Image of a woman dancing, text says Open Call for Culture Programme

The next Open Call will be launched in September 2024

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European Capital of Culture 2026 programme is created together!

The Open Call of autumn 2022 was aimed at large-scale projects for the Oulu2026 programme. The Open Call closed in December 2022.
The Open Call for individual, communal projects will be announced closer to 2026.
On this page you’ll find information about the Open Call of 2022. Selected projects can be found here.
Webinar 22nd Nov 2022: Frequently Asked Questions
Download presentation slides here (pdf)
Introduction to Oulu2026 Open Call 2022
Webinar 19th Oct 2022: How to fill the application form
Webinar 13th Jun 2022: Open Call process

Frequently asked questions

1. What type of projects is the autumn 2022 Open Call aimed at and what are the application criteria?

The goal of the Oulu2026 cultural programme is to achieve a permanent cultural climate change and a positive development fuelled by culture in Northern Finland. The autumn 2022 Open Call is aimed at projects related to the themes  Brave Hinterland, Wild City and Cool Contrasts.  Focus areas relevant to the themes include for example art and technology, the cultural history within the Oulu2026 region, creative spaces and places, regional food culture, combining nature and art, festival development, the promotion of minority cultures and a sustainable future.

The projects must be ready to be delivered independently with funding provided. The projects must have a wide-reaching impact and the ability to offer unique experiences, permanent change or new models of operation. The focus of the project must be on 2026 but it may be launched earlier if this supports the achievement of the key goals.

The purpose of the Open Call is to identify unique artistic and cultural initiatives. The purpose of the Open Call is not to offer funding for the basic, established operations of organisations and actors. We encourage applicants to develop programme ideas that complement and enhance their normal activities. The project must mainly take place within the Oulu2026 programme region.

For more detailed selection criteria, please read the Guide for Applicants.

2. Who can apply?

The Open Call for applications is open to Finnish and international actors. Co-funding may be applied for by private individuals, groups, associations, networks, businesses, organisations and public institutions. The application must indicate the lead organisation or person in charge of the project. 

The project plans are expected to be suitable for independent delivery. The Open Call of autumn 2022 is aimed at large-scale projects for the Oulu2026 programme. The “We are the Culture” call for short-term projects will be announced closer to the capital of culture year, in 2024 at the earliest. 

3. Application process

Start by familiarising yourselves with the themes and the cultural programme in detail by reading the Bid Book.  

Before completing your application, read the Guide for applicants carefully.

The call for applications closes on 9 December 2022 at 23:59 (UTC+02:00). The final decisions will be announced by 31 May 2023. 

4. The autumn 2022 Open Call is aimed at “large-scale” projects. What’s a large-scale project?

With a large-scale project, we refer to projects that require a longer time, possibly years to plan and deliver. The projects must be ready to be delivered independently and the applicant must be able to guarantee their independent delivery with the co-funding provided.

5. What are the themes that the projects should adhere to?

The main theme of the cultural programme is Cultural Climate Change.

The programme based on the theme is further divided into three themes Wild City, Brave Hinterland and Cool Contrasts. Read more about the themes and some of the selected projects on our website:  https://oulu2026.eu/en/culture-programme/

6. Our idea fits more than one of the programme lines. Are we expected to select the programme line for our project at the application stage?

The themes and programme lines are there to support planning but it is not necessary to adhere to a specific programme line at the application stage.

The programme lines will be updated in the course of the open calls and may even change as the programme is further developed.

7. What does the “European dimension” mean for the projects?

The European dimension can take many forms: projects may involve cooperation with European partners and creators, have a pan-European theme, or include European artist exchange and tours, innovations, practices, or perspectives. On the application form, the applicants are asked to describe the European dimension of their project from different perspectives.

8. What if our project was not successful in the previous Open Call for applications, can we still join the programme?

Absolutely! The first Open Call for application in 2019 received nearly 450 applications. While only 50 project concepts were eventually selected for the final Bid Book, every proposal was important to us in adding valuable insights into Oulu’s story in the competition for the Capital of Culture title. The projects introduced in the Bid Book represent only a fraction of the final cultural programme, which will include hundreds of projects. Many of the programme proposals were suitable for our themes in terms of subject matter and content, so even if the project application was not successful, an application based on the same idea can be used in future programme applications. However, we encourage each applicant to update their proposals and take account of topical issues and the specific criteria for the Open Call when finalising their project plan. 

9. What if my project proposal is not selected for the cultural programme in the autumn 2022 Open Call, can I apply again later?

Yes, you may participate in subsequent Open Calls for applications based on the same idea. However, we encourage you to consider the themes and priorities of each Open Call.

10. Are the projects already included in the cultural programme available somewhere for viewing?

The first, some fifty projects selected in the first Open Call are introduced in the Bid Book. See www.oulu2026.eu/en/bidbook  

11. Can we participate in the Open Call with an existing festival or event that has been organised before?

Existing events and festivals are welcome to join the cultural programme as long as they can offer some relevant perspective, such as a development project related to the themes of the cultural programme. However, the purpose of the Open Call is not to offer funding for the basic, established operations of the applicant.

