CultureEspoo 2030 programme views culture and art as an integral part of the future of the City. The Espoo Story sets city-level objectives, while CultureEspoo 2030 specifies methods to meet those objectives cross-administratively. The City Council approved the new version of the programme in its meeting on 24 January 2022.
Sustainable and innovative CultureEspoo 2030
In 2030, Espoo will be a creative and bold cultural city that supports a sustainable way of life. There will be functional cooperation between different sectors and the City will prosper through an experimental and curious approach. Culture and art will be present in the spirit of the City, the daily lives of the residents, the physical urban environment and the Espoo identity.
A cultural strategy was prepared for the Council to decide on according to the first note in the Council’s negotiated agreement (14 November 2014). The City Council approved the CultureEspoo 2030 programme (§319) in its meeting on 9 November 2015.
Because Espoo already has one shared strategy, the Espoo Story, the cultural policies for the future are called CultureEspoo 2030. The Espoo Story sets city-level objectives, while CultureEspoo 2030 specifies methods to meet those objectives cross-administratively.
CultureEspoo 2030 views culture and art as an integral part of the future of the City. Culture can transcend the barriers in society both socially and economically. In Espoo, culture and art should have a more visible role in urban planning, construction, learning, social services and health care.
Espoo has everything it needs to become a pioneer: a progressive and innovative cultural city. The means in which this will be achieved must be agreed upon across organisational boundaries.
A dynamic city can only be built together. CultureEspoo 2030 aims to increase the visibility of Espoo-based and international professional art and cultural operations as the City’s image factor.
Espoo is changing and growing at an astonishing rate. The West Metro will create new residential areas, tying Espoo increasingly closer to the greater Metropolitan Area. In this development, it is important that the local identity not be forgotten.
According to the Espoo Story, Espoo wants to be a successful city. This kind of a city needs a creative environment in order to be successful and develop further. Culture is the basis of a creative and successful city. The value of culture and art is not measured by their material benefits but rather by how they can bring people together, create shared meanings, strengthen the city’s identity and promote the city’s positive approach to development, as well as its innovativeness. Being a pioneer requires risk-taking within a creative environment that is both open-minded and progressive. Curiosity creates innovations and new ways of thinking. Espoo and its residents need culture to succeed.
Along with the establishment of the Sector for Economic Development, Sports and Culture in 2021, the cultural, sports and business development services will strengthen the city’s competitiveness and residents’ wellbeing through cooperation, bold experiments and creative activities.
Public cultural services promote accessibility and equality
The production of the City’s cultural services is guided by legislation and other social values, such as promoting equality. Cultural services are produced in cooperation with operators from various sectors. It is the task of a public operator to steer, coordinate and create preconditions for cultural activities.
The majority of the cultural services in Espoo are organised by partner organisations. The services are produced in cooperation with the City. Espoo prepares for the changes in the operating environment and service needs. It does this in interaction with its partners in Espoo, other municipalities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, other cities in Finland and international networks of cities.
Espoo wants to use cultural services to promote equality and strengthen the sense of community, participation and wellbeing. The Espoo of the future will be an increasingly diverse city, where over 30% of the residents will have a native language that is not Finnish or Swedish by 2035. Espoo will also improve the accessibility of the cultural services by actively and interactively informing the residents about the available services through different channels.
An update to the programme and a look even further
Over five years have now passed since the CultureEspoo 2030 programme was approved. The world and our operating environment have changed immensely during this time. The programme was finished just as a significant number of asylum seekers started arriving in Europe and Finland. The international refugee crisis changed our societies and the objectives of public administration permanently. At a more local level, other notable changes include the partial completion of the West Metro and the construction of its second phase, as well as the construction of a light rail line from East Helsinki to Keilaniemi. The impact of these phenomena has not only been financial – the service networks have also undergone changes.
The latest upheaval was caused by the international lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this update, the situation has been ongoing for over a year. The pandemic has had a substantial impact on the cultural and creative sectors, in particular. These major changes also require that the programme be partially revised.
