As both a composer and financier, Sam Huber has an exceptional perspective on the lives of Finnish freelancers. It looks awful now.
Pandemic has been going on for two years and one thing has become clear: “Culture is simply not valued in Finland,” says the musician and multifunctional performer, also a financier Sam Huber, 56.
“It’s an extra luxury to be the first to give up.”
This is true even though culture is also a business. The so-called culture of satellite accounting by culture accounted for 3.1 per cent of GDP in 2019.
“Now it is not seen, nor is the spiritual wealth it gives people.”
What causes misery?
Huber has a theory: We have a young culture compared to even France. It is understood there that culture is a really important part of life and society, without it there will be no innovation. Finland is more practical when it is younger, the culture is not concrete enough.
“It may be that I’m wrong.”
In danger or not, Huber, as both author and patron, has an exceptional perspective on the field of Finnish performing arts, especially the lives of freelancers.
Huber is best known as the lead character in the funk band Eternal Erection, but he has also worked with other bands and small free theater groups for decades, and has occasionally starred in movies and television.
In addition, the Samuel Huber Arts Foundation has been awarding grants to non-mainstream performers since 2005. Huber has vast family assets.
The Huber Foundation focuses on supporting freelancers and small projects in theater, music, dance and circus and the performing arts.
“It has been sad and surprising in this couple of years that there were a normal number of applications last year, but fewer this year. I would have expected more applications in both years that people need support. ”
Huber interprets the matter as meaning that either people have moved on to other jobs or applications just don’t manage to do that there is no longer the same kind of activity on the ground as before the pandemic.
“That’s really scary!”
Pandemian the impact on the lives of individuals has been wild.
Huber says a couple of his acquaintances have even committed suicide due to the pandemic and the resulting restrictions and obstruction of the profession.
“People are getting depressed. If your whole life has been about making art, then it’s not about just changing the field one by two. It has been shocking to hear stories like this. ”
Some of Huber’s friends have also forced the industry to switch, although it’s not easy. The same can be seen in the restaurant industry, which was already hit by staff shortages: well, you get better pay elsewhere and the work is not as hard, why go back any longer?
And when big institutions like Svenska Teatern, are in co-determination negotiations, according to Huber, it is descriptive of the whole industry: how bad do the little ones do when the big and the strong are ringing? In New York, which Huber loves, for example, the Metropolitan Opera has had difficulty getting dancers to perform in the wake of a pandemic.
The performing arts are impoverishing, in many ways. The whole area is squatting and recovery is taking a long time.
Huber is trying to put his own little card in the pile for help. He knows how important it is to get support from many different places in free theater groups, for example. However, Huber does not believe in the “American model,” that almost all performing arts would revolve around private foundations. The state must be the biggest single supporter, because then there is no pressure to please the financier too much.
The other parts of the performing arts and event ecosystem that technicians, roudars, and all non-performers seek support for their own chapters?
“They’re even worse interveners than freelancers in the performing arts,” Huber says.
Last During the week, seven Finnish art organizations called for more support for the performing arts. The organizations calculated that if the confinement continues until the end of February, the financial losses for performing arts organizations will be as much as € 22 million.
The demand came at the same time as the government’s corona ministerial working group lnew forms of financial support companies and entrepreneurs. Ministers said the government is preparing a sixth cost subsidy package and event guarantee for next summer. The application period for the support of the fifth cost support package, which started under Christmas, will continue until February. The tour is more limited and is aimed specifically at the accommodation, restaurant and event sectors. Also, the sixth round is only for restricted areas.
HS asked the Minister of Culture Antti Kurvisen (center) comments on the position of artists’ organizations. It took days to answer and it was as follows:
“The corona pandemic has hit the cultural and event industry in an unprecedented way. Currently, the situation with regard to infections in Finland is more serious than ever, and no one can predict the future. ”
“The common goal must be to get things started as soon as possible. One way to do this is the corona passport, the introduction of which has just been outlined by the government. Effectiveness and proportionality are key in assessing restrictive measures. “
“The acute distress of the actors must, of course, be addressed. More support is coming to the cultural field. We aim to receive your support as soon as possible. In the preparatory work, we have tried to learn from the past and pay even more attention to the difficult situation of actors in the free field of art. Cooperation with stakeholders in the sector has been identified as important. ”
Beautiful words, replies Huber and a little laughs.
“The last point sounds good if you really learn from mistakes and better target support. If you are restricted, you have to be prepared to support and not just seemingly throw a little money, be happy. ”
The rigidity of Finland’s corona policy after the beginning surprised Huber.
“Everything is so reactive, the timing a bit wrong all the time. It is not possible to react to a changing situation, let’s go with the same familiar and safe screwdriver: tighten a few events, then loosen, tighten and loosen. ”
For a long time now, the situation has not been the same as in 2020 or early 2021: vaccinations are preventing serious illnesses, a risk score model for events has been made (although it is questionable in Huber’s view), masks are required at shows, and so on.
“There has always been the same basic problem here, which is to say that we have a small medical capacity, and that is true. But it will be solved by limiting rather than increasing medical capacity. ”
It won’t be done in an instant, Huber knows, but at the latest when the pandemic started, capacity building should have started, and in hindsight before that. It would have become cheaper than repeated brackets.
“If we can afford to buy fighters in a ‘proactive’ way, then why not resource health care as well?” Huber asks and praises THL Mika Salmisen The angle highlighted earlier in January by the European Union is that the pandemic resilience of the Finnish health care system is poor in Europe.
“Pandemics should come as no surprise, scientists warned for years.”
As for proper support for the cultural sector in the wake of the crisis and squatting, Huber then believes. He has become more cynical than before.
“Help is not for everyone. It will be visible for years to come. ”
Own Huber cannot regret his situation any worse. He’s “really grateful and happy” for being able to make records. He has already made three solo albums during the pandemic, the last two of which were double albums at the end of last year Up & Down. Up is more soul, Down again, the “future of funk”. DownThe album also features gloomy themes like just the pandemic and its side effects.
In addition, the founding quartet of Eternal Erection set up a new band called Elliot’s Crazy Compass, which also released a record in the fall.
“It [levyjen tekeminen] has been my salvation. I have directed all my energy into it. Without it, I would have gone crazy, or depressed deeply. ”
Huber says, however, that he is, above all, a “gig animal,” and when there have been a total of five audience gigs during the pandemic, “people have sometimes gone along the walls”. Streaming gigs have been tried, but they are not the same thing.
Huber’s solo project is from New York: the producer is from New York Tomás Doncker, and the backing band is Doncker’s “house band,” or The True Groove All-Stars.
In New York, however, it has not been easy to pop in for two years. This state of affairs has brought something new to studio-making: Huber sings on tops made in the studio in Helsinki, New York, and Doncker listens through a video broadcast in New York. With the exception of a small delay, Huber thinks the model doesn’t end up very different from normal studio work, where everyone is in their own booth with handsets and microphones.
If the producer and the author or agents know each other well in advance, the method can work, Huber says.
“I couldn’t have believed how well it went, even though it’s not the same thing.”
Instead, gigs cannot be replaced. That’s why you have to go to New York as soon as possible.
Born in 1965.
The beak man of the funk band Eternal Erection (1994–), performs as an alter ego named Rick Lover. The band is on an indefinite break.
He won the debut Jussi Award in 1994 for his lead roles in Ripa Rust and Hysteria.
Founded an art foundation bearing its own name in 2005. It distributes grants annually, especially to freelance artists.
Assets worth millions of euros through the family: Huber is the heir to both Ahlström’s and Huber’s family of companies.
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