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Creative Economy and Cultural Entrepreneurship in Rural Europe

Insights into the European Region of Culture designation in South


Ostrobothnia region in Finland


Timo Suutari
Antti Saartenoja
Kari Salo
Jussi Kareinen

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Index



Abstract ................................................................................................................................................ 3

1. Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 4
1.1 Culture, creativity and regions ................................................................................................... 4
1.2 The role of the policies supporting creative economy and cultural entrepreneurship in rural
areas ................................................................................................................................................. 6

2. Background: South Ostrobothnia region.......................................................................................... 9

3. Insights into the European Region of Culture designation in South Ostrobothnia ........................ 10
3.1 Objectives and methodologies ................................................................................................. 10
3.2 Main findings ........................................................................................................................... 11
3.2.1 Cultural activities in South Ostrobothnia region .................................................................................... 11
3.2.2 Attitudes towards cultural entrepreneurship in South Ostrobothnia ....................................................... 18
3.2.3 South Ostrobothnia and European Region of Culture designation ......................................................... 25

4. Conclusion: rationale for the European Region of Culture designation ........................................ 35

References .......................................................................................................................................... 37
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Abstract

This report has been produced as a part of the EROC (European Regions of Culture) project, which has been
funded by The European Unions Culture 2007 programme. The project has been implemented by three
regions across Europe: Cornwall in south-west England, Kujawsko-Pomorskie in Poland and South
Ostrobohnia in western Finland. The main aim of the project has been to develop new co-operation models
to advance cultural activities across rural Europe and to help establish a European Regions of Culture
designation for rural areas. The EROC project is based on the idea that cultural activities can be as vibrant,
active and unique in non-urban locations as in urban surroundings.
This paper presents the results and major findings of the investigation about European Region of Culture
designation in the South Ostrobothnia region in Finland. The report is divided into two separate yet
intertwined sections. In the first section conceptual and theoretical issues concerning culture, creative
industries and cultural entrepreneurship in rural areas are considered. The second section presents the main
results based on the questionnaire completed by cultural actors in the South Ostrobothnia region and
thematic interviews with the artists involved in the EROC pilot project.
There are three main themes in this report: cultural activities, attitudes towards cultural entrepreneurship and
the European Regions of Culture designation in rural regions. Results from the questionnaire and thematic
interviews are combined in order to create a deeper understanding about rural areas characteristics in terms
of the development of cultural activities. The essential question in this report is, to what extent does the
development of cultural activities, and especially cultural entrepreneurship, differ in rural areas from that of
bigger cities. It seems that many issues are basically the same regardless of operational environment for
instance the suitability of various business development services for creative practitioners. Anyhow,
problems that originate from rurality can be described as a relatively thin set of culture sector clusters and
lack of adequate critical mass in cultural fields. Therefore, rural areas should be connected to regional,
national and international development measures and development networks. The European Regions of
Culture designation is one of these development networks for ameliorating cultural activities in rural Europe
and seems to be a very promising tool.
Based on the results derived from the project and one of the project regions, there is a demand in rural areas
for this kind of activity. Experiences and views stress regional distinctiveness based on local and regional
identity and collaboration among European regions. The collaboration seems to be the cornerstone of the
whole EROC concept. Yet, the biggest challenge for the future seems to be how to create real collaboration
between the parties and between the regions. If one lesson could be learnt from these experiences it would be
to actively communicate better not only within the core project group but between all the parties involved in
the implementation. The second, and at least as important thing, is the role of the target group: artists,
cultural workers, third sector actors etc. They should not be relegated to a minor role but be in the very focus
of the activities. The whole idea of the designation in regions is grounded on the creativity of local people
and the main objective is to support their practice.



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1. Introduction


1.1 Culture, creativity and regions

The importance of culture and creativity as the engines of economic growth has been stressed across the
post-industrial world since creativeness as a prerequisite for technological, organisational and social
innovations is seen to form the key competitive advantage to organisations and regions in the global
economy. During the past 1015 years, cultural activities have been connected more and more with the
regional development context, not least because of the publication In from the margins - A contribution to
the debate on Culture and Development in Europe in 1998. That publication emphasised the significance of
culture as a driving force for the development in Europe. Also the Lisbon Strategy stresses cultural diversity
as a vehicle for creativity and innovation.
The significance of culture and creativity as the core driving forces of regional and urban development is
widely recognised and theoretically broadly analysed. Economic geographers especially have paid attention
to the intertwinedness of economic and cultural processes. A widespread view is that non-economic factors
are crucial elements for regional growth. Development of regions is reviewed as multifaceted processes
based on cultural symbols, learning and social interaction. Therefore, the success of the specific region is
seen to be conditional on cultural factors as human and social capital, interplay and learning between actors,
or more recently, creativity. (E.g. Barnett 1998, Barnes 2001, Copus 2001 and 2004, Boggs &Rantisi 2003,
Kainulainen 2005.)
Traditionally, studies of creativity have sought to identify the causes of creativity examining individuals and
their thinking skills or motives. However, instead of the looking at the causes of creativity on an individual
level, there has been a growing interest in the effects and social nature of creativity. Because creativity has a
major role in innovation processes, it has become one of the key elements in the regeneration of
organizations and businesses and, consequently, it has been seen as a passport to regional performance and
advantage. Recently, creativity has dominated the development of regions not least because of Richard
Floridas famous theses of creative class and geography of creativity. (E.g. Florida 2002, Mumford 2003,
Runco 2004.)
This emphasis on the significance of creativity has led to a tendency to highlight the importance of the so-
called creative industries as the engine of economic growth (Howkins 2001, Florida 2002). Although there is
a polymorphism of the definitions of the creative industries (e.g. Pratt 1997, Hall 2000), Cunningham (2002)
sees the concept as useful, because it illustrates new economy enterprise dynamics even better than such
terms as the arts, media or cultural industries. While many creative enterprises can be found within the
arts and media branches, creative industries cannot be defined merely as branches or sectors of culture like
architecture, design, music, fashion etc., but through the concentration of creativity within each sector
(Figure 1.). The sphere model below emphasises the gradations of cultural or creativity intensity between
different professions and types of businesses (Lange, et al. 2008, Kainulainen 2005).


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Figure 1.The creativity intensity of industries (Throsby 2001 cited in Kainulainen, 2005
and Kaunisharju 2009).

Regardless of the way in which the creative industries are defined, there is no disagreement that they lay at
the centre of what can be called in broader terms the creative economy. The term creative economy
originated from Howkins (2001) who has reviewed the relationship between creativity and economics.
However, there is no unique definition of the creative economy since it is a concept that is still being
shaped.

