Finnish Institute of Occupational Health media release 20 November 2023
The extensive network of performing arts industry operators has identified the need to address shortcomings in the industry. The Floor is Ours! Developing a culture of intervention in performing arts work communities project carried out by the network and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health studied the factors that both contribute to and prevent addressing shortcomings in the performing arts industry.
The study revealed that the shortcomings affect everyone in the industry and that they are related to the activities of work communities and interpersonal interaction, work organization and resources and lack of clarity concerning leadership, management structures and duties.
The distinct nature of the industry must be questioned
“Addressing the shortcomings of the performing arts industry is difficult due to the general view that the industry is somehow unique, which can be seen in how inappropriate behaviour at work is justified based on the work’s artistic nature. Although equality is a common value in the industry, in practice, there are strict hierarchies between people that affect addressing these shortcomings,” says Senior Specialist Heli Ansio from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Performing arts work communities and the industry in general should have a discussion of how the prevailing basic assumptions prevent identifying and addressing shortcomings.
Aiming for a safe atmosphere and constructive interaction
“In order to improve a culture of intervention and caring, it is of the utmost importance that concerns and worries related to work, occupational safety and well-being at work can be raised in work communities without the fear of unforeseen consequences. The industry must continue to build a safe atmosphere, constructive interaction and collective responsibility,” says Researcher Inka Koskela from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
At the same time, the industry must develop leadership expertise, especially with regard to the management of personnel and working groups. In addition, improving working group and co-operation skills and uniform agreement policies support changing the culture of intervention.
A change for the better already in progress
There are established practices in the industry that are applied in addressing shortcomings to a varying degree. Major operators have formal policies and occupational safety and health structures. Smaller operators and working groups dependent on grants have applied the ethical guidelines of the industry, for example, and external support has been sought in solving conflicts. Work communities of all sizes have forums that allow public discussion, regardless of the form of organization.
“There is already a praiseworthy change in progress in the industry towards taking occupational safety and well-being at work more seriously. Good practices for intervention and caring already exist. Now, it is time to share and apply them with operators of different sizes and on a scale suitable for different forms of art,” says Senior Specialist Susanna Visuri from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Read more about the study
- Read the study report (available in Finnish only): Floor is Ours! Developing a culture of intervention in performing arts workplaces
- The Floor is Ours! study was carried out using quantitative, participatory methods with 33 people working in the performing arts industry. They fulfilled the role of co-researchers in the project. The co-researchers participated in specifying the themes of the study and collecting and analysing data.
- The study data comprises the personal experiences of the co-researchers and texts that describe their thoughts, photos and other documents, method of empathy-based stories and peer interviews.
- Project page: Floor is Ours! Developing a culture of intervention in performing arts workplaces
- The research project also updated the previously published Performing arts safety and well-being rider (available in Finnish only): Performing arts safety and well-being rider
- Senior Specialist Susanna Visuri, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, susanna.visuri [at] ttl.fi (susanna[dot]visuri[at]ttl[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)46 851 5912
- Senior Specialist Heli Ansio, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, heli.ansio [at] ttl.fi (heli[dot]ansio[at]ttl[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)50 468 7335
- Researcher Inka Koskela, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, inka.koskela [at] ttl.fi (inka[dot]koskela[at]ttl[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)43 824 5927
Further information is also available from the project partners
- Managing Director Elina Kuusikko, Finnish Actors Union, elina.kuusikko [at] nayttelijaliitto.fi (elina[dot]kuusikko[at]nayttelijaliitto[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)40 835 9587
- Production Director Timo Tuovila, Finnish National Opera and Ballet, timo.tuovila [at] opera.fi (timo[dot]tuovila[at]opera[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)40 726 8500
- Executive Director Taija Lähdetie, The Conservatory Association of Finland, taija.lahdetie [at] konservatorioliitto.fi (taija[dot]lahdetie[at]konservatorioliitto[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)50 329 6009
- Freelance Coordinator Jaakko Kämäräinen, Finnish Musicians’ Union, jaakko.kamarainen [at] muusikkojenliitto.fi (jaakko[dot]kamarainen[at]muusikkojenliitto[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)40 861 3231
- Executive Director Iiris Lehtonen, Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras, iiris.lehtonen [at] sinfoniaorkesterit.fi (iiris[dot]lehtonen[at]sinfoniaorkesterit[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)40 511 6142
- Managing Director Kaisa Paavolainen, The Association of Finnish Theatres, kaisa.paavolainen [at] suomenteatterit.fi (kaisa[dot]paavolainen[at]suomenteatterit[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)40 518 0698
- Occupational Safety and Health Manager Jyri Pulkkinen, The University of the Arts, jyri.pulkkinen [at] uniarts.fi (jyri[dot]pulkkinen[at]uniarts[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)50 572 2058
- Executive Director Sanna Meska, The Finnish Network of Regional Dance Centres, sanna.meska [at] l-tanssi.fi (sanna[dot]meska[at]l-tanssi[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)40 054 6016
- Executive Director Karoliina Huovila, Trade Union for Theatre and Media Finland, karoliina.huovila [at] teme.fi (karoliina[dot]huovila[at]teme[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)40 521 9083
- Executive Director Mikael Kinanen, Theatre Centre, mikael.kinanen [at] teatterikeskus.fi (mikael[dot]kinanen[at]teatterikeskus[dot]fi), tel. +358 (0)40 731 3655