The fifth Conversation Festival LAMPA, which attracted a record-breaking 20,000+ visitors on the last weekend of June, drew to a close with a hot and dynamic “political roast”. This was also the richest festival to date in terms of content and number of events – approximately 1500 speakers expressed their thoughts on 38 stages, for a total of almost 720 hours of conversation.
“More than 20,000 visitors on site and 70,000 online viewers – this is, in our view, a great success and a significant ‘jump’ forward for our festival over the past five years,” says Ieva Morica, the director of the Conversation Festival LAMPA. She continues: “This year’s LAMPA also stood apart from previous festivals in terms of quality. Our event organisers took a very serious approach to planning the content of their discussions, and the diversity of events and festival-goers was very noticeable. We had more high-ranking government officials taking part in the festival than ever before, which shows that we are not only able to talk about courage but also capable of acting courageously, meeting people face to face and responding to very straightforward and sometimes uncomfortable questions. I can say with certainty that LAMPA has unbound our society and emboldened people to speak up and not be afraid to express their opinions.”
The festival programme was created by more than 300 organisations, among them state administration and local government institutions, non-governmental organisations, businesses, institutions of higher education, foreign embassies and organisations as well as active individuals with something to say, who invited festival-goers to take a look at what’s going on in our lives, in Latvia, in Europe and around the world from a variety of perspectives, including some very unusual ones.
LAMPA also revived a century-old tradition in a new form – in the festival’s central square the Open Mic let each and every festival-goer express their opinion publicly about any topic under the sun, just as people did in the early 20th century on improvised stages. Approximately 50 people took advantage of this opportunity, with the most common topics being religion, animal rights, love and the need to respect all human beings. The most courageous speakers turned out to be children between the ages of seven and eleven.
This year the festival introduced several new concepts. For the first time, hour-long events were tried out alongside the usual one-and-a-half-hour conversation model. At the inaugural Politicians’ Disco, six Latvian politicians shared their taste in music by taking turns being the DJ, and they put on quite a party in Cēsis Castle Park at the close of the festival’s first day.
Likewise, the festival took several significant steps towards decreasing its ecological footprint. Together with its partners, the festival organisers implemented sustainable solutions such as the recycling of waste, a deposit system for drinking glasses, and sustainable planning and materials in setting up the festival, including refraining from single-use decorations, banners, balloons, etc.
The fifth LAMPA was not only green but also inclusive. The festival grounds were planned to be as accessible as possible for people in wheelchairs or with reduced mobility as well as for baby strollers. In addition, several events provided sign language interpretation with the goal of helping as many people as possible take part in the conversations.