Amateo conference 2015, Helsinki, Finland

The 2015 AMATEO Conference and General Assembly was held in Helsinki, Finland from May 25th - 27th. The conference Youth! Arts! Sharing Youth Arts Models of Practice Across Europe brought together best practices on cultural youth work and art education.

Here you can find material from the conference in Helsinki, May 2015.

Diversity in cultural youth work

Anna Kuoppamäki

Anna Kuoppamäkiis a Finnish composer and lyricist. She has just finished her doctoral dissertation from the Sibelius Academy; a study that examines the complexity of children’s gendered negotiations in a music classroom, particularly how the age-related social phenomenon of gendered border work, gendered learner identities and the construction of musical agency are intertwined in these negotiations when learning music in a group. Anna presented a lecture in “Diversity in arts education”, partly based on her doctoral dissertation, but also in a larger context. Anna is artistic director of Sounds festival.

Diversity: meaning?

From perspective of arts education

  • within art form
  • between art forms
  • social and cultural diversity

1 + 2) Sounds: national festival, open arena for music, choirs, pop bands, rock groups, acapella…, workshops where people from different musical backgrounds work together

Song writing skills among youngsters are high, feed-back from professional musicians

Good example of diversity and community!

Immigrant groups are not reached.

3) classroom: social conditions can support or hinder learning

music classroom is social space (inequalities), obstacles for democratic learning

to promote equal opportunities, creative processes from their own life helped the children to overcome social boundaries and de-emphasise gender differences

art educators believe that creative practices create meaningfull learning experiences, but what they actually can create is a learning space, the opportunities to learn. They have to be aware of changing gender identities of kids (jumping from the gender stereotype to running away from it).

Workshop – Youth Influence now!
Erika Lindqvist and Anna Edlund from ax
How can you increase youth inclusion, influence and empowerment in amateur culture organisations? "Youth influence now!" is a project that addresses these crucial questions. The key value of the project is to see how, by including the young in decision making processes, we can develop new and better organisational practices. Vital to the project is the idea that young people need to be recognised as a resource today and not solely as a hope for the future.


Anna Edlund and Erika Lindqvist are project managers of "Youth influence now!”. In this presentation they shared their experiences from the project. Anna and Erika are also board members of ax - the Swedish Amateur Culture Council, and they both have a background as cultural practitioners in music and dance. They offered useful models and practical solutions to breaking down the misconceptions and perceptions in intergenerational work and were inspirational in their fresh approach.

Go to the presentation here.

Discussing social, cultural and economic aspects in cultural youthwork – practices and experiences
Timo Cantell


Timo Cantell is, since the beginning of April, the Director of the Office at City of Helsinki Urban Facts. In the 2000’s he worked as a professor at the Sibelius Academy and has previously done research related to visitors at cultural events and the economic - and other effects, but also related to the development of the city. Cantell has been involved with cultural youth work for many years included the topic in his speech “Discussing social, cultural and economic aspects in cultural youth work-experiences and examples”.

Helsinki has a different age profile to the rest of the country. Helsinki has a lot of young people (migration and high birth rate), and also a lot of older citizens.

Cultural policy development started after WWII (to prevent the domination of American culture and to safeguard long European traditions). In the 60’s and 70’s: we witnessed the democratisation of culture. In 1980: the discussion on the economic impact of culture started. In 1990: a broader concept of culture came into place instead of economic impact.

Tension between arts for arts sake and more the instrumental use (ie using arts for other purposes eg. job creation, tourism for cultural capital, social engineering etc).

Richard Florida: cities should not attract capital, they should attract people (a creative bunch of people come when there’s an interesting cultural life).

Ake E. Anderson: success of big cities: culture, creativity, communication and knowledge make cities progressive and forward thinking.

Dorte Skot-hansen: the five E’s

  • Enlightenment: museums were set up to civilise people, so people would not be rebellious (not arts for arts sake)
  • Empowerment: (part of social impact)
  • Economic impact
  • Entertainment
  • Experience (part of social impact)

Example 1 of economic impact: a couple that goes to a classical music concert : only 1/5th of their expenses are spent in the theatre, the other 4/5th are spent in broader economic sectors (hotels, restaurants, cafes, transport, programmes + associated literature….)

Example 2 of economic impact: Baumol, William J and Bowen, William G (1966): Performing Arts: the economic dillemma. New York: the Twentieth Century Fund.

Empowerment: related to health impact, people live longer if they are active in a cultural field, both for individuals and for larger communities, the influence of active participation is very positive

Experience: is about enjoying, being happy about culture rather than the instrumental aspect

Example: discussion about creating a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki.

