Joy and Power of Life – Meanings of Art Creation for Young People in the Myrsky (Storm) Project

Katriina Siivonen & Sirkku Kotilainen & Annikka Suoninen

(In Finnish: Iloa ja voimaa elämään – Nuorten taiteen tekemisen merkitykset Myrsky-hankkeessa)

The Finnish Cultural Foundation made the large-scale project Myrsky possible by funding art projects directed at youths in different parts of Finland from 2008 to 2011. The projects were primarily targeted at youths aged 13 to 17 who would have been difficult to reach by conventional means. In all, about 14,000 youths participated in 63 projects in different parts of the country under the direction of professional artists.

The projects were studied from the young participants’ point of view using diverse methods. The study report describes the meanings of artistic activity for the youths’ identities, and the projects as spaces for dialogic encounters. It also looks at youths’ artistic activity in a societal context, including the points of view of socio-cultural power and powerlessness.

Based on the quantitative questionnaire material, individual interviews and participant feedback, the conclusion is that creating art increased the youths’ happiness, joy of living, communal abilities and skills. Opportunities for artistic activities for youths should be improved in society, because art strengthened the youths’ social participation. Welfare and participation seemed to have increased in the Myrsky project, as art opened up new and unexpected views to humanity and the world. The strengthening of identities required simultaneously both the dynamism of art and the abilities to process and control it. Creating art in a safe, pedagogic environment was able to provide this. It was also important for the youths to be able to get a reception that respects their authorship. Creating and learning together strengthened the youths’ social skills and broadened their circle of friends. Positive feedback from communities broader than one’s own Myrsky group, such as reviews of the youths’ works in the media, strengthened their connection with society.

This study was commissioned by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and coordinated by the Finnish Youth Research Network. The researchers in the project were docents Sirkku Kotilainen and Katriina Siivonen. PhD Annikka Suoninen was responsible for the statistical part.