Kone Foundation provides EUR 4.5 million in funding to humanities research and artistic research at Finnish universities

Piirroskuva, jossa sinitukkainen henkilö soittaa suurta pianoa

Kuvitus: Marika Maijala

Kone Foundation grants Aalto University, University of Helsinki, University of Jyväskylä, Uniarts Helsinki and the University of Turku a total of EUR 4.5 million in funding for their faculties of humanities and artistic research. The Foundation hopes that the funding will be targeted specifically at art research and artistic research. With its donation, the Foundation aims to safeguard the diversity of disciplines and the freedom of research in fields of study that have suffered from funding cuts and prioritisations in educational policy.  

The Foundation’s funding is part of a fundraising campaign by universities, whereby the state matches the amount of the private capital raised by universities.  

During more than a year of dialogue with universities, the Foundation wanted to find out which disciplines are being pushed aside by the decline in core funding and the constant prioritisation of certain disciplines. During the process, it became clear that art research and artistic research in Finland are in need of special support. 

The reduction in core funding has meant that universities are working with very limited teaching and staff resources in their faculties of arts. The cuts made by the Sipilä government in 2016 in both staff and funding are evident in the everyday life of universities. 

“In the spirit of academic freedom, we wanted to know whether universities still allow research on subjects that are part of their educational mission, but that may not be the hottest field of study at the moment,” says Ulla Tuomarla, Executive Director of the Kone Foundation. 

“We believe that an understanding of art and culture is an essential part of humanities research and the educational mission of a university. Art and culture are an important part of human well-being. It is also important to maintain a multidisciplinary approach to basic research, as it is impossible to predict what will be needed in the future. Our donation to the five Finnish universities is, we hope, a reflection of the Foundation itself, demonstrating a strong belief in the humanities, an inclination towards the arts and a commitment to diversity,” says Tuomarla. 

Kone Foundation’s EUR 4.5 million funding for universities is distributed as follows: 

  • EUR 1,500,000 for the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Arts 
  • EUR 1,000,000 for the University of Jyväskylä’s Faculty of Arts
  • EUR 800,000 for Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design and Architecture 
  • EUR 600,000 for Uniarts Helsinki
  • EUR 600,000 for the University of Turku’s Faculty of Humanities

“We at the Faculty of Arts are extremely pleased with this donation and the opportunity to strengthen research in the arts. This reflects a high level of trust and respect for the faculty. This donation will enable us to open a professorship in the arts as soon as possible,” says Pirjo Hiidenmaa, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki. 

“The University of Jyväskylä highly appreciates Kone Foundation’s long-term activities to foster free research and art in accordance with its values. Multidisciplinary, responsible and effective research is a prerequisite for civilisation,” says Rector Keijo Hämäläinen

“We welcome the Foundation’s decision to support the efforts of faculties of arts. This donation will help us to promote work that combines research and art, with the aim of increasing our understanding of people and the world. It is not easy to find supporters for this nowadays,” says Jari Ojala, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä. 

What are art research and artistic research? 

Art research examines the different aspects, history, interpretations and meanings of art and their relationship to various social and cultural phenomena. Studies in art research take a broad approach to the history of art research, issues of everyday and popular culture, methods of analysing and interpreting artistic works, and art administration. At Finnish universities, art research covers, for example, film and television research, aesthetics, musicology, art history, theatre studies and general literary studies.  

Artistic research, on the other hand, is research conducted in the context of artistic work and reflection on it. It offers a motive, a terrain, a context and a whole range of methods for artists from different artistic disciplines. Artistic research is not the antithesis of scientific research, but above all describes the research settings that emerge in a critical art community. 

Read the blog post by Ulla Tuomarla: Art research is on shaky ground but gains momentum with funding from Kone Foundation