“We hope that the ECoC bid brings something our way. And for the project to highlight all the great things in Ikaalinen. It would be nice, if after the European Capital of Culture year, we would be able to say that we also gained visibility.”
This is how Kari Tolonen, the Mayor of Ikaalinen, summarizes the town’s hopes concerning Tampere Region’s bid for the title of European Capital of Culture.
Representing the local tourism industry, Sirpa Salkoaho from Ikaalisten Kylpyläkaupunki Ltd. is more direct: “We want visibility, visitors and cash flow!”
On Wednesday, the ECoC bid team visited the traditional culture town of Ikaalinen, meeting the town’s administrative and cultural leaders.
There was an atmosphere of enthusiasm, great ideas and willingness to cooperate across the region. The locals agreed with the sentiment that no one will gain visibility by just staring at their toes.
They also agreed that, once realized, the European Capital of Culture project will not be some programme dictated from the outside, simply “poured” into the municipalities participating in the bid. Certainly not, but it is rather the local people who make the Capital of Culture; it takes “actions arising from the people’s own interests,” to quote one of the attendees.
At the same time, many wondered the same thing that the ECoC bid team has wondered: How to maintain contact and visibility with Ikaalinen and the other almost two dozen municipalities taking part in the bid? So as not to have Tampere hog the limelight?
The solutions for this are even closer collaboration between different operators, active communication about common issues and, of course, also keeping Tampere Region’s more peripheral areas involved in the cultural programme of the Capital of Culture year.
The bid team is aware of the danger of “forgetting” the further-off municipalities. Visiting the municipalities is one way of preventing this. On Monday, 27th of January, our destination will be Kuhmoinen.
Ikaalinen has no problem sticking with the programme in terms of artistic merit. During the meeting, we made a list of the already known strengths of Ikaalinen: It is a traditional culture town. It hosts the annual Sata-Häme Soi accordion festival and the headquarters of the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes, headed by General Secretary Kimmo Mattila.
Ikaalinen also has IKATA, the Ikaalinen College of Crafts and Design. IKATA is a noteworthy educational facility in the sector, gaining fame and brand value. The town also hosts the Puistofilosofia (= Park Philosophy) festival, run by philosophy devotee Antti Sorri, along with other wonderful events.
Puistofilosofia happens to be one of the quirkiest and most sympathetic summer happenings in Tampere Region, featured extensively in Aamulehti by Matti Kuusela last summer.
There are great performance venues, surrounded by the most beautiful local nature. “This is such a beautiful place,” Kimmo Mattila commented.
Sounds like a great selection. “There is truly a lot of great things to experience throughout the region,” the group concluded.
In addition to the City of Tampere and the main municipal partner, Mänttä-Vilppula, Tampere Region’s bid for the title of European Capital of Culture includes 18 other municipalities in Tampere Region. Mänttä-Vilppula is the “Art Town” of the region, whereas Ikaalinen has foregrounded music in its image.