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We have some excellent news!!!

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Helsinki City officials have proposed to discontinue the artist residency programme at Villa Eläintarha. One of the arguments is that the building is not very suitable for residencies. The proposal is also based on an assumption that it would be easy to find an alternative location for the residency.

HIAP has been responsible for running the residency activities at the Villa since 2019 in collaboration with the City of Helsinki, and our opinion is the opposite! Villa Eläintarha is an optimal venue for residencies, and it would be extremely difficult to find an alternative location.

If Villa Eläintarha ceases to exist as an artist residency a unique part of the cultural landscape of Helsinki is lost forever – the loss of this venue would have a devastating effect on many areas of the local arts community!

We are collecting statements of support for Villa Eläintarha! » SIGN THE PETITION HERE

We are compiling a list of examples of performances/artworks/projects/activities that were made possible or greatly influenced by a residency at Villa Eläintarha » ADD YOUR PROJECT / ACTIVITY TO THE LIST HERE

The deadline for these is Friday 2 June, so that we can put together a document for the meeting of Helsinki City Culture and Leisure Committee on Tuesday 6th of June. Your help is greatly appreciated!

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Villa Eläintarha is owned by the City of Helsinki, and is rented by the Culture and Leisure Division for the artist residency activities.

The city should acknowledge the strategic importance of Villa Eläintarha as a unique venue that is best-suited for cultural activities.

Villa Eläintarha is especially well-suited for residency activities, since:

  • The venue is perfect for hosting a residency community, with a good balance between privacy and shared communal spaces. The venue can host up to 12 artists at the same time, in 7 private and shared rooms. The residency functions well for both artist groups and individuals.
  • The central location makes it easy for the residents to reach the places where they are producing the work: performance venues, galleries and outdoor locations around Helsinki.
  • Staying at Villa Eläintarha is a special experience which leaves a strong positive impression on the large number of artists who stay there annually. There are also many artists who return again.
  • It is possible to organise public events at the Villa, and over the years there have been numerous performances, concerts and other public events at the venue. The plan is to increase the amount of public activities in the future.
  • Villa has hosted artist residencies since 1998 and has become an integral part of the cultural ecosystem of the city. It is an important part of the city’s cultural identity.
  • Villa can provide accommodation for artists in Helsinki with significantly lower costs compared to any other options, making it possible also for small independent organisations to arrange residencies and thus have a more international profile.

It is also important to note that Villa Eläintarha has a special focus on performing arts which greatly suffered from the restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The performing arts is only now slowly recovering and in this situation would deserve steady support from the city, not a sudden disruption with a loss of an important support structure.

Last year Villa Eläintarha hosted 146 residents from 27 different countries. Most of the residencies were realised in collaboration with art organisations based in Helsinki, and resulted in numerous performances, exhibitions and other art projects.

More information about Villa Eläintarha residency is available here.