Five years of urban arts

The ’do it yourself’ ideology of art and culture works as a counterbalance to consumer culture. In multicultural communities, art can have an enriching and integrating effect and increase understanding. The subURB project increases the opportunities for young people to participate in and influence society.

URB, the urban art festival of Kiasma Theatre, has from its inception been a diverse urban festival aiming to raise questions and evade definition. It has stretched the boundaries of art and culture and remained open to different artistic phenomena. The subURB art education project is a central part of the URB festival. Its aim is to bring suburban youth culture into focus and lower the threshold for people to come into contact with art. subURB develops new methods to encourage interaction between art institutions and youth in the suburbs. Young people participate in the project as art makers, producers and audience

Discussion about urban space and its use are key questions in subURB and the entire urban festival. The central goals for a multicultural society are cultural democracy and equality, participation, societal influencing and access. The cultural and social networks in cities are where new ways of expression are created. Many of the ideas originating in the streets have moulded contemporary culture, established art forms and visual culture. The roots of young people’s own art are in the streets and public spaces.

subURB reaches out to the young people in Eastern Helsinki in their own areas. The workshops led by art and dance professionals emphasise the significance of culture and art in young people’s lives. The courses and workshops create a space for expressing and discussing one’s thoughts, emotions and experiences, without avoiding difficult and topical issues. They form a base for creative interactive situations and may open up a window for young people into adulthood, while providing adults with a key to the emotions and thoughts of the young.

The workshops stress the connection between young people’s own productions and the international festival. The international main guest of the URB festival performs and teaches in the suburbs. The young participants will present their work and take part in the festival events. Performing at the festival gives the young people a channel to develop their skills in a more professional direction.

Culture and art are important tools for building one’s personal identity, social networks and membership in communities. The workshops give young people an opportunity for free expression, to experiment and develop cross-disciplinary urban forms of art and culture.

This year, subURB concentrates on the visual and performing arts. The visual arts workshops explore new technologies as a tool for personal expression and media literacy and criticalness towards the flood of images and information. The workshops also teach how to manage the contentual and technical aspects of the technologies.

In the performing arts, the focus is on dance and theatre. In the variety of basic and advanced dance courses, the participants can train in the basic elements of street dance. The theatre courses introduce the craft of acting and writing one’s own texts. This spring’s free courses offer, for example, introduction to theatre work, hip hop dance, DJ culture, and weekly and weekend courses on different themes of visual expression.

-Riitta Aarniokoski

URB04 – 5 years on the street level 28 July – 8 August
URB04, the urban art festival celebrates its fifth year on the street level. URB04 is an urban art festival directed particularly at young people and which discusses the various phenomena of urban culture. As before, the festival boasts a number of top Finnish and inter-national artists, such as, FlowMo, d’maestre, Farid Berki (France), Rubberbandance (Canada) and EthaDam (France). The marriage of text and theatre is presented by Individual and Zena Edwards (UK) together with musicians Jarmo Saari and Teppo Mäkynen.

The courses continue in June, more information at
The subURB project is part of the European Union Urban II community initiative programme.