Oulu2026 Cultural Personality: Valentino Tignanelli

Picture: Vilma Töyräs

Our culture personality of the week is Valentino Tignanelli. He is a designer and architect. Valentino came to Oulu to study some years ago, graduated as an architect and now living between here and Europe. He got to know Oulu when he saw Peter Von Bagh´s movie Muisteja(2013) and its visual depiction of the city landscape and post industrial atmosphere heavily influenced his decision to pick Oulu over other parts of the world when he was choosing a place to do my Masters.

What projects are you working on now?

My main job in Oulu is being Project Manager, Designer and Cultural Producer for the Aalto Siilo: the process of renovation of the Alvar Aalto designed Meri-Toppila Silo into a climate change action audiovisual center.

The project is being carried on by the Factum Foundation, one of the most important archive conservation technologies organizations in the world, based in Madrid, with designs and plans by lead architect Charlotte Skene Catling from Skene Catling De La Peña studio,London. In September 2022, in collaboration with Oulu 2026 we organized our first event, called “Farewell to the hoppers”. More than a thousand people came to Meri-Toppila to enjoy a site-specific audiovisual production of several local artists that used the building as an urban-scaled music instrument.

Also, as a freelancer I am working on different design(graphic, industrial, audiovisual and architectural) related projects in Finland and Europe. For example, the last semester I designed a restaurant in Nice, France, worked in the production of a music video in Liguria, Italy for a Helsinki based creative agency and for a local Oulu business carried on a series of design studies for floating saunas. Design is a question of scale, not of format!

What does Culture Climate Change mean to you?

As in any new era of economic development, there is a correspondence between how the industrial activities are carried on and the way this is depicted in cultural productions. We now live in a world that knows about their resource limits and the impact of our economic system upon the earth as a whole, there is no way to negotiate that and culture is the natural vehicle to express this population’s concern. I think that Cultural Climate Change means to go beyond the pointing out of this problem and to embrace creative solutions in our daily life: creating an actual culture of sustainability, and not just responses in fear of armageddon-styled-catastrophic outcomes. Design practices can help a lot in inspiring society in the path to achievable sustainability, with real, coherent and organized actions displayed in different layers, scales, shapes, sizes, materials and sounds… and all that’s new and innovative.

What do you think about Oulu and North Finland?

Oulu is a frontier town. A fast growing urban sprawl, with an ambitious economic-political class and an important geographic location. There is a lot of empty space, both physically in the city plot, land and empty old buildings and in its different areas of business, management and culture. Historically, the city was always the gateway to the Northern parts of Scandinavia, and still is one of the most important cities just below the Arctic Circle. The future of the Arctic will realign the economic supply lines of several continents in the forthcoming years. North Finland is at the doorstep of this unstoppable movement of the human experience, and if in the following years Oulu can keep producing livable opportunities for International, Local and Regional talents to contribute to its growth the city could develop into an important global player.

How does Oulu look like to you in 2026?

I wish to see the city carry on a policy of re-use of old factories, warehouses and similar buildings. The number of empty, good quality, structures is astonishing. There is a tendency to tear down stuff and build brand new things. This must be stopped as it is one of the major contributions to climate change. I hope to see in the following years a change of attitude towards this, as construction is a mother business that affects all layers of the economic structure and will definitely change culture and the way we display and host activities around town. In addition, culture belongs to everybody and not only events in the center, places like Toppila, Tuira and other adjacent neighborhoods need to be an active part of the 2026 celebrations, with specific community projects and public space interventions.

If you think of Oulu and its region as a visitor, what would you like to experience while here?

Salmon Soup in Kauppahalli, coffee in Puistola, drinks at Sarkka, winter sunset in Pikisaari or summer sunrise in Ainolanpuisto.

What does culture mean to you?

Culture is the collective soul of society.

How do you spend your free-time?

I run and see friends and sometimes I run to see friends.

Friendly inquiry:

Your favorite season?

The one with first and last snow, whenever it comes and goes.

How about favorite food?

Pasta with any stuff from the sea.

Favorite place in Oulu?