Arguments pro: direct impact: visitors spending money, indirect impact: visitors spending money outside of the museum, economic turnover from jobs and services to the museum

Benefit versus impact: example new experience public library in Helsinki. Library card = earning 500 dollar each year in Toronto (the collection is worth a lot…). So, each dollar invested is worth 5,63 dollar of economic impact. Methodology here? Is it not real money that you spend…

Charles Landry complements to this presentation:

The cultural resource of a place

The city 1.0: urban engineering approach: people dealing with physical matters

Because of economic crisis: field of culture is trapped in position of being required to demonstrate economic impact

The city 2.0: shifting from hardware to hardware/software of a city, more participative, what is hierarchy of cultural industry,

The city 3.0: a co-creative way, a ‘we’, this challenges the role of the tradiotional cultural institution, what is a cultural policy of a city when so much in the city happens next to the policy-driven governmental initiatives

Workshop - Transforming lives through dance
Carly Annabel-Coop from Dance United (UK) and Eva Monen from SKVR (the Netherlands)


During the workshop 'Transforming lives through dance', Carly Annable-Coop and Eva Monen talked about the methodology of the English dance organisation "Dance United" and the challenge how to adapt this dance programme to different countries with other educational systems.

Dance United uses intensive contemporary dance training to help transform the lives of young people who are marginalised, and affected by poverty, social inequality, crime or lack of opportunity. Dance United's projects are tough, disciplined and intensive. The Academies’ intensive 11-week programmes are based on the discipline of professional dance training. Hundreds of young people start from scratch and excel, learning a host of transferable skills on the way. They discover the joy of learning and achieve against the odds.

The approach sets challenges to youngsters who are complete beginners. It doesn’t matter what they did before, from day one, they are treated as professional dancers. They learn to be strong, to focus, to build trust and to work hard to look amazing on stage. During the programme, their self belief, pride, self control and problem solving skills raise.

For many of the young people involved this is the last chance saloon... they find themselves to a large extent excluded from society and with very limited choices; most have been through the justice system for all types of crime and employment seems out of reach. Through the programme the majority of participants discover pathways to new lives without focusing on what has passed before. Motivation and redirection are key outputs and the demonstrable results are truly outstanding.

At this time, a new programme based on the principles of Dance United methodology is being built in the Netherlands, by partners SKVR (local center for arts education in Rotterdam) and Conny Janssen Danst (professional dance company).

Youth Arts in the UK
Robin Simpson


Voluntary Arts has existed as an organisation for 24 years in the UK and Ireland. Their mission is that everybody should do something creative in their lives and doing it together in a group brings added enjoyment. The result of that creativity could be anything and in addition to the accepted art forms of music, dance, theatre, visual arts etc VA includes cookery, garden design, knitting design….everything fits in!

So, Voluntary Arts focuses on CREATIVE & TOGETHER. How does youth art activity link with adult life amateur arts in the UK?

6 categories of youth art activity:

  • traditional youth art activity

set up by adults, interaction with adults, established patterns

  • elite youth arts groups and competitive youth arts

national youth choir, the best get in, compete, small number helps to create role models and raise standards

  • youth arts in schools

art activities at schools, often the first experience with arts, bringing professional artists into schools

  • commercial youth arts

profit making youth arts enterprise, often big events in major venues with thousands of performances

  • youth arts linked to amateur groups

eg a choir guides a new youth choir to set up as mentor, support from adult amateur arts in setting up organisations

  • youth led youth arts

initiative comes from the youngsters

Projects to remember:

Big Noise UK

Room 13

Workshop – The future of Amateo

Workshop on the goals and future actions of Amateo in preparation of an EU-application for funding as network.

Download the presentation.

Find out more about the results of the workshop? Mail to info@amateo.org to get the minutes.


Villy Dall, former president of Amateo, wrote a personal reflection on the Helsinki conference. 

Benedikte De Vos

Conference 2016 - Vrsar, Croatia

Amateo Conference 2016 in Vrsar, Croatia

Voluntary Arts presentation in Vrsar, Croatia

Networking at Amateo conference, Helsinki, 2015

Board Meeting Amateo, Helsinki, 2015
Board Meeting Amateo, Helsinki, 2015

Reception at Amateo Conference 2015, Helsinki
Reception at Amateo Conference May 2015, FSU, FInland

Board Meeting Amateo, Vienna, April 2010

photo: Han Singels