Customer Story: Kristillinen Taideseura (Christian Arts Society)

Customer Story: Kristillinen Taideseura (Christian Arts Society)

Finland’s oldest registered association celebrated its 100th birthday

The Finnish Register of Associations was established in March 1919 and the first association to be entered into the new register was the Christian Arts Society, founded by writer Hilja Haahti.

The new association broadened the work of the Kolmisointu (triad) association, established by Haahti and her friends in 1902 to promote arts, patriotism and Christian thinking.

“Originally, the Christian Arts Society had an all-encompassing societal mission as it wanted to take culture to the remote parts of Finland and make it available to everybody," explains Eeva Tikka, the chair of the society.

Ansa Kirjavainen, the society’s secretary, points out that even though the refining of people’s sense of art is no longer the society’s stated goal, it still arranges arts events, cultural lectures, excursions, concerts, exhibitions and seminars that are intended for everybody.

According to Antero Polso, editor of the publication Ars Magna, the society has made different types of arts available to parish members. They now have a clearer idea of the role played by arts.

“Arts are understood as reflections of God’s creation and as gifts to parishes."

The society has about 300 members and they include lovers of all types of arts, and both enthusiasts and professionals. One of them, Christian Artists Finland (CAF), is part of an international network. Christian Arts Foundation distributes some of the copyright royalties from Haahti’s works as grants to artists.

According to Tikka, ‘the touch of arts’, the theme of the society’s centenary seminar, sums up the way in which arts can address us directly, in the language of the heart. This is why the society is optimistic about the future.

“All important arts forms have always addressed major issues of life and it is unlikely that the coming generation would settle for less. Christian arts will simply change shape," explains Niilo Rantala, the society’s membership secretary.

Amos Anderson, a businessman and a patron of the arts, was a member of the Christian Arts Society. Niilo Rantala (left), Eeva Tikka, Ansa Kirjavainen and Antero Polso being photographed in the Amos Rex Museum.


The Finnish Register of Associations is a service provider meeting the latest requirements

According to Statistics Finland, more than half of all Finns aged over 15 were members of at least one association in 2017.

Freedom of association has been guaranteed in Finland by law since 1906.

A proposal for an act on associations was submitted to Parliament during the early months of Finland’s independence but its approval and the decision on the establishment of the Register of Associations were postponed until January 1919.

Now, a century later, the Finnish Register of Associations is digitalised. The PRH provides associations with advice on how to submit notifications but services (information searches and notifications) are also available on the agency’s website.

According to Polso, a registered association is more transparent and credible.

“As a registered association, we are part of society, and co-operation with the PRH has been smooth," Kirjavainen adds.

The Christian Arts Society published a collection of articles (left) on occasion of its centenary. Works of art in the society’s exhibition of artists in the Lahti region.


Kristillinen Taideseura (Christian Arts Society)

• Finland’s oldest registered association. It was registered on 15 March 1919.
• Member of the Kirkkopalvelut association (Church Resources Agency), and founding member of Tieteen ja Taiteen Kristillinen Tukisäätiö (Christian Foundation for Research and Art), which was founded in 1978.
• Through the foundation, the society has for several years given grants for artistic activities.
• It established Kristillinen taidesäätiö (Christian Arts Foundation) in 2011 to support and promote art education, to give grants and support art projects.
• Publishes the Ars Magna magazine annually.

Finnish text: Päivi Helander

Photos: Markku Pihlaja, Kikka Miilus and Nina Kaverinen