Skip to content

Touring Solves a Lot


The touring activities of the Finnish Jazz Federation began in 1983. Since then, the Federation has brought jazz to various parts of Finland through its touring system, in collaboration with regional and local partners.

Touring solves a lot. Or as my colleague in the office often points out, "touring solves everything."

Today, touring activities are more relevant than ever, both domestically and internationally. Promoting touring activities is closely related to questions of regional accessibility and availability of music, considering the lifecycle of productions, and also environmentally sustainable ways to produce and consume culture.

In its current form, the annual touring activities of the Finnish Jazz Federation consist of approximately 100 concerts in about 40 different locations per year. The Ministry of Education and Culture grants operational support to the Finnish Jazz Federation for the touring support system, and the Federation uses about half of the total operational grant received to implement the national touring system.

Finnish Jazz Federation takes care of the accommodation, travel, tour communication, sound reinforcement, sound technicians, and payroll for touring bands. Local subscribers of tour concerts reserve touring bands for their locality, handle practical arrangements on-site, and pay concert fees to the Federation. The fee is reasonable because the Finnish Jazz Federation can subsidize prices due to the grant received from the Ministry of Education and Culture. This ensures that jazz music is heard in its various forms across Finland, from Hanko to Muonio. In some locations, Finnish Jazz Federation jazz concerts may be the only jazz experiences of the year.

Finnish Jazz Federation's touring system has been refined over the years and is now a finely tuned, cost-effective system. This was already noted in the Regional Supply of Music survey commissioned by the Ministry of Education in 2005. The survey found the model to work well and suggested that a similar support system could be introduced for other types of music, such as folk music or world music. Later, this did happen with folk music.

As a concrete proposal, the 2005 survey suggested increasing the total touring support for live music (including the earmarked funding for promoting jazz music) cumulatively by €200,000 each year, so that by 2011, grants totaling €1,230,000 would be awarded.

We can only dream of such a million-pot. On the contrary, current cuts in arts and culture also affect touring activities.

In the ongoing cultural policy statement, Finnish Jazz Federation strongly emphasizes the need to strengthen the structures of touring activities and create new structures to ensure diverse cultural services across Finland in the future.

Finnish Jazz Federation proposes that by strengthening touring structures and creating new models that enable touring across various art forms, the accessibility and regional availability of art can be promoted, particularly as urbanization accelerates and depopulation threatens many localities. Touring activities implement the lifecycle thinking of works and productions, and are often the most ecologically sustainable and resource-efficient way to spread art nationally across Finland. Touring activities can enhance the diversity of cultural services, strengthen collaboration between institutions and the independent art scene, and narrow regional disparities in the availability of various art forms. Functional touring structures in Finland also lay the groundwork for the touring of international artists, promoting intercultural dialogue and export opportunities.

Finnish Jazz Federation is not the only advocate for touring activities.

For example, the Association of Finnish Theatres also highlights the importance of touring activities in its own cultural policy objectives:

"Wide networks of collaboration and the development of touring opportunities are the future of the performing arts sector.--- Mobility of performing arts within the country is part of sustainable action. Creating a new production is always an economic and material investment, so it is important that the performance trajectories of productions are as long as possible. Co-productions and productions performed in multiple locations enable a longer lifespan and a larger audience for the same production. International collaboration, foreign visits, and domestic touring must be done in an environmentally sustainable manner. In future planning, export and touring subsidies should encourage sustainable mobility and longer-term collaborative structures rather than individual short foreign performance visits."

Similarly, LiveFIN envisions the future of touring in its own policy objectives:

"The ecological aspect of making tours in the live music industry is effectively supported. The industry recognizes the impact of tours on the goals of sustainable development, and there is a touring support model for environmentally sustainable tours that also enliven cultural activities in regions experiencing population decline."

It's easy to agree with the quotes above.

Domestically, touring subsidies should be developed to support both domestic and international touring. Touring activities are often inherently more environmentally friendly than individual visits, but at the same time, touring subsidies should consider planning tours to have minimal environmental impact in the future.

In 2023, Finnish Jazz Federation developed a climate roadmap towards carbon neutrality for its own touring activities, titled Towards more sustainable jazz tours together. The Federation also added environmental criteria to its co-production touring support in 2023.

The live music industry is engaged in ongoing, constructive discussions on improving the sustainability of touring activities. Live Music Climate Roapmap released in 2023 guides touring activities in the right direction and towards Finland's carbon neutrality goal by 2035. The roadmap proposes climate measures for all stakeholders in touring activities: festivals, clubs, musicians, managers, organizations, municipalities, and funders. By collectively moving towards more sustainable practices in the performing arts, we are also moving towards touring activities that are less burdensome on the climate.

Collaborative development of touring activities also opens up many new interesting possibilities. One of the Finnish Jazz Federation's recent collaborations is a joint tour with the Concert Centre Finland, where the same travel emissions were used to conduct school concerts during the day and club concerts in the evening. Currently, Finnish Jazz Federation is planning how its touring system can be used more for jazz music outreach.

Finland's national jazz touring system and network have also attracted international interest. Most recently, Finnish Jazz Federation was invited to participate in the extensive EU-funded Better Live – A sustainable circulation of musicians in Europe project, which aims to develop and promote more environmentally and socially sustainable touring in Europe. Project partners have been impressed by the Finnish jazz touring network and the environmental work done within it.

Finnish Jazz Federation has extensive experience in organizing tours, both domestically and in the Nordic countries, and we are happy to present the positive effects of touring activities on musicians' employment and the promotion of regional music offerings.

As was already noted in the 2005 survey on Regional Supply of Music: improved national and regional availability and diversification of marginal music, such as jazz, enlivens our entire culture and increases interest in these phenomena. Activating offerings also increases demand.

Maria Silvennoinen
Executive Director
Finnish Jazz Federation

Photo: Patrik Stenström