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Finland Ecoc 2026, discovering the final candidate cities: Savonlinna

saimaailmio saimaailmio Photo by Veera Konsti

In 2026, a Finnish city will become a European Capital of Culture. Oulu, Savonlinna and Tampere are the three finalist cities candidates for the title. On 23 April 2021 they submitted their application to be European Capital of Culture in 2026. The panel visits to the candidate cities will be organized in May 2021. The name of the European Capital of Culture will be announced on 2 June 2021 when the panel meets in Helsinki. 

The winner city will be the third European Capital of Culture chosen from Finland. Helsinki held the title as one of nine cities in 2000 and Turku together with Tallinn in 2011.

Ecocnews make a journey to discover the bid books submitted by the three candidate cities.

After Oulu today we speak about Savonlinna’s concept: “The Art of Living”

Saimaa Phenomenon 2026 will serve as a catalyst to bring about real change, through which Savonlinna and the whole of eastern Finland can identify themselves as a European cultural city and a well­ defined cultural region. Savonlinna is the candidate for European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2026 among the regions of eastern Finland (North and South Savo, North and South Karelia), and their respective capital cities: Kuopio, Mikkeli, Joensuu, and Lappeenranta.

All 53 municipalities and dose to 700,000 residents in the area have joined in this collective endeavour. Saimaa Phenomenon 2026 has shown the value of big cities standing together in support of a smaller city. The future of eastern Finland will demonstrate a genuine transformation; lifting itself from a "fading back in the woods" attitude into a vibrant, diverse, and attractive place to live. Common views concerning a sustainable future have become stronger and more solidified in Saimaa Phenomenon 2026 Goes Bauhaus workshops, which were organised during the second phase of the candidacy.

From the very beginning, the programme has emphasized broad participation by a varied group of stakeholders. While the cooperation with Russia is strong, Savonlinna need to work on developing partnerships with other international contacts as well, building new types of networks to connect and develop good working relationships with other areas of Europe. At the same time, they are building a stronger European identity and getting rid of their exaggerated modesty.

The COVID19 pandemic put a stop to the notion of doing "business as usual". It halted event production, closed theatres, museums, and many cafés. At the same time it opened up new opportunities, offered some surprises, and presented avenues for the creation of a new phenomenon. Summer 2020 was anything but quiet in the Saimaa region -the markets and summer cottages were packed with multilocal and travelers from all over Finland.

They experienced a summer of miracles in Savonlinna: the town was filled with events organized by artists and small cultural activists. What they learned from this was that everything they needed was actually right there in existence already. This is a phenomenon they want to share with Europe. What if something small is actually something big? The three main themes presented in Savonlinna first bid book: The POWER OF WATER, CONNECTING BRIDGES and EASTERN JOY developed and expanded into concise programmes thanks to the commitment of a large group of people who have joined forces.

Together they have identified and acknowledged strengths, and pinpointed those themes that require additional content. Special emphasis has been placed on keeping eyes and ears open so they don't miss out on any silent signals of future development opportunities. European partners have opened their eyes, making them aware of the unique rapport they share with nature. These discussions have directed Saimaa Phenomenon 2026 to focus on the opportunities afforded by virtue of unique relationship this place have with nature and silence, and have helped visualise how these elements might play an important role in the development of future with respect to the fields of art, culture and well-being.

These are the dreams, the hoping, and the goals of one of the three Finnish cities that applied to be European Capital of Culture in 2026. So good luck to every one of them. Next updates on 2 June!

 

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