Today, on July 8th, the ministers of culture of the three Baltic states will meet in Riga in order to sign an agreement related to the maintenance of the song and dance festival traditions in the three countries and another agreement to establish the Baltic Cultural Fund. In the evening, they will attend the final concert of the Latvian song festival together.
This week, song and dance festivals dedicated to the centenaries of their republics were held in both Lithuania and Latvia. Dace Melbārde, the Latvian Minister of Culture, Liana Ruokytė-Jonsson, the Lithuanian Minister of Culture and Indrek Saar, the Estonian Minister of Culture attended events related to the Lithuanian Song and Dance Celebration in Vilnius. In Riga, an agreement related to the maintenance and development of the song festival tradition in all three countries will be signed in Riga, along with agreement establishing the Baltic Cultural Fund.
“Cooperation between the Baltic countries has significantly intensified, but our common undertakings can be even more precisely focused. Both agreements help to internationalise our culture and strengthen our ties through the development of our song and dance festivals, which are our premier national cultural events,” Minister of Culture Saar explained.
The tradition of Baltic song and dance celebrations have been included in the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2003. This requires that each state have a separate plan of action and commonly planned undertakings.
“The miracle of our song and dance festivals is based on the will and self-initiative of our people, but our cooperation related to maintaining and developing this tradition must become more systematised. Together we will be able to vigorously introduce the festivals to the rest of the world and institute working solutions for executing the festival process. We can also share our experiences related to the organisation of the celebrations with each other,” Saar said.
The Baltic Cultural Fund, with its €300,000 annual budget, will strengthen the internationalisation of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian culture with the help of cultural events that are jointly organised abroad. Each country will contribute €100,00 annually to the fund.
“Establishing new international cultural contacts is extremely important for our region. Concerts, exhibitions, festivals or international events with a Baltic focus can all contribute to the reputation of our countries. For creative people, professional contacts are vital in the creation of relevant work,” Saar added.
After the agreement establishing the Cultural Fund is signed, a group comprised of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian experts will be created and the statutes and rules of procedure established. Annual grants will be made starting in 2019. The three countries will manage the fund in rotation, each for a three-year term. The Cultural Endowment of Estonia will be the first to assume administrative responsibility.
In addition to signing the agreement, the ministers of the three countries will attend the gala concert of the Latvian Song Celebration called "On the Path to the Stars" in Riga. This will be the culmination of a week of great celebrations in the Latvian capital.