Open Call for the ARToulu art area

The European Capital of Culture 2026 brings us Oulu’s new ARToulu art area, where art will pop up and surprise you in unexpected places. Dozens of installed artworks will change the face of the Oulujoki estuary’s seven city neighborhoods, turning them into interesting and distinctive art areas. Some of the artwork will permanently remain part of the cultural landscape and the art area will continue to evolve even after the European Capital Cultural year.

The artwork for the ARToulu art area will be chosen through an open call for professional visual artists. This call is open to all professional artists living and working in Finland, as well as to artists in residency, particularly visiting from European countries. The deadline for the open call is August 12th, 2024.

The art area hopes to reflect the multiplicity of the visual arts. The selection process will focus on the originality of the artwork and on the creativity of how the artwork is integrated into its environment, including elements of surprise. We welcome applications from all fields of visual art, regardless of materials or techniques. For example, applications can also be made for practices in performance art, community art or sound art.

The Oulu Artists Association (Oulun Taiteilijaseura -63 ry) project is part of the European Capital of Culture Year programme.


Additional info: ARToulu art area

ARToulu in social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61550558952821
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artoulu2026/

Baseline for the evaluation of the Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture is published

The Centre for Cultural Policy Research Cupore explores and evaluates the next Finnish European Capital of Culture – Oulu2026. The English version of the report describing the baseline of the assessment in 2022 has now published on Cupore’s website.

The report shows that expectations for the Oulu2026 cultural programme are high. According to cultural actors in the Oulu2026 area the impression of the of the artistic quality of the programme at the starting point is quite good and citizens are interested in participating in the activities of the ECoC year. The attitude of the decision-makers of the participating municipalities towards the Oulu2026 activities is also positive. 

The programme of the Oulu2026 emphasizes co-production methods and wide-ranging cooperation that involve the public. Additionally, most of the projects are planned to be implemented with international partners. 

The key characteristics for the Oulu2026 activities include inclusion, participation, building a better community spirit and cooperation. However, according to the results of the baseline report, citizens and decision-makers had different expectations regarding the effects of the ECOC activities on the community. Citizens did not see the connection between Oulu2026 activities and strengthening of the community as broadly as the public officials and decision-makers. 

The main goal of Oulu2026, alongside a high-quality cultural programme, is a cultural climate change that means a more open and stronger connection between people and an established rich cultural life in the northern region. The Oulu2026 region consists of Oulu and 39 partner municipalities.  

Cupore will carry out research and evaluation project of the Oulu2026 between 2022–2027.  

The English version of the baseline report is available here:  

Luonila, Mervi, Renko, Vappu, Ruusuvirta, Minna, Sokka, Sakarias, Leppänen, Aino & Okker, Sauli (2024). Towards Oulu2026 – European Capital of Culture. Baseline for the evaluation in 2022. Cupore webpublications 79. Center for Cultural Policy Research Cupore 

Additional information: 

Senior researcher Mervi Luonila, mervi.luonila@cupore.fi 

Read more about the research project: https://www.cupore.fi/en/research/oulu2026-evaluation-research/  

CULTUR€ – Matching with Busine$$

Do you know how culture and art can be used to produce and increase the value of companies?

Cooperation with culture and creative industries creates new opportunities to develop your company’s business, products and services. It is also a good way to reach new customers. With the help of cooperation, it is easier to create new innovations for all areas of business: ecological, economic and social sustainable development – without forgetting the well-being and productivity of the staff.

Now your company has the opportunity to gain international visibility and cooperation networks in the field of culture. Oulu will be the European Capital of Culture in 2026, and then all of Europe’s attention will be directed to Oulu. Are you ready?

At the CULTUR€ – Matching with Busine$$ event, you get to know other parties looking for cooperation, and you get help from experts to finance the cooperation. In addition, you get to see how other companies have utilized cultural services to find and increase added value.

The CULTUR€ – Matching with Busine$$ event is part of the EU Dance Hack project, which is supported by EU Creative Europe and Oulu2026. Partners are: TaikaBox Ry, BusinessOulu, Radio Kaleva, Osuuskunta A. Vipunen, Kaltio Creative, TAIKE Luova network.

At the event, you can enjoy a cozy chillout lounge to maximise your networking opportunities.

