The Oulu City Council unanimously decided that Oulu aims to achieve the title of European Capital of Culture in 2026. The Capital of Culture is an European Union initiative whose 2020-2033 rules have been decided in the EU in 2014. According to these rules, Oulu has begun the preparatory work for ECoC 2026.
The Capital of Culture is selected by an EU-appointed international expert panel based on the six criteria decided by the EU. The participation of various residents, local artists and cultural institutions in the preparation and implementation of the cultural programme is one of the most important and key criteria. Above all, its goal is to actively involve those groups of people who are generally excluded from cultural services.
The Capital of Culture is a major project and much more than just a cultural programme implemented during the specific bid year. It is broad-based city development with co-operation together with various producers in the region. To ensure this perspective, the City Council appointed a large delegation to support the preparation of the Capital of Culture bid. The delegation does not include the preparation or implementation of a cultural programme, but rather its mission is to commit the Oulu region to the project.
The cultural programme is implemented through open programme application searches. When the application is submitted in 2020, the cultural programme’s key themes and partners must be visible. To make the programme fresh in 2026, it is not appropriate to finalise the plans too early. The themes are sought together with the residents and members of the cultural field, reflecting on the challenges that Oulu aims to develop and impact during this project. Climate change in the Arctic, co-operation between technology and creativity, challenges and opportunities for digitalisation – what are the most pressing issues that art and culture should improve on together with European partners are the key questions.
The project’s core values were established last autumn 2017 as 1200 children and youngsters told their dreams about the future of Oulu. The answers emphasized openness and closeness to nature as well as metropolitan and functional public transport, which were also communicated as a wish.
The Capital of Culture will have the feel and the look of the Oulu region as we do it together. There is a need for a wide range of working methods and arenas, while the delegation and civil servants are only part of this whole project.
Now’s your chance, please join us!
Project Director, Oulu2026