The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux is a cultural institute based in Brussels. It was founded in 1993 and its scope of operations covers Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The Institute is one of the 17 Finnish cultural and science institutes. It is an independent, non-profit organisation funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture as well as various public and private funds. The Institute is maintained by the Foundation for the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux.
The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux started its operations in 1993 as the Finnish Cultural Centre in Belgium. During the first years it was based in premises rented from the Finnish Seamen’s Mission in Antwerp. In 1996 its operations were extended to all the Benelux countries. The Cultural Secretary in the establishment phase was Iiris Kivimäki (1993-94). The first Directors were Marjatta Oksanen (1994-96) and Johanna Lindstedt (1997-2001).
In the 1990s and early 2000s the Centre’s programme was usually built around different themes. The Centre organised on its own premises exhibitions, concerts, writer visits and discussions on the themes. Collaboration with cultural institutions in the Benelux countries and cultural institutes in other countries was an important part of the operations. The Centre also took part in the establishment of the EUNIC network of the European Union National Institutes of Culture in Brussels. In Finland the Finnish Cultural Centre had an active role in launching the network of Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes.
Irma Hjelt started as the Director in 2002. During 2005 the Centre’s name was changed to the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux. The following year the Institute moved from Antwerp to Brussels. There were no own exhibition or concert spaces at the new premises, so the activities started to shift towards projects carried out together with local cultural actors and especially with other European national cultural institutes.
In 2007 Kalle Jämsén started as the Director. During his term the Institute continued to profile itself as a networker for professionals in the field of art and culture.
Sirpa Hietanen started as the Director in 2010. In the past years the Institute has focused on long-term projects and the development of networks at grassroots level. The events are no longer organised independently but always in cooperation with local professionals.
In 2014 the Foundation for the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux appointed Aleksi Malmberg the new Director for the Institute.
The Finnish Cultural Institute in the Benelux Trust serves as a liaison between stakeholders in the field of culture from Finland and the Benelux countries. The Institute is an expert organisation that provides information and builds up contacts in a broad field of culture.
The Institute offers artists and organisations opportunities to create discussion, new projects and new possibilities of collaboration. The operations aim at long-term, sustainable cooperation among artists and other professionals in the field from Finland and the Benelux countries.
The Institute engages in a wide range of activities throughout the whole field of culture, including e.g. visual arts, performing arts, literature, design and cinema arts.
The Institute cooperates closely with the Finnish Embassies in the Benelux countries. It is also a member of EUNIC Amsterdam and EUNIC Brussels.
The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux is maintained by Finnish Cultural Institute in the Benelux Trust. The Foundation is Finnish and its domicile is Helsinki.
Executive board of the Foundation for the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux
Johanna Lindstedt, chairperson, director
Kalle Jämsen, director
Laura Kolbe, professor
Antti Wihanto, honorary consul for Belgium
Hannu Suihkonen, secretary general
Suvi Innilä, programme coordinator, deputy member
Kaarlo Kalliala, bishop, deputy member
Sakari Karjalainen, adjunct professor, deputy member
Martti Kivistö, director, deputy member
Pasi Saukkonen, adjunct professor, deputy member
outi.paasonen [@] finncult.be
Suomen Benelux-instituutin säätiö
The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux is a non-profit, general interest association registered in Belgium. The name in the Register of Associations of Belgium is “Fins Cultureel Instituut voor de Benelux, vereniging zonder winstoogmerk”, abbreviated as “vzw”. In French the form of association is “association sans but lucrative”, abbreviation “asbl”.
Executive board of the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux
Pasi Saukkonen, chairperson, adjunct professor
Antti Wihanto, vice chairperson, honorary consul for Belgium
Kalle Jämsen, director of culture services
Outi Paasonen, content and communications coordinator
Ulla Suortti, press attaché