The objective of the “New cultural models in the peripheral areas – Network of Ethno-Cultural and Heritage Organisations”-project was to create a network of ethnocultural centres and Finnish cultural organisations. The idea was to represent the autochthonous people of Karelia and to promote the survival of cultural diversity in Karelia as well as the cultural exchange between Karelia and Finland. The project also offered opportunities for the growth of the cross-border cultural tourism. The project was implemented between February 2013 and December of 2014 within the Karelia ENPI CBC Programme.
ECHO and the Ethnocentres
As a result of the project, a total of 18 ethnocentres were included in the created network and association of Ethno-Cultural and Heritage Organisations (ECHO) was established to Petrozavodsk.
ECHO has continued the joint cooperation of ethnocentres and the development of the ethnocentres, which is born out of the needs pointed out by the centres themselves. It also supports the centres in the creation of potential projects and evaluates their yearly success. By focusing on the ethnocultural centres, the project supported the Karelian cultural diversity. This network of ethnocultural centres would not have been born without the initial project, told Olga Zaitseva, the project manager and the executive director of the Juminkeko Foundation, which maintains the Juminkeko information centre of Karelian and Kalevala culture. “Keeping that in mind, the results of the project have been positive,” she continues.
Improving the teaching of ethnic languages
The project also managed to protect the languages, dialects and cultural traditions of the Karelian autochthonous people as folklore groups for children, for example, were established thanks to the project. Electronic boards were purchased to help the teaching of ethnic languages to children and a video produced promoting the language nest of Inari Sami. The video was distributed to every ethnocentre of the network. Altogether, the ethnocentres had better opportunities to communicate, cooperate and develop tourism together after the implementation of the project.