Festival of discussions BŪTENT! (“Makes Sense!”) is an annual assembly in a cosy open-air area of Birštonas with a festival-type atmosphere, where people from political, business, academic, cultural and non-governmental organizations discuss important topics for the development of the state, share ideas and forge new collaborations.
More than 90 open air discussions, forums, speeches and talk-shows are expected to gather about 6000 participants during 6-7thof September 2019.
Participation in the event is free of charge.
BŪTENT! is a member of the Democracy Festivals’ Family with 8 members in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Island, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. All these festivals are local platforms for a constructive political dialogue across opinions, age, gender and hierarchy where people come together each summer to discuss how to improve their countries. Civil society activists, entrepreneurs, government officials, ministers and people at large sit together and casually talk about how to make their country a better place for everybody.
Purpose and vision
The festival’s mission is to contribute to the development of the democratic welfare state, united and advanced society by developing the culture of discussions, creating common ground and promoting tolerance. The festival aims to become the main discussion platform in Lithuania – the place for consideration, opinion-forming, consensus-building, for the development of a common vision of the welfare state.
Establishment and organisational structure
The initiative to hold discussion festival in Lithuania was inspired by the examples of Democracy festivals in all Scandinavian countries as well as Latvia and Estonia.
BŪTENT was initiated in 2017 by the Lithuanian non-governmental body “Visos idėjos”, which was established in the same year with the goal of being the founder of the Lithuanian Democracy Festival. “Visos idėjos” is operating only on a voluntary basis with strong support from all main organisers and partners. In 2017, the festival was launched together with the Lithuanian Open Society Foundation, the British Council, Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania, and Swedbank.
History of the festival and location
The first festival took place in a resort town Birštonas in September 2017 and had approximately 3000 participants during two days. There were more than 70 events and 200 speakers and panellists. Birštonas, that has approximately 2700 inhabitants, was selected due to its convenient location, proximity from all parts of Lithuania, its facilities enabling the town to host many participants in local hotels and due to the positive approach of the local municipality.
Participants and programme of the festival
BŪTENT is a meeting place for public-spirited citizens, leaders and active participants from political, business, academia and non-governmental organisations. There was an open call to the public inviting all interested parties to participate by suggesting topics for speakers and discussions. The evening programme will be followed by concerts and theatre performances and a special programme was dedicated to children.