Founded in 1960, the Turku Music Festival is Finland’s oldest consecutively running music festival. Its main focus is on classical music, but it incorporates other genres of music and other areas of culture as well. Year 2019 marks the festival’s 60th edition. The Turku Music Festival Foundation was established by the City of Turku for managing the festival, in 1989.
In 2029, Turku will celebrate its venerable 800th anniversary, and the City of Turku has designated the anniversary year as a major focus point. This Strategy of the Turku Music Festival Foundation has the same year as its aim and outlines a framework of supporting operational and financial decisions.
According to the by-laws of the Turku Music Festival Foundation, the purpose of the Foundation is to offer a wide range of high-quality performances of music and to promote amateur music-making and awareness of music. To this end, the Foundation organises the annual Turku Music Festival and undertakes other actions such as organising concerts and training and other music-related arts events.
The Turku Music Festival is a nationally and internationally known and respected event. The Festival has a dedicated regular audience who actively monitor what is going on in culture in general and in music in particular.
The principal funding provider and most important stakeholder of the Foundation is the City of Turku. According to the vision of the City of Turku for 2029, Turku is an interesting and boldly renewing European academic and cultural city that is a good place to live and lead successful lives together.
The Turku Music Festival is also one of the 14 most significant Finnish festivals recognised by the Ministry of Education and Culture as recipients of an annual discretionary government grant. The aim of the culture policy strategy of the Ministry, extending to 2025, is to uphold the strength and vitality of Finland’s cultural base.
In addition to receiving support from local and central government, the Festival gains income from box office receipts, as grants from various other foundations and funds, through corporate partnership, through production services and from miscellaneous income. Achieving income growth requires exploration of new modes of operation and new partnerships.
The vision and strategic goals of the City of Turku on the one hand and the strategic goals of the Ministry of Education and Culture on the other form an excellent basis for the operations of the Turku Music Festival Foundation. They also challenge the Foundation to set its sights high and for the long term and to take good care of its operations and finances.
Qualifying for support from foundations and funds requires projects that are of a high quality and stand out from the crowd, besides also being consistent with the strategic expectations of these funding providers. All this must be taken into account in project planning and when submitting applications.
The managing director of the Foundation is accountable to the Board of Directors for operations planning, quality and finances, and also for the Festival’s long-term success. The artistic director brings an important perspective and network of contacts to the programme planning of the Festival, facilitating the creation of a programme that is as interesting as possible for audiences and performers alike. The Foundation only has a small organisation, and thus its operations rely heavily on networks and partnerships. One of the key partners in close proximity is the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.
The principal performers and guests of the Festival are usually booked 2 to 3 years in advance, which calls for an extensive perspective in planning and an active exploration of options available.
Because decisions on who to sign up must be done well in advance, it is important for the Festival to have a multiannual agreement with its headline sponsor – the City of Turku – and also with the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The vision of the Turku Music Festival Foundation is that the Turku Music Festival is Finland’s highest-quality classical music festival with a distinctive nationally and internationally recognised profile and that the Festival contributes to the attractiveness of Turku and its status as a European city of culture.
Acknowledging the independent value of classical music and the arts in general is important for the Turku Music Festival Foundation, being the cornerstone of its operations.
The Foundation aims in all its operations to achieve the highest possible level of artistic quality and a customer-oriented and audience-friendly way of doing things while maintaining a financial balance.
The Foundation relies, as applicable, on the principles of good governance, accessibility and sustainable development of the City of Turku and of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The Foundation notes that active engagement in music and culture contributes to personal wellbeing and encourages people to support and undertake cultural pastimes.
The ‘wellbeing and activity’ programme in the City Strategy sets the goal of reinforcing the status of Turku as a dynamic hub of classical music, an interesting venue for performing artists and an interesting partner in the sphere of music. This represents a challenging and interesting opportunity for the Turku Music Festival, and the Festival aims to continue to respond to this challenge.
It is intended that both established and emerging names in classical music, the agents representing them and other cultural organisations will continue to regard the Turku Music Festival as a pleasant and reliable partner and prioritise performances at the Festival over other events.
For this to happen, the managing director and artistic director must be able to invest in establishing and maintaining international networks. The execution of a high-quality festival, as referred to above, also requires that the management has a supporting competent and professional staff. However, the aim is not to increase the size of the organisation by any significant amount; instead, efforts will be made to find new partnerships.
It is intended that the local audience of the Festival will continue to see the Festival as their own, but because the local audience base is limited, growth must be sought beyond the Turku region. Bringing in new customers from further afield will in turn improve awareness of the Festival and boost its profile. However, in order to attract new audiences, the Festival must be able to offer experiences of exceptionally high quality that are unique in Finland.
Going forward, the Foundation will make even more use of customer feedback and market research in evaluating projects. Information collected from customers and assessment of audience potential must be made a more important component of the process in which decisions are made regarding artistically and financially significant projects.
What is important in attracting customers from outside the Turku region, whether individuals or groups, is not only the high-quality artistic experience but the overall customer experience as a whole. Here, too, the Foundation is well placed in being able to draw on accommodation and restaurant services in historic Turku. The development of transport services to Turku benefits the Foundation.
Improved corporate cooperation brings visibility and expands the funding base but also requires the organising of memorable events catering to customer needs, in a highly competitive environment. This in turn calls for strong partnerships and a new kind of service concept. In the future, it would be advantageous for the Foundation itself to be able to offer and design service packages instead of just offering concerts.
The Turku Music Festival is the flagship of cultural Turku in 2029.