Helsinki offers haven to refugee artists

As Europe’s migrant crisis intensifies, Helsinki could become only its second city to offer refugee artists a temporary safe haven, following the example of Gävle in Sweden. Helsinki’s cultural committee has voted in favour of the plan to join the International Cities of Refuge Network (Icorn). A final vote is due in November, says Marita Muukkonen, a freelance curator who has already organised short-term residencies along with a number of Finnish artists. Among those helped was the Syrian photographer Issa Touma, who was able to travel to Finland from Aleppo, where he organises an annual photography festival. However, in Gävle, conservative politicians are mounting a legal challenge to the move to join Icorn.