Minister of Culture Indrek Saar (SDE) said on Wednesday that the program for Estonia's Song Festival will be drawn up by program work groups and the festival's chief directors, who will decide whether the festival will include any foreign-language songs.
"I think that a minister cannot — and I in this role certainly do not want to — dictate what the Song Festival's repertoire should be, same as I will not do this with other institutions which operate under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture," Saar said in his answer to an inquiry made by Mart Helme, chairman of the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).
"Choices in repertoire, artistic choices must be made by creative people and there are program work groups and chief directors at the Song and Dance Festivals who will make these choices," Saar was quoted by Riigikogu spokespeople as saying.
The minister said that if the program work groups and chief directors are of the opinion that references to some other culture or language should be used, it is definitely their free choice to do so.
Saar cited as an example the program of the 2009 Dance Festival, which included the Russian-language song "Ah Vy, Seni, Moi Seni."
The program of songs to be performed at the 2019 Song Festival became a topic of debate a few weeks ago when Tallinn deputy mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) suggested on "Suud puhtaks," a debate program on ETV, that the national song festival's repertoire should include at least one Russian-language song in order to appeal to Estonia's Russian-speaking population.
The 2019 Song and Dance Festival, which will mark the 150th anniversary of the first song festival in 1869, is scheduled to take place July 5-7. The repertoire for the jubilee festival is to be decided by this fall.
Editor: Aili Vahtla