On 31 May, President of Latvia and Patron of the National Youth Song and Dance Celebration, Egils Levits, had an online meeting with organisers of the 12th nationwide festival: Reinis Suhanovs, Director, Stage Director of the Gala Folk Dance Concert, Māra Mellēna, Folklore Programme Director, Romāns Vanags, Chair of the Art Committee, Chief Conductor, Zanda Mūrniece, Folk dance project manager, and Juris Jonelis, Director of Kokle (Zither) Music Concert.
Romāns Vanags, Chair of the Art Committee, Chief Conductor of the 12th National Youth Song and Dance Festival, gave President Levits an update on how planning of various events is moving ahead and explained why celebration should not be moved for another year. E-festival is a format, which allows extending celebrations into late October, added Mr Vanags.
President of Latvia listened to members of the festival art council and expressed his opinion about the forthcoming festival, praising all the work that has been done up to this point by the organisers and participants: ‘I do believe there are no reasons to postpone the celebration. We need to finish the long work and move into the next cycle. We must show our appreciation to all group members and their directors. And I am happy to see that we are on the same page in this regard.’
Egils Levits said he supports e-festival as a solution for this year’s celebration and emphasised the enormous value of traditional festival: ‘Tomorrow government will have to decide whether due to entirely different format this celebration can be considered a ‘traditional festival’ and recorded as the 12th National Youth Song and Dance Festival, or it should be given a special designation due to the pandemic and mentioned as one of the events of the song and dance festival movement. If government decides that we consider this the 12th National Youth Song and Dance Festival, or a regular celebration, a special mention as to the format should be given to emphasise the original and traditional understanding of the Song and Dance Festival as the event, which brings everyone together and where song and dance are celebrated together.’
Meeting then moved on to a discussion about various practical sides of the forthcoming e-festival: how it will be perceived by participants and viewers. ‘We should not take this opportunity away from children who are eagerly awaiting the festival – they have worked hard to deserve the right to take part in it. Moreover, e-festival format is a nice opportunity to emphasise the unique characteristics of each region and every participant – every child will have opportunity to feel special and appreciated,’ Reinis Suhanovs stressed. Juris Jonelis told about how e-platforms will be engaged during the celebration and what viewer experience is going to be like.
‘Preparations for the 12th National Youth Song and Dance Celebration began in 2017. Last year we worked hard as volunteers to make this year’s celebration possible. Everyone is ready to take part and close this cycle. We must let the creative spirits flow and start the build-up for the next festival,’ said Zanda Mūrniece. Mrs Mellēna also added that ‘12th National Youth Song and Dance Celebration will be a special event in our national culture because of the remote format: we moved to remote platforms a year ago, everyone has been deeply affected by that’.