Culture has the courage to be where others are afraid to go: Impressions of TMW 2022 by festival supporters, team members and performers

12 May 2022 ConferenceMusic Festival

Photo: Anna Markova

The TMW 2022 festival, which took place in Tallinn and Narva last week, 4 – 8 May, celebrated collaboration and solidarity. Besides sharing moments of joy with friends and colleagues and new friends from near and far, it let us speak to the world and to help people in Ukraine through music and culture.

The festival in two cities featured 192 artists from 28 countries and was attended by 974 music and culture professionals from around the world. Over 300 team members and volunteers contributed to the festival. Here are impressions and feedback of the festival from a selection of our supporters, colleagues and performers.

Piret Hartman, Undersecretary for Cultural Diversity at Estonian Ministry of Culture:

“Culture has the courage to be where others are afraid to go. TMW has proven that even in difficult times, culture brings us together. More than ever before, we need to build bridges and common ground in today’s society. In addition to music, TMW also united the regions within Estonia from Tallinn to Narva, and enhanced the sense of community.”

Piret Hartman. Photo: Jelena Rudi

Katri Raik, Mayor of Narva:

“Culture changes cities. This was confirmed in Narva last weekend. More and more Narva residents come to the so-called imported cultural events. It is essential to offer something for everyone: be it a record fair, a church concert, a late-night programme in Kreenholm or a long-table Mother’s Day celebration. Sometimes it is sad to be left behind here after a major cultural event, but this time we witnessed the meeting of traditions and cool music here. The good vibe lingered on in Narva even after the guests had left.”

Katri Raik. Photo: Anna Markova

Lennart Sundja, Head of the Cultural Unit of the Tallinn Culture and Sports Department:

“Music has the power to build cross-border relationships and connect communities. The TMW Tallinn – Narva programme emphasized the importance of responsibility and attentiveness in current times. The war, which affects us all, will inevitably take us several steps backwards, not only in the integration of communities but also in regard to efforts that cities have made to achieve the goals of the green turn and Sustainable Development Goals. Representatives of the UNESCO cities of music who took part in the TMW Creative Impact Conference said that the network has an obligation to seek and create opportunities for reconstruction together. so that music and art can continue to be created in their natural environment.”

Lennart Sundja. Photo: Aron Urb

Valeria Lavrova, Manager of the BAZAR “opinion day” series and a member of the TMW Narva team:

For those who made this festival, the slogan “Oleme koos” (”We are together”) definitely works. We have been together for 5 years.  Only this time the task and the team got bigger as it was the big international TMW festival that took place. For us, this is an important process. The process of creating a new, learning, agreements, trials and errors. This allows us to develop and grow on our own. It changes ourselves, our parents, our children and friends.”

Valeria Lavrova. Photo: Anna Markova

Jevgeni Timoštšuk, City Festival Coordinator of TMW in Narva:

“The preparation of this festival takes a lot of time and effort, sleepless nights, changes of plans, coordination and building relationships. But, you know, it’s worth it! TMW brings new life and novel formats and shows places familiar to us from different perspectives. It brings new and exciting European art and culture, openness and trust. You feel free and safe at any venue. True, this festival is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am glad that every year more and more people turn up as spectators, partners, volunteers and even sponsors.

I am grateful to the Tallinn and Narva teams for these months of preparation, weeks of coordination and days of fruitful work, which will leave its mark on the city and the lives of citizens for a long time. Tallinn-Narva Music Week allows you to grow, develop and do something important and necessary for the city to live to the fullest.”

Jevgeni Timoštšuk. Photo: Jelizaveta Kuznetsova

Jalmar Vabarna, Trad.Attack!:

“Last week there was a vibe in Narva similar to that of Berlin! The town was buzzing with international guests, different languages, street food and good coffee. The energy was constantly through the roof, there was a very special immediate, open and positive atmosphere. The mood of any live performance is always a joint creation of the audience and the artist, and this encounter was a total success! One-third of our audience were locals – we know this because we asked them to raise their hands! And everyone sang along in Estonian – both foreigners and locals, all together, which proves that if energy is right, language is never an obstacle.  TMW’s decision to go to Narva was bold and right to the point!”

Jalmar Vabarna. Photo: Felikz Voloz

Kaisa Rönkkö, Executive Director of Music Finland

“Tallinn Music Week always feels like a significant event from the point of view of both the export of music and the social impact of the entire creative economy. This year the event had a very special status and I know many international professionals came to Tallinn because they wanted to support the idea that music, and more broadly art and culture, also play a huge role in coping with the turbulence of world politics: building resilience, strengthening civil society, and that it is our job in the industry to instil faith for the bright future. The conference program was wonderfully organized and curated and strengthened both the development of business skills and the societal role and impact of the arts. The event felt more international than ever and once again TMW offered great networking opportunities.”

Kaisa Rönkkö

Alexandra Archetti Stølen, festival director of the Oslo World

“After a long period of lockdowns and mass restrictions, the war in Ukraine hit our continent very hard. Civil society really needs to retrain its democratic muscles. I truly believe that cultural life in general and the music industry, in particular, has a role to play in this. Both in providing places for free expression, places where we can show solidarity, places where we can show togetherness, and where we can be safe together and share good music and talks. TMW is one of these special meeting places, one of these special festivals dedicated to building our democratic muscles and giving room for reflection, diversity and inclusion. TMW this year was dedicated to supporting Ukraine, the move to Narva was very special and important. I think it was one of the most important events I have attended in a long long time.”

Alexandra Archetti Stølen

Miran Rusjan, Conference Manager of MENT Ljubljana

“It has been great to be back in Tallinn after 5 years. The festival rollercoaster in Tallinn and Narva was quite intense, but also super rewarding at the same time. Great conditions, superb audience, meaningful connections and experience to remember. Definitely want to be back.”

Vlad Yaremchuk, booking manager of Atlas Agency:

“It is undeniable that culture and music play a huge role in this war. In Ukraine, music inspires us to keep going despite all the hardships we have to endure, it bolsters our spirits, and it reminds us of the very core of our being that we are protecting. At the same time, music is also the universal language that gives us a chance to speak to the whole world, to show our unique identity, and to show that we are a distinct beautiful culture that deserves to be known and recognized. It is more important than ever that the worldwide music community gives Ukrainian musicians a spotlight at their shows, radio stations and festivals as it helps us to spread our important message, our culture and our plea for help. Seeing Ukrainian artists live gives people a chance to get to know the people of Ukraine that they have been supporting so much in the recent months by donating to Ukraine, taking in refugees, demonstrating, and spreading the word. That brings us even closer together and makes us all stronger as a whole.

I and my colleagues at Atlas Festival, Music Saves UA and Music Export Ukraine are looking for promoters and festivals who want to help Ukraine by inviting Ukrainian artists to their events and organizing fundraising activities and we are ready to help facilitate that, so I invite everyone who is interested to get in touch. At Music Saves UA, a project that was created by the Ukrainian Association of Music Events, we focus on providing immediate humanitarian help on the ground where it is needed most as well as restoring cultural infrastructure in the future. We are happy to say that most of the money we raise comes from working with artists, promoters and festivals. I would also like to mention the ARTery project that focuses on matching companies within the industry who are looking for people to hire and Ukrainian music industry workers who are sadly out of a job while the war is taking place. Thank you to every single one of you who is helping Ukraine in its most challenging hour.” 

Vlad Yaremchuk. Photo: Anna Markova