Kone Foundation’s activities


Kone Foundation’s Annual Report 2020: the Foundation awarded more than EUR 42 million to art and research during the pandemic year

In 2020, Kone Foundation prepared a new strategy, organised a call for applications to a home residence programme and launched the Saari Residence’s ecological residency programme. During the year, the Foundation awarded more than EUR 42 million in grants to art and research.


In 2020, Kone Foundation awarded grants, prizes and donations totalling slightly over EUR 42 million. In addition to the annual general grant application process, the Foundation organised a themed application round focusing on Russia and Finland, a COVID-19 supplementary application round and application rounds for home residency and residency at Saari Residence and Lauttasaari. 

The coronavirus pandemic reached Finland in spring 2020 and had a great impact also on Kone Foundation’s operations. In April 2020, the Foundation investigated the needs of artists in the midst of the pandemic and, based on the results of the survey, organised a three-month home residency for nearly two hundred art professionals which took place in the grantees’ own homes. The purpose of the home residence grant was to support artists whose job opportunities had disappeared with the pandemic. Applications were accepted for a period of slightly over a week, and the Foundation received a total of 3,467 applications. 

In connection with the general application round for autumn 2020, a COVID-19 supplementary application round was organised for projects funded by the Foundation that were prevented from continuing their work or whose work had become more difficult due to the pandemic. The application round resulted in EUR 1,265,299 worth of grants being awarded to a total of 101 initiatives. 

The coronavirus pandemic also had a drastic impact on the operations of the Saari Residence for artists and researchers, which relies heavily on the ability of artists to travel internationally. In March 2020, all the artists who were working at Saari had to rethink their work and ways of working and most of them returned home to complete their residency there.

New faces and preparation of a new strategy 

In 2020, Kone Foundation’s staff worked actively on its new strategy. The new strategy extends to 2025 and was compiled by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, the Saari Residence Advisory Board, staff and stakeholders. The strategy declared that the Foundation’s number one priority is to foster the freedom of research and the arts. The Foundation’s vision is for free research, art and culture to flourish in an ecologically sustainable and socially equal Finland. 

In May, the Foundation granted the Vuoden Tiedekynä academic writing award worth EUR 25,000 for the eleventh time. It went to Sanna Tirkkonen for their article Yksinäisyyden tunteet Tove Janssonin teoksessa Muumipappa ja meri (Feelings of Loneliness in Tove Jansson’s novel Moominpappa at Sea). In the article, Tirkkonen examines Jansson’s novel as a story about a family that finds itself in a crisis and the loneliness the family members experience. 

During the year, the Foundation carried out a survey to find out what the Foundation’s grantees are like and what they need from the Foundation in addition to funding. The survey was conducted as part of the Grants+ service development project, which utilised service design methods. In addition, two new concepts that introduce research projects funded by the Foundation were launched during the year: a series of articles called ‘Different Routes’ (articles available also in English) and a series of discussions called ‘Building Blocks of Truth’ (in Finnish). 

Two new employees joined Kone Foundation in 2020. In April 2020, Saari Residence launched its ecological residence activities, and Jaana Eskola was hired as the coordinator. In August 2020, Docent Ulla Tuomarla, PhD, was selected as deputy to Kone Foundation’s Executive Director Anna Talasniemi for the duration of their study leave. Tuomarla took up their position as the Foundation’s temporary director at the beginning of December. Tuomarla’s temporary post will continue until summer 2022.