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Glowing new job prospects for artists that light up our cities


With a ‘light artist’ business card, you’ll get compliments galore but may struggle to find a steady job. Yet the future’s looking brighter for several of this niche sector’s top artists, after pitching their talents to potential employers gathered in Stockholm at the express invitation of EURES.

On 9 June 2016, 14 light artists turned up at the headquarters of the Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film. Invited by Swedish EURES Adviser Wanna Spiridonidou, these men and women – from Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, UK and Lebanon – use outdoor lighting to enhance the safety, beauty and visibility of streets and buildings.

On the other side of the table were 21 light experts, mainly from northern Europe, who represent lighting festivals or deal with light in public spaces. A few of them were attending their second Swedish EURES event on this theme.

‘Our artists and experts mingled in a friendly atmosphere, reviewing portfolios and watching presentations,’ says Wanna, the meeting’s organiser. She is encouraged by early feedback from the experts, who hope to do business with several of the artists.


Artists’ perspective

‘The event led directly to some new projects, festivals and future collaborations,’ says Maria Baric, artistic director of the Maria Baric Company. This Finnish performing arts group is internationally famous for its unique light art created through fire puppetry. Maria also received an invitation to address the Future is Bright 2016 symposium in Serbia in October this year.

Mery Crystal Ra, an award-winning Finnish-Estonian glass and lighting artist who works extensively abroad, first contacted EURES in 2013 after seeing adverts for public lighting competitions. She says the June meeting was a great opportunity for all the artists to network with representatives from lighting festivals and European cities.

‘I’m also benefiting from the event, thanks to new invitations to enter lighting competitions, create art installations or to speak at conferences,’ adds Mery Crystal. She has heard that other colleagues there received similar propositions.


Urban lighting expert

Potential employers at the meeting included Jani Ruotsalainen, City of Light coordinator in Jyväskylä. Finland’s seventh-largest city is famous for its 90-plus permanently illuminated locations – such as bridges, parks, buildings and works of art – as well as experimental illuminated locations and lighting installations.

‘The quality of the light artists at the June meeting was excellent,’ says Jani. ‘I’ve already contacted a few, with a view to commissioning light installations for our City of Light event in September 2017.’ He also hopes to collaborate with some of the experts he met there for light projects or events.

Jani adds that he has worked with Wanna since 2012, when EURES organised the ‘Portfolio review for light artists’ in Umeå, Sweden in 2012. His city co-organised the 2016 Stockholm meeting, helping to market the event internationally and to select the artists who would attend.

‘Because individual light artists struggle to find jobs in their sector, EURES networking events like the one in Stockholm are vital,’ he concludes. ‘They raise artists’ profile and can lead to collaborations between groups of artists or businesses in urban lighting projects.’


Related links:
Living & working in Finland

Living & working in Sweden

Arbetsförmedlingen, Sweden's Public Employment Agency

LUCI (Lighting Urban Community International)


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