The realisation of the programme and the progress of the cross-administrative goals have always been reported at the end of the council term. It is positive to see that matters have indeed progressed. We are on our way towards the objectives, and the measures taken have been the right ones. Some of the things mentioned in the objectives have already been achieved, and they have been taken to the next level in this programme.
The measured knowledge base for the updates to the programme was provided by the EspooCult study that was completed in 2020. As a result of the study, a report was written on the cultural services of Espoo to support the City’s development and strategy work. The conclusions in the report also include solutions for how the City can have a stronger presence in the planning for the future and the everyday lives of residents.
While the CultureEspoo 2030 programme directs us towards 2030, it is also important to look even beyond that. The value created by art and culture should be looked at in the long term. This is why we also attempt to look at the future at the end of this programme – towards 2050.
CultureEspoo 2030 is based on understanding the megatrends that will change our society in the coming decades and the development stages that cities go through.
Megatrends refer to unavoidable global changes and dynamics that occur outside the operating environment but also have local impact. The changes caused by the megatrends will challenge the established practices of individuals, communities, businesses and public organisations. The old strengths and solutions will lose power. New phenomena will create undesirable consequences but also new opportunities for problem-solving and success.
Diminishing natural resources
The demand for energy and natural resources will increase globally in the next few decades. The reasons behind this are the growing population and the rapidly growing affluence of large developing countries. The diminishing natural resources force us to extend the planning horizon and develop systems that use resources wisely over the long term. In everyday life, this means significant changes in technology, human behaviour and community structure. Especially the solutions for housing and transportation will change. It will be a generation-long turning point equivalent to industrialisation.
Urbanisation is one of the big social changes of the 21st century. Finland has been slower than the rest of Europe in terms of urbanisation, but will rise to the level of the others. Urbanisation is more metropolis-led than before. People from all over the world gravitate towards centres of innovation, including the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, which are integrated with the global economy. This leads to the development of cities that are larger as well as more densely populated and multicultural. The third big demographic phenomenon is the ageing of the population. Until now, societies have been designed mainly in terms of the working-age population. The proportion of the ageing population will grow significantly in the coming decades and, as a result, many of the practices of our society will change.
The fact that digital systems are becoming a part of all work and leisure time is currently radically changing the ways in which businesses, communities and entire societies are organised. Digital systems create substantial efficiency gains and enable new kinds of fragmented approaches. The global division of labour is changing and the value of human labour is determined in new ways because of digitalisation. Already, the new digital logic has revolutionised the media, banking world and music business, for example. The structures of work, livelihood and consumption will undergo a thorough upheaval in the coming decades.
Digitalisation is quickly changing how and where people meet each other. Many solutions based on physical spaces will change and become partially replaced with digital services. Digital forms open up plenty of new opportunities. At the same time, everyone sees that not all encounters and experiences can be taken online. We will face a stage where new forms of interaction and collective experiences are created.
The I/we society
Greater affluence, the rise of the educational level and the digital opening up of information all have enabled a stronger individualisation of people. People have a greater freedom to choose which group they belong to and how. Factors such as origin and occupation are now a smaller part of people’s identity than before. Digital communication has led to an entirely new layer of communities and new ways to collaborate Many of the institutions of our society are still based on the assumption of the traditional way to belong to and identify with the place of residence, nation or wider community. This creates friction between individuals and institutions.
Sustainable development is at the core of the City of Espoo’s operations. The City is committed to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. The City, together with companies and other partners, will develop solutions that provide examples of future urban life. In Espoo, sustainable urban solutions of the future will be developed, tested and adopted together with partners and residents. The objective is to build safe, healthy and functional everyday life.
A city that knows its residents and pays attention to their needs is a successful one. Changes in values, identifying the feelings and needs of residents and the availability of services are the factors that will determine the success of cities in the future. The quality and meaningfulness of life, perceived wellbeing, and the functionality of everyday life will remain the key factors for people when they think about their potential place of residence.
