Tallinn Music Week & Conference - https://tmw.ee
This week, as Carry On Touring’s co-founder & petition creator, I headed off to Tallinn Music Week in Estonia along with Ian Smith, co-founder of Carry On Touring and https://www.ukeartswork.info. Our mission was to meet with European colleagues from across the music industry and build awareness of the Carry on Touring campaign and the post Brexit creative touring crisis. Many thanks to those who donated to the campaign and Bectu for making this trip possible, I am very encouraged with the contacts we made and hopeful this will open doors to more fruitful conversations.
The 13th edition of the international music and city festival Tallinn Music Week (TMW), one of the most acclaimed new music and city culture festivals and key networking events for music and creative industry professionals across Europe, that took place in the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, last week hosted 177 artists from 21 countries, and 128 conference speakers from music and culture industries. Altogether, the festival drew 17,325 visits. Held annually since 2009, the festival consists of three main programme parts: a music festival, conference and city festival.
As Carry On Touring’s co-founder & petition creator, I went along to the conference to meet European colleagues from across the music industry and to try and build awareness around the Post Brexit Creative Touring crisis. Also, in attendance was Ian Smith, co-founder of Carry On Touring and https://www.ukeartswork.info.
The conference program was arranged over two days and had a wide range of topics including Cultural Diplomacy, Health and Safety – the Art of Public Gatherings, the European live music sector joins forces & many more.
Photo: Jelena Rudi
The opening ceremony for the conference was a speech from the current President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, she talked about how our freedoms seem to be becoming limited and asked why is it that those who create, people in culture, are often the ones who still do stand up and say something, do something, take responsibility, stand up for freedom?
The President’s full speech is available to read by click this link: https://tmw.ee/news/tmw-2021-opening-ceremony-speeches-president-kersti-kaljulaid
Opening the first conference session of Day 1 was an introductory speech from Anneli Ott, Minister of Culture for Estonia, who spoke about how Creatives can help inspire people to build a recovery from the damaging effects of the pandemic and the new world that has now become a reality.
I was impressed to see that the first two talks were by Estonian politicians which shows just how important music and culture are and how they understand the importance of culture, I cannot you imagine our political leaders in the UK, Johnson and Dorres doing that?
Following on from the minister’s speech, we had the opening panel discussion “Cultural Diplomacy, international work and export”
After 18mths of dealing with restrictions due to the pandemic, how have we adapted and how can we adopt those adaptations now that the world is opening up once more, Is it time to fully embrace the sound of local in the era of global connectivity and greet the era of Cultural Diplomacy to connect the world through empathy and exchange? The panel discussed cultural diplomacy, exports, place branding and new trends in touring and travel.
Ursula Roosmaa, MBE, Country Director at British Council Estonia,
Kirsti Narinen, Ambassador to South Caucasus at MFA Finland, Former Finnish Ambassador to Estonia (DigiPRO)
Kaisa Rönkkö, Executive Director of Music Finland
Noel Toolan, Founder at KATALEST, international tourism and place branding expert
Gunnar K Madsen, Founder and Director of SPOT Festival (DigiPRO)
Paulina Ahokas, Managing Director of Tampere Hall.
What struck me during this panel was how much the European music industry depend on having access to the UK’s cultural market to be able to build reputation and to use it as a stepping stone to the wider world markets such as the USA, Australia and Asia.
This was the topic of the conversation I had with Tuulikki Bartosik an internationally working accordionist, composer & producer - https://tuulikkibartosik.com, who stressed how important it was for her to be able to tour within the UK and the wider markets.
Talking to Ursula Roosmaa, MBE, from the British council afterwards, it was pleasing to hear that she was aware of our campaign and had in fact been discussing it the day before in a meeting with her colleagues.
We had an email from Ursula yesterday, which looks quite promising in raising awareness campaign with the Estonian culture minister, it may not sound big but remember from little acorns grow huge oak trees, if we can get a conversation going within the EU then we stand a better chance at a resolution than talking to the brick wall that is our current government.
Following coffee, we were presented with another panel discussion organised by Live DMA - https://www.live-dma.eu “Come Together: the European live music sector joins forces… and it works!”
Live DMA is by nature an international collaboration network based on shared visions and values. In times of crisis, live music venues, clubs and festivals are looking for support, advice, community, collective voice, representation, advocacy work and dialogue with governments.
Turning competitive schemes into cooperation and solidarity is key to levelling up the conditions for the local music scenes in Europe. When working together, venues, clubs and festivals support each other and participate to change our music industry towards a fairer ecosystem.
Ingrid Stroom, Head of LiveME, Live DMA
Reeta Maria Pankka, Co-owner of TMH Productions Ltd
Simone Dudt, General Secretary of European Music Council
Susanne Hollmann, Deputy Head of the Cultural Policy Unit of European Commission (DigiPRO)
Marc Steens, Coordinator of Clubcircuit, Live DMA
Building a united creative voice has been the goal for Carry On Touring, striving to bring together the different creative sectors such as Music, Fashion, Acting, Theatre, Support Crews and logistics, under one Umbrella, to be put pressure on the government to negotiate a ‘cultural passport’ visa waiver with the EU and bilateral arrangements with member states.
Ian and I introduced ourselves to Simone Dudt, General Secretary of European Music Council after the session and had an excellent chat about the campaign and the fact that what we are trying to do has to be 100% reciprocal so that both Creatives from The EU and the UK can take advantage of it. She was very supportive of the campaign and she emphasised the point of how much potential damage could be caused to Cultural exchange between the EU and UK if a workable solution was not forthcoming. She also appreciated one of our Carry On Touring Lanyards.
Closing on the first day with an excellent keynote speech from former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (2006-2016) who spoke about how the many different cultures that have helped build Estonia into the cultural Icon it is today.
Followed by an interview with Singer-songwriter, activist, music historian and writer Billy Bragg.
Billy talked about the rise Authoritarian governments and how they need to be held to account for their actions, he talked about freedom in its true sense, not the libertarian version, he also talked about how we all need to take responsibility for climate change.
“Accountability is what gives freedom its teeth, - you have to be able to hold people to account.”
In summary of Day one, I came away with a sense of achievement, having had several conversations with speakers at the conference such as Ursula from the British Council Estonia and Simone from The European Music Council.
All of the people Ian & I spoke to, understood the purpose of the Carry On Touring campaign and the need to raise awareness of the issues within not only the UK but also the EU.
Cultural exchange is of major importance to the well being of UK & EU citizens, as well as a benefit to the economies of those countries and states, erecting barriers on the pretence of taking back control of borders is nothing more than Ideological authoritarianism, as creatives we have to stand up to that, otherwise our freedoms will be diminished completely.
We look forward to following up with the connections we made.
My trip was part funded by generous donations to the Carry On Touring Campaign and Bectu who covered the flights and conference entrance fee and myself.
It's a sad sign of the times that individuals like Ian and myself have to the governments job, they should be the ones attending these events and talking to the EU to find a resolution to the post Brexit creative touring crisis.
Day 2 of the Tallinn Music Conference to follow.
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