Oulu is in the running to the European Capital of Culture 2026

Oulu 2026 presentation team
Oulu2026 has presented the first application to the international panel on June 23, 2020: Oulu’s application for the European Capital of Culture was presented to the European panel by  a team of nine. In addition to Piia Rantala-Korhonen and Samu Forsblom from Mayor Päivi Laajala, Kyösti Oikarinen, Member of Oulu City Council, Air Guitar Artist Aapo Rautio, Artistic Director of the Oulu Theatre Alma Lehmuskallio, Executive Director of Oulu Urban Culture Heikki Myllylahti, Oulu City Multicultural Work Coordinator Priyanka Sood and Blair Stevenson, Principal Lecturer at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences. Photo: Oulu2026.
The Finnish city of Oulu Continues its Journey in the European Capital of Culture Bid. If they succeed, this will be the second Arctic city to wear the title after Bodø in Northern Norway, that is European Capital of Culture 2024.

Oulu and 32 northern municipalities in Finland will continue on a shared trip to become the European Capital of Culture in 2026. The final decision will be taken in the summer of 2021.  The European Capital of Culture is the European Union’s most important cultural initiative.

Piia Rantala-Korhonen, Director of the Oulu2026 project
Next step: We will prepare the second phase application bidbook, says Piia Rantala-Korhonen, Director of the Oulu2026 project. Photo: Oulu2026.
Next step: We will prepare the second phase application bidbook, says Piia Rantala-Korhonen, Director of the Oulu2026 project. Photo: Oulu2026.

“We will now continue to prepare the second phase application bidbook in extensive cooperation with the actors in the region and European partners,” says Piia Rantala-Korhonen, Director of the Oulu2026 project, in a press release.

Access to the second round will be celebrated with the whole of Oulu, Finland and Europe on Thursday 25 June at 8 pm at Jukka Takalo’s Kayak Orchestra livestream gig. The concert can be followed on the Facebook pages of Oulu2026 and Mun Oulu city media. The concert is produced in cooperation with Oulu Days Urban City Festival.

Huge Investment in City Development

Oulu2026’s main theme was Cultural Climate Change, to which 32 cities in northern Finland are committed in addition to Oulu.

We share a strong will to develop the region.
Piia Rantala-Korhonen, Director of Oulu2026

“The cooperation area extends from the Russian border to the Swedish border. We share a strong will to develop the region as well as fully use the potential for cultural development. Now we need to continue our mutual development despite the lack of title,” says Rantala-Korhonen.

The main objective of the Oulu2026 project is to create culture, well-being and a life force for our region.  Oulu, like many other European cities, will face many challenges in the near future as the age structure of the city changes, the birth rate decreases and, in particular, the unemployment of young people is high.

“A vibrant city that exudes visitors, residents and holds its own. Residents benefit from diverse cultural offerings and a living city with soft, human-friendly values,” says Rantala-Korhonen.

Cultural climate change brings the importance of art and culture to a new level in urban development and creates jobs in creative sectors and tourism – also outside the city.

Also read

Samu Forsblom, Programme Director at Oulu2026
Large: "This is the largest cultural project in Oulu as well as in the northern Europe, says Samu Forsblom, Programme Director at Oulu2026. Photo: Oulu2026.
Large: "This is the largest cultural project in Oulu as well as in the northern Europe, says Samu Forsblom, Programme Director at Oulu2026. Photo: Oulu2026.

“Over the years, Northern Finland has been left outside of the national cultural funding. It is time for us to strengthen our foundations and to get the clusters of art, culture and the creative economy to the north,” says Samu Forsblom, Programme Director at Oulu2026.

The Largest Cultural Project in Oulu and Northern Europe

Cultural climate change emphasizes the importance of culture, art and urban culture as a boost to urban identity, people’s well-being and communality. Oulu2026 offers great international artistic experiences, but also brings culture into everyone’s everyday life. The construction of the cultural programme is a process that lasts until 2026.

“The programme includes long-term development projects as well as projects that are limited to the Year of The Capital of Culture itself.   This is the largest cultural project in Oulu as well as in the northern Europe”, says Forsblom.

The First Bidbook was completed by Cooperation

The city of Oulu’s first bid book was created in extensive cooperation. Work started in 2017 together with Oulu school children – they told what kind of Oulu they would like to live in in 2026.

Roughly 200 associations suggested who would be suitable creative advisers to sum up the themes and direction of the project. The main title of the project, cultural climate change, was created by creative advisors and is supported by three themes: Hinterland – Bravely on the peripheral edge, Contrasts – The Power of Opposites and the Wild City – Urban Attraction Factors.

In the spring of 2019, there was an open programme search based on themes. The project received more than 400 project proposals to accelerate cultural climate change.

Tags