Arts and culture grants: Operational grants

Arts and culture grants are awarded for artistic and cultural activities that are organised in Helsinki and are open to the general public. The grants are directed at supporting activities that are geared towards Helsinki residents, bring people together and into contact with artistic and cultural content, and offer possibilities for encounters and interaction. Arts and culture grants include two types of grants: operational grants and project grants.

Operational grants are awarded for year-round operations to Helsinki-based registered organisations that have been operating as registered for at least one fiscal year.

Grants will not be awarded to: 

  • Activities that for the most part take place outside Helsinki
  • Closed events (activities that are only open to a limited group of people may be accepted in the case of a special target group)
  • Recordings and publications such as books, records, film productions, games, theses, etc.
  • Media publishing activities such as magazine publishing, television or radio broadcasting, websites, social media platforms, etc.•    

Grants will also not be awarded to:

  • Religious or political events
  • Presentations, lectures or seminars 
  • Hobby activities or clubs for adults
  • Study activities or courses and camps
  • Competitions 
  • Individual concerts, performances or exhibitions 

The grants are primarily directed at supporting activities that are in line with these principles, but other activities may also be considered as complementary forms of activity. 

The supported artistic and cultural activities must form a central part of the applicant’s overall activities or be clearly distinguishable from the financial statements, the action plan and the budget. A grant is awarded for the whole year’s activities.

Grants cannot be awarded for activities for which full funding is requested by means of said grant. For the same activity, which the city buys or already supports with a grant, in principle no duplicate grant will be granted. Nor are the city's own activities in principle supported by grants.

Teams-info session on applying for operational grants

The City of Helsinki's electronic grants servicr has been updated, and in August, operational grants for arts and culture will be applied for the first time in the new system with a revised form. Come ask questions and learn about the updated grants service as well as the application and decision-making procedures at an info session held remotely via Teams on Wednesday, August 14th, from 14:00 to 15:30. No registration is required; you can join the event by clicking the Teams link when it starts. Join the information session (Teams)(Link leads to external service). The info is mainly in Finnish, but you can ask questions and get answers also in English and Swedish. 

A uniform set of assessment criteria is used when evaluating applications. Read through the criteria carefully before submitting your application and consider your activities in relation to the criteria. Applicants do not need to meet all the assessment criteria to be eligible for a grant, but awarding the grant and the amount of the grant will be assessed based on the criteria. In addition to the assessment of individual applications, the applications will be compared with each other, and the overall assessment will take into account matters such as the available appropriations. The grants are discretionary. 

Assessment criteria as of 1 June 2022

Artistic basis and content, in the case of which the assessment considers the following:

  • The artistic goals and the strength of the idea, and how these are reflected in the planned activities
  • How clearly the application expresses the activity’s artistic starting points (e.g. the uniqueness of the activity)
  • How professional, ambitious and interesting the activity is, and how significant it is within its field
  • How the activity will increase the versatility and diversity of the content on offer in the field of arts and culture in the city
  • The activity’s potential for creating something new and for artistic development taking place

Operational basis and implementation, in the case of which the assessment considers the following:

  • How professional and credible the activity is
  • The activity’s impact, partnerships and scope
  •  How feasible and realistic the activity described in the application is, and how uniform a whole the goals, the plan and its implementation form
  • How diverse the resources are, and what financial risks are involved in the activity
  • How necessary the grant is for the realisation of the activity
  • The development of the activity and how the development will be achieved
  • The organisation’s ability to evaluate its own activities
  • How equality and equity will be taken into account when arranging the activity
  • How ecological aspects will be taken into account when arranging the activity

Diversity, accessibility and participation, in the case of which the assessment considers the following:

  • How the activity will add to the diversity reflected by the artistic and cultural operators and offering in Helsinki
  • How the activity will be made socially, district-wise, culturally, language-wise, financially, age-group-wise, physically or otherwise more accessible to the audience and participants
  • How the target groups have been defined and what measures will be used to reach different groups
  • How the activity will expand the spectator and participant base in experiencing and creating art and culture, and how it will encourage people to engage in a more extensive dialogue about art
  • How the activity will build community spirit in the city and improve the opportunities of residents to participate in and realise activities themselves
  • How the activity will utilise and strengthen operating methods that are based on networks and communities

The evaluation of applications also considers the general rules and strategies of the City of Helsinki and the following instructions:

Application period

It is possible to apply for an operational grant once a year for the following year. The application period for operational grants begins on Wednesday, June 5th, 2004 and ends on Monday, September 2nd, 2024 at 16:00

How to apply for a grant

Familiarise yourself with the application instructions and obtain the necessary background information and attachments for submitting the application. You can apply for a grant through the City of Helsinki e-services. You can proceed to fill in the application from the Create new application link found on the left panel of this page when you are logged in to the e-service. You will find the Log in -link from the upper right corner of the page.

You can save your application as a draft and return to complete it later. Your application will be saved in your profile.

