Literature Tourism Products Developed with Spot-lit Project Support

The Spot-lit project sought ideas for developing literary tourism products and services in Kainuu. In the so called Product Incubation Program for literary tourism, a wide range of expert services will be offered for the selected participants. In addition, there was direct funding available for product Development, up to € 10,000 per applicant. 7 applications were selected.

A Series of Workshops Followed by an Open Call

The Spot-lit project, developing literary tourism in Kainuu, has organised a series of workshops during winter of 2019–2020, after which a call for applications for participating the literary tourism product development program was opened.

The purpose of this call for proposals was to find and fund ideas for developing new literary tourism products and services in Kainuu and to offer a wide range of supporting expert services to the selected parties. The direct funding for the product development process to be awarded was up to € 10,000 per applicant.

A total of 14 applications were received for the product development program, with a wide  range of themes and measures presented in the applications. A total of seven ideas could be funded, leaving several good product ideas to be funded from some other source.

Each of the selected operators will be contracted and will then start implementing their proposed activities in accordance with the agreed timetable. In addition, joint meetings will be organised for the participants of this so called Product Incubation Programme, as well as the necessary consultation and support for production of high-quality literary tourism products.

Also the networking of the selected participants and development of joint marketing and sales are supported. Applicants who have been left without product development funding in the application round can also participate in the joint activities as seen feasible.

Product Development Ideas Awarded

Idän Taiga Association

Idän Taiga association has about 60 member companies mainly located in Kuhmo and Suomussalmi areas in Eastern Kainuu. Joint marketing and sales are done under the name Wild Taiga. The member companies of Idän Taiga association offer opportunities to hike in magnificent, unspoiled nature, watch and photograph wildlife, and also enjoy cultural activities.

Idän Taiga association is a well-established organisation with a good networking model for product development as well as joint marketing and sales, both for domestic and foreign markets. Literature tourism suits our product selection of nature and culture products quite perfectly!

Our Literary Tourism Plans:

The current development activities are meant to bring the Kalevala forth in the member companies’ products and services in a new way. This will also support the status of the newly established status of Kuhmo city as one of UNESCO cities of literature.

The network of member companies participating these actions has already been defined and the work has been started. During spring and summer 2020 they will produce the product descriptions for both domestic and foreign tourists and set the prices.

Also test trips for both domestic and foreign experts/ sales agents will be carried out. The products will then be adjusted accordingly and marketing launched in full variety.

Culture cooperative G-voima/ Vaara Collective

Cultural cooperative G-voima was founded in 2006. Our activities focus on performing and visual arts as well as event production. Vaara Collective is a performing arts collective founded in 2014, producing high quality creative performing and applied art locally and nationally.

Our home base is at Generaattori (in English, “the Generator”, house of performing arts situated in the centre of Kajaani. Generaattori is managed by G-Voima, and the space is shared by contemporary dance production group Routa Company, Kajaani Amateur Theatre and Vaara Collective.

Our operations are quite diverse, annually producing 5-10 theatre and dance premieres, guest performances, residencies, training, concerts, discussion events and other events.

Our Literary Tourism Plans:

In summer 2019, we launched our first LT product; the Eino Leino cruise on SS Kouta with actor Sami Sainio as late poet Eino Leino. This product was tested during autumn 2019 and will be offered for the whole summer season 2020. However, this product is tightly place based and may not take large audiences due to the ship size.

Now we want to widen our range and develop a whole product family related to poet Eino Leino, suitable for different environments and audiences. At this point, most of the products are based on the actor performance of Sami Sainio, who has already got deep into the soul landscape of Eino Leino, together with producer Veikko Leinonen.

We have included Luonnollisesti Oulujärvi LP, a small family business offering programme services in the nature of Kajaani region, as our cooperation partner. Also other potential partners are welcomed to arrange the production and sales of this coherent product family.

Vienan Portti Ltd

Vienan Portti Ltd is a start-up company located in a remote Vartius village in Kainuu. The estate is close to the Russian border, with only a few kilometers’ distance. The history around the farm and surroundings is thick with stories to be shared.

The company is based on an old family estate with history tied to Viena Karelian culture and the Karelianism phenomenon. A variety of literature has been collected from the Viena Karelian villages. Ancestor of the current owners, Eljas Ahtonen (better known as “Rimmin Uljaska”, even acted as the model for artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, as painting Väinämöinen for his famous Aino triptych!

The owners’ plan is to offer accommodation and programme services for tourists. Also a café-restaurant serving Viena Karelian delicacies will be opened. The authentic history of the farm, the vicinity of Russian border and several historical/ mythical destinations give a certain appeal to it all.

Our Literary Tourism Plans:

The product developed is a free mobile game “VIENA – the great Kalevala adventure” with an adventurous spirit. The game will be based on old Kalevala stories intertwined with the authentic local history and locations. The game will be designed to have a touristic appeal and is aimed to introduce the themes, trigger interest towards and thereby increase the tourism appeal of the region.

The free download will help spread the game and trigger interest towards the destinations and history of Kainuu widely.  The game will be bilingual and published in Finnish and in English, therefore also suitable for both domestic and international markets. Also place based virtual experiences are developed on a continuous basis, allowing the future guests experience Kalevala related VR reality in just about the authentic surroundings.

Eino Leino house Foundation

Poet Eino Leino was born in 1878 in Paltaniemi, where the “Eino Leino tradition house”, built according to Leino’s childhood home, serves today as a the place to showcase the poet’s life and extensive production. The tradition house is maintained by Eino Leino House Foundation.

