This year, on Tampere’s 243th anniversary, the Tampere Award was granted to musician and artist Mikko Alatalo and Master of Laws Pekka Paavola. Alatalo was honoured for his considerable contributions for the music scene of Tampere and Paavola for his work for Tampere’s urban development. Both award winners symbolise the long history of Tampere’s urban and cultural development.
Every Tampere Day, the City of Tampere traditionally bestows an award on distinguished individuals whose life’s work or activities have contributed to the development of the city and the well-being of its residents or increased the attractiveness of Tampere as the most popular city in Finland. The city has awarded this prize since 1959 to a total of 80 individuals.
Mayor Anna-Kaisa Ikonen and the Chair of the Council Ilmari Nurminen presented the recipients with the Tampere Awards and the first-class gold medals on Saturday 1 October 2022 at the Tampere Day reception at the Old City Hall.
The Tampere Award is a sculpture called Tammerkosken kuohu (“Foams of Tammerkoski rapids”) by artist Markku Salo, a highly functional and eye-catching marriage of kerbstone as a symbol of the rough walls of factory buildings and glass as a symbol of the foams of Tammerkoski.
Mikko Alatalo has held a major role in the music scene of Tampere and the whole of Finland. He has written more than 700 songs, many of which are among the best-known works of Finnish pop and schlager music. He is also a former member of parliament and the Tampere City Council.
Alatalo’s musical career started with collaborations with Juice Leskinen and Harri Rinne in 1971, when the trio formed a band called Coitus Int. In 1975, Alatalo began performing solo. In his songs, he painted a picture of the Finnish countryside and migration. He became popular nationwide after winning the Syksyn Sävel song contest four times. Alatalo is also known for his work in television and, in particular, the Tammerkosken Sillalla programme, where he and 70 other artists led ordinary people into song for seven years while representing Tampere.
Alatalo is also known for his children’s songs, including Känkkäränkkä. In his songs, Alatalo talks about emotions and everyday things that may seem confusing in a way that children understand. He was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Finnish children’s music in 2021. Alatalo was also granted the Finnish National Prize in 2021 and the Iskelmä Finlandia award in 2022.
Pekka Paavola has had a long career in the service of the City of Tampere. He served as Mayor of the City of Tampere between 1969 and 1985 and, after that, as a member of the City Council and Chair of the Council. Paavola held various positions in Tampere for nearly half a century.
In his time, Paavola was a major factor in the modernisation of Tampere and the city’s urban development. The Näsinneula observation tower and Särkänniemi amusement park were opened during his term as Mayor. Both are tremendously important for the tourism of Tampere.
Over Paavola’s career, the decisions to build the Metso library and the Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere were also made. He also played a major role in the initial stages of planning Hervanta.
Tampere shows solidarity to its twin city Kyiv
The City of Tampere awarded six first-class gold medals of merit this year. The medals were awarded to the coordinator of the food aid of Tampere Lutheran Parishes Marja Pelkonen, Senior Specialist of Aviation and Transport Marja Aalto, Director Harri Ojala, Director of Film Tampere Ilkka Rahkonen and Project Director Tero Tenhunen. With the medals, the city wants to highlight the new Tampere of the 2020s and the current people of Tampere who have contributed to the fact that Tampere is a developing, attractive, progressive and innovative city.
In addition, the City of Tampere wants to show solidarity with Tampere’s twin city Kyiv and its residents in their struggles in an unbelievably difficult situation by awarding the Mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, a first-class gold medal of merit.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going on for over six months. All this time, Vitali Klitschko, the Mayor of Kyiv, has done his best for the residents of his home city, to protect them and to support their hope and faith in the future. He has set an example and unified the population in a situation that no country, city or person should ever have to face. With the medal awarded to Mayor Klitschko, the City of Tampere wants to show solidarity with its twin city Kyiv and its residents in a difficult situation. Kyiv has been a twin city of Tampere since 1954. Ambassador of Ukraine to Finland Olga Dibrova accepted the award on behalf of Vitali Klitschko.
