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 characterize city life generally. In 1952, the city was 75% burned down, thus the architecture is contemporary and does not speak about the heritage of the fisherman town. There is a prominent car culture, even though the distances in the city are smaller than elsewhere in Finland.
There are 84,391 inhabitants and people of Pori are very proud of their city. Satakunta region is popular as well. However, the city has a certain stigma from outside as it is viewed as a peripheral city with a “hard” life.
In terms of cultural activities in the city, there is an active visual art scene and a major Jazz festival. The University Consortium and University of Applied Sciences play an important role in the city. The business sector collaborates with the university. Unfortunately, one of the biggest issues to the population is the “brain drain” as young people tend to seek fortunes elsewhere.
Firstly, Pori, like other cities in Finland and Scandinavia, is facing a challenge due to the climate change. The winters are getting warmer. Thus, activities such as skating and skiing, which is popular here, are limited.
Secondly, there is a challenge in cross sectorial collaboration. There is also lack of collaboration between the different departments in the city hall even though there are dedicated individuals / teams who advocate a more open trans-departmental approach.
Thirdly, there are a lot of empty building on the high street that need a repurposing. At the same time, there is a lack of creative and innovative thinking regarding the design of the city. This means that the high street is rather empty – also because of the prominent car culture. The authorities and private sector should involve the cultural institutions, 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 realities of the city centre.