8.1 General context
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Based on the ‘Study of young people’s leisure activities’, occurring every two years, visual mobile activities, such as photography and making videos have become increasingly frequent means of spending free-time. The existence of both social media as arena, and smart phones as equipment, which together offer opportunities for online exposure, may explain the phenomenon. Overall, it seems that the popularity of cultural activities among young people is high. Three out of four respondents go to the cinema, theatre, concerts or art exhibitions, at least sometimes. Console and computer games and reading were the most popular activities done on a regular basis. In addition, playing an instrument and singing were regular hobbies – half of the young people who were singing or playing an instrument even said that they sing and practise daily, and two out of three, at least once a week (Myllyniemi & Berg 2013, 41; Hakanen, Myllyniemi & Salasuo 2019).
Based on the annual study called Youth Barometer, almost 90% of young people aged 15-30 years old have recent years reported that they have at least one leisure time activity they prefer doing. However, there were also young people who have had to interrupt their favourite pastimes, or who were not able to start them at all, due to shortage of money and/or other difficulties, such as location (Myllyniemi 2016, 70; Myllyniemi & Kiilakoski 2018, 84). Partly based on these studies, there has been a notifiable rise in political interest towards leisure time. A working group, appointed in 2018 by Minister Mr Sampo Terho to develop leisure activities, summarized its work as `A Strategy for Leisure Activities' (Harrastamisen strategia, includes a description sheet in English) in February 2019 and proposed objectives for the Government Programme 2019-2023 electoral term. The main objectives of the those proposals were the increase in leisure activities available around school hours (before, between or after lessons), to reach those who cannot take part in their favourite leisure activities, and to develop strategic level steering and co-operation across the sectors, in order to improve the equality and accessibility of free-time offers. Moreover, the government incorporated those goals surprisingly effectively into its programme (for more information see Youth Wiki/Finland 8.2 Administration and governance and 8.3 National strategy on creativity and culture for young people.)
When it comes to the evidence base in the development of free time offers concerning also creativity and culture, the previous government had a key governmental project that relates to the accessibility of arts, culture and sport. What this has meant in practical terms, for example, was a country-wide listening to children and young people about how they wish to spend their free-time. This was executed in early 2016 in the format of a questionnaire, sent to Finnish schools via email. All in all, 1107 schools, in 230 municipalities, with more than 118 000 pupils participated in the survey. The Finnish pupils named photography and parkour/street/showdance as the most interesting hobbies within arts and culture. For girls, photography, dance and visual arts were the most important, while the boys mentioned most often parkour, cinema, animation and video- and media arts. The need to include free time offers within the time spent on school premises, which has now been addressed by the new government programme, was also one of the findings of the questionnaire. The previous government already granted more than million euros to support arts and culture-related hobbies in schools, with an additional 800 000 euros to promote access to basic education in arts (see Glossary).
In recent years, both the 'Study of young people’s leisure activities' and the Youth Barometer have suggested that the definition of creativity is not unambiguous. For example, the respondents have described physical exercise, such as boxing, riding and football, as creative hobbies (see Merikivi, Myllyniemi & Salasuo 2016). From young people’s perspective, the old limits also between cultural and physical activities are not necessarily useful for them. Additionally, possibilities produced by social media and smartphones may even further blur these lines (Merikivi, Myllyniemi & Salasuo 2016; Vilmilä & Mulari 2016). Phenomena, such as gamification, Vlogs and Tubecon, also have their roles as an important part of young people’s cultural activities (e.g. Lauha 2014). The definitions of concepts, such as culture and creativity, have far-reaching consequences for cultural policy. At the structural level, the question is whether state aid for young people’s cultural activities acknowledges these changes and autonomic cultural activities, including blogging and vlogging, coding, Tubecon, games and graffiti (for more information, visit: Youth Wiki/Finland: 8.3 National strategy on creativity and culture for young people). The Strategy for Cultural Policy 2025 by the Ministry of Education and Culture (published 2017) acknowledges how "demographic changes will diversify consumption habits, service expectations and service needs in arts and culture." In Finland, there are now examples of that kind of new, emerging discussion. For more information, see Youth Wiki/Finland 8.10 Current debates and reforms.