Many academics of urban and regional growth, such as Park et al. (1925), Thompson (1965) and Jacobs
(1984) have stressed the role of places as incubators of creativity, innovation and new industries. More
recently, Florida (2002, 2003), Spencer (2006) and many others have sustained this interest in the
interrelationships between places, in practice cities, and creativity. The most interesting question is why
certain places are more creative, innovative and prosperous than others. One view is Putnams social capital
theory, which engages regional economic growth with tight-knit communities where people and companies
form and share strong networks (Putnam, 2000). Another approach is the human capital theory, which
argues that the key to regional growth does not lie in reducing production costs, but in the abilities of
creative, highly-educated and productive people (Glaeser 1998, Florida 2003).
From the basis of social and human capital theories Florida (2002, 2003) distinguishes creative capital
theory. From his perspective creative people have a key role in strengthening regional economic growth.
These people prefer places that are innovative, diverse and open-minded. The underlying factors in Floridas
theory are tolerance, talent and technology. Tolerance is connected to the presence of a large creative class,
which leads to a liberal social climate. The Creative class also improves the attractiveness of an area as a
place for highly educated and talented people to live. Thirdly creativity, social tolerance and a highly
educated labour force make a city or region attractive for high growth companies and facilitate their
innovativeness (technology). In the creative capital theory, these three aspects are the most important
indicators for the future economic success of the regions.
Also prior to Florida, Gunnar Trnqvists theory of a creative milieu is noteworthy. It has significantly
similar aspects to the creative capital theory. In the creative milieu theory urban agglomerations play an
important role. According to Trnqvist (2004), cities offer several types of proximities at the same time: the
institution density and service diversity are greater than in other areas. In many cases, cities also have a rich
selection of cultural activities and diversity.
Core arts (e.g. dance, theatre,
concert music etc.)
Creative industries with aesthetic features (e.g.
fashion, architecture)
Creative industries / related activities (film
industry, TV, radio, publishing etc.)
Other industries which utilise the services provided by
the creative industries
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What is common to these theories of creative capital and creative milieu is that their explanatory power does
not reach creativity and innovations in sparsely populated, peripheral and rural surroundings. They are,
ultimately, theories of urban growth although they contemplate the intertwinedness of cultural processes and
regional development. Despite the diminishing dependency of geographical distances, economic
development is leading to geographical concentrations in the form of agglomerations and clusters. This
pattern repeats itself also in the case of creativity since the creative class seems to be accumulating in cities.
At the same time, rural areas seem to remain on the peripheries of the creative economy (Gibson & Klocker
2005). In general, rural areas simply have not been noticed as having the conditions that promote growth in
the creative sector (Burns & Kirkpatrick 2008). The common understanding is that urban environments are
more fruitful to creative activities than their rural counterparts (Stam et al. 2008). It seems that the main set
of problems originating from rurality can be summed up as a relatively thin set of culture sector clusters and
a lack of adequate critical mass in cultural fields.
However, it is not only in the major cities that cultural activities and clusters may arise. In many regions of
Europe, similar processes are going on to produce local concentrations of cultural production that both
provide economic empowerment for the community, commodification of local culture and which also reflect
the traditional knowledge, skills and cultural traditions of the people (Creative Economy Report 2008).
Therefore, in order to create and ameliorate these local culture clusters in rural areas efforts are needed to
connect them with regional, national and international development measures and development networks.


1.2 The role of the policies supporting creative economy and cultural entrepreneurship in
rural areas

The enhancement of the creative economy and creative industries is more or less explicitly based on the
presupposition that creativity can be fostered, steered or governed one way or another. Within the regional
development context culture can be seen as something that has both an intrinsic value and an instrumental
value as a driver of economic development, employment and regional identity. Using culture and creativity
as tools in regional development is not a new phenomenon. From a historical perspective, a continuum can
be seen back to the rise of the nation-states, when culture was used as a social and political instrument within
the strategies for building the strong and homogenous nations (Lysgrd & Tveiten 2005). From the 1980s
onwards, the fall of the Keynesian welfare state model and the new neo-liberal ideology resulted in cuts in
state subsidies and the economic crisis in 1990s resulted in a decrease in spending on culture as well. This
led to a new logic based on an economic argument. The general view of this new political strategy was
characterised by cutting public expenditure on culture and instead encouraging the private sector to invest in
the cultural sector. Economic performance and profitability became the leading principles, and the cultural
sector turned out to be an engine for economic growth, innovation and urban regeneration (Lysgrd &
Tveiten, 2005). This progression prepared the ground for later discourses about creative industries and
cultural entrepreneurship. However, despite the change in policy discourses, the question still remains,
whether creativity can be steered or governed in order to gain the desired results (e.g. Lange, et al. 2008).

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Namely, creativity is based on the manifestation of often rebellious people whose behaviors make them
somewhat resistant to various development, policy and business interventions. In that sense creative
practitioners can be difficult to manage. Actually, the relationship between development policies and the
creative industries is under vivid academic discussion across Europe, as it seems that the existing national
policies, business services and subsidies are often unable to reach the cultural entrepreneurs. Reasons for this
ineffectiveness are supposed to derive from two likely factors: either the conventional ways of supporting
entrepreneurship are unsuitable for supporting the cultural entrepreneurs, or the cultural entrepreneurs are
unable to detect the existence of the business support services and utilize them. These problems are
especially acute in rural areas, where institutional density is low and services for cultural entrepreneurs are
poorly developed.
In analysing cultural entrepreneurs static concepts
of entrepreneurship are not considered very useful
because outsiders as well as independent
creative artists are the central characters in
creative industry (DeFillippi et al. 2007). It can be
said that creative enterprises are characterised by
growing culturepreneurship, an expression of a
new flexible form of work and entrepreneurship
(Lange et al. 2008).
In reference to the political shift to neo-liberalism,
cultural outcomes have been the objects of
cultural policy in the past with little emphasis on
economic outcomes. Now the shift to focus on
economic aspects has caused problems for the
sector. Probably because of this shift business
support programmes for the creative industries
often clash with the world views of the target
group.

These clashes mostly relate to assumptions about
what a serious business should look like.
Stereotypical growth strategies, old-fashioned
marketing models and pre-formulated job
delineations are applied to entrepreneurs who
actually dont fit in with the order-and-control
management beliefs tied to mechanistic business philosophy (Poettschacher 2005). Despite the problems
recognised, a great number of strategies can be found in which culture is an essential tool for local and
regional development (An Innovative and Creative Future for Europe 2009). An essential question is: who
should change their behaviour: creative actors, business managers or both? Business managers have to act as
negotiators of creativity by connecting different talents, by being able to inject diversity or deal with creative
tensions. The governance of creativity has to find the right balance between freedom on the one hand and
operational efficiency on the other (European Commission 2009).
Public authorities meet the culturepreneurship phenomenon mostly at a local or regional level. On the local
level rural municipalities usually have general business development services of their own or they have small
joint business service or technology centres with their neighbour municipalities, as is the case in Finland.
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Experts working in the general business development services, such as trade promoters, are important
mediators in the sense that they have the best knowledge of local conditions and provide easy access to
services for local entrepreneurs. However, the main problem is the fact that they usually do not have
specialist skills aimed at servicing cultural entrepreneurs.
Generic business skills and especially marketing skills are the most serious skills gap that rural creative
companies, especially arts-based and micro-enterprises, face. Supporting market expansion and development
is crucial among these rural enterprises since they need to access markets outside their local area and
penetrate national and international markets (Burns & Kirkpatrick 2008). What has remained somewhat
unclear is how well creative practitioners have internalised these new requirements or how willing they are
to connect with the business world in general. Also contemporary research has looked more on the factors
that motivate creative people in the organisations and workplaces in the urban context (Florida, 2003). There
is less academic discussion on what motivates creative enterprises as a whole and especially how creative
industries are fostered, steered and governed in rural surroundings.
In sum, more comprehensive understanding about the differences and complementarity of creative industries
in the urbanrural continuum is needed. At the same time we need to understand better the complex
relationship between creative people and the business world. Another important issue is to grasp the
challenges of rural development agencies connecting creative practitioners with regional and national
development programmes.
Synthesising the introductory concepts in this paper a question can be raised: can creativity be enhanced or
governed by policy tools in a way that it does not harm or eventually quell the original creativity in rural
areas? If the answer is yes, the challenge is to deliberate what kind of policy improvements and tools are
needed to meet the needs of creative practitioners, and simultaneously, we need to determine how to lever
creative resources to develop the regional and rural economy. What can be said for sure is that regional and
rural development undoubtedly needs culture as a driving force, but that development policies open new
possibilities and resources for creative practitioners as well. This report aims to deepen understanding about
the characteristics of cultural development in European rural areas. The viewpoint of the approach in the
report is from one European rural region which is South Ostrobohnia in Finland. The focus is on specific
tools for ameliorating cultural activities in rural areas, namely the European Regions of Culture project
(EROC) and its goal, the European Region of Culture designation. Although the focus has been on one
region, findings and conclusions presented in the report can be generalized to some extent to other European
rural regions.

