Cultural Personality of the week is Jetta Huttunen, the executive producer of KulttuuriKauppila Art Centre. KulttuuriKauppila Art Centre is located in Ii, and its core operations include international artist residencies, the ART Ii Biennial and the management of the Ii Environmental Art Park.
The eighth ART Ii Biennial that took place this June featured ecologically sustainable environmental and sculpture art for the northern environment within the areas of significant cultural heritage in Ii and the Ii Environmental Art Park. Involved in the ART Ii Biennial organisation since 2018, Jetta hails from Oulu but has also lived in Lapland for long periods of time.
“I am a strongly art-driven person. I would rather call myself an art producer than just a producer. This is a role that comes up very rarely here in the north. When the position was announced, I saw a dream job for myself.”
ART Ii Biennial is one of the festivals in the European Spotlight programme, which offers European participants a unique point of access to festivals in northern Finland. Other European Spotlight festivals include Raahe Jazz on the Beach, Kajaani Poetry Week and the Haapavesi Folk Music Festival. A wide repertoire of different events reflects the cultural climate change within the extensive Oulu2026 region.
“To me, cultural climate change signifies the idea that even though we live outside major metropolises, we still have the right to culture. It shouldn’t make that much difference whether you live in a big city or a rural community. Everyone should have equal access to enjoying culture and art. I find that the goal of the cultural climate change is genuine equality in cultural production.”
The group of festivals known as the European Spotlight festivals is closely linked with the Capital of Culture theme Brave Hinterland, which brings to the fore narratives about life in the north, climate change and a region that Europe has yet to truly discover. Within the context of this theme, it refers to respecting and working with nature, for example.
“I would love to see a much stronger connection between natural sites and cultural production in 2026. I think we are still under-utilising this resource here in the north, because we have a really spectacular natural environment and unique cultural heritage. I think we should approach this potential in a modern way.”
The Oulu2026 Capital of Culture application involved 32 cities and municipalities alongside Oulu. Some of the localities focus on regional programmes with the aim of revealing some best-kept secrets to a wider international audience.
“The Oulu2026 title is an incredible boost to the entire cultural and artistic production in Northern Finland. I’ve been delighted to see how many municipalities and producers have joined in with such great enthusiasm. At the moment, Northern Finland seems a highly attractive cultural and artistic scene.”
The future cultural programme is put together through open applications. The Oulu2026 programme application opening this coming October is aimed at large-scale projects that require longer preparation and production time. Closer to 2026, a round of applications for smaller individual and community-based projects will be launched.
“2026 will see a wave of powerful, entrepreneurial cultural production in Northern Finland. This year, ART Ii Biennial will invite Finnish and international film production teams with plenty of opportunities and interesting content. We have a wide range of exciting content that will increase the appeal of our locality – and this will also reflect positively on other businesses in the area.”