Our cultural personality of the week is Anssi Vieruaho from the Oulu Culture Events Association. His work centres around visual communications of the association and its partners, and he produces content for the Pohjoinen kulttuurivirta project. Anssi has a degree in media studies with a focus on visual design. Comic art draw him into studying visual design, and he has been involved in the Finnish comics scene for almost a decade. Addition to comics, he is interested in culture more widely: Anssi has been a board member of numerous cultural associations in Oulu. Anssi has also published two graphic novels, one of which (Katkenneita lankoja -antologia, Atena kustannus) was chosen into the final ten of year 2020 Sarjakuva-Finlandia.
Oulu, together with 32 Northern Finnish municipalities, is the year 2026 European Capital of Culture! How do you feel about that, Anssi?
It feels really good! I was not massively surprised by the win, it has been crystal clear to me for a long time that Oulu will take this one. The work that has been done in Oulu towards gaining the Capital of Culture title has been determined and professional, public officers ability to turn around paperwork must have awed even the competitors.
What does our leading theme, Cultural Climate Change, mean to you?
I hope that through Cultural Climate Change, the infrastructure of the cultural industry in Oulu will develop further, and that its work opportunities will improve in both public and private sectors. I wish that Oulu develops as an attractive destination to make art, create new things, and that there is a lower threshold to participate in the activities of the associations in the cultural industry in Oulu. I also hope that Cultural Climate Change would help associations, organisations and other operators to collaborate more with each other. Everything does not need to be built from the ground up if there are finished solutions next door.
How do you find Oulu at the moment?
Diversity is wider than ever before when it comes to cultural supply in Oulu. There are phenomena, events and scene matching everyone’s needs whether you are interested in punk, literature, classical music, theatre or cosplay! The strength of Oulu and its differing, maybe even unique character in all of its cultural supply compared to the growth centres in the South is that there are no large cities nearby so we cannot just go and enjoy our neighbour’s culture but we have to build all we want to see experience ourselves.
How do you spend your spare time?
At the moment, I spend my spare time amongst my short film hobby and other filming work. I also produce the Sarjakupla podcast together with my friend and artist colleague Sami Nyyssölä where we discuss mostly about foreign comics. As I am on the verge of middle age, I feel that I am at the best age for podcasts. Now that the society has began to open, I’m excited for the comics festivals in Oulu and the Southern cities.
What will Oulu look and feel like in the year 2026? How do you think the Capital of Culture title will impact Northern Finland?
I would hope that in 2026, there would be higher education in production as well as training in digital art in Oulu. There is a need for this already in the movie and gaming industries. In 2026, each person from Oulu considers the city as a cultural city where there is room for thoughts and it is possible to implement good ideas. In 2026, Oulu is an attractive city for recently graduated youth and there are opportunities to build one’s life. Grassroots cultural and underground activities are lively, and these platforms also offer artists real opportunities to advance to an international level. When you hear the word culture in Oulu during the year 2026, this is often a synonym to cash in the register.
Photo: Pia Alatorvinen