The main task of the Finnish Cultural Foundation is to award grants. Lately, it has assumed a more active role in the shaping of national cultural policy with wide-ranging aims, a role which it already had in the past, especially in the 1950s and ‘60s.
An example of this is the National Book Drive, launched in 2007, a four-year campaign to encourage libraries across Finland to increase their acquisitions. Another large funding programme to revitalize Finno-Ugric minority languages in Lapland and Russia extends across national borders. At the same time, a national pilot project aims to improve the integration of immigrants through better language training.
Some of the most important recent initiatives are presented in these pages. Many of them have meant increasing co-operation with the public authorities, a process in which the Foundation has managed to preserve its independence as a catalyst. It is always ready to address challenges that call for rapid action and funding.
The Foundation maintains permanently the Kirpilä Art Collection. It also owns the largest collection of bowed string instruments in Finland. At the moment, the collection consists of 46 instruments, most of them of Italian or French origin, including a Stradivari and several Guadagninis. They are lent for five years or more to performers who have a permanent residence in Finland. The Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition is held every five years and is rated among the top five singing contests in the world.