Finland's Ourvision gives immigrants a voice

by Steve Holyer 68 views

Plans are in “full swing” for the second annual Ourvision Song Contest at the International Cutlural Center Caisa in Helsinki. The contest takes its inspiration from the Eurovision Song Contest which was created of course more than 50 years ago to promote cultural exchange and friendship between nations in a war torn Europe. The Ourvision contest held in Helsinki is open to Finnish immigrants, giving them a showcase for their talents and cultures. It will also hopefully promote cultural understanding between immigrant groups and long-time Finns.

Eurovision Song Contest fans who were in Helsinki may remember the Ourvision events which were part of the cultural offerings the city staged around the Eurovision Song Contest last May. The Ourvision Contest was such a success last Spring that organizers hope to expand the contest to a larger venue this year. The regions that will be represented in the 2008 Ourvision Contest include include Asia and Oceania; Africa; South, Central and North America; the Middle-East, and Europe. The winner stands to take home a prize of 2,500 EUR and make a a demo recording. The next Ourvision final (which will follow several Semi Final rounds) will take place on April 18, 2008.

After the the results in the traditional Eurovision Song Contest have been announced in recent years, reactions in several countries have been against a perceived pattern of bloc voting and diaspora voting. Such discussions are important if the Song Contest is to continue to grow and evolve (as reflected in recently announced format changes). However some of the more mean-spirited discussions of bloc and diaspora voting seem to uncover outright xenophobia and a deep seated resentment towards immigrant populations around Europe that goes way beyond a Song Contest. The issue is complex, but if a Song Contest can promote friendship and cultural exchange then the Ourvision Song Contest in Finland appears to be one strong attempt to pave the way towards better understanding.