Mikko Vento – My home- town Lappeenranta

Enlivening culture and the city

The cultural venue Nuijamies delights culture lovers in the centre of Lappeenranta. From the very beginning, its activities have involved Development Manager Mikko Vento. He wants to make Nuijamies an increasingly interesting venue year after year for both performers and visitors.

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Nuijamies plays a significant role in Lappeenranta’s culture scene. Within its nostalgic walls, there is both a performance space equipped with modern technology and a cinema. They enhance the cultural offerings of Lappeenranta while also invigorating the cityscape.

The first steps in the current operations of the culturally and historically valuable building were taken at the end of commercial cinema operations in 2017, when the cinema premises became available for other uses. In the opinion of Mikko Vento, Development Manager of Nuijamies, Lappeenranta needed an open cultural space.

“When I moved to Lappeenranta over 20 years ago, there were a lot of events in the city, especially in the summer. However, they faded as some key people moved away and, as a result, the city’s cultural life quietened down. There was a clear need for a cultural venue like Nuijamies.”

A cultural venue for the benefit of all city residents

Converting the building into a more diverse cultural venue had been prepared at the grassroots level for some time. Since there was already an idea about the nature of the activities and it was known what needed to be done, the renovation progressed quite quickly with the support of a crowdfunding campaign.

The work was completed in September 2018, and the opening of Nuijamies gave Lappeenranta’s culture scene the boost it needed.

In Vento’s opinion, the good attitude of the decision-makers in Lappeenranta was of great importance to the success of the project. The city needs diverse cultural events, which Lappeenranta has well understood. This has also created an excellent starting point for the continuous development of operations.

“Nuijamies has been moving forward all the time. It attracts new actors who are great to cooperate with,” says Vento. “It has a positive and revitalising effect on the whole city.”

Success together

Mikko Vento’s work as the development manager of cultural venue Nuijamies includes duties like managing the organisation and creating networks. This is important in today’s operating environment, as cooperation produces significantly better results than working alone.

“When experts from different fields are involved in the activities, fresh and enriching perspectives are obtained,” Vento says. “For example, companies may not always be aware of the benefits of working with the makers of culture. Through cooperation, we quickly notice how surprisingly much the different fields have in common and how much smoother and nicer it is to build a cosy Lappeenranta by pulling together.”

In Vento’s opinion, one of Lappeenranta’s strengths is its ideal size. The city is not too big or too small. Thanks to this, it is easy to reach people, engage in conversation with them and build networks. Having an open mind and a positive attitude also makes others see the significance of cultural venue Nuijamies for the whole city.

“Lappeenranta-based companies, the city and Eksote have noticed that we are a local and national operator with which it is good to cooperate and create new things,” says Vento.

When it was established, the leading idea of Nuijamies was to act as an open cultural space. Mikko Vento has not yet said no to anyone who has wanted to perform there. His principle is that things can be made to work.

“If a swimming club is planning to hold a synchronised swimming competition on our stage, then unfortunately I have to say that it’s not possible. But this could be organised at the swimming hall or in the waters of Lake Saimaa,” Vento says with a laugh.

Of course, sometimes there are situations where he has to consider together with the performers whether the date they have proposed is appropriate. In this case, it is usually a question of whether the date is the best from a financial point of view.

“Things will work out when both parties are ready to listen to each other,” he says.

Days fly by

For Mikko Vento, working as the development manager of cultural venue Nuijamies is a real asset; it is very meaningful and offers opportunities to learn something new every day.

“You can never say that something is ready, because you can always think of new ways of doing things,” he says.

Job satisfaction is increased by a cheerful and straightforward approach. It is said that South Karelians are happy people, and this is certainly true in Mikko Vento’s case. His attitude to life is rooted in his experiences over the years and in his idea that everything will work out for the best.

“I’ve been domiciled in Lappeenranta since 2000, but also occasionally lived in Helsinki and Spain. I’ve tried to turn these experiences into good things in my life,” he says. “For example, the Spanish mentality shows in how I don’t take things too seriously and try to handle everything with a positive attitude.”

Mikko Vento is never bored. In fact he would like there to be more hours in a day. In addition to work, his days are filled with listening to music, writing and studying society and history. He also enjoys physical exercise.

“Physical activities were a challenge for me for a long time due to major physical problems, but now I can go to the gym again and do other sports,” he says happily. “The importance of this for overall well-being should not be underestimated, since the well-being of the mind and body go hand in hand.”

Poor health turned into a resource

Mikko Vento became seriously ill in autumn 2000, and this has changed his attitude towards life. He feels that falling ill can also be turned into a strength.

“I received good treatment, thanks to which I recovered from my illness, and I’m immensely grateful for it. I think that my illness gave me resources because the more you experience, the stronger you become. Life is a growth process that continues until the last breath.”

Vento intends to maintain his positive outlook on life in the future and to develop the organisation and operations of Nuijamies to better serve all lovers of culture.

“I’m involved in building a nice, lively and positive Lappeenranta and South Karelia,” he says cheerfully and continues: “Nuijamies can be developed a lot further. In addition to the current situation, we need to look 5–10 years ahead and plan how we can achieve our goals.”

Mikko Vento believes that the future looks bright both for himself and cultural venue Nuijamies: “If you do things well, tomorrow will bring more good things.”



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