The Finnish Cultural Foundation has decided to support the revitalisation of Finnish Kalo (a Romani language) and Romani art and culture with as much as EUR 1 million in funding, to be spread over the years 2023–2030. The initiative is linked to a programme by the Finnish National Board of Education to revitalise Finnish Kalo, which consists of 11 proposed steps. These steps include ensuring sufficient numbers of Kalo-speaking teachers and tutors, and developing learning materials in the language.
Most of the EUR 1 million funding will be handed out in the form of grants between 2023 and 2030. The grants will be directed at actions such as having literature translated into Finnish Kalo, improving the working conditions of artists from the Roma community, producing learning materials in the language and developing supporting materials for the revitalisation process.
EUR 75,000 will go directly to the National Board of Education’s language revitalisation programme, for instance for planning and creating Kalo-language social media, arranging master-apprentice meetings in the language and paying for regional network coordinators. The Cultural Foundation is also exploring the production of a package of children’s books and materials in Finnish Kalo to be distributed via the Reading Gifts for Children project, if that project receives further funding from the government.
The number of Finnish Kalo speakers has drastically fallen and the language is now endangered. It is estimated that only one third of the Finnish Roma community (which totals 10,000–12,000 people) speak Finnish Kalo, and the number of fluent speakers is even lower.
The Cultural Foundation’s Board of Trustees has dictated that the foundation must pay particular attention to Finland’s endangered minority cultures, such as the Sami and the Roma, in its activities.
“We have actively been supporting the Sami languages and cultures for a long time. We have also awarded grants that benefit Romani culture on a yearly basis, but this funding is of an even more robust and long-term nature,” explains Secretary General Antti Arjava.