals to make a living from their work.
What do the current situation and future of the cultural sector look like? How do you see cultural professionals making a living and being able to practice their profession in the future?
This is an extremely relevant question. The sector is struggling in many ways, and the livelihoods of many cultural professionals have been weakened or endangered. When we recover from this – and we undoubtedly will – I believe that the prospects of making a living in the cultural sector will be the same as they have been up to now. However, my goal is for us to find new opportunities as well. This requires both Government action and the sector’s own development – and ideally cooperation between the two. Some of the new opportunities may arise as a result of new forms of activities and services and the development of business activities, for example. The funding from the Recovery and Resilience Facility for the creative industries, which I mentioned earlier, may play an important role here.
In June, you launched the work on cultural reconstruction (bulletin 11 June 2021) and set up a working group to support its preparation. Two projects were also launched with the support of the Ministry to review the outlook for the cultural sector and formulate solutions to its challenges. How has this work started? When will results be seen in the creative industries?
The cultural reconstruction working group held its first meetings in August and September. The projects mentioned have also started their work; consultation and discussion events have been held across the country, among other things. The projects funded by the Ministry are relatively short in duration and of an exploratory and surveying nature. They are expected to present the results of their work early next year, after which the reconstruction working group will use these results to finalise its own proposals by the end of May. I understand that at least Uniarts Helsinki intends to continue its project for a longer period as part of the development of its own activities and arts education.
The time frame for seeing the results of these projects or other actions in the practices of the creative industries also depends on the scale of the proposals. I hope to be able to put some of the proposals into practice during my time as minister, but I am aware that we are already past the mid-term point, so there is no longer time to implement changes that require extensive preparation. I hope that the rest of the proposals will end up in the election platforms of different parties and in the next Government Programme.
What other measures have you taken to support the creative industry scourged by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The most important thing would be to get past the crisis. I am making every effort within the Government to push for event restrictions to be in place for no longer than is absolutely necessary. Since everything depends on the increase in vaccination coverage, I have also made strong statements in favour of vaccination myself.
Unfortunately, in addition to the pandemic, the cultural sector is also facing dwindling funding from Veikkaus. In this respect, I have tried to push for a long-term solution and have proposed that this entity be transferred to the state budget. The beneficiaries need to know as soon as possible what the level of funding will be in 2024 and beyond. As this is, above all, a question of decisions to be made under the next Government, a parliamentary solution across the government-opposition divide is needed.
How do you see the significance of copyright?
I think that copyright is about the protection of property and the freedom to engage in commercial activity. An artist is entitled to be compensated for having produced a work of art through their creativity. Without a fair copyright system, we cannot have a professional cultural sector or any of the wonderful experiences that art and culture bring to people. A clear and fair copyright system is in the interests of both authors in the creative industries and the users of content.
The Directive on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (DSM) must be implemented into the Finnish legislation in 2021. How is the matter progressing?
The Government’s proposal to amend the Copyright Act to implement the DSM Directive and the Online Broadcasting Directive will be sent out for consultation in the autumn. The proposal will be finalised and submitted to Parliament immediately after the consultation, probably at the end of the year.
In what way could the extended collective licencing system in use in Finland be further improved during the amendment of the Copyright Act?
The DSM Directive includes two aspects relevant in terms of the extended collective licencing system. Firstly, the Directive lays down precise conditions for the use of the extended collective licencing system at a national level, which will also require changes to the extended collective licencing provisions of the Copyright Act. Secondly, the Directive includes the possibility to use the extended collective licencing system for making material in cultural heritage institutions available across geographical borders.
One of the objectives mentioned in the Government Programme is the development of a functional system of compensation for private copying. What do you think are the most important elements of a functional system? For example, could the new system take into account the harm caused to copyright holders by copying, not just the number of copies made? What is the schedule for the development?
According to the Copyright Act, copies of works may be made for private use. However, a reasonable compensation must be paid to authors for the harm caused to them by the copying, which has been paid to authors through the state budget since 2015.
The blank media levy in place before that time was becoming too complicated and administratively burdensome and expensive as a system for collecting the compensation funds. There is unlikely to be a return to the blank media levy, but the aim must be to maintain a reasonable level of appropriations in the state budget, as the Parliament has also demanded.
Today, works are increasingly used in the digital environment. How do you think respect for copyright should be promoted in the online environment?
First of all, I think it is great that in recent years there has been a rather significant reduction in piracy.
It is true that many more works are being created and used than in the past. A study published by Cupore last year on the views of the general public on the copyright system found, among other things, that around ten per cent of Finns have used previously created content as part of their own content and have also shared this content online.
In the online environment, attention needs to be paid to both the moral and economic rights of the author. Correct and comprehensive details on the work and the author contributes to the author’s right to be identified and the opportunity to gain economic benefit from the use of the work. These details should also be retained throughout the life of the work and should be updatable. Finland is working to promote the issue both nationally and at the EU level.
I believe that digitalising the copyright system will bring clarity and simplicity, which will promote respect for copyright in the online environment. Harmonisation of practices and standards requires both financial and technological investment. In the long term, this will certainly create added value for authors, companies and society as a whole.
The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture AVEK, operating within Kopiosto, uses copyright remunerations to promote diverse Finnish audiovisual culture. AVEK’s support funds come mainly from the compensation for private copying from the state budget. How do you see the importance and future of AVEK?
AVEK’s promotional activities, which take place through indirect compensation funds, are an important part of the support for audiovisual culture. The results of the decades of promotional activities are clearly visible. There is definitely a place for these activities in the future as well.
Interviewer: Maria Bregenhøj
Photo: Katarina Koch, Prime Minister’s Office