Paide opinion festival attracts 10,000 attendees

Party leaders of all the main political parties in Estonia at this year's Arvamusfestival, albeit four of them obscured. Facing the camera from left, Andres Herkel (former Free Party leader), Jüri Ratas (Centre) and moderator Taavi Eilat. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Some 10,000 festival-goers gathered in the central Estonian town of Paide on Friday and Saturday, to take part in the sixth annual Arvamusfestival ('opinion festival'). Additionally, many discussion events attracted online viewing figures in the thousands.

Overall a total of 160 discussions, debates etc. took place through the course of the festival, dealing with 24 different topics, organisers have said.

Discussions were naturally principally in Estonian, but plenty of English and Russian-language events also took place.

Maiu Lauring, Arvamusfestival organiser, has also stated that the festival had been well-received across Estonia.

"People who come to the festival have high hopes for the discussions and they come to listen to specific topics,'' she said.

Paide's population at a little over 8,000 people is in fact smaller than the number of people reported to have visited the festival.

'Good discussion' guiding principle

''In addition to its inclusive formats, they wish to get well thought-out and diverse content, and that requires ever better preparedness both from the organisers, participants and moderators of a discussion," Ms. Lauring went on.

With its 'good discussion' practice in mind, the Arvamusfestival aims to create a common understanding of the rules of what makes a beneficial discussion.

The scope of topics was broad this year, and as a result of the public call for ideas, subjects important for people living in Estonia, including 'human capital' and fundamental values, made it to the program.

A special focus this year was placed on discussion culture and participation in democracy.

"We find that good discussion practice should be the guiding principle for all other discussions as well, including those taking place beyond the festival," said Ms. Lauring.

ERR hosted several discussions, including an English-language panel involving long-term expats in Estonia discussion here.

The next Festival of Opinion Culture will take place in Paide from Aug. 9-10, 2019.

Overall a total of 160 discussions, debates etc. took place through the course of the festival, and dealing with 24 different topics, organisers have said.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: BNS

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