Finnish-Russian Cultural Forum
The Finnish-Russian Cultural Forum is a unique form of activity developed by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation to activate and promote direct cultural cooperation between civic organisations, cultural institutions and artists.
The Forum is a continuing process comprising two tasks: continuous partnership activities, including an annual Forum arranged alternately in Finland and Russia, and cooperation between the Finnish and Russian cultural administration. Both forms of action were initiated in 2000.
The Forum activities are geared to develop new forms of flexible and transparent cooperation between the Ministries and between regional and local administrations in Finland and Russia. At the 2005 Forum in Vologda, the Ministries signed a cooperation agreement with a view to promoting cross-border cooperation in the sphere of arts and culture as well as to promoting the implementation of cultural partnership in the northern regions.
The main task in the Finnish-Russian Cultural Forum is direct cooperation between cultural actors. The Forum helps them in finding a partner and launching joint ventures. In the Forum, cultural and art professionals, amateurs and institutions have a channel for finding a suitable partner in the neighbouring country. These activities have not been limited to given forms of art, but comprise the whole spectrum of culture, including education. A partner may be sought by an art gallery, a theatre troupe, an orchestra, a punk band, a conservatoire, a school, a university, a circus, a tourism enterprise, or even an individual artist or researcher if they have sufficient resources for cooperation.
Finnish and Russian partners may propose joint projects themselves or respond to a proposal made by a cultural actor in the neighbouring country. Between 2000 and 2015, altogether 2335 project proposals have been made within the Forum. There have been around 350 participants in each Forum since 2010.
The annual Cultural Forum offers a meeting place for those working in the cultural and art field in Finland and Russia. The prospective partners participating in the Forum are given time to discuss with one another in order to explore ideas and develop cooperation through interpreters. The field-specific workshops in the Forums provide an opportunity to find out about other projected or ongoing joint ventures, make new contacts and expand cooperation. Partners can also consult experts about sources of financing and participate in seminars on topical issues in cultural cooperation.
Geographically the whole of Finland takes part in the Forum activities. In Russia the Forum covers 12 regions in the northwest Russia and in 2006 Moscow and the Moscow Region also joined the Forum. Since 2007, each year several new regions in Russia join the forum.
One important aspiration in the Forum from the outset has been to create conditions for cultural cooperation between the EU and Russia and to strengthen the northern cultural partnership. Alongside the seventh Finnish-Russian Forum in 2006 Kajaani, the Finnish EU Presidency arranged an EU-Russia Expert Meeting on Culture, which launched a process towards creating a cooperation action plan for EU-Russia cultural cooperation.
Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture allocates yearly ca 150 000 euros to the Finland-Russia Society for coordination of the Forum activities and organization of the Forum event. In addition communities can apply for subsidies. The amount of subsidies for cultural cooperation with Russia is 500 000 euros per year out of which 50 000 euros are earmarked for launching new projects, which have been negotiated at the Forum. The financing of all cultural forum activities is based on the principle of reciprocity between Finland and Russia.
Finnish-Russian Cultural Forum has been evaluated in 2005. Evaluation was commissioned by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and it comprised self-evaluation report and report made by the group of independent experts. Each year organizers report in the Annual report on the substance issues discussed at the Forum, publish statistics and report on the results of the project negotiations on the basis of feedback received from the participants.