Our team has spent May and June travelling around the Tampere Region, listening to people’s thoughts and questions concerning the ongoing Capital of Culture bid and gathering the best ideas to use. We have met municipal decision-makers and residents at special Capital of Culture pre-parties.
There are 15 more municipalities participating in addition to Tampere and the main municipal partner Mänttä-Vilppula, and we have become rather familiar with our beautiful, green region while travelling the length and breadth of it in early summer – and realised how big and diverse it actually is. We have met hundreds of people, and we’ve been asked hard and important questions that we’ve also wanted to answer as well as we can. People are interested, and they also seem excited about our project. Challenging ourselves is important to us because it helps us make the bid-book next spring as good as possible.
During our pre-party tour, we wanted to find out what kind of cultural activities the people of the Tampere Region would want to engage in if money or other resources were not an issue, and which stories and themes of each municipality we should take into consideration in our joint bid. Many conversations have resulted in amazingly vivid ideas, and we have seen the twinkle of happiness in people’s eyes. We have been given some amazing ideas for further development. Cultural activities are obviously important to people, and developing them is essential.
There are a few cultural things that the people of the Tampere Region love above everything else: their beautiful nature and water systems in particular, the arches of history of their own localities and stories related to them (and there are lots!) and their own unique events. There are also several prominent figures of Finnish cultural history who have had a bearing on various places in the Tampere Region. Naturally, many municipalities draw inspiration from this heritage. These figures include Akseli Gallén-Kallela, the Merikanto family and various authors.
A certain type of village culture and identifying as “a villager” is typical of the Tampere Region: we have several municipalities of municipal merger and also other municipalities that consist of several urban areas, and despite the administrative borders, people still define themselves through where they live and the communities living there. An incredible force of communality is still present in these villages – including in the field of cultural activities. The same phenomenon can be seen in Tampere despite its size: people living in different districts also find similar “villagerness” in themselves.
We now have an amazing amount of interesting material to scoop ideas from – and from amidst it all, some theme outlines have begun to emerge that we can use to create the most wonderful of bids for the European Capital of Culture 2026. We still have a way to go, but this early summer has made it obvious that every municipality in the Tampere Region is willing and wants to develop their cultural activities and cooperate to find completely new practices to improve the quality of our lives.
One of our idea respondents, who wishes to stay anonymous, summed up why we are working on this bid together:
People notice what culture actually entails. What the word consists of, what meaning it has for coping with daily life, how it could be performed in every single job and what joy it could bring to the contents of daily work. People would notice that culture is not all about standing on ceremony, acting important and drawing lines between people. It is about activities and experiences that respect and value the different preferences of each and every person. By highlighting the unifying and empowering significance of culture, it could be brought to daily life and to everyone’s awareness. At the same time, it would also give acknowledgement to competent, professional people and operators. Culture is not all about art but all activities that are part of life and have been shaped by history that accompanies us wherever we go.