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2. Background: South Ostrobothnia region

One of the three regions involved in the EROC project among Cornwall in south-western England and
Kujawsko-Pomorskie in Poland is South Ostrobohnia in western Finland. South Ostrobothnia can be
characterised as non-urban region dominated by rural municipalities. The total population of the region is
around 194 000 inhabitants. The regional centre is Seinjoki town, with more than 56 000 inhabitants. The
region is well known for entrepreneurship and large number of small and medium size enterprises. Main
industries are agribusiness, food and wood processing and machinery. The number of small enterprises per
number of inhabitants is one of the highest in the whole country. On the other hand, the level of education,
particularly to degrees level, is one of the lowest. Since the late 1980s the region has been active in creating
new kinds of development projects, services and organisations aiming at accelerating economic
development. The distance between Seinjoki town and the Capital of Finland Helsinki is 350 kilometres
(217 miles). (Figure 2.)
The strengths of the South Ostrobothnia region in cultural activities are popular and folk music, festivals
based on music and as well as arts and crafts. The cultural flavour of the region is largely based on its
yeomen history and way of life (the low lands of South Ostrobothnia are rich in agricultural resource). Also
the region is characterized by cultural landscapes shaped by fields and peasant houses that represent the
yeomens wealth and the way of life. The culture of South Ostrobothnia is imbued with the spirit of
entrepreneurship, which is also reflected in the cultural life of the region.



Figure 2.South Ostrobothnia region in Finland


South Ostrobothniaregion
Helsinki
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3. Insights into the European Region of Culture designation in South
Ostrobothnia


3.1 Objectives and methodologies

The essential questions in this report are: to what extent the development of cultural activities, especially
cultural entrepreneurship, differs in rural areas from that of bigger cities and urban areas and how rural
culture in general can be ameliorated. In order to answer these questions and to create a deeper
understanding about the characteristic of development of cultural activities in rural areas and to evaluate the
EROC concept we carried out two surveys. Surveys were based on both web-based questionnaire completed
by cultural actors in South Ostrobothnia region as well as thematic interviews with the artists involved in the
EROC project.
There were three main themes both in the questionnaire and thematic interviews: cultural activities in the
region, attitudes towards cultural entrepreneurship and attitudes towards a potential European Region of
Culture designation. Results from the questionnaire and thematic interviews are combined in the following
chapters.

The thematic interviews were implemented during the event week of the EROC project in Lapua, August
2009. A total of six artists, three from South Ostrobothnia, two Cornish and one Polish artist involved in the
project were interviewed during the event week. They represented various branches of culture: e.g. visual art,
theatre and arts and crafts. What was common to all of them is that they mainly live and work as artists
outside metropolitan areas. Interviews were conducted face-to-face and transcribed verbatim. Quotations are
shown below to illustrate artists opinions.
In addition to the thematic interviews there was an electronic questionnaire completed by cultural actors in
South Ostrobothnia region. A link for the electronic questionnaire was sent by an e-mail to artists, culture
associations, craftspeople, managers etc. around the region. E-mail addresses were provided by the Regional
Council of South Ostrobohnia. Since the e-mails were sent by using the listings of actors and since
respondents were also encouraged to pass the information forward, the exact number of receivers cannot be
reported. There were both fixed and open-ended questions in the questionnaire. Replies to the open-ended
questions were classified and then post-coded in order to get an overview of the data. Results are presented
as charts where separate themes are illustrated as absolute numbers of mentions found in data.

A total of 54 respondents replied in the questionnaire. Respondents were mainly female (72 %). Majority of
the respondents (56 %) were in the age group 41-60 years. None of the respondents were under 20 years old.
As for the branches of culture, responses diverged largely. Yet, music and visual art were the main branches.
Respondents of the study considered themselves mainly as artists or third sector actors. Only 11 % of the
respondents considered themselves to be cultural entrepreneurs (Figure 3.).

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Figure 3. Nature of the cultural activity of the respondents (N=54)


3.2 Main findings


3.2.1 Cultural activities in South Ostrobothnia region

There were two questions about the role and the outlook of the respondents with regard to cultural activities
in South Ostrobothnia region. 47 of a total of 54 respondents replied to the question about cultural
atmosphere and support for culture in the region (Figure 4.). Opinions about the cultural atmosphere were
polarized. Despite comments that the overall will to support culture is good, there seems to be a need for
improvements as a whole. The majority of the respondents thought that cultural activities are undervalued in
terms of decision-making at the municipal level. This manifests itself as lack of resources (money, premises,
lack of professional teachers etc.). Some of the respondents highlighted that different branches of culture are
not equally considered when deciding how to invest resources. It was even stated outright that there is a kind
of a rivalry between different culture sectors. Lack of coordination was identified as one major problem that
hampers the development of the cultural sector. Other comments were emphasised the role of cultural
associations.


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Figure 4. Atmosphere and support for culture in South Ostrobothnia region

Respondents were asked about their roles as cultural actors in the South Ostrobothnia region (Figure 5.).
There were 48 replies to this question. Most of the respondents considered themselves as primarily local or
local and regional actors. Typically, they were operating in surrounding environments in cultural
associations. Yet, as one of the respondents noted, Think globally - act locally is a basic principle for
cultural activities. Actually, lines between regional, national and global actors are not easy to draw. Other
comments were related to respondents contribution to the region.

Figure 5.The role of the respondent as cultural actor
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Other
Lack of coordination
Different branches of
culture are unequal
Lack of resources
(money, premises,
professionals)
Good athmosphere for
supporting culture
Cultural activities are
undervalued
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Audience
Primarily national actor
Other comments
Primarily local actor
Local, national and global actor
Primarily local and regional actor
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Interviewed South Ostrobothnian artists were also asked how they would describe themselves: are they local
artists or cosmopolitans. As was the case with the respondents of the questionnaire, the interviewed artists
considered themselves both local and global and the line between these was hard to draw. However, they all
had a strong ambition to become international artists. These quotations illustrate how locality and non-
locality are both present in artists contemplations about themselves as artists.

It can be said that I am cosmopolitan () but when I am here, I feel like a local, since I do
not have those contacts available (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I consider myself more like national actor, but I do go around the world and follow what is
going on elsewhere. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

At the moment rather local, but I am striving to be an international artist. I have had more
and more exhibitions abroad. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Interviewed artists from both South Ostrobothnia as well as from the other regions within the EROC project
considered the region they work and live mainly as non-metropolitan and rural. The reasons why they chose
these rural locations were more or less accidental and based on their personal life-paths. Advantages of the
rural location were mainly related to cheaper living costs and peaceful environment but also the fact that it is
easier to be somebody in rural area and not to disappear into the mass of cultural actors as could easily be
the case in big cities. The downsides of rural locations are: lack of urban culture and urban tolerance, the
difficulty of attracting media attention and simply geographical distance to urban centres. Actually, there are
differences as to the prerequisites for artistic work and clustering of culture between the rural areas.
Cornwall, for instance, has some lead compared to South Ostrobohnia region since there have been
significant efforts in developing creative industries and the region has managed to attract creative people
(e.g. Brownridge & Lancaster 2005, Suutari 2007). This is well illustrated in the Cornish artists comments
about the virtues of Cornwall.

I havent regretted that I moved in here. The only thing I miss is the city. This isnt a real
city. () I have a strong contact with local and regional people. Nothing major to complain
about, maybe the biggest issue is that audience that is rather conservative. (Artist, South
Ostrobothnia)

The living and working costs are reasonable here. I can easily make my earnings here.
There is a hole for me here. () I have noticed that I dont have that many competitors on
this branch and in this region. On the other hand, when thinking about the downsides, it is
difficult to get media attention here in a remote area, especially national media attention. ()
there are interesting seminars and events in the capital region but you get an e-mail one day
before, but you cannot just go there. So, it somehow limits your opportunities to work on this
branch. () But if you are active here, you can get easily a chance to become a member of a
board in some association. So, I am happy with things here. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

It was by a happenstance that I stayed here. When I was young I thought that I would go to a
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big city, but now that I have kids, I think that it is good to stay here in a peaceful place. There
is an advantage that there are not many competitors. On the other hand, it is a disadvantage
too because you feel yourself rather lonely and there are no colleagues. But you can go to
Helsinki and other places to see other artists. It is peaceful here. And these surroundings are
inspiring. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I chose to live in Cornwall because of the quality of life. () Sometimes if you are working
with some difficult issue then the environment where you are in raises your spirit. () That
can be a very helpful in a creative process. I think as well that, there are very interesting
things going in Cornwall, partly because they have European funding, and we have a long
history of artist living in Cornwall area, because its right on the edge, on the end of the UK. I
think there are people who are quite alternative, bohemian. There are lot of creative people in
the creative industries, which makes it very stimulating as well. So the people and also the
University, and the work they are doing make it very interesting as a place which is growing
in terms of an artists creative potential. (Artist, Cornwall)

Despite the rural location and geographical distances to big cities, the aspatial nature of artistic work
makes artists less bound to certain places. As interviewed artists described, they are working in multiple
locations and in many places, both rural and urban. Even though they have studios or home bases in their
own in rural surroundings, they go all around the country and abroad.

