Open Call

Instructions for Artists

Open Call for the ARToulu art area, for artwork by professional artists

Art in public space in Oulu, the European Capital of Culture for the year 2026 

The European Capital of Culture 2026 brings us Oulu’s new ARToulu art area, where art will pop up and surprise you in unexpected places. Dozens of installed artworks will change the face of the Oulujoki estuary’s seven city neighborhoods, turning them into interesting and distinctive art areas. Some of the artwork will permanently remain part of the cultural landscape and the art area will continue to evolve even after the European Capital Cultural year.  The artwork for the ARToulu art area will be chosen through an open call for professional visual artists. This call is open to all professional artists living and working in Finland, as well as to artists in residency, particularly visiting from European countries. The deadline for the open call is August 12th, 2024.

The art area hopes to reflect the multiplicity of the visual arts. The selection process will focus on the originality of the artwork and on the creativity of how the artwork is integrated into its environment, including elements of surprise. We welcome applications from all fields of visual art, regardless of materials or techniques. For example, applications can also be made for practices in performance art, community art or sound art. 

The Oulu Artists Association (Oulun Taiteilijaseura -63 ry) project is part of the European Capital of Culture Year programme and it is financed by the Oulu Cultural Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Culture. The art project budget is around 230 000 euros. More information and instruction for the open call:


What is the ARToulu art area?

The art area is composed of several existing neighborhoods in Oulu. Art will be brought to urban areas, residential areas, nature, the general environment and to people as part of a living city culture. The artwork will be installed, or occur, in public spaces where they can be experienced by all. The placement of the artwork is not predetermined, so the artists can propose suitable locations for their work. The idea is to surprise the viewer with art in places we might not expect to find it.

The art area is composed of seven city neighbourhoods along the Oulujoki estuary. The neighbourhoods are: Oulu Centre, Pikisaari, Hietasaari, Toppilansaari, Toppilansalmi, Meri-Toppila and Tuira. The 2025 housing fair area in the Hartaanselänranta neighbourhood will not be part of the art area. The neighbourhoods represent the diversity of Oulu: layers of history, scales of social economics and changes in the environment due to construction. Orientation map of the area: kartta.ouka.fi/IMS/?mid=dsrba


What kinds of artwork?

One of the goals of this project is to challenge traditional concepts of public art – to challenge the kinds of art we are used to seeing and experiencing in public spaces. The underlying theme for the artwork in the art area is “art in surprising places”.  There are no other set parameters for the artwork’s subject, placement or realization process. However most of the artwork will be installed outdoors. If an artwork is situated inside, it must be accessible to everyone.

We hope to receive artwork proposals with broad ranges of size and budget. The artwork can be large and obvious or small and hidden.  The artwork can be permanent, temporary or ephemeral. We encourage projects that involve the local residents.

The artwork must be safe for both people and the environment. Permanent or long term installations should be as durable and maintenance free as possible. Duration does not necessarily mean long lasting without change. In this case, the duration of an artwork can include a planned gradual change over time.   


Who can apply?

The Open Call is open to all professional, visual artists living in Finland, as well as to European artists / artists living in Europe working in residency in Finland. The professionality of the applicant is judged by the curriculum vitae and portfolio included in their application. 

The Oulu Artist Association reserves the right to choose additional artworks through an extended call. The final selection will contain some artworks by artists living in other European countries, it therefore, may be necessary to extend the call for an additional exclusive selection process or international call.


Number of artworks and project budget

For the art area, we plan to realize approximately twenty artworks.  There is a budget of roughly 230 000 € budget reserved for artworks from the Oulu Cultural Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Culture. The project budget might still grow if additional finances are granted.

The artwork should fit into one of the following price ranges:
less than 5 000 €
5 000 – 15 000 €
15 000 – 25 000 €

The chosen artwork will be acquired by the ARToulu project unless arranged otherwise. The price of the artwork proposal is made up of an artist fee along with any possible material, travel, housing, transportation or other production fees.  The artists fee is comprised of the artists’ work including the on site installation / construction. The above mentioned costs must be detailed in the budget proposal, including any VAT taxes.

