Kone Foundation’s new strategy: our priority is to foster academic and artistic freedom

Ecologically sustainable and socially equal Finland needs free art and research, and fostering these is Kone Foundation’s number one priority. The new strategy, which extends until 2025, provides guidelines for the Foundation’s work in building a thriving society.

Recent years have seen many instances where the appreciation of and conditions for research and art are under strain in Finnish society. Basic funding for universities has been cut and, due to the coronavirus crisis, many artists have found themselves in unprecedented distress as sources of work and livelihood have disappeared. When future prospects are uncertain, scientific facts are urgently needed to support decision-making in society and citizens’ thinking. In these challenging circumstances, Kone Foundation will continue to make free and multi-voiced art and research possible by providing grants and residence activities.

The Foundation’s work relies heavily on its values. A key value in the new strategy is ecosocial awareness, which refers to social, cultural and ecological responsibility for humans, other species and the environment.

“To counterbalance academic and artistic freedom, we need responsibility. We rely on the humanist aim of understanding people and the world and to think critically. At the same time, we see humans as part of the earth’s diverse life and as dependent on its biodiversity,” says Hanna Nurminen, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.


Freedom requires multi-voiced debate

Funding the work of researchers and artists is included in the Foundation’s core operations, which aspire to boldness, vigilance and flexibility. The Foundation encourages its grantees to cross the boundaries between art and research and between various areas of art and research. Its funding focus lies in enabling the long-term work of individuals and working groups in such a way that in-depth exploration is possible. It actively seeks alternatives for mainstream thinking.

Maintained by the Foundation, the international Saari Residence for artists and researchers in Mynämäki is developing its experimental and long-term activities on ecological terms. Saari Residence’s goal is to be a forerunner in sustainable operating models within the international residency sector.

“The new strategy was compiled by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, the Saari Residence Advisory Board, staff and stakeholders. During the process, we considered what artistic and academic freedom actually means. For us, it refers to the development of art and research from its own starting points. Economic, political or other utilitarian aspects alone must not be allowed to guide the direction of art and research. We hope to continue the discussion on the conditions required for free art and research in Finnish society,” says Ulla Tuomarla, Executive Director of Kone Foundation.

In connection with the publication of the strategy, we will publish two texts on academic and artistic freedom, written by Adjunct Professor in Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory, Ari Hirvonen, and artist Jenni Laiti.

Established in 1956, Kone Foundation is an independent and unaffiliated organisation that makes the world a better place by creating the conditions for free and multi-voiced art and research. In 2020, Kone Foundation granted a total of approximately EUR 40 million in funding for artistic and research work.


Learn more about the new strategy

Read Ari Hirvonen’s article

Read Jenni Laiti’s article


We asked the multidisciplinary arts collective WAUHAUS to create a playlist for freedom. Sit back, relax and let your thoughts run free! You can find the playlist on Spotify.