The value of art and culture as City services is created through the way it brings people together, creates shared meaning, strengthens the City’s identity and promotes a positive attitude towards development in the City – as well as its innovativeness. At its core, art has the ability to evoke emotions, take risks, reflect our time and speak to us across generations. Culture is a living process that is constantly transforming. A diverse cultural life strengthens the City’s dynamism: it is its DNA and engine that drives a positive atmosphere. Espoo culture will regenerate and become stronger through constant dialogue with different people.
It is not the organisations themselves that do anything, but the people who work for them. The change towards a more sustainable city will not happen without a change in each City Division’s culture: all employees and residents of the City are needed. Sustainability is not born out of individual actions, but rather extensive multi-sector cooperation is needed to resolve the social challenges related to the megatrends. Sustainable development involves more than changes related to technology. Above all, it involves a change in human behaviour.
For a long time, public operations have also been directed by a focus on finances. It is the critical challenge for a sustainable future to find balance between boosting economic performance, developing environmental impact and protecting ecosystems. The value of a sustainable city is realised in the long term, which we are unable to measure with the existing indicators of financial performance. Economically sustainable development can no longer be a top-down process; just like in all sustainable development operations, co-creation and co-planning is needed.
In a city, dynamic competence is created when its residents, companies and educational institutions are able to find their place and use their knowledge and competence in the best possible way. In a development-positive atmosphere, things are done together, the significance of the shared goals is internalised, and the impact of small gradual stages of development on the entity is understood. By gradually changing small and concrete things, and then expanding the measures, we can create a sustainable development city with financial success.
Social change shapes the actions of individuals and communities. When the world around them changes, organisations must also adjust to new modes of operation. This section specifies how we in Espoo could speed up the realisation of the CultureEspoo 2030 policies.
Residents’ voices are heard
Experts are no longer alone in defining what services are needed in the City. Residents must be included in the dialogue and given the opportunity to participate. Culture is a significant part of the Espoo way of promoting inclusion. This may result in pop-up spaces, inclusive neighbourhood events or phenomena like the Restaurant Day.
Cross-administrative cooperation benefits everyone
Sectorial thinking and silo mentality must be disposed of inside the City and in relation to the private and third sectors. Cooperation benefits all parties. The values of the cultural activities of Espoo create a strong foundation for networks and partnerships.
Success requires recognition of identity
A successful city must recognise its own characteristics as well as what the city is developing into. What does Espoo, as a city, look and feel like? The identity of the city is an important part of planning the future. Culture and cultural heritage are the DNA of the city – that special something which makes it recognisable and authentic.
We have the courage to reshape operations
The conventional and institutionalised forms of culture must be analysed boldly in a new light. Where can curiosity lead in the coming decades? How can the courage to do things in a new way strengthen society? We must acknowledge the importance of culture for the success of the city and the creation of sustainable wellbeing.
The City creates opportunities
The City needs the spirit of accomplishing things, which is aimed at opening new doors. We must search for creative solutions to problems together. Residents and communities must be given the opportunity to use the urban space experimentally. The atmosphere must also allow for mistakes; failure always teaches you something new. If you do not dare to try, you cannot improve.
The future cannot be forecast accurately as it is a sum of countless factors. The further into the future we go, the more difficult it is. It is impossible to say for certain what the world will be like in 2050, but different trends do provide an indication of the future directions. Urbanisation, digitalisation and the diversification of the population may remain topical. Artificial intelligence, automatisation and robotisation are changing our work and job descriptions. Technology is becoming an increasingly seamless part of our environment and everyday life.
Art feeds the product development of goods and services and helps increase their value through design, among other aspects. Culture strengthens the appeal of regions by attracting people and investments and thus strengthening the financial success of cities and regions. The event industry’s financial impact on regions is undeniable. Studies also show that art has a clear impact on health and wellbeing.
Then again, economic impact may also be negative, as shown during the COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020. Along with climate change and the global environmental crisis, phenomena such as climate refugees, various pandemics and the scarcity of resources will change the future of cultural services and the art sector. The lockdown of cultural activities in 2020 will not be a solution in future crises. A welfare state cannot withstand a situation where the cultural services that influence people’s wellbeing are not available and where areas, and large cities in particular, suffer permanent and significant financial losses due to a lack of events and cultural occasions. We will need cooperation, an open mind, creativity and imagination when developing the solutions of the future. Art plays a central and important role in this work.