Clients and end-users are all over the country. I work with my production here in South
Ostrobothnia, but I do regularly go around the country. I have exhibitions here and there.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

These exhibitions are all over the country. I actually do the creative work here; my studio is
here near home. I do not have to go far away. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I work in both in rural and urban places. I make work with the environment, about nature. I
also make a work about the city cultures as well. (Artist, Cornwall)

It is important for the artists to get new ideas and inspiration for they work. That is why we asked them to
describe what the sources of their inspiration are. As we noticed, the inspiration is not necessarily that much
region-bound. Region does always play a certain role, but sources of inspiration and new ideas for their work
come from the course of life in general, from their emotions, from nature and meeting other people.

My main source of inspiration is usually emotions and feelings. ()On the other hand they
are related to nature () Also culture history is a strong source of inspiration: old
techniques, materials but also the new ones () also human relations. (Artist, South
Ostrobothnia)

Literature is very important, I read a lot. () Of course I try to meet other people a lot, as I
have done during this EROC project. () Of course from nature, I portray this region too.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)
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Creativity is very much about combining diverse, complementary capabilities of heterogeneous actors and
complementary bodies of ideas and knowledge. From the spatial viewpoint non-local and inter-regional
networks are essential for new impulses. People who do not belong to each others usual networks are more
likely sources of new information. Thus, the diversity of thinking (so called cognitive diversity) is the key for
new impulses. However, it seems that rural areas are at a disadvantage because a high population density is
seen as a precondition for diversity and forms the basis for creativity (e.g. Spencer 2006). On the other hand,
it can be assumed that where there are less people and maybe no peers at all in physical proximity, there is a
necessity to meet people representing other branches as it is more likely the case in rural environments. In
principle, this allows combining knowledge in a fruitful manner. (Suutari & Kurki 2009.)

The question of obtaining and
finding new impulses and sources of
information is strongly related to
creative practitioners skills and
expertise. In order to find out how
those artists develop themselves, we
asked whether they had been able to
maintain their expertise in their field
of art in the region. As is the case
with all creative practitioners and
with knowledge workers too,their
ability to work successfullyin rural
location has always something to do
with the level of their expertise. It seems that it is somewhat challenging to become an expert but also to
maintain expertness in rural areas. For novices this is particularly difficult since they need peers that are
physically close so that they can learn and socialize within specific artistic or knowledge communities.
However, when the level of expertise rises, they seem to become less dependent on continual physical
proximity to their peers. They seem to become more aspatial and they are able to maintain connections to
their peer networks e.g. by ICT tools or by travelling. (E.g. Suutari & Kurki 2009.)
Therefore, even though the region itself does not offer sufficient educational services or the critical mass of
other artists located in immediate surroundings, they will be able to work successfully and develop their
expertise by reading, travelling and simply by self-access learning and doing. Despite the self-sufficiency,
there are things that artists miss and regions cannot offer to them. When we asked them to describe the
region from the viewpoint of an artist, they described that an atmosphere in South Ostrobothnia region as
somewhat conservative and they noted that there is lack of certain institutions and structures supporting art.

Actually, I do not go to courses or supplement education. I do take part in some seminars,
read journals or go to exhibitions in Germany in order to update my expertise. This is more
like self-study. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I paint every day in order to keep up my skills. My skills and expertise develop every, There
are no other choices in this region, it is more like self-study. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

There are artists in here, so there must good things anyway. I think that attitudes are just ok.
16

But compared to Helsinki, it is much more difficult here because we do not have that kind of
traditions, no galleries or such. You are somehow alone; you have to be a kind of an
entrepreneur here if you are going to succeed. () There is art society here, even though this
is a small community. I am involved in that. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Artists were further asked to describe the South Ostrobothnia region from the viewpoint of cultural
practitioners. They stated that there are no sufficiently activities and structures that underpin artistic work
(e.g. education programmes, regional art exhibitions, art museums or galleries). It is a question about
resources but also because the intention to support culture and arts does not materialise as increased
investment. However, especially on regional level and by the Regional Council, there have been purposeful
efforts to bring out the impact of culture on the regional economy and welfare as well as offering tools for
the development of cultural activities.

There is nothing wrong with the atmosphere, in terms of principles, and everybody talks
about supporting culture. But what is happening in practice is another thing. Regional
Council, for instance, and its culture board, have been active. So, nowadays the word culture
is used widely, maybe even too widely and too much things are related to it. Maybe it is a bit
inflated. There could be more money of course () but I am privileged because I have a
permanent job and I have had grants. I do understand those artists or writers who do not
have. Therefore public sector could support more local artists e.g. by buying their artworks.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

There are actually no galleries here, those are in Helsinki. I can be proud of the art museum
here, but as a whole, as for the art institutions, the situation is rather bad. If you think about
the education, so there is basically no education programmes for professional art. () I have
received grants and when I have asked help from local authorities, they have helped me.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Since cultures role in revitalizing local communities and strengthening local identity is one of the
underlying themes of the EROC project, we asked artists to describe their role in local communities. They
seem to have interesting roles in their local communities. On the one hand, they seem to be active
benefactors responsible for the community and therefore strongly embedded. On the other hand, they are
trying to keep up certain distance to the locality in order to maintain their autonomy. This can be described
as the regulation of social distance between artists and local community. They are avoiding over-
embeddedness in order to maintain their openness to new influences. (e.g. Lhdesmki & Suutari,
forthcoming).

I surely am influential I cant deny. () I contribute many things here. I cannot escape the
responsibility, because what I say seems to count. It means a lot for those with whom I am
working. I feel a strong responsibility of those people; I cant leave them just like that.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Ive worked lot of with young people and disadvantaged young people to use art, I try to
encourage them trough art, to find hope from their future. () If local community has a plan
17

which is needed to be developed for the future we can use art as a way for the community to
have a voice to develop their ideas, to express the ideas through art. () I think that brings
life to local press and also the politicians. () I have worked in a local community a lot
using my art. (Artist, Cornwall)
I have strived to be active in this region. I do not want keep aloof here in my studio. I am
trying to be collaborative and communicative with local people. And I have succeeded in it
fairly well. There are lot of people visiting my studio, even further away. It is very important
for me. I hope I can give some liveliness to this region because there are not that many
professional artists here. I have been involved in many projects with the municipality.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I would say that for me as an artist it is important to work outside my local, rural area for
me to increase the depth of my work. Because I see an artist as being like an anthropologist in
a way to understand your own community (), its actually important to step outside if you
are in a society too, so it makes the work richer. I think people have more respect you too as
an artist if you can show you do international work. You have work in an open centres your
experiences arent just local. (Artist, Cornwall)

It is a kind of a role of a lunatic to be an artist here. I feel that artist is allowed to act
somehow more freely. I have noticed positive curiosity among local people. () But I need to
have a life of my own and clients outside the region. If I had to get all the clients here, I would
be suffocated. It would be horrible to make earnings like that. Because I am working mainly
outside the region, I dont mind, what the local people think about me (Artist, South
Ostrobothnia)

Reciprocity with local community is well illustrated in various ways the artists collaborate with local
businesses. The artists describe how they are dependent on local businesses as clients. Local businesses do
not consider supporting art mere as charity but as reciprocal relationships. Reciprocity is illustrated as well
between personal goals and community efforts that were seen when asked about specific mission in a local
community. They were also contemplating the linkages between making art as a way of making ones
earnings and higher goals.

