Which Finnish city will be the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2026? Well, there is a tough competition going on between Tampere, Oulu and Savonlinna, but no matter the result, all the three cities can benefit from this process in their own way:
“There will be no losers, there is only winners. You have already built up strong networks”, says Else Christensen-Redzepovic.
Christensen-Redzepovic is Project Manager of the Voices Of Culture and she has been one of the ECoC experts Tampere has been consulting during their bidding process. She spoke was oen of the panelists in the webinar organized by the Tampere Region EU Office and the Baltic Institute of Finland. The webinar was held 20th of May 2020.
According to her, “the core of the ECoC is how the city has contributed to bringing Europeans together. You need to think how can Tampere contribute to other cities and what is it you feel that you can learn from the other cities”.
“This is a major opportunity to build the international brand and the awareness of Tampere. ECoC is European Union’s absolute cultural flagship. EU can offer the brand, but the brand comes with conditions. The cities with the title must commit to making forward cultural diversity”, she says.
Also the creative director of Tampere bidding process, Juha Hemanus, emphasized that the process goes both ways:
“We have to show that we need it and we have to show that we can deliver. It is a mutual two-way process: this is what we can teach, this is what we can learn from the other European cities.”
Hemanus said that Tampere has already built strong networks with many rising cities in Europe. “We are building the network of second or third cities around Europe”, Hemanus said.
Networks, but not just in Europe. Ulrich Fuchs, who worked in Linz and Marseille when they were chosen to be capitals of culture, advised Tampere to broaden its perspective.
“Projects do not stop at the borders of the EU. Europe is more than the EU. In Linz, we had a very strong connection with the Swiss culture. Marseille had connections to countries of Northern Africa. These countries were very important to cultural identity of Marseille. You could develop strong ties to Russia, especially St. Petersbourg, because Russia is part of Tampere’s history”, Fuchs said.
What about the business? What is the meaning of ECoC for local businesses?
Hemanus said that according to recent data, investment money goes more and more to ecological and sustainable goals. These so-called ESG investments (Environmental, Social, Governance) outperform other investments. Hemanus says that big money is looking for new ways to promote the sustainable development.
“We have methods to work with companies who show others how culture can promote their businesses. We have both knowledge and methods to show business the value of culture. We have a toolkit coming up. It is super important”, Hemanus promised.
What about the possible EU-funding of the projects? Christensen-Redzepovic advised not to think culture as a narrow sector.
“You need to lay down the silos and have co-operation partners that come from outside of your field. That way you can get money from programs that handle agriculture, innovation and so on”, she advised.