Submit your application by 16:00 on the application period closing date. Grants will not be awarded for applications submitted after the deadline. We recommend that you submit your application before the closing date of the application period, as the service may experience high traffic.

If an application is incomplete, we will ask you to complete it. If the incomplete application is not completed by the deadline given by City of Helsinki, the application will be processed based on the information provided and rejected if the conditions for awarding the application are not met. 

Attachments required for operational grants:

  • An action plan for the following year
  • A budget for the following year
  • Financial statements for the previous year (the financial statements must include at least the result and balance sheet of the association, and must also include a copy of a signed audit or performance audit report)
  • The annual report for the previous year
  • The association’s rules (in the case of a new applicant, or if the rules have changed since the previous application)
  • A bank statement or similar document indicating the account holder’s name and the account number (for new applicants, or if the bank details have changed)

Submit the necessary attachments via the e-services. Registered associations/entities, private persons and registered representatives of working groups are required to attach a bank statement or a corresponding report by the bank on the account holder (for new applicants, or if the bank details have changed), which must include both the account holder and the account number. If you attach a bank statement to the application, you may hide the transactions if you wish. An awarded grant cannot be paid in the absence of such a document. 

The application will be processed by the City of Helsinki Culture and Leisure Division Cultural Services and Support partner unit. Decisions on grants are made by the Culture and Library Sub-committee of the Culture and Leisure Committee(Link leads to external service).  

To better adhere to the city's budget confirmation schedule during the preparation process, decisions on operational grants will be made in two parts, as in 2024. At the Culture and Library Sub-committee meeting on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2024, decisions will be made on the recipients of operational grants for the year 2025. For those entities that received operational grants in 2024 and are proposed to receive operational grants for 2025 based on their applications, part of the operational grant will be awarded as an advance. The advance is 25 percent of the entity's operational grant for 2024.

With the preliminary decision, we aim to provide continuity for the activities of those receiving grants and to secure the conditions for early-year operations. The Culture and Library Sub-committee will make the final decisions on the grant amounts for operational grants and basic art education grants at its first meeting of the year 2025 in January-February.

Applicants will be informed of the decision once the committee has made its decision. Applicants will be notified by post. 

Read the latest decision (in Finnish).(Link leads to external service)

Operational grants are paid in one to three instalments, depending on the amount of the grant.

Operational grants are paid as follows:

  • Grants of EUR 1,000–50,000 will be paid in a single instalment after the decision has been made. 
  • Grants of more than EUR 50,000 will be paid in two instalments; first after the decision has been made and the second instalment on 6th of September 2024.

The payment takes into account the already received grant advance paid according to the Culture and Library Sub-committee's decision 7.12.2023, § 31. The advance is 25 % of the grant sum for 2023. If the recipient owes money to the city, the city’s recoverable claim from the recipient will be deducted from the awarded grant.

Grants will be paid into a bank account in the name of the recipient. If the recipient does not have a bank account, they must open one. To verify the bank details, a bank statement (for new applicants, or if the bank details have changed) or a corresponding document indicating the name of the account holder and the account number must be attached to the application. If said statement is not submitted, the grant will not be paid.

For more information about payment matters, please contact administrative secretary Minna Leino, tel. +358 9 3108 9044, opens default mail program)

Conditions for the use of the grant 

All cultural grants are governed by the general grant allocation guidelines of the City of Helsinki.(Link leads to external service)

The grant can only be used for the purpose stated in the grant decision. If the grant decision does not specify the purpose, the grant must be used for the purpose stated in the application. The city has the right to reclaim the grant in part or in full in accordance with the terms and conditions. 

The recipient is not allowed to use the grant for fundraising or for business and investment expenditure, or to increase its financial assets or any other long-term investments.

The recipient must arrange an audit in the manner stipulated by the Auditing Act. The recipient must arrange the audit even if this is not required by the Auditing Act. In such a case, the audit may also be performed by a lay auditor. An audit report must be submitted for an audit performed by a lay auditor, referred to as a ‘performance audit report’.

The recipient must provide the City of Helsinki with the information the city deems necessary for processing the grant application, awarding the grant and monitoring its use, free of charge. The party awarding the grant has the right to audit the accounts and administration of the applicant/recipient and, as necessary, perform other audits regarding its activities.

The recipient must notify the City of Helsinki without delay of any significant changes affecting the use of the grant.

The recipient undertakes to investigate the background of all suppliers used in the activities and to purchase services only from responsible operators who meet their social obligations. 

Reporting on the use of the grant

Reports must be submitted on the use of all grants awarded by the city. Reporting on operational grants will primarily take place when applying for the next year’s grant, i.e. by attaching the previous year’s financial statements and annual report to the application.

Using the Helsinki logo 

Whenever possible, grant recipients must include the City of Helsinki logo in their information and marketing materials. There is a Finnish and Swedish version, as well as a bilingual version of the logo. In any case, the recipient must mention the City of Helsinki as a sponsor of the event.

Download the logo of the City of Helsinki. 

See the general instructions in the Guidance and support section and contact the grant coordinators as necessary.

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