They [businesses] are more like clients. () it is not a question about charity but reciprocal
relationships. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I dont know if theres a specific mission () but I try to help people to find their own
resources so that they can feel their lives richer and stronger. () I am trying to wake up
people (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I feel myself somehow as a paragon in a local community. My activities among local culture
give other people a possibility to be proud of their own culture. What I have to give to local
community is open-minded thinking, joy and sociality. I work mainly for my living, but the
way I am working, brings me along other missions. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

18

To sum up the artists roles in local communities it seems that their positions are not unambiguous.They
seem to meet challenging expectations in their local communities: On the one hand they feel strong
responsibility for the community as paragons of a kind and therefore they are strongly rooted and embedded
in the local communities. On the other hand, they are trying to keep a certain distance to the locality in order
to maintain their autonomy and their openness to new influences. This balancing act is especially difficult for
the artists in rural areas since various role expectations are rather strong. As they commented, it is easier to
be somebody in rural area but simultaneously one easily sticks out from the crowd.
Since there is a lack of institutions and structures supporting art, the atmosphere is somehow conservative
and the region does not offer sufficient educational services or critical mass of peers, the artist must be very
self-sufficient in order to work successfully in rural areas. That is exactly where various tools are needed to
bring them new insights and enable collaboration widely.

3.2.2 Attitudes towards cultural entrepreneurship in South Ostrobothnia

Although South Ostrobothnia is known for entrepreneurship and active culture activity, only six
questionnaire respondents considered themselves as cultural entrepreneurs as shown earlier in Figure 3. The
same came out when asked about the cultural actors sources of income (Figure 6). For the majority of the
respondents, cultural activities were mainly as a hobby and they had other sources of livelihood.


Figure 6.Ways of making a living (N=50)

Figures 7 and 8 show how roughly half of the respondents outright say that they do not consider themselves
as cultural entrepreneurs or havent even thought about the possibility to become an entrepreneur. As can be
seen in Figure 7 and actually in Figure 3 as well, there are only six respondents who have a firm of their own
and consider themselves as cultural entrepreneurs.
19


Figure 7.Cultural entrepreneurship (N=49)


Figure 8.Opinions concerning cultural entrepreneurship (N=48)

We also asked the respondents about their experiences of support for cultural entrepreneurship both in
structured and open-ended questions. Most of the respondents recognised Regional Council of South
Ostrobothnia and the state regional business development office (Employment and Economic Development
Centre) as the main sources of information (Figure 9). What is somewhat surprising is the fact that only one
of the respondents had used the services of the Centre for New Businesses. Another remark is that the use of
various support services for businesses and entrepreneurship has been rather scattered.
20

Figure 9.Contacts for organisations supporting cultural entrepreneurship (N=36)

There were three open-ended questions about the attitudes towards cultural entrepreneurship. Only 13
respondents of total 54 replied more in detail when asked about experiences of business development
services. Those replied find services useful and appropriate. Mainly, they had been in contact with regional
and local business development officers and the state regional business development office. One respondent
commented that not all cultural actors can become entrepreneurs and one commented that business
developers sometimes have difficulties in understanding cultural activities as business.

Majority of the respondents (68 %) commented that they actually know where to get information of support
services for entrepreneurship. 20 % of the respondents stated that they do not know where to get information
about support services, but they are not even interested in those services. Only 9 respondents replied to the
open-ended question: Do you need any assistance for entrepreneurship and what these things are. They
needed assistance for hiring personnel, taxation issues, financial management and legal counselling.

21

Finally, respondents were asked what kind of development needs they consider in their cultural sector in the
near future (Figure 10). Just 37 of the respondents described these development challenges and needs. Most
of the respondents emphasised the betterment of the livelihood and continuity of the cultural activities. This
included e.g. product development, marketing and the role of culture producers and managers. Continuity
was an issue for concern especially among cultural associations. Respondents were worried about
diminishing number of members of these associations. Lack of resources was a general concern. Support for
professional art and artist was highlighted and e.g. the so called percentage principle (i.e. one percent of the
public building costs should be aimed at the purchase of arts) was stressed. Respondents saw that there are
challenges as for the strategic development of culture and there should be e.g. communal strategies for
culture, more collaboration between and educational supply should be clarified.
Figure 10.What are the main development needs in your cultural sector in the near future?

Earnings of the cultural actors and artists come from multiple sources as a combination of selling artworks,
teaching, grants etc. as can be seen on Figure 6. There are many vocational challenges that creative
practitioners meet. Major challenge is that these people have to be multiply skilled in order to earn the living.
It is not enough to be a professional in ones own branch of culture but multiple skills are needed. This is
well illustrated in the quotations of interviewed artists.

I act, direct and teach. () I addition to that, I work as a judge. I have written plays
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Selling [artworks] is the main source of living. () I make my earnings by selling, designing
and teaching. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Earnings come mainly from selling artworks. There has to be something else just for sure. I
have been teaching () I work sometimes in a factory as a night watchman. It is not
impossible to make earnings by art but you have to be really active then. (Artist, South
Ostrobothnia)

0 2 4 6 8 10 12
Strategic development
Premises
Support for professional art
Other comments
Resources
Continuity of cultural activities
Betterment of livelihood
22

We asked interviewed artist to describe, whether they consider themselves as a cultural entrepreneur or not.
We defined cultural entrepreneur as a self-employed person who does not necessarily have a firm but at lest
has a business orientation. We did not ask respondents to specify whether they have a firm or business name
or any other official form of business but instead we were interested in how they consider themselves. As
one artist stated, cultural entrepreneurship is about selling artefacts and expertise based on individual
creativity and skills. As a whole, artists attitudes towards cultural entrepreneurship in their own field of art
were rather positive. Actually, these artists involved in the EROC project seemed to be more open minded to
cultural entrepreneurship than culture actors in South Ostrobothnia region in general. They saw that there
will be new opportunities for entrepreneurship in their field of culture in the near future and their action will
expand and networks broaden.

Not specially, I do not have a firm of my own. I have been told many times that I should have
a firm because it would benefit me in taxation. () I do not consider myself as an
entrepreneur at the moment. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Yes I do. () It is about cultural entrepreneurship when using own skills and creativity.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

It gives me a freedom to come and go. I can be selective what I do and with whom. () Since
I am entrepreneur, I can collaborate with those people I especially want t collaborate. () It
takes time to find ones own paths and style. Designing products takes time too. And to
explain and argue to someone why they should pay for this, it is a job of businessmen. () It
is a tricky business. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Interviewed artists from South Ostrobothnia did not have that many experiences about business development
services for entrepreneurs. One of them had been counselled concerning taxation and another had been in a
course for cultural entrepreneurs. As a whole, they are not that well aware about the services for the
development of businesses in the region. What is noticeable is that they even impugn the services available
as not suitable for creative practitioners.

I have been given tax counseling in a tax office. I have been in contact with Employment and
Economic Development Centre, but I did not get the feeling that they could help me. It has
been said, that there should be specialists consulting creative practitioners. But it is maybe
better that those who offer these services are not specialized in just creative industries.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I am a bit of a proud because I feel that I dont even need those services! I asked the
possibility to get launching aid. I did not get either funding or any other services. (Artist,
South Ostrobothnia)

I am not very well aware about the services. However, this kind of an entrepreneurship
differs from other types of entrepreneurship. Quite often the services are aimed at large
industrial companies and businesses. Only a few have such kind of know-how that could help
artists or cultural entrepreneurs. It would be needed here in South Ostrobothnia. (Artist,
23

South Ostrobothnia)

Replies to the questionnaire and comments of the artists presented above illustrate the situation concerning
the business development services in relation to creative practitioners. At the regional level, the diversity of
public and semi-public business services is overwhelming. However, there is no organisation solely serving
cultural industries and entrepreneurs. Instead, incentives are scattered into numerous different organisations
and programmes, which are governed by state and municipal funded organisations. Moreover, these
incentives are often planned to be implemented in urban areas. This is a great challenge for the future, not
just in South Ostrobothnia region but all around the rural Finland and Europe.