Digitalisation, the global economy and moving to a carbon-neutral society will change life, everyday routines and the structures of society in a significant manner. The range of perspectives on the world will expand, and people will experience changes at very different paces and from different points of view. Most people want to look at society through long-term and historical continuums and cherish traditions they see as valuable. Through them, we can understand who we are and what the changes around us mean.
Freedom is an essential element defining life and art. Regardless of what the world around us looks like, art will always seek something new, sometimes braking old conventions and perspectives. Art challenges everyone – its creators, audiences and those further removed from the art – to observe, feel and realise new and different things. These momentary disruptions of perspectives open up paths to the unknown and also make room for imagination.
Culture promotes accessibility and safety
Culture creates safe places and spaces. Seeing culture in everyday environments as works, events or places to create culture strengthens the feeling that the spaces are open to all. The threshold for various groups of people to move and spend time in different environments drops when culture is present, whether they be outdoor areas, shopping centres or public buildings.
Cultural services will promote accessibility and safety, even in their digital forms. An increasing number of people will have access to making and experiencing culture when the services are technologically advanced and when services are available regardless of time or place.
+ The openness and flexibility of facilities, the visibility of culture in the urban environment, ‘Culture for All’ services, digital services, pop-up activities, grants
Culture helps regenerate competence
In a rapidly changing society, jobs and professions inevitably disappear and old skills require updating. In the future, more and more of the trades will be linked to the processing of cultural meanings in some way. Developing the opportunities opened up by new technology requires creative skills and thinking. Culture builds paths to learning new things: competence in the creative sector is key in this development.
+ Cooperation with Aalto University, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and the University of the Arts Helsinki, the library’s role in developing residents’ competencies, basic education in the arts, adult education
Culture is part of resident-oriented urban development
Espoo is built around five city centres, all with their own special qualities. In the city centres, local identity is key. Through culture, the identities of the city centres and people can be deepened by forming deeper connections with their neighbourhood and the communities there. Urban environments will be developed with a customer-oriented approach. Espoo’s increasingly diverse population will produce interesting cultural activities, the wide range of which will have something for everyone. Diversity will enhance Espoo’s dynamism.
+ The Tapiola entity, the development of Espoonlahti and Espoon keskus, work on inclusion and interaction, cooperation facilitated by the Sector for Economic Development, Sports and Culture
Culture safeguards peace in society and builds community spirit
The City’s ability to regenerate, promote its residents’ wellbeing and build a meaningful life depends on its ability to support community spirit. Cultural activities provide residents with ways of joining the City’s development. Through art and culture, people can meet each other and experience things together. Even difficult topics can be discussed in an accepting environment: we can find common ground while appreciating our differences.
+ The library as a meeting place, urban events, the museum’s role as an operator that strengthens understanding of the environment and culture, cross-sector and cross-administrative cooperation, children’s culture activities, basic education in the arts, supporting diverse residents’ activities through grants
Culture encourages unexpectedness and risk-taking
The appeal of a city arises not simply from functioning structures and systems and successful trade, but also from the phenomena that are unique and come about, in part, spontaneously. The different forms of culture play an important role in this. They create the experience of an atmosphere that is permissive, experimental and promotes risk-taking and which, in the best-case scenario, can expand from culture into other parts of society and life as well.
+ Art institutions, festivals, the diversity of the forms of art, reinforcing the roles of professional artists, international cooperation, basic education in the arts
An urban environment that is visually harmonius for the residents
- The overall picture of the cityscape will be taken into account in city planning and permit matters so that it supports the identity of the area. Quality matters and professional art will be considered in key urban spaces. Operators from different sectors will prepare the plan and objectives together.
- Espoo’s principles for public art (City Board 13 May 2019) will be used to promote cooperation and shared objectives, and the measures detailed in the principles will be promoted cross-administratively.
