"Big Music for Small Cities" - Networking Online
An inclusive networking seminar “Festival Network” for North Karelian art festivals was organized in Joensuu under the project “Big Music for Small Cities”. The original plan was to hold one full day in the fall and another in January as a live meeting. However, the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic set new plans. We split the event into smaller parts and moved on to an online event. Fortunately, the technology has already been refined to such an extent that with good planning we were able to organize a properly functioning and interactive seminar and workshops in small groups. Participants where also activated by electronic pre-assignments prepared by our expert Susanna Markkola (Culture Finland / Visit Finland). At this stage, we would also like to thank Tovari Oy for its expert service in terms of technology.
The purpose of the two seminars held in November was to help North Karelian art festivals to network with each other, to provide useful and up-to-date information on domestic and world tourism, markets and trends, and to consider the challenges and opportunities of the festivals together. We also asked the festival representatives to consider which representatives of tourism, restaurant and accommodation services they would like to participate in the last seminar in January.
The main speaker and coordinator of the seminars was Susanna Markkola, Visit Finland's Culture Finland Program Director. In her preliminary and workshop assignments, she challenged participants to think about the structures, values and experiential nature of their own festival. Based on the answers, the North Karelian festivals offer diverse and different genres of music and other art to different target groups. Nature, attractions, Karelianism emerge from the experiences and USPs (Unique Selling Points). And these are exactly the things that most tourists are interested in.
As we see, there is an offer for different target audiences. Next, all of this should be brought to the attention of the general public. Very inspiring examples of successful events and marketing were given by Anna Tomchik, Director of the Directorate of Festivals and Cultural Events of the Republic of Karelia, Project Manager of Big Music for Small Cities, with her topic of Ruskeala Symphony and Anna Rauhansuu, Myssyfarm, CEO and designer, with her topic of domestic organic business.
Festival representatives were asked to consider potential future partners. There were a lot of ideas: collaboration between festivals as well as with local businesses, farmers, experience service entrepreneurs, local breweries and much more. Several respondents wanted a common website or web portal for the festivals, where information would be passed from festival to festival, but also to customers in Finland and abroad. One workshop gave an opportunity to design ready-made experience packages for different customer groups.
The participants' thoughts and dreams were also fed by Aleksandra Shakhnovich, Visit Finland's Russian tourism expert, Annika Huotari, Marketing Manager of the Joensuu City Orchestra and Sirpa Lahti, a cultural, tourism and communications company Maetka. We heard relevant information about Russian travelers in Finland based on research data, how many ways the marketing strategy can be utilized in festival activities and what is today in festival marketing.
We will continue to network in January, together with festival representatives and local tourism, restaurant and accommodation services.