We received almost 180 answers; a fifth were from artists, and the rest had been sent by scholars or research popularizers. Good ideas were abundant: there should be more of everything. In order to develop our grantees’ networking, there should be more events, even outside of Helsinki – or funding for people to travel to the events in Helsinki. If the foundation notices that different projects have similar aims, our grantees hope that we could connect such initiatives. People also expect us to develop peer support, mentoring and a sense of community.
The foundation has increased its communications and offered communication training for its grantees. We received excellent feedback on our communications; it was described as concise and fresh. Still, one could make it easier to find information on the website. The grantees wish to be better connected with the rest of society. The foundation could provide them with connections with media. We could for example organise a Slush event for the arts, although with less hype.
”Looking for different ways to connect the supported projects with the media. There is a lot of interesting things going on but a lack of visibility in the press, especially when it comes to projects developed by international groups.”
The grantees feel very positively about the foundation’s work, both for its grantees and otherwise. The services offered by the personnel are considered to be good. Some people feel, maybe more than we do ourselves, that we are active in society.
”All the questions I had were always answered on time. Communication is excellent.”
Despite all the good feedback, the position of researchers working on grants remains low. Despite the negotiations with universities in the early years of the decade, the situation may have even become worse. In addition to the practical problems, grantees can be excluded from the research communities. It is hard for us to say how much all this is due to the weakening situation of the universities with less public funding. Moreover, few grantees are happy with the services of the tax administration or the MELA insurance institution. At least the tax administration is still unfamiliar with grants, which leads to conflicting advice and practices. At the foundation, we will have to increase our mental support for those who are not familiar with the Finnish administrative structures, and maybe to others as well.
”Oh my gosh, every year is the same, I have to submit corrected vero forms and close to the end of calendar year the phone starts to ring and vero staff is bombing me with questions where I put the “other costs” and of course they want to tax me for them, usually I am very desperate and angry.”
Looking at the near future, a lot is expected of the Lauttasaari Manor, the future premises of the foundation. It is hoped that it will increase networking possibilities and bring more working spaces for the grantees. The spaces are limited, but at least it will be possible to organise more diverse events at the manor.
Text: Kalle Korhonen