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Helsinki recognises cultural movers and shakers with cash prizes

Legendary actor Esko Salminen received the Helsinki Culture Award on Monday. For the first time the city also honoured three other local creators as Artists of the Year, with smaller prizes, for significant contemporary work in the arts.

Esko Salminen
Esko Salminen has a varied life's work behind him, and more projects on the way. Image: YLE

Actor Esko Salminen received the annual Helsinki Culture Award on Monday for outstanding work in theatre, film, television and radio. Salminen received the 15,000-euro prize for a staggering life's work spanning seven decades and many dozens of productions.

Salminen is an iconic presence on the Finnish cultural scene, with a particular focus on drama and the theatre. Salminen has had many second homes, including the "golden age" of the Turku City Theatre in the 1970s, but he cites the National Theatre and the Helsinki City Theatre as his favourite domains. He spent most of his life and career in the capital (known as Stadi in local slang).

"When you grow old you get nostalgic," Salminen, 77, says in daily Helsingin Sanomat. "I've started to understand what this city has meant to me, a Stadi kid through and through."

Seitsemän veljestä
Salminen, front left, in a production of Seven Brothers. Image: Antero Tenhunen / Yle

Previous recipients of the Culture Award include Moomin-creator Tove Jansson as well as actress Kati Outinen – a contemporary colleague of Salminen.

"I'm very happy, not just for the money but because the city still values oldies like me," Salminen says wryly.

First-time Artists of the Year

Helsinki also saw fit to laud three other artists in their own right as Artists of the Year for the first time on Monday. The cash prize accompanying each of the three additional awards is 5,000 euros.

The appointments are made in accordance with varying cultural and council strategy emphases that the Cultural Office decides annually. The themes for 2017 are dance, circus art and community art.

The three prize-winners are acrobat Sade Kamppila, community artist Ninni Perko and dancer, choreographer Sonya Lindfors.

The Cultural and Library Committee grants the Helsinki Culture Award, Helsinki Cultural Act and three Helsinki Artists of the Year awards each year. All the awards are granted without an application process.

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