Interview with Malin Bergström (Finnish Cultural Institute)

It might surprise you, but not every member of EUNIC Netherlands is based in a Dutch city. Indeed, the Finnish Cultural Institute is one of the national institutes for culture that is part of our Cluster although has its office in Brussels. Our Finnish colleagues cover the whole Benelux, working to cultural initiatives not in one, but in three countries! Despite having their office in another State, they are very active also in the Dutch territory, and collaborate with the other local institutes and Embassies to several cultural projects 🇫🇮🇳🇱🇪🇺

For the October edition of EUNIC Netherlands’ series of Interviews, we asked to Malin Bergström to tell us what it means to represent Finland, its culture, and language, in Europe and beyond. In particular, what has been so far her experience as member of our Dutch Cluster. Malin is the Head of Programme at the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, for which she has been contributing to numerous initiatives such as the series of online seminars ‘In Conversation with the Finnish Institutes’, which saw the first appointment taking place precisely in October 2021.

Keep reading to know more about Malin’s involvement in EUNIC Netherlands.

(Photo by Inka Hyvönen)

1) What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

I am the Head of Programme at the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux. Our institute is based in Brussels, Belgium, and is one of 17 Finnish Cultural and Academic institutes around the world. We operate in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, as well as Finland, as an independent and non-profit organisation. As a cultural institute we aim to strengthen artistic collaborations between our designated countries of operation, and to create opportunities in which artists and organisations can elaborate new projects and new possibilities of collaboration. The institute also produces its own content and productions in close collaboration with its partner networks, often tackling current social issues within its programming.

My role at the institute as the Head of Programme is to oversee and develop the institute’s programme. Now three years into my work, I have the pleasure to work with successful projects focusing on Finnish crafts, design, and literature, as well our music and performance centred programmes. In addition, I have had the fantastic opportunity to develop our multifaceted and cross-disciplinary Masculinities programme and other projects concerning various societal topics – such as our latest “In Conversation with the Finnish Institutes” online seminar-series.

2) How do you contribute to EUNIC?

As our institute covers both Belgium and the Netherlands, we are members of the EUNIC clusters in both countries. The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux is also the president for the EUNIC Brussels cluster for the 2021-2022 term. Our contribution to the Netherlands cluster is albeit smaller than to Brussels, but we part take in smaller projects and hope to stimulate more diversity and intersectionality in the cluster’s future programming through the cluster’s diversity working group.

3) What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands’ member?

For us, the opportunity to network and build bridges with other international actors in the Netherlands is incredibly valuable. The network not only offers the opportunity to partake in their programmes and to collaborate with its members, but also offers advice and support for our operations in the area. As our office is based in Brussels, being part of the EUNIC network in the Netherlands strengthens our position on the Dutch cultural sector, and helps us expand our programming in the Netherlands. And I enjoy connecting with our member-colleagues, and hearing about their projects and cultural ventures across the border.

Thank you, Malin Bergström, for sharing your perspective showing how EUNIC Netherlands’ members successfully collaborate together despite working in different countries.

Follow the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux both on their website and on the Facebook page to read all about their projects and to find out the upcoming dates of the series of online seminars ‘In Conversation with the Finnish Institutes’.