First off, would you like to introduce yourselves? Who is answering this interview?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Jouni Vesanen, AD, Anne Saarinen, Festival Director and Mikko Karjalainen, Coordinator of Sellainen Puistojuhla.
Sellainen Puistojuhla is a free two-day event at Tampere, which is now being held for the second annual time in a row. Where did you get the original idea for forming an event like this? Was the last year's event the first event of this scale that you've organized?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > The original idea came from the need to bring forward unknown artists of all types; musicians, poet reciters etc. Last year we held a one day event which included 9 bands and 3 poets. This year the scale is bigger: 2 days, 14 bands and 6 poets.
Are any of you, the organizers, musicians yourselves?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > None of us are but we do have several musicians and artists in our organizing team... So, yes and no. :)
Was it clear from the start that your event would be free for all attendees? Is there an age limit?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Yes it was and we hope to keep it that way in the future, too. There is no age limit at Sellainen Puistojuhla, so everyone is welcome there. The festival is planned for the adult audience, though.
What were the basic ideals on which your event was based, for example regarding the bands' style, fame or "status"?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > We're trying to present a broad spectrum of different genres at our festival regardless of their style, status and so on. You could say that we're trying to be as open-minded as possible what comes to artists that we're presenting on stage.
How did you find the right venue for the event? (Do note that this question comes from someone not familiar with the city, heh).
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Most of our team lives in the neighbourhood of the park in question (at Armonkallio), so the venue, Soukkapuisto, came to our minds pretty naturally. It's also close to Tampere centrum and no event like this has been held there before. Also, Soukkapuisto has good natural formations to keep events like these; enough space for the needed equipment, it's broad enough so the audience can see the stage from a wide area, and so on.
Most of the bands you're featuring are more or less unknown, except for Kauko Röyhkä of course. Was it your original intention to feature mostly "underground" artists?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Yes it was, look at question 2. :)
What kind of reception has your event received from the artists you've asked to take part in it, either this year or the last?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Last year the feedback was positive from the artists. They enjoyed the DIY-attitude of the festival and its relaxed atmosphere. At least that was what they told us... :) And of course we're trying to improve the event this year.
How about the audience response from last year? Was there a lot of people present?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > We think the audience enjoyed the event also, the weather was good and there was no disturbance of any kind. Afterwards some people came to ask us if we will organize this event again, and so, here we are. :)
I've understood that the event will feature some artists from outside the musical field, such as poet reciters. Do you have intentions on extending the event even further, for example towards some visual art-exhibitions there, or dance/performance-acts?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Arts in general is a big field and as we said, we are pretty open-minded towards all kinds of art so we're prepared to extend our activities towards other forms of arts as well.
You have an open stage for the audience members to perform at, too. Did you have this option last year, too, or was it a request from the attendees?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > We did have an open stage last year, and luckily people did attend it and it went fairly well. We're curious to see what will come up of it this year since everything is possible at the open stage.
This is now the second time you're organizing the event. What about the future; will the event be held next year, too?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Hopefully. :) We're doing everything we can to make this event annual.
Do you have plans on organizing other events than "Sellainen Puistojuhla," either musical ones or otherwise?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Right now our minds are focused on organizing Sellainen Puistojuhla 2013, but in the future we will look for opportunities for other kind of artistic projects as well.
I heard you're now forming your own organization, too, named Taida Ry. What can you tell us about it? What do you do, who are involved, and what's your goal?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > Taida Ry is a fairly new organization and its purpose is to support all kinds of performing arts. The idea of Sellainen Puistojuhla represents our ambitions to achieve this goal.
In case some people from Tampere-region are reading this: how can one join your organization or otherwise be of help?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > One can join Taida Ry as a member and people are also welcome to join our voluntary group. Taida Ry is actively looking for co-partners for other projects in the future, too. The best way to contact us is via our email, yhdistystaida(at)gmail.com.
Organizing an any kind of event isn't a simple task. What have been the biggest obstacles so far on your path - has legislation or advertisement proven to be an issue, for example?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > You're right, organizing something like this is not a simple task... :) You need to take a million little things into consideration and the pure amount of stuff you need in order to organize an event like this is quite huge, but we've been able to manage it pretty well. Legislation hasn't been a big problem so far, except for the founding of Taida Ry which took us roughly 5 months since PRH (patentti- ja rekisterihallitus) was very precise about the wording of the founding documents etc. Sorting that out took a while, but now we're happily up and running. What comes to advertising the event, we have been lucky to have our event sponsored, for example, by the local webportal www.keskustori.fi at which our interview was the most viewed article of that week... So, that gives us hope that we are probably doing something right. :)
We will be doing more promotion closer to the event like hanging posters, spreading flyers and so on. Sellainen Puistojuhla can also be found on Facebook, of course, both as an event and a community.
