What is the point of applying for the title of European Capital of Culture? What does that “Europeanness” mean in a project where 19 municipalities in Tampere and Pirkanmaa are applying for the title of the European Capital of Culture? And how is Pirkanmaa the most European region in Finland?
This was clarified at a public event at the Gösta Museum in Mänttä. One of the project’s producers, Sipriina Ritaranta, summed up the atmosphere of the search team as follows:
“We’re all committed to doing a very long-term project. We’re not doing any project just for the cultural elite. Really, we are trying to offer something new.”
Is there anything to give to Europe?
Pauli Sivonen, the director of the Serlachius Museum, is probably the best expert in Finland when it comes to European capitals of culture. He was already involved in the application round in 2011 and has also been a member of the electoral panel. According to Sivonen, the situation in Tampere and Pirkanmaa is challenging, but:
“I believe that Tampere and Pirkanmaa will be the European Capital of Culture in 2026, but it will require a lot from us,” he said, surprising the audience with his argument:
“Tampere and Pirkanmaa are of the most European regions in Finland. Because all things are mixed in Europe. Europe is a patchwork of many kinds of identities- and we are a bit of a similar region, believe it or not, you people elsewhere in Finland.”
Sivonen is referring to a fact that Pirkanmaa is a young province in which many tribes mix.
The European dimension?
The jury criticized Pirkanmaa’s first application for, among other things, the lack of a European dimension. But what does the European dimension mean?
“Europe must be involved in the basic structure of the application. It must have things that interest Europe and Europeans. We must have an interest in Europe on the one hand and we must look for things in Europe on the other, and there must be something to give Europe, that is a two-way street”, Pauli Sivonen says.
“It also means practical things. We need to invite Europeans to do things together with us. Create new structures, new events, and specifically at the street level of a culture where things are done. ”
Sivonen criticizes the fact that the whole European Capital of Culture institution is “a little too much of what the EU is”. It is very structured.
“We get that horrible set of questions from the European Union asking how you fulfill this and that thing. It creates too similar Capitals of Culture. That’s why we need children’s anarchy, the ability to connect new things, to see culture much more broadly. Wildness is needed for this. For we will make the capital of culture that will remain in the history of this institution. ” Sivonen says.
77 comments on the search book
Perttu Pesä, who is piloting the entire project, spoke about the situation in the application process. The first call for proposals was launched in the spring and has been evaluated by an EU panel of experts. Based on the feedback from the jury, a second bid book will be completed and deepened during the winter. The feedback was harsh.
“The jury gave a total of 77 comments from the Tampere bid book. But don’t be intimidated, there were about the same number of comments from the Oulu and Savonlinna bid books,” Pesä said.
The deadline for the second bid book is April 2021. The final selection of the European Capital of Culture will take place in early June 2021.
According to Pesä, the established model for the financing of the Capitals of Culture is that the city (and the potential region) and the state fund approximately the same amount of the Capital of Culture. Their share totals about 80-90%. The rest comes through business cooperation and various EU subsidies.
“The state’s financial contribution is money for the region, so by investing you get more resources,” Pesä points out. He expects a funding decision from the state as soon as possible.
A reasonable return on investment in the Capital of Culture is expected. In Turku, for example, the total budget for the 2011 year was EUR 55 million, and it brought about EUR 260 million more turnovers to the business community in the entire region.
In total, the planned self-financing share of the municipalities in the Tampere and Pirkanmaa project is EUR 25 million, of which the City of Tampere pays 75% and the partner municipalities 25%. The investment is spread over the period 2021-2027.
In the direction of municipalities, the economic cooperation model is the so-called ROI guarantee. ROI stands for Return On Investment, meaning the model promises that you get something for the money. Municipal partners are guaranteed that a significant part of the funding will be returned to projects and projects in the municipality.
The importance of municipal partners is also emphasized by Ruovesi Mayor Eeva Viitanen:
“I see that our smaller partners have a lot to offer in Tampere. I believe that the jury also appreciates diversity. It is a richness that we have different municipalities in Pirkanmaa.”
“The slogan of Ruovesi is together we are more. Our resource is that we have active, voluntary actors who go along with this.”
Sipriina Ritaranta summarizes the winning recipe as follows:
“I think Tampere and Pirkanmaa already have a pretty clear vision of where we want to go. Let’s make sure we don’t do too many boring, clean things, let’s be brave in what we are, trust our story, keep kids and youngsters along, and be edgy and wild enough and then I think this will be great!”