Development grants for culture

Development grants are awarded to Helsinki-based registered operators that are not included in the central government subsidies system (VOS) in the fields of performing arts or music.

Generally, it is possible to apply for a development grant once a year for a development project that will start or will be implemented in the following year. Development grant can be awarded for 1–3-year projects. Operators receiving multi-year development grants must submit a follow-up application once a year to confirm the grant for the following year.

Grants may be awarded for development projects meeting at least one of the following criteria: 

  • Responds to the cultural sector’s development needs (e.g. when certain activities are not yet available in the city)
  • Is beneficial to the field of art and culture more extensively than only to the organisation implementing the project
  • Supports the City Council’s strategic and cultural policy objectives

Eligible activities include cooperation networks, experiments, new ways of working (e.g. new operating models, concepts and facility solutions), and projects intended to achieve cultural and artistic reformation and development. Skill development projects can also be supported.

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.

Development grants may also be awarded through separate grant calls such as aseparate grant call according to the Helsinki Model.

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 to create something new and to allow artistic development to take 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

Generally, it is possible to apply for a development grant once a year for a development project that will start or will be implemented in the following year. Development grant can be awarded for 1–3-year projects. Operators receiving multi-year development grants must submit a follow-up application once a year to confirm the grant for the following year.

The application period for development grants begins on Wednesday, June 5th, 2024 and ends on Monday, September 2nd, 2024 at 16:00. This applies also to continuation applications for multi-year development grants. Decisions will be made at the Culture and Library Sub-committee meeting on Tuesday, November 12th, 2024.

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 save your application as a draft and return to complete it later. Your application will be saved in your personal folder. 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.

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.

Attachments required for development grants:

  •  A project plan for the applied period
  • A budget for the applied period
  • 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)

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) Decisions on the development grants for 2025 will be made at the Culture and Library Subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, November 12th, 2024. 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)

Development grants are paid in two instalments in accordance with the decision. The first instalment, 80 procent of the grant, will be paid at the beginning of the year after the decision has been made and the second, 20% of the grant, after the submission of the project’s annual report.

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 of a grant must arrange its accounting and auditing in the manner required by law and so that the use of the grant can be monitored based on the accounts. 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 perform other audits regarding its activities as necessary.

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. An annual report on the use of the development grant must be submitted, and a final report must be submitted at the end of the project period. The annual report for 2024 must be submitted by Monday, September 2, 2024.

Proceed to fill out the annual report for development grants.(Link leads to external service)

For projects that started in 2024 or later, revenues and expenses must be tracked with a separate cost center report.

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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