Mikael Aaltonen

Producer, Urb Festival
interviewed 26 August 2016 in Helsinki —

Urb Festival was originally conceived as an audience development project for Kiasma, Helsinki's Museum of Contemporary Art — and particularly as a way of bringing young people into the building. At its inception Urb was very linked to hip-hop culture and dance – marginal forms in a Helsinki that was still extremely monocultural – but today the festival has a big focus on emerging practices within urban art and situates itself somewhere on the border of art and popular culture. To some degree, its original mission remains: it's about contacting an audience younger than the typical Kiasma crowd, and to expand its reach it now runs a number of participation programmes with young people (concentrating on projects outside the normal educational environment, since, Mikael points out, this can cause bigger shifts for the participants in helping them to 'redefine their role in the school').

Key Ideas
An ageing audience

In Finland, as in many countries, the audience for culture is getting older — a fact especially notable in classical music and theatre. Mikael sees this as an open problem, and one that's linked to changing habits of consumption and presentation. He points to the music industry: sales for the music itself disappeared, and the money moved to live events. However, even these aren't necessarily the same as they were 30 years ago — there's been a swing toward larger scale concerts, something more like 'musical spectacle'. Part of the reason to follow younger artists, in Mikael's work, is because they bring their own views on how to sustain art in a changing world.

Venues + Festivals
Building Audiences
The future
Urb Festival as an audience development project
Venues + Festivals
Cooperation & projects
Culture is fragmenting
The future