No more VIP Song Festival tickets for Saeima deputies

Members of the Saeima have been removed from the list of persons who will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Latvian Song Festival in advance of everyone else, Minister of Culture Nauris Puntulis (National Alliance) said December 8, citing information from the Latvian National Culture Center (LNKC).

The matter of whether MPs should lose their ability to grab the best seats before everyone else – long a source of resentment among society at large – was being debated in Saeima when the Minister of Culture explained that the LNKC had in fact already made a decision and pulled deputies from its privileged list.

Taking place only once every five years, and with the most recent iteration due to take place next year, demand for tickets to the Song Festival is always sky-high with the delight of those managing to secure tickets matched by the disappointment of those who don't.

There is likely to be additional pent-up demand for the XXVII General Latvian Song and XVII Dance Festival events in the summer of 2023 after the Covid-19 epidemic forced the postponement of the 2022 event.

Saeima deputies and members of the Cabinet of Ministers were set to retain their privilege to reserve and purchase tickets following a decision of the Song and Dance Festival Council on November 30. Presidential advisor Sarmīte Ēlerte was among those defending the privilege, saying "it would be funny" if MPs and Ministers didn't get access tickets before the general public – a position seen as elitist by that very public.

In contrast, renowned choral conductor Ints Teterovskis, the chairman of the board of the Song Festival Society, expressed the position that such privileges should not be granted to members of the Saeima. 

A third position was expressed by Secretary General of the Latvian National Commission of UNESCO, Baiba Moļņika, who adopted the surprising but undoubtedly original view that the involvement of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Saeima should not be seen as a privilege, but as an obligation. In the end the board was split on the issue.

Ahead of song festivals, tickets are offered to purchase in advance for various categories of persons, including those from the institutions directly involved in the preparation and implementation of the festival in Latvia and abroad, creators of the artistic programs of the festival, creative teams, official foreign delegations and others.

The XXVII General Latvian Song and XVII Dance Festival will take place from June 30 to July 9, 2023 in Riga. Its main focus will be the 150th anniversary of the Song Festival tradition.

It is planned that up to 40,000 participants will take part, and the number of visitors will exceed half a million. More than 60 events and concerts will take place during the festivities. It is expected that ticket prices for festive events will range from 7 to 100 euros.

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