Where: BusinessAsema & Startup Station (Hallituskatu 36, 90100 Oulu)
When: May 30, 2024, 6 PM

Additional information and registration: CULTUR€ – Matching with Busine$$ – T A I K A B O X

The artist for the third Oulu2026 mural is being sought in a Europe-wide open call

Artists participating in the open call can send their portfolios from March 27 to April 17 of 2024 and the selected artist will receive an invitation to work in Oulu’s Myllyoja next summer.

Upeart is implementing a series of murals in the Oulu region as part of the Oulu2026 cultural program, with new artworks being completed annually on the way to the European Capital of Culture year 2026. The locations for the artworks are selected through annual voting open to all Oulu residents. This year’s mural will be created in Myllyoja, to a six-story building at Karvarinaukio 12.

The artist will be selected through an open call for portfolios aimed at European professional artists.

“The purpose of the European-wide open call is to bring cultural exchange and diversity to the project. The first open call was a global search from which we selected artists for 2022 and 2023. This year’s open call is targeted to Europe,” explains Upeart’s art coordinator Yiorgos Slunga.

The open call starts on March 27 and ends on April 17, 2024. European professional artists over 18 years old can participate in the open call. In addition to covering expenses, the selected artist will be rewarded a 10,000 € artist fee. Detailed information about the location, participation instructions, and the rules of the open call can be found at www.upeart.com/oulu2026.

The artist selection is done by a professional jury consisting of curator Katariina Kemppainen from Oulu Art Museum, producer Inka Hyvönen from Oulu Culture Foundation, art coordinator Yiorgos Slunga from Upeart, and an artist member who will be announced later.

The artist invited to Oulu will start their work in Myllyoja, where they will meet with residents and look for a theme for the artwork. In 2023 Canadian artist Ilana Pichon created “Ovensuussa” (By the Door) to Tuira and in 2022 British artist Eloise Gillow created “Käännekohta” (Turning Point) to Rajakylä.

“For 2025 we are looking to work with a partner and create an artist exchange. This means in 2025 we are inviting an artist to Oulu, but in 2026 an artist from Oulu will receive a similar invitation. The artist search for the Capital of Culture year 2026 will be targeted to Finland and the artwork will be created in the central area of Oulu,” explains Slunga about the plans for the coming years.

Oulu is the European Capital of Culture for the year 2026. Oulu and the entire northern Finland will be filled with culture, art, and events in the coming years. Northern Finland will rise on the world map in an unprecedented way, as Finnish and international cultural talents create something new in cities, in the countryside, and in nature. This journey spans several years and will culminate in the year 2026.

Additional information:

+358 50 468 6521

The Tales of Tar route expands to the surroundings of the Oulujoki river

The Tales of Tar route that can be experienced digitally on mobile devices around Oulu is getting three additional stories. The route is expanding along the Oulujoki river with events that took place in Muhos, Utajärvi and Vaalaa.

In November 2023, Oulu2026 published the cultural history Tales of Tar route, which consists of ten fascinating short stories. The stories are based on authentic locations, events and persons from the golden era of the tar trade in Oulu. The new stories transport the viewer to the area around the Oulujoki river and the events of the tar era. The stories are available in Finnish, English and Swedish. The stories in Finnish have been adapted to Easy Finnish and have been granted the SELKO symbol of the Finnish Centre for Easy Language.

The route map and locations of the story points are available at www.oulu2026.eu/en/northern-stories/. If you wish, you can also read the stories there.

“It’s great to be able to expand the Tales of Tar route to the Oulujoki river valley. The history of tar connects the entire northern region, and the subject involves many different stories, perspectives and fates. Hopefully, in the future, we will get to tell the story of tar even more extensively and to expand the route all the way to the tar production sites,” says Project Manager Anne-Maria Mäkelä from the Oulu2026 team.

The new additions to the Tales of Tar are The River Pilots of Oulujoki, Oulujoki Wharfs and From Lake Oulujärvi to Vaalankurkku. Previously published Oulu stories include Leveri, Snellman House, Seurahuone, Bergbom Warehouse, Hahtiperä, Linnansaari, Pikisaari, Merikoski, Frigate Toivo and Tervahovi.

The Tales of Tar route is designed to be permanent and is part of the Oulu2026 region’s journey to become the European Capital of Culture 2026.

The three additional stories have been realised by Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark/Humanpolis Oy as part of the project “Geoparks – attractive sustainable travel destinations”, which is funded by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund and the Finnish Government.

