PICNIC 2023 | The Art Family Encounters project in figures 

PICNIC is a series of regular meetings with artistic proposals, where families with small children can create a community in their heritage language. This project was started by Kulttuurikeskus Ninho in 2022, a year when we worked with communities in Spanish and Portuguese.  

In 2023, PICNIC has lived an exceptional second edition, because the Art Family Encounters have reached families who speak many other languages! We’ve had 3 very ambitious goals for 2023:  

  1. Extend PICNIC to other language groups including a minimum of 2 among Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish and Ukrainian.  
  1. Provide a model for replicating the experience gained with the community in Spanish, by providing guidelines for good practices that could be used by other communities in the future.  
  1. Strength the Spanish community that gathers in Pasila every week.  

After a year of hard work, thanks to the support of Helsinki, we are very happy to announce the results and actions developed!  

Results of PICNIC Art Family Encounters in Other Languages in 2023 – Helsinki:  

  • 1 Open Call: we selected 3 proposals and 4 artists and educators.  
  • Events: 8. 
  • Total artists involved in events: 20.  
  • 14 languages: Ibibio, Karelian, Russian, Swahili, Yoruba, Arabic, Somali, English, simplified Finnish, with special focus on Turkish, Ukrainian and Farsi, and Ninho’s core languages Spanish and Portuguese. 
  • Audience: 412. 
  • Associactions engaged: 17
  • Libraries involved: 5.  

We established connections and organized events with the associations FIN-Polar – Mirsal Art Puppets – Selkokulttuuri ry – Association Nigerian Community in Finland ry – Kulsi ry – Art Puppet Co – Belingual Project by Familia ry – Ukrainian Association in Finland – APPF Associaçao Professores PortuguĂŞs na Finlandia – Portuguese Embassy – Ylays Publisher – Suomen Somalia-verkosto – Kunda Kids – Finnish-African Society – Suomen Afrikka-Seura ry – Moniäänien Helsinki, Suomi – Syyria Ystävyysseura ry – Amal ry 

We worked and organized events with the libraries of Pasila, Oodi, Itäkeskus, Malmi and the National Multilingual Library. The projects “Monikulttuurinen moninaisuus ja kirjastot projekti” of Helmet and “Cultural Diversity in Libraries in Western Helsinki” were involved too. 

What are the benefits of PICNIC in other languages for Helsinki? 

All projects in Kulttuurikeskus Ninho are important, but the PICNIC Art Family Encounters is one of the more beloved ones, especially since we decided to open it to other minority heritage languages in Finland.  

This projection was key, because it involved many fields, and helped artists, immigrant families, and associations through different goals: 

  • Strengthen the sense of community, provide a safer, accessible, plural and participative cultural space for immigrant families and their children. 
  • Provide professional immigrant artists with an entry point to Finnish children’s cultural scene and concrete working possibilities. 
  • Familiarize immigrant families and immigrant talents with key city services (e.g., libraries, communitarian spaces, museums, leikkipuistot, among others)  
  • Offer cultural institutions & multicultural organizations a window about diversity & talents in the children’s culture sector. 

How did we develop PICNIC in other languages in 2023? 

In this section, we’ll explain the main actions we developed during 2023 to achieve the different goals established.  

Goal 1: Extend it to other language groups including minimum 2 from: Arabic • Persian • Turkish • Kurdish and Ukrainian: 

How could we get PICNIC known by other communities? From March 2023, we reached the associations connected to these groups, and since the best way to explain something is by showing it, we also participated in events organized by these associations, so they could see PINIC in action.  

A good example was the event Kohtaamisia ja kulttuureja – lapsiperhetapahtuma at Pasila Library (11.3.2023): We took part by performing storytelling sessions in Spanish and Portuguese, and a dance workshop. It was an exceptional opportunity because it was the first time we participated in the network of the Helmet’s project “Monikulttuurinen moninaisuus ja kirjastot projekti”.

Once the connections were started, we needed artists who spoke these new groups’ languages! Thats why we organized an OPEN CALL to look for artists focused on small ages. 10 proposals were received, and we selected:  

  1. Filiz Kurt Aksu: Turkish theatre and puppets expert, Filiz Kurt Aksu, was selected through her show Storytelling with puppets in English, Turkish and Selkosuomi languages. She is a refugee talented artist with more than 25 years of experience in the field.  
  2. Olesia Rudenko: Ukrainian refugee artist who designed Motanka. An art workshop in which children can make Motanka dolls (the National Ukrainian doll) by using wool.
  3. Banafsheh Eshraghi: Iranian Education specialist graduated with a master in education from the University of Helsinki. Her selected proposal was My home is the world, a series of stories in Persia language about an immigrant family’s journey to Finland. 
  4. Masha Khoshnejab: Iranian second year student of Social Services at Metropolia (Helsinki), she presented My Home is the World with her colleague Banafsheh Eshraghi. 
PICNIC Family Art Encounters
“Storytelling with puppets”, by Filiz Kurt Aksu. Picture: AgustĂ­n Garagorry.

Because PICNIC wants to provide professional immigrant artists with an entry point to Finnish children’s cultural scene, after the selection we offered them some training, so they could learn more about the Finnish children’s cultural system, antiracism, and accessibility good practices, so they could adapt their shows to all children.  

After the Open Call, we kept working with the new ally associations. Since we needed to maximize efforts, we thought the best way was to organize new events together, so PICNIC could reach a wider audience. 