Toppila river shore, Meri-Toppila´s post industrial alleys and any Kaurismäki-ish Iskelmä filled ambient dim lighted bars around town.

Would you go on vacation to the northern fells or the warmth of the south?

I like to see the sea, walk on little rocky islands, hear the Mediterranean blow and listen to the sound of cutlery clashing in busy canteens.

Chocolate or licorice?

Licorice filled Fazer chocolate balls

What is the last book you read?

Finished the A History of the world in 100 objects, by Neil Macgregor and The story of work by Jan Lucassen at the same time.

Aaltosiilo is part of Oulu2026-cultural progamme where Finnish architect Alvar Aalto meets 3D tecjnology and cultural heritage. The aim is to restore the industrial buildung into a world-class research and visitor centre – where culture and science meet. Aalto´s innovative cathedral-like concrete sturcture – The Toppila Pulp Mills´s wood chip silo – will become a multi-purpose exhibition anad performance space for the public. This building is located in the heart of a culturally deprived area in Oulu. AALTOSIILO will eork to highlight the importance of the industrial architecture of the north and the impact that industry has had on the environment. Read more about Oulu2026 -cultural programme

Previous Cultural Personalities

Oulu2026 Culture Personality: Rap artist Sana

Sanna Rönnberg aka Sana

Our cultural personality of the week is Sanna Rönnberg, better known to the audiences as Sana, under which name she has been making music since 2005. Sanna says that her dream of a career in music started when she was seven, when she first heard American rap on the radio.

“The rhythm and spoken lyrics fascinated me and eventually became my thing. That’s when I decided I’d be a rapper when I grow up.”

Although she busied herself with plenty of other interests over the following few years, she filled notebook after notebook with rhymes and at the age of 15 she ended up at a recording studio by chance through a friend. And the rest is history.

“My early work was very much like a young girl’s diary, pouring out my teenage sadness and personal anxieties.” Sadly, I developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, which eventually robbed me of a decade of my life. I stopped drinking in 2015 and restarted my professional music career with clearer goals in 2017 together with my producer Vesa Lappalainen.”

Sanna is grateful that her passion for music never disappeared even during the most difficult times. With Lappalainen, Sanna could assume a new direction with her musical expression towards a more pop sound.

“I always wanted to be an artist, because I simply making and performing music.”

Communicating genuine feelings and stories and raising issues that are less talked about is important to Sanna. Sanna’s dark sound is a combination of modern pop and rap with to-the-point lyrics.

Some may remember Sanna from X Factor Finland 2018 or the duet she recorded with Aki Tykki of Happoradio, others from her anti-bullying postings on social media or her openness about her addiction to alcohol.

“Besides making music, I also want to share my experiences to help others. I’m not ashamed of my experiences, I’ve turned them into a strength.”


What are you up to these days? How do you spend your spare time?

“I’ve been quite busy with our new live line-up that includes drummer Juho Mikkonen and guitarist Sami Perttunen. The songs have new arrangements that clearly veer towards rock. We have also been working with dancers Aino Mykrä and Krisse Pakarinen for our electronic-based show which we will take on tour supporting 50 Cent in Finland. Our show is now ready for the big stage and if feels great to be able to say that I’m truly ready for that as well.

In addition to perfecting our show, I have also written new music, which is really exciting. I’m a self-publishing artist, so I take care of the whole process from start to finish, leaving me very little time to do anything else. Few people understand how much work it takes to be an artist. So, my life is filled with music but I also share it with my four cats and I enjoy the outdoors, and now that the autumn is coming, I love staying in, chilling in the candle light and watching reality TV.”

What does our leading theme, Cultural Climate Change, mean to you?

“Increased transparency, opportunities and support as well as courage and the freedom to break boundaries and to express yourself in the way that comes naturally to you. Art, like music, has incredible power. It helps us when we hit a crisis point in our lives, it gives us strength and energy. We musicians and artists put our entire soul into what we do, and if we self-publish our work, we invest all our money as well. The result, the work of art, or in my case a song, is like a child: we carry it inside us, give birth to it and send it out into the world. Then you watch it grow and evolve with great tenderness and pride, hope it has a bright future, and plenty of luck and success. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes my songs don’t reach the audience. Smaller artists don’t have the resources to promote their work, which is why so much talent goes unnoticed.

