Board's statement on Art School Maa’s situation 6.3.2024


The planned discontinuation of Kela's study grants for Maa’s new students and cuts to the school’s operating grants endanger the future of Art School Maa – support diversity in art education.




Art School Maa has operated since 1986 in the in-between of the official education system and the freelance field. In 2019, the school's operations began to be narrowed down due to cuts to its funding, and with the changes of the last few months, Maa can no longer operate in its current form. After several attempts over the years to find a suitable solution in the formal education system, there is still no result in which Maa could continue to operate according to its core values and in which its future would be on a sustainable basis.

In this time, we need educational institutions in which everyone has the opportunity to study and work from their own starting points. Diversity in art education ensures diversity in the art field in general. Art School Maa’s environment is created by students, artist pedagogues and artists to support artistic expression and the individual voice in teaching, exhibition and association activities. As an educational institution, employer and association, Art School Maa strives to promote and maintain diversity, equality and critical thinking in the art field.


Art School Maa's Board invites you to:

  • support Art School Maa by giving statements of support via this link for an appeal regarding Maa’s  students’ Kela eligibility and to support Maa's future grant applications to make up for the cuts . You can also send your statement by email:
  • share this statement. You can find all updates and statements about the situation on Art School Maa's website and social media accounts:
  • If you are an alumni of Art School Maa, you can answer the alumni survey and help us gather information about the importance of Maa in your studies and profession.


What is happening? 

The funding of visual arts education has been severely cut in Finland over the past 10 years, study programmes have been discontinued and entire schools have been closed. The closing of schools and the standardisation of art education takes part in the devaluation of the art field. Closing schools has not improved the position of visual artists working in their profession by creating more opportunities for graduated artists and reducing the competition for scarce resources. On the contrary, the closures have marginalised the field even more and narrowed the horizons of the artist's profession.

Since 2019, Taidekoulu Maa has been in the middle of a difficult transition. Support from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike), which is very essential for the school, has been cut in stages by almost 33% – from 118,000 euros to 80,000 euros. In addition, the wish has been expressed that Maa’s teaching operations would no longer be funded by Arts Promotion Centre Finland, but instead would possibly be financed by the Ministry of Education.

The prerequisite for being funded by the Ministry of Education is that Art School Maa becomes part of the Ministry’s official education system. According to Kela's new policy, it is also the condition on which Maa’s new students can receive Kela's study support. However, the school’s application to become part of non-formal adult education was declined due to such reasons as the school's funding base, which depends on annual applications.

The changes to Maa's recognition as an educational institution and the cuts to its operating grant in the recent months mean in practice another 10,000 euro cut to teaching activities and, from August 2024 onwards for new students starting in Maa, an end to Kela's study grants, student benefits and state-guaranteed student loans.

Maa struggles to maintain financial stability, but instead of raising tuition fees, it tries to find solutions that would not burden the students. Every funding solution must prioritise the well-being of the community and create opportunities to maintain a curriculum that has equity and artistic experimentation at its core. Kela's study grants are one of the cornerstones of the students' well-being.


What is Art School Maa?

Art School Maa has a 38 year history as an advocate of alternative and professional art education in Finland. Art School Maa, located in Suomenlinna, is well-established and its three-year full-time contemporary art programme, in which 46 students are currently studying, enables quality and up-to-date education in preparation for the profession of an artist. For many, studies in Maa also serve as preparatory studies for higher education.

Maa is chosen as a school for several reasons and it provides preparation for various career and study paths: some feel it is sufficient for the profession of an artist, others need a longer arc of art studies and for them Maa's studies are their first contact with the language and methods of art. Some come to Maa with the motive of combining (visual) art with their other profession. In Maa, there is room to change one's mind and focus on a different field than art after the studies. In addition to the day programme, Maa offers evening courses, open lectures and events for students and professional artists, art enthusiasts and the general public. Maa is an important place for many.

Art School Maa is also a community of artists. It employs approximately 100 freelance artists every year. Members of the association that runs the school are also active in the art field. Employing artist-pedagogues is central to the school’s pedagogical approach. The association also runs an independent, aspiring project and exhibition space called Maa-Tila in Sörnäinen, Helsinki, which hosts approximately 45 artists each year.

Art School Maa defends its place in the field of education; every year approximately 150 people register as applicants to Maa, of which approximately 20 are selected as new students. For Art School Maa, it is important to keep art studies as accessible as possible. Until now, Maa has operated outside the official education system. However, like other educational institutions, it has been able to offer its students the support and benefits they need in order to live as students.


What is this about?

Sustainable and accessible art education requires artist-led self-organised places of study that are autonomous and critical in terms of content. As art discourse is increasingly maintained by large institutions, alternatives are needed in order to ensure diversity in educational practices. The diversity of educational institutions is directly linked to the equity and accessibility of art education.

We are dependent on the support of the art field in the negotiations ahead of us in order to secure the future of Art School Maa and to speak for maintaining the diversity of art institutions. This is not just about Maa, it is also about the kind of art education and art fields we want to see in the future. Speaking for diversity requires as many voices as possible, and we, the board of Maa, hope to receive your support.


Art School Maa Board: 
Freja Bäckman
Minna Henriksson
Viivi Koljonen
Emma Lilja
H Ouramo
Joakim Pusenius