The urgency to help those in need has increased
Marja Palkonen, the coordinator of the food aid of Tampere Lutheran Parishes, is being honoured for her efforts for the Tampere residents in need. Palkonen has made the food bank of Tampere Lutheran Parishes into a modern logistics centre that provides extensive food aid. She has worked tirelessly and put her heart into building a strong network around the operations. At the same time, she has given voice to those who are not otherwise heard in public discussion.
The food bank is a logistics centre of Tampere Lutheran Parishes located in Nekala. The food bank collects and processes all the leftover products donated by the commerce sector and industry. More than 214,000 meal bags were distributed through the food bank in 2020, which corresponds to a total of 107,359 instances of support.
The constantly growing network of the food bank includes about 50 operators that provide food aid in different parts of Tampere. One of the most significant partners is the Finnish Red Cross.
The war in Ukraine and inflation have caused the prices of food to increase. Higher food prices have increased the number of those in need of food aid in Tampere. The need for aid has grown among families with children, young families and those living on their own, in particular.
Good flight connections, audiovisual productions and a new arena increase Tampere’s attractiveness
Senior Specialist of Aviation and Transport Marja Aalto and Director Harri Ojala are being honoured for their contributions to the accessibility and flight connections of Tampere. Thanks to the long-term efforts of Marja Aalto and Harri Ojala, Tampere-Pirkkala Airport became the home of AirBaltic and the super modern, low-emission Airbus A220 with a value of about EUR 90 million. Direct flights from Tampere to Frankfurt, Copenhagen, London, Málaga, Munich, Oslo, Riga and Rhodes started last autumn. Aalto and Ojala played a key role in this launch. Their efforts have been supported by the strong business life in the Tampere region and international events in Tampere. The fact that the users of the airport include various logistics companies, the Finnish Red Cross and the Satakunta Air Command has also helped.
Aalto has led the air transportation development project of Business Tampere and, currently, she is the Senior Specialist of Aviation and Transport at Visit Tampere. She has also played a part in hosting the international Connect 2022 event in Tampere as the first city in Finland to do so.
Harri Ojala is a Director at Business Tampere in charge of investments, global operations and aviation development. In addition to accessibility, Ojala and his team have had an important role in attracting investments, improving exports and developing innovation ecosystems. In 2012–2016, Ojala worked at the Tampere Chamber of Commerce, where he was involved in the development of air traffic.
Ilkka Rahkonen, the Director of Film Tampere, is honoured for his contributions to Tampere’s business life and the development of the audiovisual industry. Through his work, Rahkonen has had a major role in developing Tampere as a significant location for shooting films and series. Based on an initiative made by him, Aku Syrjä and Ilkka Hynninen, Tampere started developing a production incentive in 2016. The incentive, introduced in 2018, has attracted more than one hundred productions to the city.
Thanks to his determined efforts, Tampere also became an international city of cinematography when Dual, a Hollywood production of producer Aram Tertzakian from XYZ Films, started shooting in the city in the autumn of 2020. In November 2021, XYZ Films, the City of Tampere and Film Tampere signed an agreement about new American film productions in Tampere. Becoming a city of films is a major win for Tampere both with regard to the direct income from the productions and the image of the city.
Rahkonen is the Director of Film Tampere at Business Tampere. Film Tampere is a regional industrial policy programme that aims to develop and grow the region’s audiovisual industry. In addition, it serves both domestic and international productions in cooperation with local companies and service providers.
Project Director Tero Tenhunen from the City of Tampere is being honoured for his work for the new multi-purpose arena. Tenhunen has had a key role in the construction of Nokia Arena. After many years of effort, a new world-class multi-purpose arena was completed on top of the railway, bringing Tampere to a new level as an attractive city of events and live entertainment. Tenhunen has been involved in the urban development projects of Tampere since 2009. He is in charge of the City of Tampere’s Five-star city centre development programme.