I hope that the Cultural Climate Change would bring less famous artists more opportunities, visibility and support from our home town and its people so that it would be possible for more and more artists to work and express themselves without having to leave here. Over time, Oulu could become a place that attracts new artists as well.”

What is it like to work in Northern Finland? How do you find the Oulu2026 region at this present time?

“I’m originally from Espoo but I’ve lived in Oulu for more than half my life. I love Oulu and enjoy living here but to be honest building a music career from here has not been easy. That’s why it is great to see how the cultural life of Oulu has got a completely new drive to it. It feels like there are many more music events highlighting local artists. All we need now is for the audience to show up and be more active and open-minded towards their local talent. Oulu is home to an insane number of extremely gifted creatives, who deserve to be seen and heard!”

What will the Oulu2026 region look and feel like in 2026? How do you think the Capital of Culture title will impact Northern Finland?

“I hope that the title is just the beginning to a lasting imprint on the cultural development of Oulu and the entire northern region, as well as cooperation between different actors, which will give a platform to a wide range of local talent. I believe the title will boost the local travel industry and add vitality to the entire region.

I hope that in 2026 at the latest, if not earlier, Oulu will see the beginning of a new era in which culture is seen and heard in the city, we enable and support each other and give cultural creators equal opportunities to showcase and develop their art.

For me personally, I see Oulu2026 as a unique opportunity to find new audiences for my music, build networks and be part of the effort of building our capital of culture.”

What does culture and music mean to you personally?

“I live and breadth culture and music. It is power and light, it is pain and tears. It is my whole life. It’s all I have and I don’t know what I would do without music.”

What could Oulu do to improve the position of producers of culture and sports?

“Provide funding and help match creators with the right collaborative partners, provide visibility and opportunities and show genuine interest towards our work. We have such a huge number of potential artists who all need support and encouragement. Sometimes it is enough that someone believes in you and offers to help you – whatever that help is. The worst thing is to be left alone.”

What are your future dreams professionally speaking?

“I dream of being able to play regularly with my band and of course of bigger stages. I hope my music reaches more people and gives them strength, so I hope for more radio time so that my music is heard more widely.”

Tickets to 50Cent 3rd Nov

Photo: Tuuli Nikki


Previous Cultural Personalities


Art in the City: the Oulu2026 mural 

“In winter it might change people’s lives. They look at this painting and they remember that summers in Finland are always very nice.”

A piece of art with the power to change lives. A comment every artist longs to hear.

It came from a man looking admiringly at the outside wall of his tower block at Ruiskukkatie 3 in the suburb of Rajakylä in Oulu, where a giant painting was gradually emerging in September 2022.

The mural, part of the cultural programme of Oulu2026, attracted a lot of attention from residents.

It depicts a forest of birch trees at the height of the summer. It’s flooded with  bright sunlight. In the centre there’s a barefooted woman, repeated five times as she’s turning around to choose between two paths in the woods.

It’s a striking image. It stopped people in their tracks as they went about their everyday lives in Rajakylä. Many of them came to take a closer look and have a word with the artist painting the mural.

Eloise Gillow painting a mural on the wall of a 9 storey high block of flats

Eloise Gillow is from the United Kingdom. Over the last few years she’s been creating murals in public spaces in Spain, France, Italy and Ireland – artwork that’s bonded with local communities.

“People in Rajakylä have been very supportive. I first came here in August to get to know them and find out what’s important to them about living here.

“I met people at the school, the library and the community centre. They had lots of ideas for the mural,” reveals Eloise. “I made a sketch after narrowing them down to one big theme: change.”

The location of the mural was chosen by public vote. Residents across Oulu were invited to cast their votes to bring the mural to their neighbourhood – and the largest number of votes came in from Rajakylä.

“This shows that there’s a lot of support for bringing in culture to improve the area. People told me that Rajakylä was changing. It used to have a bad reputation but they were leaving that behind. I hope the mural captures that theme,” explains Eloise.

