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Hanna Nurminen

Hanna Kirsti Nurminen
Born May 18, 1955, Helsinki

Master of Arts (Finnish Language), University of Helsinki

Director 2006-, Saari Residence
Farmwife 1982–2013
Assistant officer 1981–1982 and officer 1983–2013, Kone Foundation
Freelance cultural producer 1995–2006
Cultural secretary 1989–1995, municipality of Merimasku

Posts and expert tasks
Member of the Foundation for Finnish Peasant Culture 1988–
Board member of the Kone Foundation 1988–, Vice-chairman 1989–2001, Chairman 2002–
Member of the Arts Council of Southwest Finland 1998-2003 and 2007–2012, Vice-chairman 2007–2009, Chairman May 2002–2003 and 2010–2012
Board member of the Foundation of the Finnish Institute in Athens 2000–2005
Chairman of the KULMA project’s steering group and member of the KULMA team 2003–2005
Board member of The Council of Finnish Foundations 2003–2006
Member of the Arts Council of Finland 2007–2009
Board member of the Turku 2011 Foundation, 2007–2009

Antti prize for local newspapers, Rannikkoseutu
“Meri” cultural award of the Rymättylä and Merimasku Lions 2001
The Regional Council of Southwest Finland’s Aurora medal for cultural work to the benefit of Southwest Finland 2002
Recognition for cultural work from the Arts Council of Southwest Finland 2005
Merimasku Society’s annual prize 2009

Written by Hanna Nurminen
Translated by John Calton

Culture for Everyone

I was just about to receive my MA when I married and moved to Southwest Finland to become a farmwife – a great shock for my friends and relatives in Helsinki. My doctoral dissertation on että-clauses (subordinate that- clauses) and participle structures seemed to be hardly progressing as I was the mother of two small girls. Luckily, the mayor of my new home town called me and offered me work. I became the first – and unfortunately also the last – cultural secretary of Merimasku.

I loved my work. I had the opportunity to begin developing the cultural life of a small archipelago municipality from scratch, and I was bursting with ideas after my years as a stay-at-home mum. It also felt meaningful to do work which could bring content, joy and experiences to people’s lives. Although the municipality was far from wealthy, especially at the beginning of the recession-hit 1990s, cultural services were within everyone’s reach, and nobody thought of the potential benefits of arts and culture. It was self-evident back then that culture was for everyone.

Finland’s accession to the European Union was like winning the jackpot for rural culture. Suddenly people realised that culture had a significant role in reviving the local economy and could, for example, bring life to the travel industry, which led to many cultural projects receiving funding from EU Structural Funds. I too wanted to utilise the new funding opportunities to promote rural culture, so I began working as a freelance producer and became specialised in regional cultural development projects.

My colleagues and I spent a lot of time pondering how to maximise the long-term social and cultural sustainability of the projects. In my opinion the most important thing was interact with the local people on the basis of equality and respect the uniqueness of each local culture. A good example is the EU funded Saint James of Rymättylä “cultural tourism project,” which was organised in cooperation with the parish of Rymättylä and its members and culminated in a pilgrimage from Turku to Rymättylä, following the example of Santiago de Compostela. Through the project, the locals gained a deeper knowledge of their own church and its connections to Europe’s cultural heritage.

One of the projects closest to my heart was the opening and running of the Volter Kilpi literature week. Every summer during the literature week, Kustavi is inundated with literature and culture enthusiasts attending public lectures, Kilpi dramatizations by the Yövieraat theatre and nature trips in the archipelago. There is a warm atmosphere and the sea glistens in the sunlight. One of the goals of the Volter Kilpi literature week project was to ensure that the inhabitants of Kustavi could forge a personal connection with Volter Kilpi and his works, and we have succeeded in this aim.

I also learned a lot about art and art and culture policy during my 12 years as a member of the Arts Council of Southwest Finland, the last three as chair. The passion of the General Secretary and regional artists for their work compensated for the lack of funding, but the shortage of grants for artists really did make us sad. There is no art without the artists and their work!

During the Volter Kilpi literature week, the Yövieraat theatre performs around Kustavi, in this photo at the Iniönaukko channel at dusk. Photo: Ilmo Jaramo.


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