Outsider Art Agency Pertti’s Choice, which produces the Outsider Art Festival, is the world’s first social enterprise founded by disabled people. The company’s income is directed to the development of employment for special groups and the partially disabled. The same principles are present in OAF’s activities. OAF employs 100 marginal artists and culture workers yearly, and this year employment is one of the festival’s main themes.
The True Equality program, initiated by Pertti’s Choice and Kyrö Distillery, is behind the employment mesures. The program provides a platform for designing and experimenting with new work tasks and employment measures, bringing together special employees in the cultural and catering sector with socially responsible companies. The production of the program is planned on the basis of interviews conducted in the networks of Pertti’s Choice and the Autism Foundation. As an outcome, there are new dream jobs and new cross-sector and inclusive operating models that can be widely applied. Jessica Rasila, who is employed by the True Equality -program, says that the Jobs Pertti’s Choice has offered her have been great. “ I have gotten to do lovely things with great people, and learned a lot of new things. This year I even went to the pop up event in Paris!”
Toni Nieminen, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Helsinki who studies the employment of special groups, says that in Finland special groups rarely do the work they would like to do. “This problem is part of a broader discussion about partial work ability and the employment of people with partial work ability,” Nieminen says. “OAF organizes work and projects according to the communal and cooperative principle of nothing without us. This means that special groups, partially abled and non-disabled employees work, think and learn together. In this way, OAF’s operating model makes an important contribution to the discussion about how to include special groups and partially abled people in the labor market,” Nieminen adds.
At the Outsider Art Festival, the True Equality program is seen in the new ways people with special needs can participate in the festival production and its different sectors. Employees for the 2023 festival have been recruited through Pertti’s Choice, Autismisäätiö, Kukunori Ry, Alvi Ry, Ammattiopisto Luovi and Helsinki Job’d. The public will be able to meet the working groups at the festival venues such as the Central Library Oodi where the working groups will work together with the venues’ regular staff.
At the OAF, the True Equality program will be celebrated at the National Museum’s True Equality Guest Party on August 17. The public can join the celebration by purchasing a support ticket. Come celebrate equality!