A cultural environment that increases residents’ wellbeing
- We will take responsibility for the City’s cultural environment (traditional landscapes, archaeological heritage, manors, historical buildings, parks, etc.) together. The objectives and actions will be drawn up cross-administratively.
- The immediate surroundings will be used as a learning environment, and children and young people will be included in planning them. Sustainable development education will be key in achieving the UN goals and providing wellbeing for Espoo residents.
Diverse, creative and shared use of space
- The cooperation between branches of city administration will go smoothly, and existing facilities will be used in a diverse way. Shared use of space will support the revitalisation of city centres and a sustainable way of life.
- The future of teaching facilities in schools for basic education in the arts near the pupil will be secured.
- The City will support bold experiments with facilities and the creation of temporary events.
- Buildings will be utilised throughout their entire lifecycle, also allowing for temporary users and applications.
- The cultural sector will participate in land use planning and regional development. Residents’ opportunities to influence the development of their neighbourhood will be increased.
A stronger expert role for the Espoo City Museum
- Espoo City Museum will participate systematically and actively in the preparation of urban planning, renovation and construction matters, for example.
- The cultural environment programme will guide the management and conservation of buildings that are important to the cityscape, the cultural landscape and archaeological cultural heritage. The programme will facilitate urban construction and growth in which the layers of the city support the cityscape. The first version of the programme will be completed in 2022.
The library as an open learning environment where visitors teach each other
- The facilities of the Espoo City Library will adapt and transform to meet the local needs at each time. For example, the library will function as a meeting place for people of different ages and offer digital services.
- The flexible and resident-centred activities of the library will promote the building of social urban environments. At the library, the residents can create a new type of collective urban identity that encourages entrepreneurship and participation and promotes living democracy, as well as social and cultural dialogue.
- The library will be a locus for learning, meeting and sharing. In a sharing and circular economy, you do not need to own everything yourself.
Sustainable urban culture that is present in the residents’ immediate surroundings
- The City will encourage the residents to create inclusive urban culture events. The City will facilitate residents’ self-motivated activities and promote them e.g. by simplifying permit procedures and providing facilities.
- Digital facilities that enable new kinds of encounters will be made available to the residents.
- There will be functional and flexible cooperation between the City operators that award grants. Digital tools will be utilised in the grant process to improve its customer orientation.
Culture as a part of the wellbeing economy
- The wellbeing of humans and the environment is a prerequisite for sustainable economic growth and society, as well as economic stability. Realising the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is a significant part of a wellbeing economy.
- GDP growth alone cannot solve the current problems in society. Growth must be financially, environmentally and socially sustainable, reduce inequality and aim to promote the wellbeing of everyone. In addition to conventional economy-focused thinking, we need new indicators to complement metrics like the GDP, which would assess wellbeing and sustainable development.
- Cultural services will be measured and monitored with wellbeing indicators, in addition to financial ones.
- Indicators will be developed to monitor and assess the operations of cultural partners and measure the wellbeing of residents, art creators and cultural communities. It is essential that clear objectives are set together for the cultural communities that receive financial support from the Cultural Committee and that the operations’ success is measured as a part of the City’s wellbeing economy as a whole.
- We will contribute to cultural wellbeing by having measures that promote art and culture as focuses in supporting residents’ health and wellbeing.
Stronger city image and vitality through culture
- Culture will be an important part of Espoo’s business and attraction services.
- Collaboration between culture and business will strengthen Espoo’s reputation and also make Espoo an attractive place to live for international experts and operators. The commitment of new residents will be strengthened when they feel that they are a part of their local community and place of residence and when services are accessible and they have the opportunity to build meaningful social relationships and networks.
- Art and culture operators in Espoo will be a significant image factor to be actively leveraged in City marketing.
- The City of Espoo will be a creative platform; a creative campus where services, jobs, entrepreneurship and housing go hand in hand. The cooperation between cultural operators, institutes of higher education and the business world will be active and highly functional.
- The City’s appeal will be reinforced interactively through five basic elements – the creative environment, the financial environment, the functional environment, the social environment and the physical environment. Professionals want to stay in a city in which quality of life is combined with a diverse city and urban culture.