The idea of Hobby at Home is summed up in that question. On 13.3.2020 several municipalities announced the closure of school doors to outside visitors, and shortly thereafter, by Parliament’s decision, most of the schools in Finland closed their doors and visits were no longer possible in kindergartens. At the same time, the Cultural Centre operations and events were cancelled and basic art education was transferred to virtual education online. Within a few days, the coronavirus epidemic changed children’s culture and the whole cultural field.
Immediately after these decisions began a brainstorm. How are children and families doing in this new situation? What if not all children have a safe adult to support everyday activities and leisure time? What if someone’s all alone? Where will children and young people find exciting and safe things to do? What can we do to make children, young people and families have fun things to do and have the opportunity to experience and experiment with art in this strange and very surprising time? I decided to call my friends at the Association of Finnish Children’s Cultural Centres and suggest that we start solving this problem together.
The strength of the cultural field has always been creativity and the ability to respond to needs and changes. Close national cooperation has long been the superpower of the Finnish children’s culture field. With this recipe, we set out to build one solution to support the well-being of children and young people today. We also presented the idea to the Ministry of Education and Culture and received an immediate green light: “Do this quickly and bring all interested professionals in the industry to produce content!” The Association invited its member centre to join the project. One challenge was to get a new website that was suitable for children and adolescents quickly and reliably. This challenge was taken up by the Children’s Culture Centre Verso from Varkaus. Arx in Hämeenlinna volunteered to look after for social media and Lilla Villan from Sipoo and BARK from Vaasa to help produce Swedish-language content. Many children’s culture centres tipped us off about existing good virtual content. Very quickly we had a core team from Hobby at Home and a lot of high-quality content from cultural actors from different parts of Finland.
In about a month, we have built a website for children and young people with instructions and ideas for experimenting, hobbies and experiencing art at home, in leisure time or even at school. We have put together links to easy experiments, “art oxygen jumps”, challenging tasks, performances and virtual visits. There is also an event calendar on the websites, where you can spot future live stream events in children’s culture. You can immerse yourself in the content of the websites by yourself or together with a friend or a parent. We have kept close in mind the child or adolescent who uses the websites and we have chosen as much content as possible where art and art education professionals address children and young people directly.
We are hopeful that the site will develop in the future to serve children and young people extensively throughout Finland. Perhaps it will build an environment for experimenting with art and culture and a place for remote cultural hobbies.
The website will be published today, on 24.4.2020. We wish it a long life, lots of clicks and endless moments of enthusiasm, wonderment and success in art alone and together. We are very pleased that, even in this time, challenges have not been solved alone, and physical distance is not an obstacle to action and participation.
Warmly on behalf of the whole Hobby at Home team
Executive Director of the Cultural Centre PiiPoo