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The Armas Festival: The cultural rights of the elderly must be secured


Armas is a nationwide arts and culture festival that celebrates ageing. It is organized annually. The aim of the festival is to bring forward the voice of the elderly and defend their right to participate and enjoy culture. This year, Armas will be organized on October 1–14, 2023. Next year, the festival will be moved to spring.

Dancing. (Photo: Sami Lamberg, Kapina Oy)
Dancing. (Photo: Sami Lamberg, Kapina Oy)

The use of cultural services and cultural activities are linked to good perceived health and quality of life. Spending regularly time with art promotes our cognitive abilities even in older age and reduces the risk of dementia.

During its seven years of operation, Armas has evolved from a festival to a social influencer. It wants to pay special attention to the realization of the cultural rights of the elderly both at national and international level.

- It is the fundamental right of every human being to be able to participate in art and culture and to develop and express oneself, emphasizes Raisa Karttunen, the festival manager and producer.

The elderly are clearly less involved in cultural services after the age of 75. This may be due to mobility issues, access to information or loneliness.

- The festival wants to contribute to the accessibility of culture so that even the elderly have the opportunity to enjoy art and culture, says Karttunen.

Just like in previous years, the festival will consist of exhibitions, inclusive workshops, theatre performances and music at various art institutions, cultural centers, retirement homes and service homes around the country.

The festival kicks off on 12 September 2023 with a photo exhibition Aika hyppy by Pasi Kostiainen, which reflects on family and the art of letting go, and is open to the public in Valssaamo at Cable Factory cultural centre. In Dance House Helsinki there is also a so-called open-air dance.

Global cooperation is needed to promote the cultural rights of the elderly

The Armas Festival has had international cooperation already for some time. Now it is also looking into the possibility of establishing an international centre where information could be collected and shared on how the cultural rights of the elderly are realized and how culture is reflected in the lives of the elderly around the world.

- At the moment, there is no international actor who would systematically bring together different actors, says Karttunen. - The experiences I have gathered during my various seminar and lecture trips within the framework of Armas have convinced me that there is a great need for such a cooperation and network.

- The world is aging rapidly. Now is the time we can bring together international actors in the cultural and healthcare sectors as well as researchers from different fields, and to influence future decisions, Karttunen emphasizes.


The Armas Festival will be organized on October 1–14, 2023. The Member of the Finnish Parliament Pekka Haavisto acts as the festival’s patron.
Next year, the Armas Festival will be organized on March 18–31, 2024.




The Armas Festival is coordinated by Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo.

Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo is a property management company owned by the City of Helsinki. We own, renovate and rent out old industrial buildings for artistic and cultural purposes. We offer spaces to companies, artists and event organizers at Cable Factory, N10 and Suvilahti.

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