Text written on the occasion of an event 'The Open Up and Shape Helsinki Symposium', organised by PUBLICS and Kohta with the support of Frame Contemporary Art Finland, aims at widening institutional knowledge on sustainable collaborative methods, working with equal, diverse and ethical practices in small- to medium-scale art organisations.
Alkovi is listed in SHAPE / And is one of the particiants for the RANT & RAVE section that this text is written for as a part or the Symposium.

Always precious, always precarious

Always precious, always precarious - how is thinking and dreaming of what could be possible possible in the constancy of inability to trust to the concrete ability to execute.
Hanke ei keskinäisessä vertailussa noussut tuettavien joukkoon [quote from the decision of the Helsinki city project grant 21.3.2022]

Meaning 'After comparative assessment the project didn't qualify to be supported' or should we put it more akin to the Finnish wording "didn't rise to the occasion". When we are placed in the cultural and artistic field to compete of the funding, we as well as the people making the decisions, are placed under duress to execute quite odd and difficult task. There has to be some requirements or standards that we can then - both as applicants and as decision-makers - refer to. When the situation is connected to the funding generated with tax payers support (as in this occasion that I refer and began with) this becomes more pronounced. It's not just being in the benevolence of certain private interests and instances, but something meant to benefit us all, (as of course this is something that private interest can seek as well). The fact that we (that actively seek funds to support our practice) then get placed on comparative terrain between each other might not be a problem for some, but the evaluating work in artistic field is not like looking at test results of the measurement done; neither the quarterly profit margin will do, nor audience attendance.
As someone's who organizes the activity of 24hrs open public display for presenting art for anyone that might pass by, these parameters have been very distant to our mode of operation, thinking and values. Open for all for us necessitates openness without measurement.
The qualitative assessments can be left (or not) in the minds and auras of those that may. But does this satisfy the assessing done by the people that want to be responsible city administrators taking care that public funds are "well used"? I am not a journalist, nor do I work on the field of sociology, but from my position of an artist and a curator and a citizen, I will make some assumptions.
It seems that based on the funding decisions of the city (apart from the annually given funding to permanent organizations) the project funds go more likely to events - like small music festivals or theatrical acts. I really appreciate these events, and enjoy the fact that the activity brings people together, to the same place and time, and understand that one does get in that way enjoyment from this in a very communal sense which is important when thinking of public factors and art. But I began to think about also the role of side effects. How much does the ability to create revenues play into this? If there is coffee being sold in tangent to a music festival then it looks more profitable to more people than to just that organizer to hold the event. People take more buses to visit the event and there are measurable factors that we can be left with. Events produce also social media attention that also contribute to the positive perception of city as an active location.
We with Alkovi applied the city funds to get our basic costs covered, to pay the rent, electricity (wind-powered), sending of online infos (newsletter and domains) and also to pay the fees to artists. This annually amounts to around 6000-7000 euros as we have calculated. Can be less of course, 2000 would be already covering the basics of the running costs without any fees to anyone involved. We are satisfied with the fact that we have been supported during the years, this rant has a rave in it (anyone capable of ranting has the possibilities to rave inside them, those that can't even rant have already fallen to apathy). We thus understand that our small self-inflicted nonchalance as indifference of public attendance and also hopeful pursuit of obscurity will feel - in the comparative assessment - not so sound investment. Even public sculptures that do need maintenance, but are not constantly asking for it, are easier. Also, they can be taken down with some relative ease. (As we are as well.)
And do think that should we then continue with Alkovi and how? We of course will continue finding resources to cover the costs and paying them with what we can find. As artists as we are working in the precarious situation, despite it, against it, with it. We do believe what we do is important and interesting and feel reluctant to "test it" in anyway. May that be our artistic arrogance, the survival method as well as self-deception, trying to escape the need to fit - standards and expectations. To continue without willingness to thrive, or even to contribute to the positive image of the city - is to try to allow the audience to be formed as it pleases. (Or not). The testament to freedom we think. No counter-culture will ever survive security guard at the door.
We can provide this as we have none.
(Door nor guard).
These are obviously found in our minds of course when we write the applications to funders. How we can prove we are worth it? Worth the attention and funds? Against all other good and good-willing initiatives?

In the funding round that we didn't receive the funding from the amount applied was 243 298 euros. The amount granted 31 500 euros.
A particular "kohtaanto-ongelma" (this term that points to a problem that there are open positions but no workers to fill them).

I will point out that the majority of the sums applied are between 2000-7000 euros.

Testament to the fact that there are people willing to produce and work and make things they see worthwhile - and precious - in the precariat. Not receiving or even perhaps expecting funding to their own work. Important aspect of liveliness seems to be that it is done with small investments and risks. It's the budding undertones that can either burst into full blossom or just be cast to shadow. And we all know how important that is. The realm of exploration and enjoyment of it.

The reason we as art makers are pushed to the precariat for this (not knowing how to pay the rents and electricity bills not only of our ventures but also our habitats) is because it is considered criminal not to want to produce revenue of the acts and deeds you do.

Pleasure and willingness to do them despite this is to be punished. Precarity is the punishment made in action through the competition of grands as salutations from the rulers. The task that the city (or state) grant givers especially are given is of course impossible.

To support crochet making in Pasila or throat singing in Kannelmäki is a choice one shouldn't need to make. That we have accustomed to austerity talk of constant need of decision making in the limitary vein is not prove of anything except of the quite forceful need to constantly reign in our inventiveness. To bring out the profit for some instead of all. (As all would require the openness I described earlier of not caring of monitoring and measurement.)

We solve the conundrum as precariously doing the things we feel precious despite this all - perhaps as an act of resistance, perhaps out of stubbornness, or because of the inability of the interest to do otherwise. It's not a choice per se, but we are made to feel like it is.

Text by Miina Hujala