Mahtava Merihaka working group. Photo: Maarit Hohteri

Mahtava Merihaka is the 2017 Helsinki Cultural Act

15.01.2018 13:00

The 2017 Helsinki Cultural Act award has been granted to the working group Mahtava Merihaka. Over a period of two years, the working group has highlighted Merihaka in a new way, both for local residents and other people in the city. Through their efforts, they have made the area more widely known. The prize is EUR 5,000.

The Culture and Leisure Committee's cultural division chose the winner on the basis of proposals requested from the previous years’ award winners. The Riviera cinema in Kallio and the Suvilahti DIY Skate Park were also given honourable mentions by the cultural division.

The grounds for the award were as follows: the Mahtava Merihaka working group – Joonika Kaukoranta, Mikko “Vilunki” Viljakainen and Liisa Tolonen – has launched a wave of communal activities and proven that there is life in concrete. The working group's activities have changed the rugged but beautiful area in the middle of the city from a great unknown into an integral part of the Hakaniemi region. The working group has arranged activities such as Betoni clubs, whose events have broken the boundaries of various art forms in an uninhibited and creative manner. In addition, it has been producing shadow events for the Flow Festival for two years.

It has also published the communal magazine Zine and a calendar with the motto “Grey is Good”, made souvenirs from concrete, and has created silk screen printed T-shirts and bags in the area's arts and crafts premises. The working group has also organised guided scenic tours for groups on the rooftops of Merihaka and art exhibitions in the lifts of buildings.

- The key goal of Mahtava Merihaka has been to make the immense creative richness of a small area visible. Most Betoni club performers have been genuine Merihaka artists, bands and DJs. Even other art offerings, such as the visual backdrops of events, or, for example, the photographs in the art exhibition The Graces of Brutalism, were by local residents. Voluntary local participants (seamstress, photographer, graphic artists and illustrators, karaoke singers, ticket vendors ...) have joined in the activities, as the residents of Merihaka have been inspired to arrange their own, unique set of events. As the events so vividly demonstrate, one of the area's key characteristics is the colourful group of creative actors, both art enthusiasts and professionals, who have settled in the neighbourhood. Mahtava Merihaka has become an organic platform for networking artists, while keeping the doors open to the rest of the city, members of the working group say.