In addition to addressing large societal issues such as poverty and crime, Eloise’s murals also open up to interpretations regarding the connection between individuals and the natural world.

“This whole neighbourhood is integrated into the woods. My first impression was how beautiful it is, that all the buildings are between all this nature.”

Eloise says a key part of living in Oulu is having very prominent seasons and the mural definitely speaks to that.

“The mural is based on the summer when the birch trees have all their leaves. But the trees will now soon lose their leaves. The contrast between the painting and its surroundings will be a constant reminder of the changing seasons: it will remind people in the winter that summer is coming back.”

drone image of the rajakylä mural

Eloise finished working in Oulu on October 3, 2022 and the next day she jumped on a flight to start painting her next mural in Sweden. How easy is it for an artist to move from one big project to the next so quickly?

“Painting a mural is a very intense experience. I get kind of obsessed with it. In the evenings I look at photos of what I’ve done that day and compare them to my sketch. Then I wake up and look at the photos again at breakfast. It’s strange to do something so intensely and then go. But that’s what I do. I really hope that people in Rajakylä will like it and I leave behind a good piece of art for those who live here.”

Text: Erika Benke


More about the mural

Open Call for Artist Portfolios to create a mural in Oulu, Finland – Oulu2026

Oulu2026-muraali – Oulu2026 (in Finnish)


Cultural personality of the week: Rumon Gamba

Rumon Gamba

This week’s Cultural Personality is the Chief Conductor of Oulu Symphony Orchestra, Rumon Gamba, who says that his name is a rather unusual name for an Englishman.

–rare Cornish first name, Italian second name.

A lifetime of playing and studying music has lead him to where he is now, from a young cello student via University Music Degree and Postgrad Diploma in Orchestral conducting to conducting countless orchestras all around the world for the past 25 years.

What projects are you working on now?

I travel a great deal guest conducting orchestras, usually for a week at a time but my biggest project at the moment is working as Chief Conductor here in Oulu. Overseeing the artistic aspects of the orchestra, musicians, planning and trying to build an interesting programme for the public so they feel drawn to our concerts and become part of what we are trying to do.

What does Culture Climate Change mean to you?

In my profession we are always talking about ‘breaking down barriers’, making what we do relevant and inspiring for absolutely everyone. Let’s blur those lines of separation, let’s not allow anything to become compartmentalised.

What do you think about Oulu and North Finland? 

I love the energy of Oulu, such a wonderful mix of people both in age and cultures. People seem very open-minded and are willing to sample different things. I like how the city seems to feel comfortable in its own skin without too many glances towards the South…

How does Oulu look like to you in 2026?

It looks like a mountain of possibilities – hopefully an expanded/heightened version of what it is now, but even more connected. No separate islands, everything relating to each other and feeding from each other.

If you think of Oulu and its region as a visitor, what would you like to experience while here?

I think I would like to experience something quite different from where I come from. The nature, emptiness of the countryside, vast expanses of water, regional food and folk culture.

What is your favourite thing to do on your free-time here in Oulu?

Walking/running in areas of natural beauty where there is no one else around and….silence!

What does culture and music mean to you?

Music and culture in general is what I am built from, it’s deep in my DNA and is affecting how I go about my life, how I am as a person, what I gravitate towards, how I feel, what I am drawn to, the decisions I take and which direction to go in. I wish everyone could feel this connection so deeply.

What are your plans and hopes for the future in professionally?

I’m always looking how to deepen my relationship with music and musicians, to communicate with the utmost expression to as many people as possible, without words, just music.

Picture: Oulu Symphony

Previous Cultural Personalities

Oulu Symphony

Cultural personality of the week: Transistori

instrumental group Transistori at Alvar Aalto Silo

Our cultural personality of the week is  Transistori, an experimental sound art collective from Oulu and the highlight of the “Farewell to the Hoppers” musical event. The collective specialises in playing buildings, structures and scrap.

From the very start, Transistori has been more about playing in the moment than more traditional band stuff, which all the members have also tried. Currently, the group consists of professionals from various fields: event producers, construction professionals, a translator and several others, but all are more or less musicians and culture buffs.

