Pertin Valinta, or Pertti’s Choice in English, is Finland’s first social enterprise owned by people with learning disabilities. It was founded by the members of the punk band Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day to support the careers of disabled artists. It will open its doors for a three-day popup in London’s Shoreditch on 8-10 August this summer. The Pertti’s Choice popup will showcase Finnish and British Outsider art, alongside a vegan café with music performances and products available to buy.
The art element of the experience will include a VR exhibition, Inside Outside Finland, which takes the viewer to four Outsider art environments in Finland, as well as portraits by visual artist Tanya Raabe-Webber, drawings by Pertti Kurikka’s alter ego Kalevi Helvetti and photographs of Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day international tours. Tanya Raabe-Webber and Kalevi Helvetti will be hosting portrait drawing workshops on Friday 9 August at 11am and 2pm.
The popup will see gigs by Kalevi Helvetti, the groove jazz artist Kalle Salonen, singer Eeva Lusenius, Rudewolf, DJ Miika and the Brighton band Zombie crash.
The team from Pertti’s Choice will be accompanied by staff members of the much loved IPI café in Helsinki’s Kallio district. Their mission will be to serve quality coffee, while introducing a model for employing disabled people.
“It’s great that people with learning disabilities and other outsiders have an equal opportunity to present Finnish culture to the world. We have a lot of interesting artists and projects going on right now,” says Sami Helle, one of the founders of Pertti’s Choice.
“There is great interest in the UK towards the Finnish model, and this popup aims to develop international networks of disabled people”, says Emilie Gardberg, director of the Finnish Institute in London. The institute is bringing the popup to London together with its partners.
One of the main aims of Pertti’s Choice is to create a model for facilitating the employment of disabled people in the cultural sector. At present, artists’ earnings can affect benefits so a successful artist may even be in danger of losing their supported housing. The situation in Britain is similar, and many activists in the sector are working to find a solution with models like Pertti’s Choice.
The popup will also host discussions about this topic. Heini Merkkiniemi, director of the art agency at Pertti’s Choice comments:
“Improving the employment of disabled people is in the spotlight right now. We want to highlight the pioneers and develop new models that can show the way and encourage others.”
Pertti’s Choice is run by Daatso Ltd, the social enterprise founded by members of Pertti Kurikka’s Name Days. Daatso collaborates closely with Lyhty’s employment programme and cultural workshops.
Pertti’s Choice has received funding from Arts Council England and the Finnish Ministry for Education and Culture. The event is supported by Kyrö Distillery, Kaffecentralen, Iittala, The Finnish Embassy of Finland in London, The Finnish Musicians’ Union, Arts Promotion Centre Finland and the Finnish Autism Foundation.
Pertti’s Choice Popup, 8-10 August. Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EY.
Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10:30–18.