Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cultural business angels

There is a saying that during his life, a man should go to the army, build a house and write a book. The cultural elements of this humorous anecdotes may be changing.
The Finnish business paper Kauppalehti published an article (July 27) on Finnish former businessmen, who are currently working as cultural business angels, investing their money on old mills and mansions. The motivation of working with the old heritage sites is not to make profit but rather to contribute to common cultural and historic good and enjoy and value beauty and restoration. There is money spent on restructuring, rebuilding and refurnishing old sites.
I sympathize with these cultural businessmen. I don´t have a million to invest in an old mansion myself but did my share of cultural wellbeing ten years ago by organizing three big events in an area which I like: dancing. Arranging something on your own time took effort, time and money. These events were new, different from normal weekly dances and are still well remembered.
The negative effect with the cultural investments is that not everybody values and favours the changes and initiatives. There is criticism and complaint. Therefore motivation has to lie elsewhere than just public good.
Another interesting news was that the share of restaurant chains in Finland is decreasing to the benefit of more independent restaurants. Restaurants are eg providing more Finnishness, uniqueness and local flavour to their offering.
Even if Finland as a country may lack in service quality and culture, our skills may very well be in the cultural and coulinaristic content.