“All of us have lived in Oulu at some point of our lives, and that is where the collective was born at the turn of the 21st century”, say Aki Latvamäki and Jaakko Jokipii.

In the future, Transistori will continue to specialise in playing buildings.

“We have come a long way in developing our own genre, ‘emergent transformation ritual’, and are determined to develop it further”, adds Jaakko.

Aki believes that “Farewell to the Hoppers” will be an event to remember and reminisce about when old and grey, and Jaakko is expecting to turn a new page for silos, Transistori, as well as Oulu’s preparations for becoming the Capital of Culture.  Lauri Sallamo is expecting the event to be a nod towards the past and a gaze towards the future. Pekka Heinonen is expecting something to move.

“I’m looking forward to forgetting everyday life for a moment, to be one with the space, sound and the fellow players and spectators”, adds Pekka.

What are you up to these days? How do you spend your spare time?

“This autumn has been very busy, lots of travel and events. The effects of the pandemic on culture are over, at least for now, and it seems that something is happening everywhere”, says Aki.

“Work takes up most of my time but there has been a lot of theatre and music as well”, says Lauri.

“All sort of basic stuff of a middle-aged person with a family, both at home and at work. My free time is filled with interesting projects, such as this silo gig”, says Jaakko.

“The band is doing great. We are getting gigs after a 17-year long break! My summer holiday just started, and I’ve even had time to play Kimble with my son. I spend my free time with music and assembling a shelf”, says Pekka.

What does our leading theme, Cultural Climate Change, mean to you?

According to Lauri, culture produces unmaterialistic, spiritual capital, which promotes well-being.  A positive Cultural Climate Change would mean a better setting for creating art through improved attitudes and increased financial aid.

“I see many opportunities in Oulu for a positive change in the cultural sector. However, the biggest challenge is to get the large crowds to act and consume in a new way, just like with climate change”, says Jaakko.

“In Oulu, a Cultural Climate Change probably means that caravanners drive less and the hockey season is about to start again  But I do hope that the future Capital of Culture project will bring investments also in other areas of art that people in Oulu often see as tinkering. I also hope that the project will offer an opportunity to the artists themselves, the most sensitive of which have always felt paralysed by this rather rural and competitive cultural environment”, says Pekka.

What is it like to work in Northern Finland? How do you find the Oulu2026 region at this present time?

According to Aki, the Oulu2026 project has stimulated the region, which is most evident in people getting excited about new opportunities.

“Northern Finland is far away from everything and separated from the cultural reality of the South. It seems to be difficult to give us prominence in the media of this sector, and it is a long way to travel to a gig in the south but that is not always reflected in the pay”, says Aki.

“On the other hand, people have always travelled further away from Oulu to Europe and the world when they have discovered something new instead of hoping people in Southern Finland to understand something about it”, says Jaakko.

Lauri believes in diverse cultural activities, and he feels that such activities have been brewing under the surface for a long time in Oulu.

“Oulu2026 encourages people to bring all that forward, and hopefully the project will give culture a permanent prominence and higher esteem in our city and the surrounding area”, says Lauri.

“We live at the end of the world, and it takes a while for civilization to arrive. This makes Oulu a very unique environment for innovations and originality but it is also a big challenge for artists to find their audience, forum, environment or their own margin in which to grow and flourish. The challenges presented by the environment steer the path of many artists away to look for an audience. However, there are a lot of wonderful people and places in the Oulu region and Northern Finland, which is why my path has remained here, winding its way around this landscape and atmosphere. Here, you need to be persistent and determined to create a new foundation for your work time and time again”, says Pekka.


What will the Oulu2026 region look and feel like in 2026? How do you think the Capital of Culture title will impact Northern Finland?

“The title does not have as large an effect as the financial activities and encouraging atmosphere surrounding it, which has been wonderful to see. But the region looks and feels a lot worse than five years ago. The centre has shrunk and the number of venues has decreased.  A new gym in the very core of the city centre tells a grim tale of the current situation. For several years, culture has gone underground. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but it does less to revitalise the centre, and it would be important to bring the centre back to life. I hope that the Capital of Culture projects will bring a permanent change”, says Aki.

