Art has a positive effect on building projects in Finland

Art is integrated in Vuores, a new area in Tampere. Photo: Aino Huovio
Kuvanveistäjä Marjukka Korhosen ja WSP Finland Oy:n Kuusen silmu -teos osana autokatoksien seinärakennetta Tampereella. Kuva: Aino Huovio

A tool for enhancing sense of fellowship and brand identity, the use of visual arts as part of building projects raises a positive response among art commissioners. This was clearly stated in a survey commissioned for Percent for Art project. 109 professionals from construction and cultural sectors filled in the questionnaire in November 2015.

55% of the respondents thought that art has increased people’s willingness to buy, the attractiveness of an area and possibly reduced vandalism in an area. Art supported marketing efforts, as 67% of the respondents used works of art in marketing.

-The result shows that art in really has added value. Positive feedback from art commissioners who already have experience in using art in building projects, gives an inspiring example also for other developers or municipalities. Whether the acquisition of artworks in initiated by the housing association, by building companies, or by municipalities, the key is to act at an early stage of the construction project. It is even possible that art will not increase expenses, if it is budgeted in the project on time, says Salla Heinänen, Executive Director of The Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo.

Municipal officials in the educational and the cultural sectors were especially eager to answer to the survey. They were included in the survey because they often act as commissioners in school, library and recreational construction projects as well as art projects.

Almost all respondents (96%) considered art as one of the quality factors that help an area or a building to stand out and be unique. Most of the respondents had prior experience in ordering artworks in building projects.

According Salla Heinänen the interest in the use of art has remarkably increased in Finland.  Particularly in the case of housing construction, target of art, among other values, is often economic value added. Whether value add is realized or not, is though hard to predict.

Multidisciplinary cooperation is a key for fluent art acquisition

The questionnaire was also sent to developers, designers, art commissioners in municipalities and officials in cultural sector, as fluent art acquisition requires multidisciplinary cooperation.

According to study conducted by architect and researcher Laura Uimonen, experiences of developers and art commissioners were positive. Of the developers and art commissioners who responded to the survey, 74 per cent were officials in the public sector and 26 per cent in the private sector. Of the respondents, 60 per cent work in the public educational and cultural functions as art commissioners. 25 per cent of the respondents were engineers and 15 per cent of developers.

An survey, conducted earlier (2014), revealed that public art also has a strong support by citizens. The survey was conducted find out how residents in Finland feel about art in their everyday environments. 71% of the respondents believe that art increases the value of a residential area or property.

The Percent for Art principle

The Percent for Art principle refers to the practice of spending a certain portion of a construction project’s budget on art. There are several funding models for implementing the principle. According to the traditional definition, around one percent of the construction budget is spent on art.

The principle can also manifest itself as a planning or funding decision, or it may be imposed as a condition for a conveyance. The Percent principle can also be applied by private developers. It is suitable for new constructions, renovations, infill development and building infrastructure.

The Percent for Art project

The Percent for Art is a project funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, and its partners in 2014 and 2015 were the following visual arts organisations: Artists’ Association of Finland, the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo, the Architecture Information Centre Finland and the Foundation for Environmental Art. The project was implemented in cooperation with the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
The Percent for Art project aimed to implant the Percent for Art principle in construction culture and decision-making in Finland. To achieve this objective, the project produced information and material on the principle, was involved in lobbying and arranged training and other events for those commissioning art, specialists in built environment and artists. An art project was carried out in ten locations in Finland as part of an art expertise pilot project, and the project organised a total of 25 events and training sessions in 18 locations around Finland.
The handbook of the Percent for Art principle is the Percent for Art project’s final report. The report was also published in 2015 as part of the Percentage of the principle of manual art client and the artist.

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