It is important to note that this project does not have its own budget to finance the establishment of new infrastructure such as lighting. If your artwork requires major machine work or other significant preparatory groundwork, it is important to include these costs in your budget proposal.

The artist fee can be paid as a recompensement for labor, if the material, travel, housing and transportation, and any third party fees are paid for within the budget. Acceptable costs and amounts including any possible budget overruns will be negotiated with the artist in a binding contract. If the artist has a business id (y-tunnus) payments can be made through an invoice. All costs should also be detailed in the invoice. If the artist does not have a Finnish tax card, they must be able to write an invoice.

Part of the artist fees and expenses can be paid once contracts have been signed and the work has begun in 2025. The remaining part of the fee including other prearranged expenses will be paid upon completion of the artwork. The terms of the contract, the amount of the payment and the compensation of other expenses will be agreed upon with the artists individually. The first budget proposal written in the application is an estimate of the total costs. The artist fee will be paid in accordance with a fair salary rate for artists.


What should be included in the application?

We will accept a maximum of two proposals / artist or artist group. Each proposal must be made in a separate application, one for each proposal.

The application must include:

  • contact information: name, telephone number, email address, postal address, country(s) of origin
  • artwork proposal
  • budget
  • condensed CV (maximum 2 pages)
  • portfolio (maximum 5 pages)

Illustrate your project proposal and include support material such as sketches of the proposed artwork or images of previous work. For this application process, the proposal does not need to be a detailed rendition – however, it is important that the proposal gives an accurate impression of the actual artwork.  Try to make your application as clear as possible.

Describe your artwork in a way that tells us:

  • What kind of artwork is it?
  • What materials is it made from?
  • Where will the artwork be situated, in which neighborhood and why?
  • What are the approximate dimensions of the artwork?

Provide information about the technical aspects and installation/construction necessary for the placement location: 

  • How will the artwork be hung or installed? What tools, structures or machines does it require? How long will the installation process take? Does the installation process require other things such as the closure of a road, or other traffic organization?
  • How have the safety of people and the environment been taken into account in the installation plan?
  • Estimate the lifespan of the artwork: is it a long term installation, temporary (give the estimated period) ephemeral or momentary.
  • How has the duration, the wear and tear, of the artwork in public space been considered? Give any possible maintenance instructions.
  • Please mention if the artwork involves local participation.

In your application break down the production costs of the artwork:

  • artist fee, which includes the on site installation/ construction of the artwork.
  • material costs
  • travel and housing along with other transportation costs
  • costs related to any possible assistant fees and/or machine work necessary for the production of the artwork

VAT tax if applicable should be included in the estimated production budget. Artist groups should detail the costs and fees per member, individually. 


Selection criteria for the artwork

The selection committee will take into account:

  • The artistic excellence of the concept of the artwork in relation to the parameters of the open call
  • The relationship between the artwork and its planned location for installation/realization
  • The realistic technical plan and safety aspects of the artwork

The selection committee will pay special attention to the balance of the whole art area and the distribution of artwork in each of the different neighborhoods.  Most of the artwork will be situated in the largest neighborhoods with large populations and currently, few existing artworks. The safety and durability of the artwork should be carefully considered throughout the installation / construction process including materials used and their impact on the environment. These are the central points that will be considered during the selection process. In addition, it is important to consider that local residents may be involved on some level, in some of the chosen artwork.


Participation of local residents

One of the project goals is for some of the chosen artwork to involve the local residents. Here are some examples of ways the locals can be included:

  • The artwork can be realized collectively, together with the residents, while the artist is responsible for the outcome of the artwork.
  • The nature of the artwork can be participatory. It can, for example, be interactive or the viewer can leave their mark on the piece.
  • The artist can collect material from the residents for an artwork, or the residents can influence the outcome of the artwork in some form be it material, structure or placement, according to the artist’s instructions.

The artist plays an active role in the collaborative work with the residents.