Following this system, we organized several events during 2023:  

Reading Together: Multilingual Storytelling Marathon at Oodi Library (2.4.2023):  

We piloted PICNIC with English, Farsi, Ibibio, Karelian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, Yoruba and simplified Finnish, thanks to the collaboration with the associations Associação de Professores de Português na Finlândia, Portuguese Embassy, Selkokulttuuri ry, The Association Nigerian Community in Finland ry, Kulsi ry, Art Puppet Co, Belingual Project by Familia ry, Ukrainian Association in Finland, Monikulttuurinen moninaisuus ja kirjastot -projekti, Pasila library, Oodi Library and The Multilingual Library.. 

10 artists and educators performed the storytelling sessions for children, the workshop ‘Susurradores’ in simplified Finnish and multilingual storytelling with puppets in English, simplified Finnish, and Turkish by Filiz Kurt Aksu. 

200 people attended this huge event. 

Helsinki Päivä Reading Together: Multilingual Storytelling Marathon at Itäkeskus Library (12.6.2023): 

To organize this event, apart of the associations involved already, 2 more were contacted to expand PICNIC model through Arabic and Somali languages: Ylays Publisher and Suomen Somalia-verkosto. This way, in this event we offered: 

  • Storytelling sessions in: Arabic, Ukrainian, Spanish, Portuguese, simplified Finnish and Somali. 
  • Storytelling with puppets in Turkish by Filiz Kurt Aksu. 
  • Storytelling in Farsi by Banafsheh Eshraghi. 

50 people attended.  

CULTURE DAY – FALA PROJECT at Pasila Library (19.8.2023): 

We wanted to show PICNIC model to the African-Suomi community, so we participated in this event where many African countries showed their cultures. We showed PICNIC throught a storytelling session in Spanish and Portuguese, so every association and community involved could see the process, and we bonded with the Finnish-African Society ry. 

200 people could see PICNIC in process.  

Vauva Day at Pasilan Kirjasto (29.9.2023): 

Results started to be more visible, because in this case, Pasila Library contacted Ninho to bring PICNIC to Vauva Day. Masha Khoshnejab performed a storytelling session in Farsi.  

31 attended this event. 

Kolibrí Festivaali at Sello Library (Espoo), Lastenkulttuurikeskus Pessi (Vantaa) and Malmitalon kirjasto (Helsinki) | 16.9 to 30.9.2023:   

Because we wanted to give the Open Call selected artists more opportunities to reach their communities, KolibrĂ­ Festivaali was the best stage. That’s why all selected proposals in the Open Call for Small Ages were programmed in KolibrĂ­ with a fantastic response, with families from out of Uusimaa visiting.  

Art workshop Motanka, by Olesia Rudenko. Picture: AgustĂ­n Garagorry.

Around 100 people attended the 7 activities during the different KolibrĂ­ Family Days. Just in Malmitalo, more than 60 people could enjoy Storytelling with puppets and Motanka.

For all these artists and educators, those spaces and links were new in their professional careers. Thanks to including them in KolibrĂ­ Festivali’s program, they had a wider platform to show their work, with social media material in 5 different languages to promote and visualize their talent. After that, they received new opportunities to work with groups of families in Turkish/ Farsi and Dari, in Vantaa and Espoo City

Participation in Club of families in Farsi (23.10.2023): 

Banafsheh Eshraghi and Masha Khoshnejab performed the storytelling My home is the World.  

Maailman Arabian Kielen Päivä at Oodi Kirjasto (16.12.2023):   

PICNIC visited the World Arabic Language Day through a cooperation with MIRSAL ry. We performed a storytelling in Arabic language and projected our guided tour through Helmet Booking System in Arabic language.  

Around 35 people enjoyed this activity.  

Goal 2: Provide a model for replicating the experience gained with the community in Spanish, by providing guidelines for good practices that could be used by other communities in the future. 

Thanks to the experience we gained after the first edition of PICNIC, and all the work done during 2023, including events and the new contacts, we summarized all this knowledge in the guide “PICNIC in your own language”.  

A manual that explains how to create your PICNIC community, and provides families with information about the services they can find in Helsinki, its libraries and communal spaces.  

By December 2023 this guide is being piloted among immigrant artists and ally associations, so we can optimize it together. After this initial phase, we plan to publish it soon on Ninho’s website and social media, so we keep helping any community to create a safe space, where children can enjoy culture in their heritage language.  

Goal 3: Strength the Spanish community that gathers in Pasila every week: 

We couldn’t forget our beloved PICNIC groups in Spanish! In 2023, Ninho’s bember Alicia Sevilla (MX) has been coordinating weekly Art Family Encounters in Spanish for 2 different groups, in Pasila Library (Green Room): 

  • Families with babies: Tuesdays from 10 am to 10.45 am.  
  • Families with toddlers: Fridays from 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm.   

We organized 2 seasons in 2023, Spring and Autumn, and both gathered a total of 389 attendances.  

Last encounter of PICNIC in Spanish this Autumn 2023, in Pasila Library.

The best part is that we already have dates for the Spanish groups in Spring 2024! –> 15.2.2023 to 30.5.2024. The meeting point will still in Pasila Library – Green Room.  

As you can see, it’s been a very intense and fruitful year, full of new collaborations, families and good results. In 2024 we’ll keep working on PICNIC in your own language, so more families can enjoy art with their children in peer-to-peer groups, through their heritage language.  

If you want to have more information about PICNIC, support it somehow, create a PICNIC group in your heritage language or join PICNIC in Spanish, you can contact us at info@ninho.fi

Subscribe to Ninho’s newsletter and don’t miss our multicultural events for the whole family!

* indicates required
Your email address

Intuit Mailchimp

Scroll to Top