Rivals for The Title of European Capital of Culture Begin Collaboration

The trio that competed to be the next Finnish European Capital of Culture (ECoC) – namely Oulu2026, The Saimaa Phenomenon and the Tampere26 legacy project, Operation Pirkanmaa – have launched a collaboration project. The first visible campaign will be the Piirakkapidot (‘pasty fest‘) event, taking place in several locations on Sunday 4 September 2022.

 ‘Food connects people, it is a part of culture that is close to the heart. During the Piirakkapidot, there will be events, campaigns and culture performances all across Finland and Europe. The collaboration will bring publicity, which will help this northern corner of Europe to get its cheerful voice heard more loudly, says Pia Rantala-Korhonen, who is CEO of Oulu Culture Foundation organising the ECoC year.

Network lends its strength to regions

Together, the trio covers nearly half of Finland geographically, and approximately 1.7 million residents live in the networked regions. The regions of Oulu, Tampere and Saimaa came up with altogether over 2,000 artistic projects over the bidding process and thousands of culture operators participated in the work.

They will focus their efforts on three objectives: influencing, international communication and development of expertise. Joint art campaigns, communication and artist exchanges have also been planned. The network wants to bring attention to regions of Finland that tend to be overlooked in terms of culture funding and visibility. 

The Oulu Culture Foundation, Oulu 2026, began operations at the beginning of 2022 and is steering the region of Oulu and northern Finland towards a year as Capital of Culture 2026. The main theme is Cultural Climate Change, which will bring people together through the means of culture and art and create new kinds of culture and art by utilising technology in unexpected ways. Culture will become the engine of urban development, community building and expanding the creative industry in accordance with principles of sustainable development.

 ‘It is now time to lift up culture, artists and makers of culture to their deserved status and acknowledge the significance of culture to a region’s vitality. Oulu will be the stage of European culture in 2026, but the year will be meaningful to Finland and Finnish culture as a whole. The greatest gains are made in cooperation’, says Rantala-Korhonen.

Operation Pirkanmaa and Saimaa’s European Region of Gastronomy will continue work

The collaboration will be represented in the Tampere Region by its ECoC bid legacy project, Operation Pirkanmaa, which runs from 2022 to 2024 and released its first programme in February 2022.   

 ‘Operation Pirkanmaa is part of the City of Tampere’s experience economy development programme, in which we will examine how art activities in the regional economy intertwine with the road maps and food culture of lake and nature travel, for example. The legacy project supports the cultural field in coming out of two years living with a pandemic from a communal angle, meaning that municipal residents can participate in activities and events like Piirakkapidot, says Ilona Kyykoski, Project Manager for Operation Pirkanmaa.

Work for The Saimaa Phenomenon continues in The Dream Years of Culture, which will be celebrated in cities in Eastern Finland from 2021 to 2026. The region has also been invited to compete for the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2024.

 ‘Our theme for the bid is the fittingly gastro-diplomatic “Table over the Border“.The Saimaa Region will strongly develop food and culture travel together with its European partners, and what could be a more natural start for this nationwide cooperation than Karelian pasties’, says Sari Kaasinen, Project Manager for Saimaa Phenomenon.