Heidi Backström

Heidi Backström

Helsinki's cultural offering is brilliant

"The middle-age-ish theatre crowd is the community I belong to. It is similar to Helsinki: open, solidarity-driven, social and progressive. We cherish human rights and equality, and believe that art plays an important role in this." 

The cultural producer Heidi Backström rejoices in the diversity of cultural institutions as well as the free arts offering of the city. Her artistic community is marked by openness, solidarity and equality – just like her Helsinki.

The direction was certainly clear: there was only one way from Kouvola to Helsinki. Backström already had half her family in the city. Then her plan worked. She moved to the capital in 2001 to study cultural production. Backström writes for a living and also produces performing arts. She has become welded to many corners of Helsinki through her work. Her home is in the Herttoniemi district. 

"I have the typical identity of a train transplant. My identity is defined by Herttoniemi, not by Helsinki." 

Backström has participated in creating artistic communities in Helsinki. She worked for a long time as a producer for the international literature festival Helsinki Lit, and is one of the original members of the performing arts venue and collective Mad House.

"Art has played an enormous role in promoting equality" 

Backström believes that community-driven activism and a new cultural wave are rising. New faces enter the arts scene. They are welcomed because the essence of Helsinki is not only white and Finnish-language. "Helsinki's cultural offering is brilliant. The Museum Card brought a whole new interest in museums that could even be called museum lust, which is a magnificent thing." 

For someone who wants their first exposure to the world of art, Backström recommends the annual Night of the Arts as well as the cultural centres operated by the city. Many such venues offer theatre, dance and gigs for free or a small entrance fee. Each one also hosts a small gallery. "Cultural centres are important places for me. It would be amazing if all citizens experienced art up close one way or another." 

So what is the best thing about Helsinki? Well first and foremost, it's home. The city has familiar people and communities. "Still, the city doesn't fail to surprise me. There is quite an easy access to art in Helsinki. If you want to find something new in terms of culture, it's completely possible. I also like nature in Helsinki. It's amazing that you can just walk a few minutes from a metro stop and find yourself in the archipelago." Backström wishes that others realised this as well.

"Helsinki is a lovely city for culture. That should be a bolder spearhead for travel marketing. It feels like we are often too humble to express what we have." 

Heidi Backström
Age: 38
Profession: cultural producer
Lives in: Herttoniemi
What you didn't know about me: "I have quite a knack for coming up with local excursions and to find nearby destinations that quench my thirst for adventure. I don't long for faraway lands when I know I can find magnificent beaches, wilderness, peace and quiet, supermuseums, sweaty techno parties, and pretty much anything else within a train or car ride’s distance."

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