How is it like to create Finlands leading cultural policy? Interested in working in the cultural sphere, I decided to find it out through an interview with culture planner Sara Kuusi.
The cultural life of Helsinki is diverse: here we have the biggest cultural actors of Finland, but also many small and medium-sized theaters, galleries, circuses, artistic communities and so on. Together they form the wide community of culture workers, on whose work the “viewer” has a lot to say as well. A significant actor in the formation of cultural life in Helsinki is the City of Helsinki Cultural Office. It’s cultural houses provide accessible culture in neighborhoods. Libraries are the first step to culture for everyone in Helsinki and the grants the Cultural Office admits make culture possible in different fields. The department of Cultural Policies works with the latter: they organize grant application periods, admit grants and map the cultural needs of Helsinki as well as work in cooperation with different countries and cities and keep up-to-date information on what is happening with culture around the world.
My interviewee Kuusi works with EU matters, other international projects and, currently, with the regional inclusion project. Her days are always diverse and quite busy – the skill of prioritizing is of utmost importance. Working for the Cultural Office is not only executing ideas of the Helsinki City government; the city gives orders to research if something is of importance, but most of the job is rather independent and there is room to make a change. Indeed, it is important to be up-to-date about the cultural sphere of Helsinki and, even wider, Europe, as it is partly the job of cultural policies department to notice needs and changes and respond to them.
Kuusi started working for the city after a summer working for Aleksanteri theater during her university studies. She found that her job at the theater was interesting and creative. It also gave her the right connections and through them she was able to gain fixed-term contracts for different projects in the Cultural Office. Kuusi studied French language and culture, Philosophy and Social-Psychology and worked during her studies. Before getting a permanent position in the Cultural Policies department, she worked several years as fixed-term worker for the Cultural Office. Kuusi enjoys her work and finds the work community supportive.
The City of Helsinki seems a very good workplace: one can use up to 10% of ones work time for re-education and employees have the possibility to get valuable work experience in relevant fields outside of City of Helsinki by using their leave of absence. This brings new perspective and life in the work in City of Helsinki as well. This was also noticed by Kuusi, who spent her two years leave working as the international affairs manager in the CircusInfo Finland, the organization promoting Finnish circus art. As a working community, the department of Cultural Policies seems to have a good and supportive spirit. The other departments work separate, though collaboration is continuous. As a space, the office of the Cultural Policies department supported the job: they had impressive art, the office was located in a cultural heritage building and the view was a stylish city view.
The city of Helsinki is always recruiting trainees. The internship positions are published on the recruitment page of City of Helsinki and in the recruitment pages of the Universities. In the page of City of Helsinki you can also leave an open application. For me, the City of Helsinki is an attractive working place and I would recommend others to look into it as well.