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The ministers of culture promote Baltic cooperation at the Latvian and Lithuanian song festivals
Leedu laulu- ja tantsupidu. Foto: Aet Maatee
Minister of Culture Indrek Saar will be attending the Latvian and Lithuanian Song and Dance Celebrations this weekend. On Sunday, July 8th, the three Baltic ministers of culture will sign an agreement related to the maintenance of the song festival tradition and another agreement to establish the Baltic Cultural Fund.
The minister of culture’s visit will start in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where the dance festival performance and song festival concert will be held on Thursday July 5th and Friday July 6th respectively. The gala concert of the Latvian song festival will take place in Riga on Sunday, July 8th. The celebrations in both countries are dedicated to the centenaries of their statehood.
“The song and dance festivals are a kind of miracle, which are based on the compelling power of the people’s will and self-initiative. The Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Song and Dance Celebrations may be structured quite differently, but we share a place on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This reminds us that our tradition is unique in the world. In order to ensure that these celebrations continue, we require even greater cooperation and an exchange of experiences. The celebration process must be executed in the best possible way and the festivals themselves must be very well organised. This is all included in this agreement,” Minister of Culture Indrek Saar said prior to his visit.
The agreement to be signed by the three ministers of culture is also related to the nature of the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The agreement will establish a joint cooperative committee that will provide meaning and continue to develop the festivals, while also strengthening cooperation.
The Baltic Culture Fund, with an annual budget of €300,000, will be established once the agreement is signed. It will also promote cultural cooperation between the Baltic states and help to internationalise Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian culture with the help of jointly organised cultural events. The fund will be managed by the three countries in a three-year rotation cycle and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia will be the first administrator.
Of the three Baltic countries, Estonia has the oldest song and dance festival tradition – the first song festival was held in Tartu in 1869 and almost 900 singers and musicians participated. The Latvian festival tradition started in 1873 in Riga, with the participation of a thousand singers and musicians. Lithuania has the youngest song and dance festival tradition in the Baltics – the first large celebration was held in Kaunas in 1924, with the participation of 86 choirs and about three thousand singers.
Today, tens of thousands participate in all three countries, and the audiences are in the hundreds of thousands.
At today’s August 30th meeting, the government approved the draft of the new Heritage Conservation Act and will send it to the Riigikogu for further discussion and decision-making. The new Heritage Conservation Act will greater a greater balance between the responsibilities of the owners and state in this field of activity and will pay more attention to the needs of the owners.
On Thursday, August 30th, the government decided to provide up to €10 million in funding of the future Estonian Capital of Culture. The Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, will submit the application for the funding for the Capital of Culture next spring, when the planning for the national budgetary strategy for 2021 to 2024 will start.