“I think that our year as the Capital of Culture will increase the amount of unique local art and culture activities. Of course, the mandatory operas and such will be handled as usual, but the real change lies in original creations”, says Jaakko.

“I hope that in 2026 culture makers will have more work, perhaps even jobs that pay a real salary. I believe that the title will help achieve this scenario, but money and opportunities could easily be wasted if we select people who are more interested in money than in art to implement Capital of Culture projects. This often happens when we keep hearing how much capital is flowing into the area, etc. At least the artists and the City of Oulu have another opportunity to showcase their art and our Northern culture”, says Pekka.

What inspires you?

“Chaos”, says Aki.

“Aki”, says Lauri.

“Complexity and Aki. And Lauri and the other players in Transistori”, says Jaakko.

“Dissonance, distortion, colours, worn surfaces, people”, says Pekka.

What does culture mean to you?

Jaakko describes culture as a manifestation of the collective consciousness of the mankind, and Lauri sees culture as creating a common sense.

“Culture is a prerequisite for communities and living side by side, just like a common language. The more colourful, the more rich and plentiful”, says Pekka.

What could the Oulu2026 region do to improve the position of creators and consumers of culture?

“There are not enough affordable and easily accessible practice spaces for bands, and the number of venues is decreasing. We could use more of both”, says Aki.

“We could be bolder to try new forms of financing, such as capitalisation of cultural operators and financing of experiments. Coaching of cultural operators or supporting their work could improve a cultural life and job satisfaction”, says Jaakko.

According to Pekka, the situation of producers and users of culture could be improved by viewing culture as any other basic need of decent life, such as electricity, water, food, ice hockey, etc.

“Culture is what it eats, and we have to feed it well to maintain well-being”, says Pekka.

What does it mean to you to be from Oulu and how is that evident in your work?

“At their best, the people of Oulu are crazy and ready to do all sorts of weird projects. That is what we do”, says Aki.

“The people of Oulu are the Japanese of Finland”, says Jaakko.

“Being from Oulu is me and everyone else who occasionally makes the mistake of enjoying the surrounding atmosphere and climate”, says Pekka.

Photo: Jukkis Määttä.



On 24 September, Factum Foundation and Oulu2026 organise a free outdoor event in the iconic Toppila Silo designed by Alvar Aalto. The event is part of the Oulu2026 Villisti Kaupunki (Wild City) theme. The “FAREWELL TO HOPPERS” music event starts at 24th Sep at 4 pm with performances by local DJs and audio-visual artists in the AaltoSiilo yard. The evening culminates with a performance by the percussion band Transistori inside the silo. The performance is streamed outside which the audience can watch on a large LED screen. You can also watch the event on Twitch and Oulu2026 Facebook

Event schedule, 24 September 2022

4–7 pm  DJs: Crash Doom, Miha, Otilia
7–8 pm  Audio-visual performance Ohmudog
8–9 pm  Transistori

AALTOSIILO, Alvar Aallon katu 5, 90520 Oulu

The event is free of charge.

Facebook event

Culture personality of the Week: Petri Kuusela

Musician Petri Kuusela

Our Cultural Personality of the week is Petri Kuusela, an Oulu-based guitarist, producer, songwriter and educator. Petri says he has been given the tools to form a positive and restorative relationship with listening, playing and creating music from a young age.

“Jamming with my mates in my early teens gave me an inkling of how playing and engaging with other musicians can be a deeper form of communication than speech.”

However, a career in music was not a given for him. In fact, after finishing school, he impulsively applied to the Oulu Conservatory for the vocational study programme majoring in the guitar almost.

“I started my studies virtually as an autodidact, without any experience or knowledge about music as a professional field. My studies offered me quite the learning curve on how to interact and communicate in a creative industry.”

Petri says that the same social sensitivity is central to all interaction in all fields of art and culture. While studying at the Conservatory, playing and practicing became his fulltime occupation, and during those years he also built meaningful relationships and musical partnerships.

“I have always been interested in how recordings are made and how a single instrument or the quality of its sound affects an entire piece and the emotion it conveys.

