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In Memorian Juha Vakkuri

Our colleague and friend Juha Vakkuri died of cancer on 8 March 2019. Juha had worked at Yle The Finnish Broadcasting Company for many years and was a true IMZ Member. We thank Aarno Cronvall and Hazel Wright for sharing their memories of Juha with us and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and colleagues!

  • In Memorian Juha Vakkuri | Copyright: © Ville Juurikkala

    © Ville Juurikkala

JUHA VAKKURI, 2.12.1946 - 8.3.2019

Juha made his MA in literature at the University of Helsinki and started his career as dramaturg in Mainos TV. In 1971 he started to work for United Nations, first in Lusaka and then in New York. He returned to Mainos TV 1975 and started as Head of International Productions.

Juha was appointed to Head of International Coproductions in the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE, in 1983. This started a flourishing time in YLE. More and more international contacts and coproductions - many of them because of the IMZ. Juha was taking YLE to an important partner in TV business. Music and culture were very close to him and the IMZ as an organisation and with great colleagues and friends was a very important part in his life. He continued in YLE till 1997 when he left and established a company called Omnia Mea Arts. He was still many years active with international productions.

He had started his writer’ s career already 1971 and he wrote novels, poetry, books about Africa and European countries, people and plays for television and radio etc. He has written more than 40 books.

Juha’s great passion was Africa. He established in Benin the Finnish-African Culture Centre, Villa Karo in 2000. The name relates to his late son Karo. The amount of visitors is in thousands and the amount of artists and students presenting different areas of arts is more than 500 so far. They get scholarships from different foundations in Finland. Juha was the first Executive Director and then Head of the Board. He spent about ⅓ of the year in Benin and he had a house there.

Juha was writing and working actively for the whole of his life. He was a many times awarded writer, intellectual debator and a real cosmopolitan with friends in numerous countries. He enjoyed life with his family and friends. Good food and wine with relatives and friends was one of his particular passions with an occasional cigar to top the evening.

Juha Vakkuri knew how to live an active and full life with music and art, family and friends at the centre.

- Aarno Cronvall

I remember a coproduction between YLE and NVC Arts of Wagner’s ‘Der Fliegende Hollander’ that was recorded at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. A number of executives from NVC travelled by air, sea and train to the northern location of Savonlinna and Juha managed to make the trip exciting not just for the opera and the location but particularly the crayfish supper at his home. A new experience for us all. It was a pleasure working with him.

- Hazel Wright

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