Essential questions in this context are: should there be business development services aimed especially at the
creative practitioners and to what extent development of cultural entrepreneurship differ in rural areas from
that of bigger cities? It seems that major part of the problems concerning suitability of various business
development services is basically the same regardless of operational environment. As for the first question,
interviewed artists were interested in services supporting their business skills but simultaneously they were
somehow sceptical about specific business development services for creative practitioners. Instead, they
emphasised the role of managers, agents or agencies. What has to be stressed is that even though they need
help for the business and marketing skills in general, the solution is not simply to create new business
development services for creative practitioners but more like advancing the existing ones (e.g. Suutari 2007).

I think it would be especially important for the artists. We might be that sort of people, that
we simply dont think practical issues. We just think about making art. (Artist, South
Ostrobohnia)

Business skills of the creative people are weak. But it wont get any better if there are more
services. There should be a change in creative peoples mind. Cultural entrepreneurs would
need sales channels, agents or agencies. If there would be an agent funded by public funding,
who would not take commissions for artists, it might be payable support. It simply is not
reasonable to try to teach artist to sell (Artist, South Ostrobohnia)

There could be training. Many of the artists dont know how difficult it is to become an
entrepreneur. I would have needed a manager who would take care of the relationships. It
would be ideal if there would be a professional manager who had networks and relationships.
You can do these things all by yourselves but it is time-consuming. (Artist, South
Ostrobohnia)

I think any industry needs () services. To creative practitioners there shouldnt be any
difference. () The kind of services I would like to have I have already received in terms of
helping to plan businesses, work committee taxes (Artist, Cornwall)

From the cultural actors and artists point of view, in the end, it is a question about livelihood. Even though
cultural entrepreneurship is a strong and widespread discourse, the development of entrepreneurship is
challenging since e.g. roughly half of the South Ostrobothnian respondents say that they do not consider
themselves as cultural entrepreneurs or havent even thought about the possibility to become an entrepreneur.
Therefore, it cannot be focused one-eyed to the development of cultural entrepreneurship. There must be
24

legitimacy for other types of development activities as well. Earnings of the cultural actors and artists come
in any case from multiple sources as a combination of selling artworks, teaching, grants etc. There are many
vocational challenges that creative practitioners meet. One major challenge is that these people have to be

multiply skilled in order to earn the living. It is not enough to be a professional in ones own branch of
culture but multiple skills are needed. Therefore, in order to promote artists livelihood there is a need for
various updating education programmes alongside with entrepreneurial skills development.

Multiple sources of livelihood necessitate not only multiple skills but also structural actions in a societal
level that remove the hindrances of part-time entrepreneurship and such welfare benefit system, for instance,
that supports artists livelihood based on short term contracts, self-employment and periods of
unemployment. Unquestionably, these are things that are difficult to respond on a regional level, but it might
be possible to give tools to tackle with these issues on a European level and even within the European
Region of Culture context.
As for the problems originated from rurality, it can be condensed into the thinness of clustering of culture
and into the lack of the adequate critical mass in cultural fields. Dense networks between cultural actors and
enterprises as well versatile support services for entrepreneurship are more typical for the creative clusters in
urban regions. Rural areas cannot compete with these clusters as for the density and diversity of people,
networks and services. However, access to these clusters and networks is of utmost importance for the
creative practitioners. This is to say that those creative practitioners working in a rural location are more
likely to miss these networks or at least it necessitates extra efforts for them to join. (Brownridge &
Lancaster 2005, Twomlow & Brownridge, 2007.
Therefore, rural areas and creative people there should be attached to a regional, national and international
development measures and development networks (e.g. Suutari 2007). The European Region of Culture
designation as a one of these development networks for ameliorating cultural activities in rural Europe seems
to be very promising tool.

25

3.2.3 South Ostrobothnia and European Region of Culture designation

Respondents of the questionnaire were asked what they consider especially distinguishable in South
Ostrobothniathat should be highlighted if it were European Region of Culture (Figure 11). There were 50
respondents out of 54 who replied this question. Most of the respondents mentioned regional identity and
handicrafts. They emphasised that cultural identity of the region is strong, unique and recognizable. Cultural
identity was described with words like rootedness, traditional and entrepreneur-minded. In addition to that,
breadth of the cultural activities was mentioned. Of all culture sectors, handicrafts were seen as the most
distinguishable sector that should be highlighted if South Ostrobothniawould be designated as European
Region of Culture. Indeed, handicraft included arts and crafts are, as regards to statistics, the most
voluminous branch of cultural industry in the region (e.g. Heikkil & Hietanen 2007). Carpenters and
knifemakers were mentioned as good examples of these local craftspeople.
Cultural landscapes and expanse of fields, which is the most typical landscape feature for the region, were
mentioned as one of the most distinguishable features of the region. Related to cultural landscapes, built
environment and architecture, mainly old peasant houses and world-famous Alvar Aaltos architecture were
highlighted as well. Folk music and music festivals together form a strong area of the regional culture. As a
whole, the region is known for its various rhythm music festivals (e.g. Provinssi Rock, Tango Festival and
folk music festivals).
Some of the respondents stressed cultural history individually. Even though cultural history was connected
with several other answers (e.g. regional identity, handicrafts, folk music) they mentioned separately cultural
history and social movements typical for the region (e.g. revival movements). Visual arts, theatre, local
literature and dialect and dance got references among respondents. Other things to be highlighted were
workable public culture services e.g. libraries.
Figure 11.What is especially distinguishable in South Ostrobothniathat should be highlighted if it were
European Region of Culture?
0 5 10 15 20
Dance
Literature and dialect
Other
Theatre
Visual arts
Built envirnoment
Cultural history
Music festivals
Folk music
Landscapes
Handicrafts
Local and regional identity
26

Also all the interviewed six artists were asked about what is special in South Ostrobothnia region that should
be highlighted if it were designated as European Region of Culture. They stressed the same things as the
respondents of the questionnaire: landscape, nature, traditions, built environment and mentality of the people
in general. Some of the features, as nature or sauna, are related to Finland in general but there were region-
specific things too as built environment and particular mentality of people in the region.

Landscape, cleanness and nature.And phenomenon such as summer theatres. Four seasons,
if we still have those. The colors of the landscapes are fantastic when it is changing from grey
to green. Nature and environment are absolutely one of the strength. (Artist, South
Ostrobothnia)

As a person, who is interested in traditions and history, I would hope that even though we
are proud of our built environment, I cant understand this enthusiasm to destroy old
buildings and all those marks of past. () This year would help us to appreciate own
history. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

We have plenty of things; we have Alvar Aalto of course who is the most famous. It is
reasonable to start with those well-known things. () In addition to that we have nature,
tranquility cleanness (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I found it interesting that during my research was that the Finns have been presented as a
melancholic people, and very without humour. But I found it opposite. I found that Finns has
a very good sense of humour. They express it different way, but that is been good. Also the
way how the culture is strongly relates the nature especially the folk songs I have heard. The
person who has written the song is using nature as a platform to feelings. Thats something
what has been striking. Also realising how the white and the blue, snow and the sky, how they
are reflecting. (Artist, Cornwall)

everything I saw was interesting for me. Red houses with white frames in the window, is
very typical for this region and space, the fields, and many beautiful things, the little letter
boxes near the roads and some saunas, everyone has a sauna Very beautiful place for me!
(Artist, Kujawsko-Pomorskie)

I have to say that in Lapua, in a cultural centre the people Ive met here have a special
mentality, hosts have been so kind, so positive and supporting. People have had to work hard
to have these good qualities of life, they are determinate. I think the cultural centre is very
amazing. Stuff is very happy to working here. Here is positive spirit. (Artist, Cornwall)

Responses to the question: if there would be a European Region of Culture designation in South
Ostrobothnia, what kind of activities would you like to see in your region? followed responses to the
question concerning regional distinctiveness (Figure 12). There were 50 respondents as well who replied this
question. Most of the respondents emphasised music festivals based on folk and rhythm music tempting
performers not only from the region but all over Europe. Alongside music festivals it was wished that there
would be cross art form events and festivals. These festivals should be public events open to everyone
regardless of age offering opportunities for participants to take part in activities.
27

As a means to organise cultural events during the designation respondents suggested networking especially
regionally and within various domains of culture but also inter-regionally within other European regions.
Another thing mentioned was the development of existing events and festivals, e.g. by using European
networks. Cross art forms and European and international collaboration were highlighted by artists too as
following citations show.
Village culture and rural marketplaces were mentioned as one of the activities that could be highlighted and
created for the purpose of the designation. Respondents stressed the small-scale and authentic atmosphere of
these kinds of events. Since there are many theatre groups in South Ostrobothnia region, respondents wished
that theatre events and festivals could be visible part of the campaign as well. Both village culture and
traditions were seen one of the major sources of activities. There are several resorts presenting cultural
history (e.g. museums) but respondents stressed that history should be animated in various ways.

