Together for a more equal IHME


The publication of IHME’s Equality Strategy launches the Festival’s efforts to focus on diversity and to promote equality.

This strategy work was prompted by the contradiction between the subjects addressed by artworks and art institutions’ own practices. Even though contemporary art deals increasingly, for example, with social and political problems ranging from migrations to gender politics, the principle of social justice is not necessarily being enacted in institutional practice.

How can art organizations take participation by different population groups into account in planning their organizational structures and practices? How can colonizing and sexist discourses be deconstructed? And how can economic inequality be reduced, thereby counteracting the homogenization of the international artworld – halting a development that has led to fewer and fewer people being able to afford to be artists? The strategy now being published seeks to provide answers to these questions and more.

IHME is one of the artworld actors who met at the end of 2017 to begin work on a strategy to implement gender equality, antiracism and fair labour practices in their own organizations. Also taking part are Baltic Circle International Theatre Festival, EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Frame Contemporary Art Finland, Goethe-Institut Finnland, Helsinki International Artist Programme HIAP, Helsinki Art Museum HAM, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art/National Gallery, PUBLICS, Upeart and IHME funder Kone Foundation. The actors were convened by the artist Terike Haapoja.

The Strategy – A first step

“The equality strategy is the first step in work that we hope will, before long, lead to as many people as possible being able to take part in cultural life in as many roles as possible,” says IHME Executive Director Paula Toppila. She emphasizes that the entire sector has to commit to these goals in order to make change possible. “We at IHME are committing ourselves to these measures, but it would be wonderful if as many people as possible in the sector were to employ these emerging strategies. We have the tools, but the most important thing is discussing and sharing experiences, since it is from these that we learn the most,” she adds.

Toppila does not believe that barriers to equality will be removed overnight. “These issues will never be dealt with once and for all; we have to learn by our mistakes. We also have to find time in our everyday work to take equality into account in all our planning, and this will often require training of staff and consulting specific groups, along with budgeting for equality.”

Forward together

IHME’s equality strategy has been published in its entirety here and is open to all for comment. You can give us feedback on how well we have succeeded in putting our principles into practice, either anonymously via the feedback form or by e-mail to:

IHME also offers audiences opportunities to influence its behaviour on its Client Panel, which has been active since 2012. The IHME Panel is a discussion forum that usually meets 2–3 times a year. Panellists are asked their views, for example, to support the Festival’s programme, communications and client services. You can join in by contacting Cultural Producer Päivi Matala (