Open call for ideas

The Opinion Festival is a meeting space. A place to speak out and to listen, to learn and to find solutions, to spend time with those close to you, and with complete strangers. The content of the Festival is jointly created by everyone present, those who set up discussions, and those who take part in them.

The Opinion Festival open call for ideas in 2023 takes place from 20 March to 2 April. Everyone willing to organise a discussion is welcome to send in their suggestions for the Festival programme. Whether you would like to look into current, important issues, or if you are willing to set up a joint brainstorming session for a specific challenge, or if you’d like to search for a way to address a specific problem – please do go ahead and send in your idea.

We encourage organisations, businesses, communities and other groups from all over Estonia to come up with discussion suggestions. The condition for presenting an idea is that you would also be willing to set up the discussion and to hold it within the Festival programme. At the Festival, we stand by a set of rules called “Respectful Discussion Convention”, and based on that, the Festival team reserve the right to choose discussion organisers who better contribute to upholding good discussion tradition.

The ideas submitted through the open call will be evaluated by the Festival team including the core team of the Festival and coordinators of the discussion areas. The following is taken into account during evaluation:

  • the importance of the topic, the general vision for the discussion and the justification for why it should be included in the Festival programme;
  • the aim of the discussion, the understanding of how to achieve it and what wider influence it could have;
  • the new angle or view at the topic;
  • organiser’s compliance with Respectful Discussion Convention of the Festival.

The ideas chosen for the Festival will be combined into topical discussion areas. We will be in contact with discussion organisers during the third week of April.

What to take into account while considering an idea?

As you consider different ideas to present to the Festival, it is useful to take into account earlier feedback from the Festival’ visitors to the discussions taken place over the years. The visitors choose the discussions to listen to based on whether the topic is interesting for them, whether new angles and thoughts are presented, and whether there is something new for them to learn in addition to what they already know. Discussions are expected to look into the issues from different perspectives, to include different voices and to look into the future.

Do take a look at the Q&A at the bottom of this page to be better aware of different aspects of organising the discussion. This applies even if you are an experienced idea presenter.

The form for idea suggestions is really simple this year. You will need to present a persuasive explanation regarding idea’s significance (why do we need to talk about this?) and the aim of the idea (what would you like to achieve with this discussion?). Further details like the final headline, the format of the discussion, the names of the participants and the moderator will be set later in the process of discussion design and will have to be confirmed by the mid-June.

The form for the idea submission will be open on this very page on 20 March.

Arvamusfestival 2020. Foto: Riina Ani.


  • Who can submit an idea through the open call?

    All organisations, businesses, communities and other groups are welcome to participate in the open call.

    The ideas can be submitted in Estonian, English or Russian, and the discussion can be held in respective languages. It is important that your idea is thought through, your submission gives specific replies to questions set out in the form, and that the setup of the discussion would comply with the Good Discussion Practice.

    Through the open call, we are looking for the discussion organisers, which means that if you are submitting an idea, you are also willing and capable to organise the discussion in collaboration with other discussion area organisers and the Festival team.

  • What happens after submitting an idea? Who puts together the Festival programme, what is taken into account while doing that?

    As the open call for ideas concludes, the Festival team will evaluate the ideas following the evaluation guidelines. The evaluation team includes the core team of the Festival, the coordinators of the discussion areas, and representatives from the Opinion Festival Council.

    As a result of the evaluation, the ideas considered best and gained most points will be divided into topical groups to share respective discussion areas.

    The following is taken into account during evaluation of the ideas:

    * the importance of the topic, and the general vision for the discussion and the reason it should be included in the Festival programme;

    * the aim of the discussion, the understanding of how to achieve it and what wider influence it could have;

    * the new angle or view at the topic;

    * organiser’s compliance with Respectful Discussion Convention of the Festival.

  • What is the timeline for setting up a discussion?

    The evaluation of the discussion ideas submitted through the open call will be completed by mid-April. At that point we will be in touch with the idea submitters to let them know who has been included in the Festival programme. Then, the actual work to design the discussion and the discussion area will start with the guidance from a volunteer discussion area coordinator. By mid-June, the Head of the Festival area Kaarel Vene is expecting input from all discussion organisers regarding construction of the areas. From April to mid-June is also the time to set and confirm every discussion detail from the final headline to names of the moderator and discussion participants. The final deadline to submit all the details to the Festival team is 19 June. The programme of the Opinion Festival will go live on 1 July.

  • Are there obligations attached to submitting your idea for the Festival?

    If you submit an idea, we expect you to be ready to organise the discussion. The ideas chosen for the programme as a result of the open call will be divided into areas, and the organisers of the discussions are expected to jointly contribute to the technical setup of the area as well as into the setting up their own discussion.

  • What are the costs attached to the discussion at the Festival?

    There are costs that you have to take into account when setting up a discussion at the Festival.

    The Festival provides the signs guiding to the discussion area, the chalk board to use at the area, the electricity availability at the area, the recording of the discussions as podcasts, and drinking water at the drinking stations.

    Other costs including building up the area, any design needed, video broadcast as desired, tents and shades, sitting options, etc are shared between the organisations holding their discussions at the same area. The overall budget depends on the details like the styling and the setup of the discussion area. The technical description of the discussion area is available at the Festival website and includes more specific information about minimum requirements for an area.

  • What if we don’t have the funds required?

    If an organisation doesn’t have the funds necessary, it is possible, in agreement with other area organisers, to contribute to setting up and supporting the area in some other way.

    Some examples of non-financial contributions over the years:

    *leading and managing the collaboration between the organisers as the area lead;

    *managing area communication work;

    *coordinating area design and construction work (finding solutions supporting the concept of the area, etc).

    Additionally, discussion areas are allowed to involve sponsors, yet sponsors’ visibility at the area should be in strict compliance with general rules of the Festival and the concept of the area. More information on this can be found HERE, questions can also be addressed to Head of Festival Area Kaarel Vene (

  • Should we handle everything ourselves?

    No, there will be help. The Festival team includes discussion area coordinators who help create an integrated discussion area out of separate discussions, help find answers to questions organisers might have and advise discussion organisers in order to support managing the area.

    This year, the Festival team intends to provide additional support to discussion organisers on the content side. Our team now includes discussion design mentors who can assist discussion organisers with their first steps while putting a discussion together. They are happy to support finalising the aim, the format and the participants’ choice for the discussion.

    According to experience, the moderator has one of the most important roles to play for the discussion to succeed. Our strong suggestion is to find your moderator as early as possible so they are able to contribute to discussion’ design process from the start. Opinion Festival partner SpeakSmart is providing consultations for moderators for them to be able to play their role as efficiently as possible. At the end of the open call, the Festival team will have a lucky draw distributing 5 free of charge consultations to lucky discussion organisers.

If you have any other questions, please contact Opinion Festival Programme Manager Sigrid Solnik at

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