Both visual arts and literature were mentioned as regards to international contacts and it was also suggested
that there could be high-profile one-week events for both literature and visual arts. Even though handicrafts,
craftsmanship and built environment form the bases for the uniqueness of the region, not that many
respondents mentioned them as a main activity of the European Region of Culture designation. Instead, plain
fields were mentioned as a suitable venue for the culture activities and festivals. Other new themes
mentioned were cultural paths and treks or a festival for cultural medicine.

Figure 12.If there would be European Region of Culture designation in your region, what kind of activities
would you like to see?

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
Built environment
Handicrafts
Education
Specific venues for culture events
Literature
Visual arts
Other
Development of the existing events
Cultural history
Theatre festivals
Village festivals and rural marketplaces
Networking and cultural exhange
Public festivals
Cross art forms
Music festivals and events
28

To strengthen these culture activities we already have here. We should invite visitors in
order to make it really European year. We could invite e.g. artists from these other regions.
This even week has been such a short period, that people here have missed this. It should be
spread all over the region. Our region has been in the rear as for foreign policy () we have
lot to learn here. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

International collaboration. To celebrate own culture of course. The question is how to show
it to rest of the Europe. Do we get more visibility, attention and communication with other
nations? That is something I would like to see. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)
I would like to see different culture sectors, cross art forms and that kind of interaction.
There could be visual arts, music and theatre. () People could see the great variety of art
forms. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

The respondents of the questionnaire were asked whether there should be an extensive theme for the
European Region of Culture designation in South Ostrobothnia region or not (Figure 13). They were given
the examples of the possible themes such as cultural associations, supporting entrepreneurship or childrens
culture. There were 49 respondents who replied this question. Almost all of them considered that particular
theme would be a good idea. Most of the respondents mentioned cultural entrepreneurship at a rather general
level as the main theme that could be chosen. Also culture associations and childrens culture were
supported. However, there were plenty of other broad ideas and suggestions for the new themes. It was
suggested that there could be rather abstract themes such as Change, Identity or artistic experiences in
general instead of more conventional or benefit-oriented themes.
It was especially emphasised that culture belongs to all of us regardless the age group or skills. On the other
hand, two respondents stressed that if there was a specific theme, it should be aimed at professional artists
and designation should support their work in the first place. There were also three main themes that emerged
in responses: cultural history, rural culture and connections between culture and welfare. Other comments
considered the significance of regional culture in general.

29

Figure 13.Should there be an extensive theme for the European Region of Culture designation in South
Ostrobothnia region or not?

Respondents were asked whether they or the culture association they are representing would like to
collaborate somehow if there would be this designation (Figure 14.). 47 of a total of 54 respondents replied
this question. Most of them would like to join as event organisers mainly organising music events. They
were typically representing culture associations. Some of the respondents were interested in collaborating by
supporting new ideas to emerge or developing new products (e.g. for cultural tourism). There were also
respondents willing to take care of public relations, communications and promoting culture abroad. The rest
of the respondents were willing to participate as performers or audience, organising art exhibitions,
presenting regional and local cultural history, offering premises for venues and conducting research and
education projects. Other themes mentioned were e.g. organizing international workshops.

0 2 4 6 8 10 12
Culture and welfare
Supporting professional artists
Annually changing themes
Cultural activities in rural areas
Folklore and cultural history
Culture for all
Other comments
Children's culture
Culture associations
New ideas and themes
Cultural entrepreneurship
30

Figure 14. How would you like to contribute if there were European Region of Culture designation in your
region?

Respondents were asked what they expect for the designation for the European Region of Culture to bring
along (Figure 15). They were given examples as new resources, new connections and visibility. All but one
of the respondents replied this question. Majority of them chose these three themes as the main expectations.
Some of the respondents described more broadly how they would like to find equivalent culture associations
around Europe and cultural exchange possibilities to go abroad, to establish new forums for collaboration
and to create new contacts for joint projects etc. Visibility at the European level would raise the image of the
region and that would be realized in cultural tourism for instance. New resources were mentioned as for
maintaining and developing activities or organising events that cannot be otherwise organised.

Some of the respondents highlighted new ideas and motivation as well as valuation for the culture that would
come alongside the designation. Other themes mentioned were the significance of cultural and artistic
experiences for the people in rural areas and the main idea of the designation that all new and interesting is
not happening in big cities and centres. Yet, there were two sceptical comments about the main idea of the
European Region of Culture. These respondents commented that it wont live up with the high expectations
and that the idea should be further clarified.

0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Other
Other development (e.g. research, projects)
Offering premises and resorts
Presenting cultural history
Organising art exhibitions
Participating as performer or audience
Promoting culture
Other support (new ideas etc.)
Organising and producing events
31

Figure 15. What do you expect for the designation for the European Region of Culture to bring along?

Finally, all the interviewed six artists were asked about the EROC project and what made them to join it. The
main reasons for joining the project were an opportunity to internationalise, to get new experiences and
wider their horizons. Their expectations for the project were positive and they looked forward to meeting
other artists and get new networks.

I thought itll be a very exiting work with the European transnational project. I like to learn
a lot, meet new people, and see interesting places (Artist, Cornwall)

It was an opportunity to earn some money. You know the major reason. But its not that
cynical as that. I was aware what project was trying to do. And I thought as an artist that I
was interested in that type of thinking. I thought that is important. I contribute to create the
direction to project. (Artist, Cornwall)

Because of the develop of my artist view. Because it is important to see the difference in
different parts of world, compare with my place where I live. I dont know could I do that
without EROC. That would be very difficult for me. This is a great opportunity to make wider
my horizon. (Artist, Kujawsko-Pomorskie)

There is a part of me that is looking for internationality. () I want new challenges. () It
sounded interesting, this collaboration between three regions. I thought beforehand that it
wont be that easy. () I wanted to see other artists and get to know each other and to have
networks to use afterwards. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

It gave me an opportunity to get international contacts, to learn and get new experiences.
This is a kind of an education for me and this is something new here. There is an interesting
buzz around this project and of course possibilities to network within this region too. () I
have been looking for new experiences and networks. That is what I have been waiting for and
it has happened. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
Supporting valuation of culture
New ideas and motivation
Other
New resources
Visibility and image
New contacts
32

I have been waiting for something like this for years. I am interested in internalisation. () I
want to get this rural culture developed and to get information into Brussels so that they will
understand that there are vitality and great culture in these regions. I have been always
fought for the countryside, and this fitted to my thoughts. I hope that we will be successful
with this so that there will be resources in rural areas as well, not just in big cities. (Artist,
South Ostrobothnia)

Artists involved in the EROC project and cultural event weeks described experiences rather positively in
general and they were satisfied for joining the project. However, their comments illustrate that there have
been problems related mainly to the ways of organising the communication between the parties within the
project and practical arrangements of the event weeks. The language barrier has been one of the main
concerns for many of the participant artist but there have also been problems concerning feedback
possibilities and lack of time resources to getacquainted with the regions. Underneath is the dissatisfaction
for the consideration of the artists opinions and needs. This discontent can be interpreted that artists think
that they have not been adequately in a focus of the project.Quotations shown illustrate that organising
international collaboration successfully is not an easy task. Therefore, the lesson should be taken from the
experiences of the EROC project when thinking about the European Region of Culture designation in future.
First thing to take into account is the communication not only within the core project group but between all
the parties involved in the implementation in order to maintain the commitment and enthusiasm for the
designation. The second, and at least as important thing, is the role of the target group: artists, cultural
workers, third sector actors etc. They should not be relegated to the minor part but be in the very focus of the
activities. The whole idea of the designation in regions is grounded on the creativity of local people and the
main objective is to support their initiative, not to subdue it.