You said that it was clear from the start to make the even free for all attendees. What were the reasons for this decision? There has to be some costs to organizing a festival like that, so how have you covered these costs?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > In our opinion there are enough, if not too many festivals that aren't free for the audience and which have the purpose of making a profit. We feel that there is room for free festivals as well, considering that not everyone is able to buy, let's say, a 100€ ticket for a bigger 2-day festival.
Naturally it isn't free to organize this kind of an event. There are several things that require money, like toilets, the PA-system and so on. We have been raising money by organizing support gigs at several bars a the Tampere area, getting corporate sponsors and support members for Taida Ry.
To continue on a more positive note, what have been the most satisfying and successful aspects of event-organizing so far - or in other words, what is it that make it worth the effort and risk?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > This is a tough one... If you think about organizing an event like Sellainen Puistojuhla it really doesn't make any sense to be doing something like this. :P All you have is long days of doing festival-organizing after your day-to-day job, many sleepless nights when you try to think about what's still missing from the event, and so on. So, it takes a whole lot of effort to pull this kind of an event together. But the reward is worth it. Perhaps the most nervous moment is when the first band starts to play and you hope that everything goes well for the whole weekend. The best moment is after the event when everything is over and the audience is happy about the show that we have been able to pull together and everyone feels like they're one great experience richer. And of course, say, 30 years from now, it's nice to be able to look back and say "back in the day, we made something happen". We don`t do this work for ourselves but for the people. :)
What is Finland's current gig- and expedition-situation like in your opinion?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > In general, we think that Finland's gig-situation is quite good, actually. If someone had said 15 years ago that Ozzy Osbourne, Helloween, Megadeth, Dio and other big names would do gigs at relatively small town such as Tampere, people probably wouldn't have believed it. System of a Down will play at Mikkeli this year, too, so big bands seem to have found Finland, which is nice.
It's probably caused by the changes in Russia in the past 20 years or so, as big bands and artists are now able to play there, which brings them here as well when they do tours. However this is sort of a double-edged sword, since these mass-concerts are usually arranged by global or otherwise established event-corporations which determine the prices, and consequently the total costs are very high for non-commercial endeavors.
Are there a lot of underground-activities in Tampere? I know only of the "punk-mecca" Vastavirta, heh.
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > What comes to the underground scene here in Tampere, you could say that Vastavirta is a kind of center of that scene at the moment. But in addition to VV, a lot of small organisations, collectives and such exist in Tampere, and all those are trying to find their place in the local ug-scene of performing arts. One can't really keep track of all the activities, but hopefully the most promising and interesting ones will survive and maybe get acknowledged somehow. Also, we`ve been thinking about finding some cooperation partners from this fortunately very fragmented field of cultural movements, maybe in a form of experimental event or an other kind of project.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for some people who are considering to take on the task of organizing an event of their own?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > As said before, organizing events is not easy. From our experience, preparation and planning is everything since you need to think about almost every scenario that might happen during the event, both good and bad. Without an association, it's almost impossible to do anything since almost every sponsor, partner or programme office requires that you are an "official" association. Legislation is also important (all the permits, noise notifications and so on), and they are much easier to get when you have an association. And then there is the question of money. You also need to pay attention to taxes, whether you need to pay them and so on.
All in all, if you are ready to put yourself on the line by making events, go ahead. It just takes lot of work, familiarization to the association rules and other stuff. Get things done in time, it really isn't that much fun to notice two days before the event that something crucial is missing. And remember to keep your head cool no matter what happens, as everything can be sorted out. And if you feel like you're up against the wall, ask for help, there's no shame in that. Delegating tasks is important, too, since you can't do everything by yourself. That's the 101 of making events from our viewpoint, hopefully this inspires someone to try it because this is, although challenging, but also extremely fun. :)
You're clearly into organizing live-events and experiences, but have you thought about extending your actions into the field of releasing music as CDs or such, or perhaps compiling and publishing art/poem-books?
Jouni, Anne & Mikko > As we are sort of a new-comers in this field, no one can say what lies in the future of Sellainen Puistojuhla and Taida Ry. Let's hope we have the possibility to develop the festival a bit more every year into something that offers interesting and good-quality experiences for the audience and also for all the participants of our events and organisation. So far we haven't had the luxury of time to concentrate on anything else than this year's Sellainen Puistojuhla but anything is possible in the future, it's fun to experience different types of art creation. But as said, we are not quite there yet.
Thank you for your time!