After graduating from the Conservatory in 2014, Petri met Tanja Torvikoski, with whom he started writing his own music and they soon established a group called Lanai. The group’s debut album was released in November 2019. The process of the studio album served as an education for producing, arranging, composing and recording music.

“Making an album from start to finish mainly between the two of us also taught us a great deal about the fascinating myth that surrounds the process of making music.” In addition to Lanai, I have had the privilege to collaborate with many great artists and musicians, including:StepaRob MooseTommi KaleniusPeltokurkiLauri PeisteräDimi SaloEdu Kettunen, Eereka and many more.”

Today, Petri thrives on dividing his time between producing, playing the guitar and writing his own music. He feels that variety keeps him growing and the different aspects of his career feed his inspiration. A typical day in Petri’s life includes studio sessions, gigs, meetings, and song writing in various configurations.

What are you up to these days? How do you spend your spare time?

Thank you for asking, I’m doing great! I spent last week in Northern Finland on holiday at our cottage, finished by a solo gig to a full house at Kahvila Wanha Hamina in Ii. I’m next headed to the Norwegian wilderness for a week of fishing. The summer has been a busy period of juggling between gigs and recording sessions, which keeps the mind awake. There will be a few more gigs and recording sessions and I’ll be teaching ensemble playing at the Oulu Conservatory before the summer is over. I will dedicate most of the autumn for creative work.

I love the natural environment in Finland and I aim to make the most of my days off by moving in nature and fishing. To me, it’s the best way of putting my everyday concerns into some perspective. I also play the guitar just for the joy of it and meet with friends when I’m not working. I enjoy exploring different musical phenomena in more depth, and when I’m working, there isn’t enough time to do that.

What is it like to work in Northern Finland? How do you find the Oulu2026 region at this present time?

I see Oulu as a refreshing environment for creative artists as well as in terms of its cultural offering and demand. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still acutely felt but it is great to see that, at least for the past five years, Oulu has produced a number of unique internationally relevant artists who have the courage and ability to use their Finnishness and cultural heritage as a basis for their art. The city has (and will have even more) healthy competition within the live club scene and between festivals and, perhaps thanks to the Capital of Culture project, smaller events and the creative ideas of their organisers have received more encouragement and support.

I think Oulu is seeing a new wave in art, by which musicians and other artists are seeing the value of their Oulu identity in a new light historically and geographically and are willing to utilise it. As a region, Oulu is beyond compare, and I only hope that we succeed in maintaining and directing our resources even more effectively towards exporting Oulu-based art and international collaboration. On a national level, I wish to see the Oulu Region gain more significance as a region of artistic creation equal to all others in the eyes of the gatekeepers of, for example, state subsidies and grants.

What will the Oulu2026 region look and feel like in 2026? How do you think the Capital of Culture title will impact Northern Finland?

In 2026, artists and creators in Oulu will be enjoying a free, mutually inspiring and encouraging atmosphere in which both high-brow and popular culture can thrive side by side. This requires that the organising bodies and the local authorities are smart enough to invest in diversity, to take risks and to make space for grassroots cultural operators as well as large-scale cultural undertakings. Oulu is a hotbed of rising cultural entrepreneurship, which I believe will elevate the level of cultural production in the city and increase its diversity as we approach 2026.

I’m positive that with the Capital of Culture title, the value of Northern Finland as a rich and inspiring environment can be made even more visible internationally. The long-term effects of the Capital of Culture project may not be immediately obvious but we are heading in the right direction.

What does music mean to you personally?

For me, music is a way of self-expression and a journey in which the work and art of others serve as an infinite source of inspiration and a reminder of how we all are perfect just the way we are.

What could Oulu do to improve the position of creators and consumers of culture?

It could offer more funding, visibility and resources for projects, actors and event producers starting from the grassroots level up to supporting the internationalisation of local art. This could include providing a platform for workshops, master classes, and international collaborative projects in all areas of art to open up pathways for local artists for networking and sharing their expertise. The availability of well-equipped, affordable rehearsal and work spaces is still a bit scarce in Oulu, so directing more resources in this area would benefit both artists and producers.

Follow Petri on Instagram

Previous Cultural Personalities

Photo:Jutta Juvonen