SuomiAreena (The Arena of Finland) is the largest societal discussion event in Finland. SuomiAreena raises important topics and ideas for the whole society. In SuomiAreena’s summer atmosphere, you can meet, mingle and exchange ideas with everyone in urban Pori. Admission is free.
Purpose, vision and values
“The purpose of SuomiAreena is to be an arena for democracy and freedom of speech. SuomiAreena raises important topics and themes by discussing current affairs and societal issues. In SuomiAreena people can create a vision for what Finland and the world should be like in the future”. "Our values are openness, multi-voiced debate, equality, courage and relaxedness".
Founder and year of establishment
SuomiAreena was established in 2006 by initiatives from the Municipality of Pori and the Finnish Commercial Broadcasting Company MTV. Since 2018 SuomiAreena is owned by production house Mediahub Helsinki and the Municipality of Pori. MTV is the main media partner of SuomiAreena.
Mediahub Helsinki and the Municipality of Pori are the owners of SuomiAreena and they produce the festival together. Mediahub is responsible for the programme and the Municipality of Pori is responsible for the infrastructure. MTV is the main media partner of SuomiAreena. The festival steering group consists of the mayor of Pori, the CEO of Mediahub, the executive producer of SuomiAreena, the CBO Mediahub, the producer of SuomiAreena (Mediahub), and producer of SuomiAreena (Pori).
Location and length
The 5-day festival is located in Pori and takes place in the middle of July. SuomiAreena is held simultaneously with one of the largest jazz festivals in Europe, Pori Jazz. Pori is located 245 km from Helsinki and is the 10th largest city in Finland with approximately 85.000 inhabitants. SuomiAreena originated in Pori because of Pori Jazz and because of the belief that participants in Pori Jazz would be interested in SuomiAreena as well.
Size – number of participants and events
Last summer 67 000 visitors took part in 200 events. 300 organizers and 950 speakers formed the content of the debates. The estimate of participants is based on an attendee count in each event. The numbers are, therefore, only based on the events and not the whole tent area of the central square Kansalaistori.
Involvement of the political parties
All the parliamentary parties have at their disposal a slot for one hour on the main stage, free of charge during the week. All parliamentary parties share a tent in the central square.
Every year one overarching theme is identified. The themes for 2019 are future know-how and innovations. Anyone can apply for organising events. The festival secretariat calls applicants and listens to the event organiser’s ideas and, based on these conversations, the secretariat chooses the best applications and the theme of the year. Organizations can attend only if they have a societal interest, which is why attendance is negotiated case by case. Organizations are not allowed to sell anything.
Discussion events are organized by both private and governmental organisations, as well as companies and other interest groups. Speakers range from politicians to musicians, from company leaders to sports stars. The central square, Kansalaistori, hosts about 70 tents, where different groups can present their own themes and ideas. In addition to discussion events, there are several other events such as sporting events (a golf tournament, tennis tournament), children’s events, as well as open door events (city buildings, harbour, and airport). SuomiAreena also encompasses music, art, theatre, sports, architecture, etc.
SuomiAreena focuses mainly on the festival in July, but also has a concept called SuomiAreena Goes, which travels during the year. SuomiAreena Goes is 1,5 hour event with high-class discussion on varied topics. The latest discussion topics were public speaking skills and rhetoric.