Artist M.A. Numminen Will Work Until the End

Endless curiosity and an outrageous sense of humour. Just a few words that reveal the secret behind Mauri Antero Numminen’s long working life. He does not plan to be inactive in retirement. His work as an artist keeps his mind alert and supplements his small self-employed person’s pension.

M.A. Numminen became known to the nation 50 years ago by singing out texts from a book on sex life. The police interrupted the concert because of the obscene songs. Numminen was pleased – he had received the attention he was looking for!

Now, at age 76, Numminen has retired, but he is not idle. Orchestral works and movie manuscripts are among his unfinished projects, and he has not stopped performing as, among other things, the singing Gommi-the-rabbit.

“When I started receiving a pension, it was a very much needed additional income. Finally I could cut down a bit on the number of gigs I was doing. When I was still working full time, I couldn’t afford to pay for an adequate pension, so I’ll be working for the rest of my life,” he says.

Kuvituskuvassa M.A. Numminen

Artist’s ability to pay varied

Like many artists, Numminen’s income came from many sources and varied greatly from one decade to another. Although pension issues seemed like something far off into the future when he was young, he followed his businessman-father’s advice and paid contributions under the Self-employed Persons’ Pensions Act, according to his abilities.

“When times were better, I could afford to pay more, but during the recession in the 1990s, for example, I paid the minimum contribution. I took care of my own pension, but I know artists who never paid pension contributions. Now they are struggling to scrape by. Some of them have received the state pension for artists, though.”

Does not want to take from those in greater need

Numminen has not applied for a state pension for artists, because it is granted partly based on social needs. The applicant’s financial standing and his or her possibilities to earn a living are taken into account when granting the pension.

“I decided that I didn’t want to take the pension away from someone who needs it more than I do. Apparently this ‘poverty aspect’ hasn’t received enough publicity. I’ve noticed that many artists still believe that this pension is granted as a tribute. They complain that they haven’t been awarded it.”

Last year, more than 500 artists applied for the state pension for artists. The pension is granted each year to 60 applicants and it amounts to approximately EUR 1,330 per month (in 2016). The pension can also be granted as a partial pension (50% of the full pension).

Kuvituskuvassa M.A. Numminen

​​​No automatic pension accrual when freelancing

For many artists, Numminen included, earnings-related pension has accrued both for self-employment and different paid work.  Artists were also able to accrue a pension under the Freelance Employees Pensions Act from 1986 to 2006. In addition, the guarantee pension, granted by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela), supplements these.

“If there’s anything that slightly annoys me, it’s that I did 40 per cent of my gigs as a freelancing journalist. For this reason, I’ve lost nearly half of the pension I should have received for the work I did when I was between 25 and 60,” Numminen explains.

Pension does not accrue automatically for work done as a freelancer because a freelance journalist is not in an employment relationship with the magazine or newspaper. The law sees freelancers as self-employed, who have to take care of their own pension contributions. This should be taken into account when negotiating the writing fee.

Photos: Karoliina Paatos

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