Support from research - Savonlinna's bid for the European Capital of Culture 2026

Support from research - Savonlinna's bid for the European Capital of Culture 2026 -project aims to support the objectives of the " Cultural vibrancy in Finnish Lakeland - Savonlinna's bid for the European Capital of Culture 2026" and the preparation of a bid book by producing research information, various reports as well as a research and evaluation plan for the Savonlinna European Capital of Culture project for 2021-2027.

"Saimaa-ilmiö" - Lake Saimaa phenomena

Annually European Capitals of Culture are appointed from cities of chosen countries located in Europe. The Capitals of Culture for the year 2026 will be appointed from Slovakia and Finland. The four eastern provinces (North Savo, North Karelia, South Savo, South Karelia) of Finland, all located on the shores of the Great Lake Saimaa, have decided to take part in the bid and have named Savonlinna as the capital of the bid. The South Savo Regional Council's "Cultural vibrancy in Finnish Lakeland - Savonlinna's bid for the European Capital of Culture 2026" -project, supported by a comprehensive network in eastern Finland, prepares and submits the bid book to the Ministry of Education and Culture in May 2020. The University of Eastern Finland’s “Support from research - Savonlinna's bid for the European Capital of Culture 2026“ is a sister project to "Cultural vibrancy in Finnish Lakeland” -project as it supports the operations of the main project and adds value to the preparation of the bid book.

This joint cultural capital project where the entire eastern Lakeland comes together runs under the name Saimaa-ilmiö (Lake Saimaa phenomena). The Saimaa-ilmiö tells the story of the Lakeland Finland. You can find out more about the Saimaa-ilmiö here.

Seeking the sources of regional identity and new community spirit

The Capital of Culture project is, above all, a cultural project focusing on local residents and the development of local vitality. The ECoC year also often increases the number of tourists and tourist income in the region. In recent years, Eastern Finland has suffered from depopulation and aging of the population. Several municipalities are suffering from strong ​​structural change. The provinces of the eastern Lakeland Finland, South Savo, North Savo, South Karelia and North Karelia, are in a need of a new kind of idea creation and working together for a common goal. The Capital of Culture -project offers opportunities to involve local people in the planning of the program and to find a basis for a new community spirit around the Greater Lake Saimaa region.

The project objectives include studying the building blocks of the regional identity of the provinces of Eastern Finland and examining whether they are identical or whether they differ in different geographical areas. It is also examined, how well the locals know the Capital of Culture project and how they feel about it. The locals are also involved in the planning of the program of the European Capital of Culture year. The data is collected by organizing various workshops and local parliaments for local residents and organizing a writing and video competition on these themes. These means provide an opportunity for local communities, schools and residents to bring their own thoughts and ideas to a common planning table and to create a new positive community spirit in the Saimaa region.

Looking for pain spots and competitive advantages

The Savonlinna European Capital of Culture project must find its own competitive advantages in relation to other candidate cities and the region must explain in its own bid book how it intends to solve the challenges of its own region, such as accessibility, both domestically and internationally. "Support from Research – Savonlinna’s bid for the European Capital of Culture 2026", together with the main project, is looking for solutions to these challenges.

The project will identify the strengths and challenges in relation to other candidate cities and seek solutions to challenges by utilizing both national and international expertise. The potential of responsibility and digitalization as the strengths is explored in the project and proposals for actions concerning the use of these themes is created.

Research and evaluation plan for the European Capital of Culture project

An important part of the current European Capital of Culture project and the upcoming year is the evaluation of the Culture Capital project and year. It is important that the evaluation begins already before the Capital of Culture year begins and continues after the end of the Capital of Culture year. It is important to take into account various stakeholders and impacts (economic, socio-cultural, environmental) as part of the evaluation process. During the project, criteria for evaluation is created and complemented with the criteria EU has set, and the research and evaluation plans are created for the actual Savonlinna European Capital of Culture project for the years 2020-2027.

Duration of the project: 1.4.2019-31.7.2020

Implemented by: University of Eastern Finland, Business School, Center for Tourism Studies

Funded by the Regional Council of South-Savo from the European Regional Development Fund and Supporters association for tourism education and research

More information

Katja Pasanen, Project Manager, tel. +358 50 439 0925, katja.pasanen(at)uef.fi

Jarkko Kääriäinen, Project worker, tel. +358 50 478 0882 jarkko.kaariainen(at)uef.fi

Read more about Saimaa-ilmiö: http://savonlinna2026.fi/