‘Open and Inclusive’ will focus on presenting the diversity of the country’s cultural environment; “cultural heritage belongs to everyone and everyone has the right to enjoy and create new cultural heritage”, emphasise the programme coordinators. The theme will particularly revolve around the idea of ‘crossing borders’, both geographically across municipalities and countries, and through encouraging groups with mixed ages and languages to work together. Lowering barriers to participation is a key consideration to achieve this, so organisers are being asked how they can invite new audiences to help plan and run events.

Improving the accessibility of destinations is another aspect of the theme the coordinators are looking to address, because “an accessible and open site offers opportunities for participation and inclusion for all”. As well as considering physical access to venues, online and social media events are being specifically highlighted as a helpful way to allow people from all across Finland to take part from home, as well as making events easily accessible internationally.

Although the theme is new for this year, ‘Open and Inclusive’ is building on Finland’s established platform of cross border style events. The Masters and Kittens: an Inter-generational Project, is one such example launched by the Finnish Local Heritage Federation in 2018. Bringing together schoolchildren and older generations for storytelling, drawing, crafts and other creative tasks, the project demonstrated that equal participation across age groups helps strengthen communities. Another example is Everyone Has the Right to Their Homeland; a project in 2019-2020 which connected immigrants and local volunteers in the city of Espoo through activities and discussions about homeland, history, culture and community. The project not only created an operational model for other communities to use, but showed how interaction and dialogue between established and new residents can help promote trust, security and a sense of belonging.

Taking part this year in European Heritage Days

Finland’s theme was announced in December 2020, with a virtual launch to open registration of events earlier in February this year. Speakers at the online opening included the Executive Director of the Finnish Homeland Association discussing diversity and intergenerationalism in cultural heritage work, and the Senior Curator of the National Board of Antiquities with a talk on the accessibility of historic buildings. Examples of previous organisers’ experiences, and a question and answer session with the European Cultural Environment Days Working Group and the Culture for All service, also helped spark ideas for this year’s programme. For those not able to make the event, slides of the speeches have been published in the materials section of the kulttuuriymparistomme.fi website.

The Finnish programme is coordinated by a collaboration of Ministries, Federations, Agencies and Associations, who invite events from anyone who wants to get involved; many museums, theatres, libraries, art and culture societies, youth and recreation organisations and other associations regularly take part. Support on organising events, including advice on the set-up process and tips for digital experiences, is available online, where organisers can also access and order marketing materials from logos and videos to bunting and balloons.

The majority of events will be taking place this year between 6th – 12th September, although some will also be happening throughout the year. Keep up to date with European Heritage Days in Finland on their website, or via Twitter and Facebook at @EHDFinland.