Oulu is a 2026 European Capital of Culture. The Oulu2026 cultural programme is mainly built through a series of Open Calls, the second of which closed on 9 December. In total, 274 applications from Finland and 20 other countries were received.
Oulu and the entire northern region of Finland will be filled with culture, art and events in the coming years. Northern Finland will emerge on the world map in an unprecedented way as Finnish and international cultural talents create a completely new programme in cities, the countryside and nature. The Capital of Culture project is a journey of several years, culminating in 2026.
“The first Open Call was open to everyone and took place during the European Capital of Culture bidding phase. The proposals we received at that stage were really ambitious and formed the basis for our Bid Book. I am delighted by the huge number of applications we have received through our most recent Open Call, and we are very excited to go through all the applications with our external evaluators,” says Samu Forsblom, Oulu2026 Programme Director, Oulu Culture Foundation.
The main theme of the culture programme is Cultural Climate Change. The culture programme is further divided into three main programme themes: Brave Hinterland, Wild City, and Cool Contrasts. The Open Call targeted projects with a far-reaching impact around these themes, requiring a longer time, even years, to prepare and realise. The “We are the Culture” Open Call for short-term, stand-alone community events and projects will open closer to 2026.
The Capital of Culture brings Europe together
The Open Call was open to international applicants and proposals were received from 20 countries in addition to Finland. Some 90 percent of the proposals came from Finland, with 65 percent of these from the Oulu2026 region, and the remaining 35 percent from areas throughout the country, including Helsinki.
“One of the tasks of the Capitals of Culture is to promote collaboration between artistic and cultural creators in Europe. The cultural programme offers a platform for building an inspiring future for the North with a European dimension. I believe that, right now, the world needs cooperation much more than
separation,” says Forsblom.
The projects applied for a total sum of EUR 47,309,960 in co-funding. For the present Open Call, Oulu Culture Foundation has allocated co-funding worth EUR 5 million.
“The total sum of funding applied is nearly ten times the amount we have available. This shows that Northern Finland has more than enough creative potential to build a much wider cultural offering than is currently the case and that there is a demand for additional funding outside the framework of the Capital of Culture,” says Piia Rantala-Korhonen, CEO, Oulu2026, Oulu Culture Foundation.
The Oulu2026 team met with nearly 1,000 potential applicants in various events during the Open Call. The webinars concerning the Open Call process were registered by 700 persons, in addition to which face-to-face and online helpdesk clinics were also arranged.
The funding decisions will be announced by 31 May 2023.
Samu Forsblom, Programme Director
Oulu Culture Foundation, Oulu2026
+358 (0)44 703 7558