The overarching theme of Tampere Region’s Capital of Culture bid is Capital of Equality. We want to promote equality in all of its various forms. Therefore, we want to take care of the regional equality of the Tampere Region, the rights of children and senior citizens and the accessibility of cultural offerings, among other things.
The Capital of Equality
What kind of place would the capital of equality be? It would be a place where everyone can be exactly themselves. It would be a city where we build a socially and ecologically sustainable world while aware of the problems of our era; climate change and inequality.
Historically, Tampere has been a forerunner of equality. In 1905, while under Russian rule, Finns organized a general strike and the ‘Red Declaration’ was read out to the crowd at Tampere Central Square, demanding universal and equal suffrage as well as freedom of speech and assembly for both men and women. This movement had bearing on Finland eventually becoming the first country in the world to grant full suffrage to women in 1906.
Nowadays, the concept of equality is even wider. It can mean, for example, equal opportunities for children and youths to have hobbies or easily accessible public services and cultural events for senior citizens. It includes the right for everyone, regardless of their background, to feel at home in Tampere and Tampere Region. It also entails the idea of regional equality, meaning opportunities for a good life in both smaller towns and bigger cities.
As Capital of Culture, we want to build a more socially and ecologically sustainable world by championing more eco-friendly ways of travel and regional co-operation. We want to encourage the promotion of equality at a local, European and global scale. Our aim is to implement equality in every one of our project’s activities and to have it instilled as a permanent structure even after our year as the Capital of Culture has ended.
Tampere and Tampere Region has an edgy history, giving the region a distinct character. Once attracted here by the rapids, the red-bricked factory buildings are reminders of our gritty industrial history, with some of them now repurposed and some still waiting to be revived. During the Finnish Civil War of 1918, the region saw some of the biggest urban battles in Nordic military history, which have since paved the way for moving towards a more pluralist society. The right to one’s own opinion has always been essential for people living in Tampere and the Tampere Region. This is why our contemporary stories must also include a diversity of voices.
How to tell new stories about the events of our edgy history today? And what does ‘edge’ mean as a cultural resource? It means the courage to be real and to speak one’s mind, the courage to face up to even the shadows and cracks of life. It means daring to go against the current and challenge prevailing structures. Edge is the equal right of all humans to express themselves and to create even controversial art. Not that many cities have high culture and various subcultures operating as vibrantly side by side.
In Tampere Region, we shun false hospitality, so let us rather talk about village-hopping than networking. In the capital of equality, village-hopping is a metaphor for people and their know-how moving from one place to another. It is the exuberance for life and each other, shared dance and motion.
Tampere Region is like a miniature Europe: we have both buzzing city life and idyllic countryside calm, rich village culture and urban events. However, the region is overshadowed by municipal differences in wellbeing, and this is something we also wish to tackle as the Capital of Culture. Equality also has a regional dimension – it means equal opportunities for a good life in both rural and urban environments.
The sustainable ingredients for European cohesion can be found nearby – in the villages and towns, their own original cultures. Clean nature and local food are already a natural part of everyday life for Tampere Region residents, and they also inspire others to embrace ecological values and sustainable culture. As the pressure to decrease air travel grows, village-hopping also becomes a metaphor for ecologically sustainable tourism.
Village-hopping is a way of deepening intercultural co-operation by getting to know new people and places as well as welcoming visitors to our region. This is our way of strengthening our local identity while expressing the modern European condition.
How to associate culture to taking a sauna? The public saunas by pristine lake waters are an absolute strength of the Tampere Region. There are numerous saunas in Tampere and its neighbouring towns welcoming both local and international guests to get together. In the sauna, those who are lonesome can talk to strangers, and even difficult topics are not frowned upon. The sauna culture allows people to be themselves, enabling sharing and togetherness as well as pausing for silent contemplation.
In the capital of equality, sauna doesn’t signify going back to the past, but rather looking ahead. In the saunas, people sit side by side on the benches, stripped from their titles. We wish to offer Europe a culture which is like going to the sauna – encounters in the peaceful nature at everyone’s reach.
”More sauna!” means taking care of the environment and working for the diverse nature and clean waters of Tampere and Tampere Region. Together with the experts, we want to develop more ecological solutions for enjoying saunas, in view of future generations.
Everyone has the right to play and rejoice. Play teaches co-operation and empathy with others. Play and imagination are also part of adult worlds, acting as platforms for creativity and nurturing innovation.
As we create and experience culture, the whole world is our playground. It can be seen by the ice hockey rinks and the Pikku Kakkonen playground, in our rising local gaming industry as well as the arts. Play and games allow us to operate at both local and international levels. They provide a common language that enables cross-culture co-operation.
Culture in Tampere Region means the sounds of ‘Manserock’ and interpretations of classic stage plays, but also YouTubers, e-sports and virtual reality. The shift from industrialization to digital services is more pronounced, allowing creative industries more opportunities to meet today’s challenges. How might culture act as a solution to today’s problems, such as the marginalization of children and youths? How can play be made a living part of adults’ culture? How can digital technology be used to make culture more accessible to all?