Main tasks of the foundation are to rent the house out and promote cultural work related to the house and its surroundings. One of the important tasks of the foundation is also to support research related to both Elias Lönnrot and Eino Leino and publication of related literature and presenting it in various forms.

The Eino Leino House is rented out for various occasions, especially summer weddings there are popular. During the summer holidays, the house also hosts a café, a summer theatre and other events. In summer 2019 the summer performances reached a totally new level, though. Cajanus – a Giant Opera was performed in open air at the Eino Leino House. The cast involved up to 80 Dutch and Finnish singers, actors, and dancers. The international performance was also subtitled.

Our Literary Tourism Plans:

With the support from Spot-lit project, Eino Leino house foundation plans to write, direct and pilot one of the cornerstones of Finnish literature, story of Kullervo, as a play. The play will make Kalevala, the life and production of Elias Lönnrot as well as the Kainuu region known to the audience. The play will include songs and dances and bring Kalevala story telling tradition to the modern day.

The bigger entity will be planned so that parts of it or for example the songs may be performed separately and in different environments besides the bigger stage. A shorter version suitable for school tour will also be made available.

Veikko Huovinen society

Veikko Huovinen (1927 –2009) was a novelist who lived in Sotkamo in the Kainuu region. He was a forester by training and practised this profession in 1953-1956. After that, he entered on the career of a free writer. His writing is known for its realism, pacifism, sharp intellect, and especially the peculiar humour. Huovinen observed and analysed the world closely, often through satire.

Huovinen wrote more than thirty books. Many of his works are based in the Kainuu region, in his own soul landscapes. Veikko Huovinen society was founded in 2007 as a birthday gift as the novelist turned 80 years, to honour, cherish his life work, and make it known.

Our Literary Tourism Plans:

The sites related to Huovinen in Sotkamo include his grave found in Sotkamo, as well as a statue “Havukka-ahon ajattelija’ by artist Nina Terno and a memorial forest dedicated for him. The Huovinen society also arranges many kinds of annual activities. The most concrete sign of Huovinen is yet a replica of his study, which is open for the public in summertime. The items in Huovishuone have all been brought from the original office from his former home located nearby and the scenery opening from the window is almost the same as the original!

By means of the current development activities, Veikko Huovinen society plans to develop their current main product, the study of Veikko Huovinen, for new purposes and offering year-round activities. In addition, new guided tours based on storytelling will be launched with co-operation partners. Connected to this process is also raising the forgotten writers Heikki Meriläinen and Viena Korhonen of Sotkamo into public awareness.

Kainuun Opisto Oy

Kainuun Opisto is a community college and course centre open for everyone and offering many opportunities. The institution is located in Paltamo, on the shores of Lake Oulujärvi. They offer conference and training services, facilities for parties as well as accommodation and catering services. The story of the institution goes back more than 100 years ago.

Our Literary Tourism Plans:

The aim is at planning tours of 1-4 days to destinations around Kainuu region, which Elias Lönnrot has visited as he was the district doctor and he was collecting the poems for the Finnish national epic Kalevala. A comprehensive study on the topic was released already in 1998, on which the current work will be based on. The goal now is to combine literature with the culture, landscapes and nature of the destinations and thereby bring the tourists a broader understanding of the literature and trigger more and deeper interest towards it.

In addition to culture (music, theatre) and literature, the tour products will involve different kinds of services, such as wellness, exercise, traditional medicine (Kalevala style), nature experiences etc. Of course, also transport, accommodation and meals will be arranged.

After the background work, clear product/ route descriptions will be produced and further information offered online, so that the products will be found better and easy to sell. The material will also enable the interested tourists to explore the topics more deeply.

The products are targeted both for domestic and international audience, since the work of Elias Lönnrot has given content and inspiration to also international authors and artists, also helping to give birth to other national epics.

Suomussalmi municipality

Suomussalmi municipality is located in the northern part of Kainuu region, bordering Russia. Suomussalmi is known for its pristine nature and strong cultural sector, not to even mention the history of the area; Raate village in Suomussalmi was the place of decisive battles during the Winter War in 1940.

Hossa national park in the farthest corner of the municipality invites you to experience both its gentle and mystical side. The beauty of the easily negotiable paths amid the pine trees leading from one ridge to the next and the crystal-clear waters are a joy to behold. The landscape’s mysticism derives from the ancient paintings of Värikallio and the monumental canyon lake Julma-Ölkky.

The Finnish nature has always been an inspiration for artists. Nature and nature tourism are gaining new value these days. Supporting the distinctive culture of the region and developing the area of Hossa national park are emphasised in the municipal plans. In the area of the national park, the municipality is working closely together with several local companies.

Our Literary Tourism Plans:

The development activities aim at planning and piloting a storytelling boot camp in the area of Hossa national park, bringing 10-12 writers from literature, theatre and movie industries in for 5 days in 2021. If found feasible, this will be continued as an annual event.

The boot camp will combine traditional residency model with new ways of working, possibly creating novel, cross-sectoral development ideas and networks and interesting story lines. It will be about creating new contents at the international, creative writing camp for professional writers, but also about interactive public events, that will inspire and help new writers.

The public events include a storytelling/ scriptwriting training event, where the participants could discuss their own scripts with professionals and a bonfire event where a famous writer will tell about his/ her writing process.  The open events will be broadcasted online.