Turku’s European Capital of Culture year 2011 serves as an example for future titleholders

 

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Turku’s Capital of Culture year 2011 was an excellent example for future capitals of culture, with its emphasis on well-being and programme that encouraged the active participation of people. A significant new initiative was also the introduction of scientific research into the year’s programme.

Sylvain Pasqua, who works at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture, attending the publication of the evaluation report and compilation of articles, thanked Turku for evaluating what the Capital of Culture year had to offer and for looking far into the future. On behalf of the Commission, Pasqua participates in the selection of capitals of culture and in the preparation of new legislation concerning them.

– The European Capitals of Culture can produce huge cultural, economic and social benefits for cities holding the title. For that to happen, they must be embedded in the long term development strategy of the cities, and cities must have evaluation tools at their disposal to better steer the whole process. That is why the on-going evaluation being carried out in Turku is so important and exemplar. It provides the city of Turku with the opportunity to better understand the many changes which have been – and are still being – induced through hosting the title, and better accompany future developments, said Pasqua.

– I can only invite your city to continue making the most of its year as European Capital of Culture, said Pasqua.

 

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The Tom of Finland retrospective was one of the key highlights of Turku’s European Capital of Culture 2011.

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Tom of Finland Retrospective Attracted Record Audiences in Sweden

The Tom of Finland retrospective which was one of the key highlights of Turku’s European Capital of Culture 2011 has attracted record audiences of 31,000 over the summer at the prestigious Kulturhuset in Stockholm.

The exhibition ran for nearly two months (28.6.-19.8.2012) and consisted of over 50 rare and iconic drawings on special loan from the permanent collection of Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.

TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1988, Graphite on paper, ToFF #88.01, © 1988 Tom of Finland Foundation

Curator Gary Everett of Homotopia, Liverpool said: “The response to Tom in Stockholm has been incredible and Homotopia are very proud to have created a unique and important legacy of our hugely successful year in Turku

“Our collaboration with Homotopia and Turku 2011 has been a true milestone for our organisation and we hope to continue to foster stronger links in the UK & Finland. Tom would have been so happy to see what’s been achieved in his homeland and Sweden, added Durk Dehner, President of Tom of Finland Foundation Los Angeles.

“We made the Tom of Finland retrospective part of Turku’s European Capital of Culture year because we wanted to introduce Tom’s works to a wider audience and also to leave a legacy that would benefit research related to arts and human rights in particular. The year 2011 was Tom’s coming home.

Cay Sevón, CEO of the Turku 2011 Foundation said: “For us, working together with the Foundation in LA and Homotopia in Liverpool was a valuable experience, and we are happy to have been given the chance to take the project to Stockholm’s Kulturhuset, which is, of course, a very high-profile place to exhibit in.”

The Turku 2011 Foundation awarded funding to Homotopia Liverpool’s Tom of Finland exhibition as part of the legacy of the European Capital of Culture year 2011. The same exhibition attracted 90,000 visitors in Turku, making it one of the biggest crowd-pullers of the celebratory year. In all, the exhibitions in Turku and Stockholm were seen by some 121,000 people.

Homotopia was also planning to take parts of the exhibition to St Petersburg, again with the support of the Turku 2011 Foundation, but decided to cancel the project after being warned by British officials that going ahead with the plans could put them at risk under the city’s new anti-gay legislation, which was introduced at the end of February this year. St Petersburg’s new piece of legislation banning for example films, music videos, books and magazines with homosexual content has sparked an international outcry.

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UK gay arts festival pulls St. Petersburg show over arrest fears

Liverpool’s Homotopia organizer compares Russian city’s ‘insidious’ anti-gay laws to 1930s Berlin after forced to cancel human rights exhibition

A UK gay arts festival has been forced to cancel a two-year project in St Petersburg for fear of arrest under the Russian city’s new homophobic laws.

Liverpool’s Homotopia was due to show an exhibition chronicling the emergence of the gay rights movement in the UK and Europe, but organizers have pulled the program after being warned by British officials that they could be arrested or fined as a result.

St Petersburg has been condemned by world leaders and human rights activists after it passed an anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law which effectively gags any public discussion of LGBT issues or events targeted at gay and trans people, including pride.

Artistic director Gary Everett was due to fly out later this month with a colleague.

‘The British Embassy and British Consulate were really monitoring what was happening and the advice was that if we go we would be open to arrest and could end up being put in prison because we are an overtly gay festival,’ Everett told Gay Star News.

He added: ‘I’ve never encountered these obstacles before but it’s more insidious than that. It’s more severe in terms of the law’s enforcement. They will arrest people. They’ve already arrested Russian activists so what would stop them from doing that to someone from our country?’

TOM OF FINLAND (Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (Detail from “Finlander Studs 2”), 1974, Graphite on paper, 11.75” x 8.25”, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #74.08, © 1974 Tom of Finland Foundation

Art as Social Change was launched following a hugely successful exhibition of Tom of Finland in the gay artist’s home city of Turku.

Part of the legacy of Homotopia’s time in the Finnish city was the creation of three projects, including a show on human rights in Turku’s twin city St Petersburg.

‘What is sad is that St Petersburg is one of the most progressive cities in terms of art and culture,’ Everett added.

‘It’s a very exciting place in terms of art, music, fashion and creativity but they don’t want to have a gay and lesbian element to that. They seem to want to just wipe it out.

 

BY MATTHEW JENKIN

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