12. We are planning to apply funding for a touring event in Oulu for 2026. Can we participate in the open call?

In the case of established events that are organised in different cities, we encourage applicants to consider the permanent impact the event will have on the region and how the programme could be developed further as part of the Capital of Culture year’s activities. A touring event can apply but the possible co-funding must be directed at development activities.

13. Our project idea includes an event. How big should such events be?

We have not given any set figure for the number of participants in an event. However, the projects must open to a wider audience in some way no later than in 2026. When assessing the scope of a project, attention will be paid to the programme content accessible to the general public, the other content of the project and the delivery schedule. 

14. Do we need to specify the schedule of project delivery at the application stage?

Yes, each application should provide a timeline for the project showing when each element of the project will be completed. The autumn 2022 Open Call is aimed at large-scale projects that require a longer period for planning and delivery. The Oulu2026 co-financing is focused specifically on the years 2025–2026, but projects may begin earlier if this is necessary to achieve its objectives. 

15. Do we need to know for certain at the application stage who all the project partners will be? Is it necessary for the project to engage local partners?

We recommend that the applicants have already identified and negotiated possible partnerships at the application stage. Existing partnerships and networks will be considered an asset in the evaluation of the application.

The aim of the European Capital of Culture activities is to promote the dialogue between European cultures. Therefore, a European dimension will be considered an asset for a project. However, international cooperation is not a prerequisite for a project to be selected for the cultural programme if it not considered appropriate with respect to the objectives of the project. 

If necessary, the selected projects may also be offered support in creating partnerships, so you can indicate on your application form what type of partners you are looking for your project.

16. Can the international partners come from other Nordic countries, or should the partners represent other parts of Europe?

We have not specified any criteria on European partners, so projects involving Nordic cooperation are also welcome. However, the key thing to consider is how the selected partners can offer best possible support for the delivery of the project. Other international collaborations are also considered an advantage.

17. How can smaller projects, such as events by hobby groups and village associations, get involved in the cultural programme?

We will be launching another open call under the title “We are the Culture” call closer to 2026, which is aimed at individual communal events and projects, through which we invite funding applications for smaller projects whose planning and implementation takes place closer to the Capital of Culture year. 


18. Which costs can be covered?

As a rule, the funding awarded will cover no more than 50% of the total budget. The application must include a budget for the project. The remaining funding may be obtained through, for example, sales or fees, grants and sponsorships. The remaining funding may also include unpaid and voluntary work.

Infrastructure and property costs (e.g. rent, building service charges, repairs and building work and equipment) may be funded only if they form an essential part of a larger programme content and account for a reasonable part of the overall budget. Check the Guide for Applicants for further instructions.

19. Can project proposals be granted a smaller amount of co-financing than was applied for? For example, can only part of the project's proposed activities be selected for the cultural programme?

Yes, project proposals may also be granted only part of the amount of the co-financing applied for. On the application form, applicants are asked to identify the key activities within the project. The applications may be processed through a negotiated procedure as necessary, which means that the details of the applications may be discussed with the applicants after the closing date of the call for applications. 

20. What can we include in the self-funding of the project?

The self-funded part may include funds obtained through other grants, sponsorships, sales or fees, for example. The self-funding assessment can also include voluntary work and the contribution of the organisation’s salaried employees and, for example, wage subsidies. As a rule, the Oulu2026 co-funding can cover no more that 50% of the overall project budget. 

21. Why are the projects expected to provide 50% self-funding?

The target level for self-funding is high so that the continuity of the activities can be ascertained.

It is our shared goal that the Capital of Culture year’s activities also attracts funding for the region through other funding channels and increases project funding know-how and helps identify new funding sources for the region. The Capital of Culture year is a unique opportunity also from the national and international funding perspective. In the evaluation of the proposals, the feasibility of funding plans will be a priority.

22. Does the self-funding have to be secured before submitting the application?

The self-financed part does not have to be secured at this stage as, for understandable reasons, this is the case for many of the applicants. Secured co-funding from other sources will be considered an asset, but as a rule, most projects will still be in their planning stages at this point. On the application form, we ask applicants to indicate from which sources they plan to apply for additional funding in the coming years.

As a rule, the co-funding awarded will cover no more than 50% of the total budget. However, the co-funding granted when the project is being delivered is not dependent on other funding if delivery of the project can be carried out within the resources available.

23. Is there a confirmed budget limit for projects in the autumn 2022 Open Call?

There is no set budget for the projects in the autumn 2022 Open Call. However, note that the autumn 2022 Open Call is aimed specifically at large-scale projects that require a longer time to plan and deliver. The application must include a budget for the project; as a rule, the Oulu2026 co-funding can cover no more that 50% of the overall project budget.