Pori is located near the shore of Baltic sea in the West of Finland. It is the capital of Satakunta region, which has an industrial focus. The city is quite suburban, including the city centre. There is a lack of intensity and density which characterizes city life generally. The city was 75% burned down in 1852 therefore, the architecture is contemporary and does not speak about the heritage of the fisherman town. There is a strong car culture, even though the distances in the city are smaller than usual.
There are 84,391 inhabitants and people of Pori are very proud of their city. Strong identity with Satakunta region as well. The city has a certain stigma from outside as it is viewed as a peripheral city with a “hard” life, although the people of Pori are proud to be identified as being from such area. There is a very active visual arts scene in the city and a major music festival on an international level and a thriving music sector. The University Consortium and University of Applied Sciences play an important role in the city and the business sector is active and collaborates with the university. Unfortunately one of the biggest changes in the population is brain drain as young people do not find Pori as a place to thrive.
Pori, same as other cities in Finland and Scandinavia are facing a challenge due to the climate change. The winters are getting warmer, and the activities, that used to be fun and brought communities together, such as skating and skiing, are limited by fewer and fewer winter days. There is a challenge in cross sectorial collaboration. There is also lack of collaboration in-between the different departments in the city hall even though there are dedicated individuals / teams who advocate a more open trans-departmental approach. Young people feel, that they are not heard, there are no places for them. There is a strong shopping mall culture, which leaves a lot of the buildings in the high street empty. There is a lack of creative and innovative thinking regarding the design of the city. Pairing it up with the strong car culture – the backbone of the city, the high street, is becoming more and more empty. The buildings are in need of repurposing and the authorities and private sector should involve the cultural drivers as well as the inhabitants of the city to find a common solution for the problem.
Visions and aims:
There is a need of commitment to improve the accessibility and social inclusion with cultural and gaming / digital projects and also the role of public art as a driver of this. The artistic community in Pori should be stimulated to practice a more political / socially relevant art and the aim could be to involve people who are not usually participating.
Cultural planning approach:
Using the existing empty shops in the high- street could be an exciting opportunity for the cultural sector to manifest and discuss the future of their city. Experimentation in pro-active and agile way would support and develop competences of the artists and cultural institutions at local level to work with environmental and social aspects and participate stronger in the public domain. Linking to the new national strategy for arts and culture, which will support a stronger regional strategy, where Satakunta / Pori could specifically champion cultural planning as part of this strategy. There are many existing active organizations and individuals scattered across the city and a common mapping project would help to bring to light the existing potential and talk about new realties of the city centre.