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Survey ranks Finland’s top cultural figures

A survey by the Finnish Cultural Foundation has identified the most recognized cultural figures in Finland. Tampere musician Juice Leskinen topped the rankings, with Jean Sibelius and Tove Jansson trailing in his wake.

Juice Leskinen lavalla
Juice Leskinen Image: Yle Elävä arkisto

Researchers from TNS Gallup asked just over 8,000 Finns if they knew the work of 32 Finnish cultural figures. The best-known was Tampere rocker Juice Leskinen, who released more than 30 albums in a recording career that spanned four decades.

In second spot was Jean Sibelius, who composed the Finlandia symphony during the struggle against Russification in the late 19 century. In third spot was Tove Jansson, who wrote the popular Moomin books.

As might be expected, younger people had greater difficulty identifying their cultural figureheads, but author Sofi Oksanen and Ville Valo of the metal band HIM were equally well-known across age boundaries and regardless of education levels.

There were regional and political divides in cultural knowledge. Those in Kainuu were more likely to know Taivalkoski novelist Kalle Päätalo, and writer Rosa Liksom is best-known in Lapland.

Political allegiance also had some predictive power in the survey. Supporters of the SDP were more likely to know the working class Tampere author Väinö Linna. Centre party supporters were keen on Laila Hirvisaari, whose wartime novels detail the trials and tribulations of people in Finnish Karelia.

Survey subjects who supported the Finns party knew fewer artists than average. They were also less keen on modern art and high culture. Greens and Leftists, meanwhile, were keener than the average Finn on contemporary art. National Coalition supporters, meanwhile, were familiar with the work of more artists than the average Finn.

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