The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux strives to create a more sustainable and socially equitable environment for the practice of art and culture.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Institute recognises its responsibility in promoting diversity, equality and inclusion. In 2022, we organised six workshops dedicated to reflecting on and questioning our work and the way we work, and creating concrete plans to improve DEI at all levels. Each workshop was led by a member of the team, and consisted of pre-workshop readings and questions that were discussed together, followed up by a list of actions to take. Though the work is ongoing, many of the ideas brought forward in the workshops have been successfully implemented into practice.
Whiteness as a structure
The objective of our Whiteness as a Structure workshop was to increase our understanding of the structural implications of whiteness within the work of the institute. This was viewed as an essential step in moving towards more equitable practices in all aspects of our work.
To prepare, our team delved into literature discussing the experiences of people of colour in white spaces as well as the ways in which racism influences and is reinforced through everyday practices and language. In the workshop, the team considered the role of the institute within this structure and concluded that awareness and action in programming, recruitment, and communications practices were necessary, and that performativity was to be avoided.
Over the course of our programming workshop, we spent time unpacking how we choose our programming and scrutinised whether our projects and contents are equitable and sustainable. We resolved to move away from practices that depict Finland and Finnish culture as homogenous and committed ourselves to supporting marginalised artists and partners by including them in our work. It is also crucial to keep evaluating our activities and events through the lenses of equity and sustainability.
Our Accessibility workshop was aimed at finding ways to increase the accessibility of our programming and communications. We began by acknowledging that accessibility should be ingrained into all of our activities and work. With this principle in mind, we resolved to include considerations regarding accessibility into the planning, implementation, and post-evaluation of our programming. On a practical level, the accessibility of our activities can be increased by creating an accessibility action plan for events, informing participants of the accessibility of event spaces, and making sure to actively enquire about the accessibility-related needs of our partners. It is also important to actively seek out information and opportunities to learn more, for example in the form of workshops and training sessions.
The goal of our Safer Spaces workshop was to ensure that our events and projects are places where our participants and audiences can gather, work, and express themselves safely. Our team explored several ideas for creating and maintaining safer spaces in the cultural field. One of the key measures discussed was creating a general Safer Spaces gGuidelines -document. This document ensures clear communication about our safer spaces principles and practices for our team and for our partners. You can read our Principles of Safer Spaces below.
In our Communication workshop, we set out to reflect and improve upon our communication practices both within the institute and externally to our partners and audiences. The discussion of this workshop drew inspiration from the previous workshops, as the principles of equity, inclusion, accessibility, and safer spaces must be applied to communication. It is also important to note that effective and accessible communication is crucial in making our partners and participants aware of our equity and inclusion related principles and practices.
Our Recruitment workshop was centred around the presentation given by our guest speaker Alexis Johnstone, a South African behavioural scientist specialising in leadership and workplace equity. The discussion highlighted the need for awareness of the historical and societal factors which influence the recruitment process even before a job interview takes place. Unlearning one’s own biases was also emphasised as an important step towards more equitable recruitment. In practice, this means setting specific goals for the institution and its recruitment policies and creating plans that help meet those goals. New hires should also be welcomed, listened to, and inducted into the organisation in an empathetic way.
As an outcome of the series of workshops, the following steps have been taken:
- We have incorporated a planning form in our projects with a section for equity and accessibility. The planning of all of our projects begins with filling out this form.
- We ensure accountability by using a post-project document to assess whether these plans were fulfilled.
- We have included Principles for Safer Spaces into our programme and contracts.
- We inform our participants and audiences about the accessibility of the venues of our events.
Principles for Safer Spaces
The activities of the Finnish Cultural Institutes are guided by our Principles for Safer Spaces. Fundamentally, all participants in the Institute’s work and projects, including artists, institute and venue staff, producers, guests, are treated respectfully and equally. The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux promotes trust, recognition, active listening, care, and cooperation.
Thus, zero tolerance will be applied regarding behaviours involving any harassment, bullying, or otherwise belittling behaviour in our work. We do not use discriminatory, subordinating, repressive, or offensive terminology (different slurs and invectives), not even in examples or to describe something.
The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux strives to shape cultural spaces that are able to consider and learn from multiple voices, identities, and forms of knowledge. Even though it is not possible to guarantee a fully safe space for any actor in our projects, The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux strives towards making our projects as safe as possible safe for all persons involved, and do expect the same from our collaborators.
Our Principles for Safer Spaces have been based on the Ethical Guidelines of the Stop Hatred Now festival initiated by UrbanApa, as well as the outcomes of our Safer Spaces workshop. This document has been checked by curator and cultural organiser Isabelle N’diaye.
In all our events, we have a dedicated person to whom you can report any harassment, discrimination or other unsuitable behaviour.
You can give us feedback and suggestions for changes to these Principles for Safer Spaces through our feedback form.
The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux follows the ecological guidelines prepared by the Helsinki-based association The Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes (SKTI), of which we are a member. With these guidelines the Finnish Institutes around the world are able to make more sustainable decisions, and reduce our carbon footprint. The guidelines are based on the mapping of good practices by the Institute network working group for Ecological Practices since 2020.
In addition to the guidelines, the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux has taken the following actions while continuing its work in making the Institute more ecologically sustainable.
Calculating our carbon footprint
The Institute’s carbon footprint in 2022 has been calculated using the Hiilifiksu järjestö (Carbon-smart organisation) project’s free and open excel-based calculator, which specialises in energy, mobility, procurement, waste and services. Calculations are made with the “principle of reasonable accuracy”, with the objective of identifying our largest sources of emissions without spending an unreasonable amount of time on it.
The Institute’s total emissions in 2022 were approximately 24,2 tonnes CO2e. Travel was the largest source of emissions. Programme-related travel emissions were approximately 18,8 tonnes CO2e. The emissions of staff mobility were approximately 5,3 tonnes CO2e. Other emissions were generated from heating (gas), electricity, waste, and purchases. The calculation does not include our digital carbon footprint (online programming, online meetings, devices, website maintenance).
Creating a sustainable working model for international collaborations between the Finnish Cultural Institutes
As part of the project Together Again, the Finnish Cultural Institute has commissioned a series of workshops to create a sustainable working model for international cultural collaborations. The work started in November 2022 and continues throughout the project. The workshops include guidance, sketching a roadmap for the project and coaching sessions for the institute network. The results will be shared on the Together Again website in the autumn of 2023.