The Conversation festival LAMPA, which started in 2015 and takes place every summer in Cēsis Castle Park over two days bringing together thousands of people, was held for the fifth time this year.

Since 2016, the British Council Latvia has become a partner of the festival providing significant financial support in organisation of the festival.  Since the beginning of the co-operation with festival organisers Foundation for an Open Society DOTS, the British Council has been not only a financial partner, but also a strategic partner, participating in the core group of the festival organisers as well as jointly seeking opportunities for additional events to be organised in the regions of Latvia throughout the year. 

LAMPA is a celebration of discussions, conversations and democracy, where people from entire Latvia meet each other and communicate. The objective of the festival is to encourage people to take interest in social and political activities and to promote shaping of democratic communication culture. In addition, LAMPA provides numerous opportunities to widen person’s horizon, because we believe that in this complicated era saturated with information a well informed and intelligent society is crucial.

In the fifth year of the festival (this year), it was attended by a record number of people of different ages and interests – more than 20000 visitors, which is 7 times more than 5 years ago, when a little more than 3000 people attended the festival. Thanks to the quality content of the festival and nearly 400 events over two days, the desire to watch festival discussions online has also increased. With each year, the event becomes more attractive not only to those who know Latvian, because a lot of events are held in English, or a translation is offered. 

The Conversation festival LAMPA is a good example of how very different organisations can co-operate, bringing together hundreds of non-governmental organisations, enterprises, educational institutions, branches of foreign organisations, public administration and local authorities. The significance of the festival is reinforced by the fact that in 2019 the discussion of senior officials of Latvia took place for the first time on the festival’s main stage, with the newly elected President of Latvia, the Prime Minister of Latvia and one of the European Parliament’s deputies giving their views on the future of the European Union.  

In order to implement the discussions and conversations launched at the Conversation festival LAMPA, since February 2018 the Conversation School LAMPA is being organised in Rīga and regions of Latvia – it is series of practical lectures, where every person can acquire practical skills for a better interaction with other people. The objective of the Conversation school LAMPA is to strengthen values represented by the Conversation festival LAMPA in Latvia – culture of democratic conversations, where people interacting are respectful, listen to each other and, most importantly, accept that everyone has right to express their opinion, whether you agree with it or not.

Participants of the Conversation School LAMPA are teenagers, seniors, from Latvian and Russian speaking families, pupils, teachers, employees of municipalities, journalists, entrepreneurs of different business fields. So far there have been 27 lectures organised in Rīga, Liepāja, Kuldīga, Cēsis, Valmiera, Preiļi, Daugavpils, Rēzekne and in Limbaži with over 2400 participants. By the end of 2019 there are 10 lectures still to be organised in Rīga, Rēzekne, Ventspils, Gulbene, Limbaži, Bauska, Cēsis and Talsi, Rēzekne, Ventspils and Gulbene, attracting 1000 people. 

In 2019, thanks to co-operation with the British Council, festival implemented the “Short Circuit” youth programme, where 23 young people from all over Latvia over 3 months on holidays acquired festival and event organising, public speaking and communication skills. The newly acquired knowledge could be tested in practice, the young people organised their own programme on the so-called festival’s Youth hill, where they had their own stage which was very popular among the youth audience of the festival.