Brent Cassidy is an Irish American musician, artistic director and co-founder of The Irish Festival of Oulu. Together with some friends he founded the first Irish festival in Northern Europe in 2006. He also performs and runs other cultural projects. The Irish Festival of Oulu was granted TelepART Mobility Support in 2019.
Why Oulu? Why is it important that Oulu get to see to Irish artists and musicians?
I arrived here initially as an exchange student and ended up here. I think Irish culture belongs to everybody. Oulu is really north and we have a big fan base here. We have about 8000 people attending the festival every year. People like it and travel throughout Finland, Russia, Norway, Italy and the rest of Europe to experience The Irish festival of Oulu. Culturally, it is something unique and also brings revenue to the local economy. We support our local partners and businesses. It’s a positive international cultural aspect of the city of Oulu.
The Irish Festival of Oulu was granted TelepART Mobility Support in 2019 for storyteller Órla McGovern and singer-songwriter Niceol Blue’s performance. Could you tell us a bit about the performances at Culture Centre Valve?
Órla McGovern and Niceol Blue are both from Galway. They performed in storytelling events and music interactions. They brought an important aspect of Irish cultural heritage to the festival. The events were brilliant and went really well. Big crowds came to see them perform. All of our events were well attended and sold out.
What was the TelepART-funding’s role in the project?
The grant was very important because our festival is funded by sponsorships and grants. The grant helped us to bring the artists to the festival and paid for their flights and accommodation. Since we are a nonprofit, we try to break even.
How has the TelepART-funding enabled the development of The Irish Festival of Oulu?
When we can cut our expenses and have grants paid for flights, accommodation and venue costs, we can bring high quality and professional events to the festival. Without the support it would be difficult to organise.
Have you gotten any new work opportunities or collaborations after organising these events?
We worked closely together with Órla McGovern and Niceol Blue, the city of Galway and Oulu. Galway was the European capital culture in 2020. Oulu is applying to be the European culture of capital in 2026. When you collaborate and organise networks you can further do interesting international cross-cultural projects.
Why is international mobility important?
It makes the world a better place. International mobility gives us new perspectives and new opportunities to learn and work. It makes international collaboration local. It also brings new flavours, experiences and networks to the local community. It is very important, because the more opportunities musicians and cultural people have the longer we can keep doing what we do.
Learn more about TelepART here.
Photos from Órla McGovern and Niceol Blue’s performance at The Irish Festival of Oulu
Text: Sara Nguyen
Photo: Jukka Parvianen