Photo: Finnish Agency of Heritage


More stories from the north coming soon

The Tales of Tar route is the first pilot in the Northern Stories project. The project is being implemented by Oulu Culture Foundation. The aim is to develop new ways of creating several themed routes with user-friendly mobile technology in the Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture area.

Highlighting the region’s cultural heritage and offering experiences free of charge strengthens the local identity of residents in their everyday environments and creates tourist attractions. The stories have been mapped with experts and local residents. The Tales of Tar route will be developed further on the basis of observations and feedback. The next story route, Sound of the North – tracing the origins of popular music, will be launched after Easter. The route traces the different eras of popular music, from Kuusrock to the 45 Special of today.

Further information and feedback

Northern Stories project, Project Manager Anne-Maria Mäkelä, anne.makela@oulu2026.eu, tel. +358 (0)40 673 5155

Implementer of the project: Oulu Culture Foundation, main financier: Council of Oulu Region

Project implementation period: 1 March 2023–30 April 2024

Oulu August Festivals to produce the culmination of the summer’s end in 2026 – Delta Life spectacle

The Oulu Culture Events Association, coordinating the Oulu August Festivals, has entered into an agreement with the Oulu Culture Foundation for a major event to take place during the European Capital of Culture year. The climax of the Delta Life project will occur at the end of the 2026 Oulu August Festivals on the last weekend of August.

The spectacle, taking place in the birthplace of the city around Pokkisenväylä, will weave together stories and future prospects of the region and European waterways into a multidisciplinary outdoor event. The event is free of charge, and the audience can participate in the amphitheater-like setting around Pokkisenväylä and throughout the city in a festival atmosphere.

Musician, singer-songwriter, author, and video artist Jukka Takalo serves as the scriptwriter and artistic director for the Delta Life project.

“The audience will experience a show happening on water and in the airspace, which can be participated in through multimedia globally. A significant motive for the entire Delta Life project is to make the life of the region visible and acknowledge the significance of our own stories. The style of the event is joy and carnival for world peace. It is better achieved with a smile than with gritted teeth,” says Jukka Takalo about the plans.

The content and meaning of the Delta Life spectacle will be built in the preceding years through events, encounters of artists, scientists, communities, and various audiences. Delta Life events will take place not only in Oulu but also along the waterways of the region inland and across the seas worldwide.

“A significant investment also brings the responsibility for the creator to ensure that the journey and experience are truly meaningful for the soul, the heart, and the region,” Takalo continues.

Oulu August Festivals with its partners produce the extensive Delta Life concept. Anu Lähteenmäki is the project manager responsible for the project at the Oulu Culture Events Association.

For the Oulu Culture Events Association, the Delta Life spectacle represents a significant opportunity for development. Implementing this large project strengthens the skills of the association’s members and other event and cultural operators in the region, and it expands networks to an international level.

“Our goal is that after this project, both Oulu August Festivals and other third sector cultural operators in the region will be more competent and stronger. Our role as an association is to act as a facilitator and supporter, especially for smaller professional or aspiring operators. If successful, cultural activities in the region will be permanently more high-quality, diverse, and international after 2026. To achieve this, we naturally need collaboration at the local, national, and European levels,” describes the association’s executive director, Pia Alatorvinen, about the future.

As a collaborative partner in the project for Oulu August Festivals, the design and production company Sun Effects takes on a role specializing in the planning, production, and spectacular execution of audiovisual content.

“It is an honor to be involved in designing and executing the culmination of the European Capital of Culture year together with Oulu August Festivals and other stakeholders. Jukka Takalo’s event concept is rich and multidimensional, fostering close collaboration around the local actors and region-specific narrative. This enables the realization of a unique, internationally acclaimed event. I believe that through the upcoming collaboration also with the regional creative industry, we will achieve something greater than a spectacle,” says Matti Jykylä, the Artistic Director of Sun Effects.

Oulu was selected as the European Capital of Culture on June 2, 2021, and just the following week, the first Delta Life event took place on the Kiiminkijoki River, the Journey to Magical Martinniemi. Since then, there have been events large and small from the deltas to the sources on the Ii, Kiiminki, and Oulu rivers. Delta Life also visited the European Capital of Culture, Kaunas, in May 2022. In addition to the events of Oulu August Festivals this year, Delta Life is spotlighting young artists and exploring elements of literary arts in the Iijoki River and other areas.

For additional information please contact Pia Alatorvinen, executive director, tel. +358 44 723 2676, pia@oulunjuhlaviikot.fi