Oulu becomes a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of Media Art


55 new cities have been nominated by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay to join UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network (UCCN). One of the new creative cities is The City of Oulu.

"The cities in our Creative Cities Network are leading the way when it comes to enhancing access to culture and galvanizing the power of creativity for sustainable urban resilience and development," says Azoulay.

The newly designated Creative Cities are invited to participate in the 2024 UCCN Annual Conference (1 to 5 July 2024) in Braga, Portugal.

UCCN cooperation strengthens the development work of the City of Oulu and Oulu2026 Culture Foundation in the creative industries

Collaboration with the UCCN strengthens the ongoing development efforts of both the City of Oulu and the Oulu2026 Culture Foundation within the creative industries. UCCN cooperation increases the growth potential of the creative industries and creates new international connections to the activities of artists and cultural creators.

"The aim of global networking is to develop cultural operating environments and strengthen the role of art and culture in the regional economy and sustainable urban development in accordance with the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UCCN cooperation creates new innovations and partnerships at the interfaces of art, science and technology and strengthens Oulu's profile and visibility as a driver of northern culture in accordance with our cultural strategy," says Cultural Director Sami Ylisaari.

Cooperation in a global network

The newly designated Creative Cities will work with members of the global network to strengthen their resilience against evolving threats, such as climate change, increasing inequality and rapid urbanisation. By 2050, 68% of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas.

The Media Arts theme now includes 26 cities from five continents. Among the member cities are several partner cities of the City of Oulu. From the perspective of global cooperation, the theme of Media Art emphasises the connection between art, science, technology, and digital media in accordance with Oulu’s cultural strategy.

The UCCN network now includes 350 cities in more than a hundred countries representing seven creative sectors: crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media art and music. In addition to Oulu, new members in the field of Media Art include Caen (France), Casablanca (Morocco) and Novi Sad (Serbia).

Austin (US), Toronto (Canada), Sapporo (Japan), Linz (Austria), Hamar (Norway) and Viborg (Denmark) will continue as old members.

From Finland, the network already includes Kuhmo in the theme literature and Helsinki in the theme design. The selection of Oulu as the City of Media Art was supported by the city's distinguished hi-tech history and visible Art & Tech development work.

Network in practice  

Cities can apply for UCCN cooperation every two years. The city accepted into the network commits to long-term development and cooperation through a 4-year development program. In Finland, UCCN cooperation is coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Culture.  Financial obligations, such as network membership fees do not exist, but the application had to present comprehensive grounds for the planned activities, the resources required for them and long-term commitment. The implementation will be reported to UNESCO.  

The action plan in the field of Media Arts presented in the City of Oulu's application was drawn up in wide-ranging cooperation with, among others, the region's creative industries and media arts-related stakeholders. These actors included educational organizations, arts and culture experts and professionals, and business development and innovation operators. The application focused on bringing together initiatives, measures and events promoting the Oulu2026 Capital of Culture work. The role of the City of Oulu is to build coordination and cooperation and promote joint initiatives and projects with local and international partners. The coordination work of the network is the responsibility of Cultural Director Sami Ylisaari, appointed by Mayor Seppo Määttä, and the coordination work is part of the City of Oulu's cultural services.

Additional information:

Cultural Director Sami Ylisaari, City of Oulu, tel. +358 40 668 3578

Network of Creative Cities

About UCCN

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. Almost 300 cities around the world which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.

UCCN promotes knowledge sharing and the free flow of ideas to accelerate mutual understanding and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives. UNESCO programmes contribute to the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in the 2030 Agenda, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

UNESCO Creative Cities Network offers member cities opportunities to take advantage of: peer learning processes and collaborative projects that seek ways to harness cities' creative potential as a basis for economically, socially, environmentally and socially sustainable urban development. The cities accepted into the network commit to sharing best practices in international cooperation, developing partnerships, promoting creativity and creative industries, and strengthening participation and inclusion.