On my second to last day at work here at The Spirit of Artova I had the pleasure to chat with Taneli Kainulainen, the chief producer of Arabia Street Festival. Taneli was in the production team last year as well when a group of Metropolia students of cultural management produced the event as a part of their studies. “I play in a street band called Hermanni Turkki, and it came naturally to me to take responsibility for the street music area. I meant to do the same thing this year but somehow I finally found myself as the chief producer. This has been my first event production, so I’ve learned a lot along the way, and it feels like I was studying the things I was doing as I was doing them but everything worked out well in the end.”
It’s a treat to listen to Taneli talk about how inspiring and riveting ASF is. “What motivates me in this kind of activity is that there are a lot of committed volunteers, you can do things in your own way, and you can have a concrete impact on the general look of the district. For some of the bands, this was one of their first performances or the first opportunity to perform in a bigger event and it has been great to have had the privilege of offering them that opportunity.”
Also, we talked about how Arabia Street Festival is fun and interesting thanks to its comprehensive content; different stands with themes of recycling, music and food were spread over a large area. When I asked whether it was difficult to produce an event this versatile with a minimal budget and a workforce consisting of volunteers, I got a surprisingly positive answer: “Our production method was really nice; everyone had a clear-cut area of responsibility that they took independently care of, and as a producer, I was the link between the various groups. We had everyone communicating and bouncing ideas off each other. The reason why this is so nice is that people are happy to volunteer to do things they are interested in, and there’s no financial pressure like there would be in a commercial event. Taikalyhty provided us with tents and bracelets free of charge and for the first time we had a one-person media team, Maria Hakala, who did a brilliant job with publicity. What’s especially important to remember when working with volunteers is that people are donating their time out of their free will and nobody is forced to carry tents or work as a roadie and so on. It should be respected and that respect should also be voiced.”
Arabia Street Festival will also be seen next year, but the production method and team are yet to be decided. Taneli will probably have some role then, too: “You’d hope that there could be something big, conspicuous and special also in the ASF of next year. It’s exciting to have the chance to do something that makes concrete changes to the general look of the district. There’s also a wish for more content for kids, as the district is a home to a great number of families with children.”
Minna the co-ordinator
Translation by Pigasus Translations.