Planned schedule and selection process

The open call ends on August 12th, 2024 at 4pm. The applications will undergo a pre-selection process to eliminate any incomplete or notably irrelevant proposals. The curated selection process of the artwork will take place soon after the deadline. The selection of artwork will be made by curator Satu Oksanen, visual artist/curator Anna Ruth along with media artist and public art consultant Leevi Lehtinen from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

The pre-selected applications will be reviewed by the city of Oulu’s board of urban landscape (KKTR) and permits will be filed for eventual installation. The permit process applies to practical installation aspects such as the feasibility, safety and the possibility of installing the artwork in the desired location as well as opinions from the local residents as relevant. If necessary, the artists will be asked for further information or detailed plans regarding their proposals, for their permit. 

The participation of an artwork will be confirmed and a contract will be signed with the artist as soon as the installation permits have been granted. The applicants should be prepared for a time consuming procedure. The chosen artwork will be announced little by little, as the permits are granted and the contracts are signed. The artists will be informed about the progress of their artwork throughout the different phases of the process.

The production of the artwork will occur during 2025 and 2026. Our goal is to have the installation of the artwork completed by the spring of 2026. The time schedule can be adjusted to the particularities of the proposals and will be discussed with each artist individually.


How do I apply?

The application deadline is August 12th, 2024 at 4pm (GMT+2). The application must be sent by email. Any applications sent by other means, incomplete applications or late applications will not be considered.  Please read the instructions carefully and send in your application before the deadline.

Applications can be made in either Finnish or English. Please write the application in Finnish, if it is your dominant language.

The application must include all necessary information regarding the artist and proposal, for the selection process. The selection committee will not study the applicant’s websites or social media accounts, so please do not send links to your CV or portfolio. Only include links to information that is necessary to the proposal, and cannot otherwise be communicated in pdf form (such as for media art, sound art).

Application format requirements and instructions for submission:

  • Name your application file with your own name.
  • Check that your application includes all required information. Additional information cannot be added to your application, after it has been sent.
  • Send the application in one pdf file, as an email attachment. The attachment must not exceed 4 MB. Any information added in the message section of the email, or emails with additional attachments will not be regarded by the selection committee.
  • Send the application to: [email protected]
    Write your own name as the “Subject”. You will receive an automatic response confirming that your application has been delivered. 

Suggestions: Pdf files can be merged together using this site: www.sodapdf.com/pdf-merge
The size of your Pdf files can be changed here: smallpdf.com/compress-pdf


What do we want from the artists?

Due to the magnitude of the project and the limited framework of the organization, the artists will be responsible for the installation / construction of their own artwork. If the proposed artwork requires foundations, lighting, machinery etc, the artist is responsible for arranging these preparations. The Oulu Artists Association will provide assistance if necessary and/or possible. The artists should have adequate technical skills to ensure the stability, durability and safety for the realization of the proposal.


What happens to the art area after 2026?

The basis of the art area concept is that the artwork will stay in the area for its complete lifespan, possibly years. The Oulu Artists Association is not responsible for the maintenance or repair of the artwork. An artwork can be removed before its scheduled retirement date if it is destroyed or damaged due to, for example, vandalism or weather abuse. The artists association holds the right to move, relocate, remove or dispose of an artwork.

Some of the artwork will be donated to the Oulu Art Museum, these artworks might be a permanent or temporary part of the Oulu City collection. The art museum participates in the city’s acquisitions and might define any possible maintenance instructions for the preservation of an artwork. Artwork can also be donated or sold to other parties. Any possible sales are reverted to the project’s funding.


Producers

The ARToulu art area project is produced by the Oulu Artists Association the Oulun Taiteilijaseura -63 ry, which serves the professional visual artists of the Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu regions.

Oulu is the 2026 European Capital of Culture. The art area is made possible through the Exploring ART project which is part of the Oulu2026 Cultural and Cultural Climate Change programmes. It is funded by the Oulu Culture Foundation. More information: oulu2026.eu

The Ministry of Education and Culture granted this project an exceptional subsidy. In collaboration with The City of Oulu, The Oulu Art Museum, and the Arts Promotion Centre.


More information

Written inquiries regarding the open call can be sent to the email address [email protected] until May 31st, 2024. We will compile the questions and answers for the benefit of all applicants at this site: artoulu.fi/taidealue/faq

Inquiries will not be acknowledged after this date.