Pertti’s Choice, popup version of Finnish outsider art agency and gallery comes to London 7th–10th August. During the popup events such as a workshop and networking event for disabled artists are organised. Head of Legal Affairs Lottaliina Pokkinen from The Finnish Musicians’ Union is one of the participants. In this interview she tells more about the cooperation between The Finnish Musicians’ Union and Pertti’s Choice.
The Finnish Musicians’ Union and Pertti’s Choice started their cooperation last year. How did the idea come about?
I met with Heini Merkkiniemi, Pertti’s Choice’s booking office’s development director, who later asked me to help at Pertti’s Choice with drafting some contracts. We realized we could expand the cooperation beyond that. At the time Pertin Choice was planning to expand their booking agency programme. I presented the idea here at The Finnish Musicians’ Union and it got an enthusiastic reception.
What problems do disabled musicians face?
Disabled musicians are marginalized. The assumption is that disabled artists’ target group is disabled people, even though the music should be in focus. Every musician can dream of performing e.g. at the main stage of Ruisrock (Finnish equivalent of Glastonbury). We wish that everyone would think of the music industry as one entity that belongs to all. Even though the music industry is very accepting and flexible, people don’t necessarily think about this. Therefore it is important to bring everyone forth for example on the radio, TV and social media. Pertti’s Choice does important work in this. They have succeeded to get disabled artists seen and heard.
A more practical problem is the income limits for people who receive social welfare benefits. If they receive any bigger income, it affects their social security status. It is hard to estimate the year’s income, which causes problems. These problems are actually similar to those many musicians face.
Another issue is the internships learning disabled persons do. They might get jobs through them, but are often underpaid. This is a similar problem other musicians have. Many musicians are struggling with underpayment, when they are offered for example publicity instead of fees. However, for the marginalized groups the underpayment is even more common.
What can be done to improve the situation?
The Finnish Musicians’ Union is not a traditional labour union, because we have a lot of other activities than promoting our members’ interests. The Union owns a corporation Livelaboratorio Ltd, which runs G Livelab club in Helsinki and Tampere. The corporation also owns the local radio station Radio Helsinki. We aim to bring forth diverse voices in our actions, so the cooperation feels natural.
In addition, we are investigating how we can best develop combining social welfare and income. Furthermore, it’s important that musicians and their friends and family know that we offer help e.g. with making contracts.
What are you planning in the future for your cooperation with Pertti’s Choice?
In the autumn we’ll continue planning the cooperation for the radio and club. I work with for example negotiating contracts. Our cooperation is still pretty new, but I’m sure this will grow into something great. I am very grateful for our cooperation and proud of it and I’m constantly learning something new.
Text: Jenni Ahtiainen Photo: Tero Ahonen
Pertti’s Choice Popup, 8-10 August. Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EY.
Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10:30–18.