Generally good. There have been some problems so far mainly that are in the area of
communication, to be able to express your thoughts about the project. I think it is that we
make comments. But I dont feel that comments fed back to me with an answer. So that we
contribute, but they the result is that nothing comes back in official way. Short conversations
maybe, but it needs more feedback. (Artist, Cornwall)

I think my experiences have been positive so far. I know that this is a pilot project. We have
some problems with organisation. But I think its okay for me (Artist, Kujawsko-
Pomorskie)

Im still pleased to be part of this project. I think I have experienced practical problems. I
think people are still learning how to manage a new project, how to organise things,
equipments etc. We depend on another people. We dont know where to get things,
equipments, how to transport them. It is hard to know those things in another country. And the
language issue as well. Translators are needed more. (Artist, Cornwall)

Absolutely positive. This working method and getting to know those people takes time. So,
you dont have that much time to become acquainted with the regions. () I hope that those
people I have been working with will remember me. I hope that I will meet these fellow artists
after this project again. () Negative experiences are related to administration and
33

arrangements and differences in working cultures. () Personally I havent succeeded as well
as would have like to. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)
Interesting and unique, once in a lifetime experiences. It has been sometimes amusing, form
the viewpoint of an entrepreneur, to see how this kind of a big project goes. So much money
put on this! It does make sense, but sometimes I have been thinking that couldnt this be done
in some other way? (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

Positive experiences. These artists form a good team to work together. () There have been
some practical problems, just because of language. But I am satisfied with the results.
(Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

In general, the interviewed artists consider the baseline idea of the European Region of Culture designation
good. Anyhow, there were some suspicious comments too. Artists were not convinced of the method used in
the EROC project as an applicable method to the designation itself. The main problems seem to be related to
the tight time schedules and dissimilar working cultures. One week period was considered too short to get
acquainted with regional characteristics and to create real collaboration between artists, policy makers and
local residents. Therefore, the method should be evolved. The biggest challenge seems to be how to create
workable and fruitful collaboration between the regions. Naturally, artists did realise that the whole EROC
project is about testing and developing the methods of working together and learning how to accomplish the
designation. One of the interviewed artists was even concerned about the underlying agenda of the
designation as regional promotion tool, which might cause unwanted effects on the region in the form of
tourism.

All that collaboration is a great thing. The differences between the regions play a major role
here. That is a problem, or on the other hand the strength of the EU. To combine different
expectations in different regions is difficult. But if you think about the funding system of the
designation, if it resembles the one in Capital of Culture, then these regions are not working
together but each and every get its own resources and goals. But if there will be situation that
we do it together, then we have to spend time to get know each other. Artists will get
acquainted with each other easily, but in a bureaucratic level, is it going to work? Language
will be a problem too, but I respect that other languages will be used as well. (Artist, South
Ostrobothnia)

To put it simply, I am convinced and enthusiastic about this idea. But I am not convinced the
method it is accomplished. I am not quite sure whether we can reach the goal, to create
European Region of Culture designation, with this group. I hope that designation would be
such a model that there will be collaboration and communication between the regions. There
could be, for instance, three regions simultaneously that would collaborate during that year.
So that people and artefacts could move freely, as it is pursued in Europe.(Artist, South
Ostrobothnia)

Really good idea. I hope it will succeed and this wont just be a one project. This is a good
start. Of course it will be a hard work to accomplish. (Artist, South Ostrobothnia)

I think it is a very good idea. I dont see a case of taking it away from an urban centre. I
34

think that it is really important to spread the resources around, rather than having them
centralised all the time to the city. (Artist, Cornwall)
I didnt realize when I took part of this project that this is about marketing in away, getting
funding, I have concerns about that. I live in a very beautiful region and I dont know what
way the tourism would effect to our community. Im still not sure about this. (Artist,
Cornwall)

Artists and cultural practitioners as a focus group of the project gave valuable insights for the future
development of the EROC concept. Experiences and views concerning the EROC project and European
Region of Culture designation stress regional distinctiveness based on local and regional identity and
collaboration among European regions. The collaboration seems to be the cornerstone of the whole concept.
Yet, the biggest challenges for the future seem to be how to create real collaboration between the parties and
between the regions
.
35

4. Conclusion: rationale for the European Region of Culture designation

The EROC project is based on the idea that cultural activities can be as vibrant, active and unique in non-
urban locations as in urban surroundings. Actually, rural areas can be seen as the source of cultural diversity
and originality whereas urban settings may even resemble more and more one another due to globalisation.

Changes in cultural policy and regional development policy discourses necessitate and stress
commoditisation of culture and economic rationality. Rural areas are not an exception here. Although a lot of
cultural diversity is rooted to the countryside, the problems of development of creative economy and cultural
industries originated from rurality can be summed up into the thinness of clustering of culture and therefore
into the lack of the adequate critical mass in cultural fields. Therefore, rural areas should be attached to
regional, national and international development programmes and networks. The role of nearby cities and
business services is to adapt and mediate local creativity into the markets.
European Regions of Culture designation as a one of these development networks for ameliorating cultural
activities in rural Europe, seems to be very promising tool. Based on the results derived from the project and
one of the project regions, there is a demand in rural areas for this kind of activity. Experiences and views
concerning the EROC project and European Region of Culture designation stress regional distinctiveness
based on local and regional identity and collaboration among European regions. The collaboration seems to
be the cornerstone of the whole concept. Yet, the biggest challenge for the future seems to be how to create
real collaboration between the parties and between the regions. The lesson should be taken from these
experiences and to take into account the communication not only within the core project group but between
all the parties involved in the implementation. The second, and at least as important thing, is the role of the
target group: artists, cultural workers, third sector actors etc. They should not be relegated to the minor part
but be in the very focus of the activities. The whole idea of the designation in regions is grounded on the
creativity of local people and the main objective is to support their initiative.

As a means to organise the designation respondents suggested networking especially regionally and within
various domains of culture but also inter-regionally within other European regions. Another thing mentioned
was the development of existing events and festivals by using European networks. Cross art forms and
European and international collaboration were highlighted by the artists too. International collaboration
based on the local and regional initiative seems to be another cornerstone for the further development of the
EROC concept.
In order to better understand the needs of those people who actually live and do their artistic work in rural
areas, we reviewed the characteristics of cultural activities, attitudes towards cultural entrepreneurship and
European Regions of Culture designation in rural region. Results showed us that artists roles in local
communities are not unambiguous and they seem to face contradictory expectations: On the one, hand they
feel strong responsibility for the community and therefore they are strongly rooted and embedded in the local
communities. On the other hand they are trying to keep a certain distance to the locality in order to maintain
their autonomy and their openness to new influences. This balancing act is especially difficult for the artists
in rural areas since various role expectations are rather strong.
Since there is lack of institutions and structures supporting art or critical mass of peers, the artist must be
very self-sufficient in order to work successfully in rural areas. That is exactly where various tools are
needed to bring them new insights and enable collaboration widely.
36

Interviewed artists were interested in services supporting their business skills but simultaneously they were
somehow sceptical about specific business development services for creative practitioners. Instead, they
emphasised the role of managers, agents or agencies. What has to be stressed is that even though they need
help for the business and marketing skills in general, the solution is not simply to create new business
development services for creative practitioners but more like advancing the existing ones.

From the cultural actors and artists point of view, ultimately, it is a question about livelihood. Even though
cultural entrepreneurship is a strong and widespread discourse, the development of entrepreneurship is
challenging. Earnings of the cultural actors and artists come in any case from multiple sources as a
combination. Therefore, in order to promote artists livelihood there is a need for various updating education
programmes alongside with entrepreneurial skills development. Multiple sources of livelihood necessitate
not only multiple skills but also structural actions in a societal level that remove the hindrances of part-time
entrepreneurship, for instance, and such welfare benefit system that support flexible systems of work and
entrepreneurship. Unquestionably these are things that are difficult to respond on a regional level, but it
might be possible to pay attention to these issues on a European level within European Regions of Culture
designation as well.

















37

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