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Anna Anttonen is a born and bred Ouluian whose family roots are in South Ostrobothnia. “I live in Kastelli with my family in my childhood home, which we bought from my parents a little under a decade ago. As a young adult I also settled in Tuira, Raksila, the city center and Värttö. So I progressed over three kilometers in life, before returning to the beginning!”

Anna works at the Cultural Centre Valve as the main teacher of literary art and as the artistic leader of the Lumotut sanat – lasten ja nuorten sanataideviikot (Enchanted Words – children and youth’s literary art weeks). Music is also close to Anna’s heart: During compulsory education, Anna was in a class where music was emphasized, and now, as a freelancer, she sings and makes songs. Her hobbies are also strongly related to Oulu’s cultural field: Anna sings in the Sofia Magdalena chamber choir and practices her dance moves in the Vilikkaan Hipasu youth club.

 

How does your life look like and feel now, during these exceptional times?

A bit drowsy and groggy November gloom. Towards the end of a fierce and exceptional year tiredness has kicked in a bit, but the autumn has also been full of joy and significance. After the total lockdown of last spring every work-, school-, kindergarten- and hobby week that has been somewhat normal has felt like a gift. It has been pure luxury to have been able to teach face to face and to have been able to meet my hobby families, children and youth physically.

 

How does Oulu look like through your eyes right now?

Contradictory. We have an abundance of great and motivated professionals and amateurs in the fields of art and culture. For a large group of people, the effects of culture for wellbeing and for the appeal and maintenance of the city are obvious and important. At the same time some of the policymakers see culture first and foremost as an extra expense, which is horribly sad.
 

Oulu is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture (ECoC). What makes our region the best candidate for the title?

There is skill, desire and actors! But there is also a lot of work to be done so that culture and art can become even more important parts of our individual and communal identities.

I am thrilled that one of the main focus areas in the European Capital of Culture programme is children and youth’s culture. Now we need to brainstorm on a large scale and plan the headquarters for Oulu’s children’s culture center: a super fun place for artistic adventures, having a good time, reading, empathizing – and for doing and coming up with solutions on your own!

 

Send your regards to the Oulu of 2026, when we are the European Capital of Culture

Let’s celebrate and continue – together! It’s time to culminate the long journey from the dream to the European Capital of Culture and to weave the great things of the big project permanently as a part of Oulu and the Ouluian identity.