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Why This Junior Eurovision Breaks The Budget Written by on December 11, 2022

From a huge open-air Opening Ceremony to a stage that has all the trappings of its bigger brother in May, it is clear to all that Junior Eurovision 2022  exceeds the usual expectations of this competition. But all of that comes at a cost. ESC Insight analyses why this year’s show smashes all previous Junior Eurovision budgets.

The Junior Eurovision 2022 is on a scale like never seen at this show before. The stage with a full LED backdrop and floor panels is the size and scale that we would expect from a Eurovision contest in May. The Opening Ceremony on Monday packed out the country’s biggest meeting point with tens of thousands in attendance. The city of Yerevan allowed the organisers to close the Yerevan metro system for two days so stations could be turned into locations for their moving social program.

If I think back to Paris last year, visitors there would barely notice one of the EBU’s biggest productions taking place on the banks of the River Seine. Not so here in Yerevan where this is covering billboards across the city and regalia decorates every bridge and roundabout I’ve walked past within the city. Locals here all know the show is happening and many have been left frustrated that they haven’t been able to get tickets. So much so that Hovhannes Movsisyan, the Executive Director of Armenian Public Television, made a huge plea at the press conference to deter local fans from purchasing tickets on the black market.

But all of this promotion, this scale of show, this event that is arguably the biggest in Armenia since the last Junior Eurovision eleven years ago has come at a cost. Local media has reported that holding Junior Eurovision this year is set to cost nearly five billion Armenian drams, a figure approaching €13 million.

That would make this Junior Eurovision the most expensive of all time.

Double The Cost Per Country

We have done our best google searching that we can in effort to find out the budgets of previous Junior Eurovision. Malta held their first Junior Eurovision in 2014 to big fanfare, taking the brave decision to hold the venue in Marsa Shipbuilding location outside of the capital Valletta. Local media reported that the cost of Junior Eurovision that year cost the Maltese government €1.4 million, with most of that cost going to the renovations of the disused structure. Tbilisi in 2017 saw a slight increase to a value of €2.2 million. The budget we have here for Junior Eurovision 2022 is colossal compared to these quoted amounts.

Indeed this scale of budget is more akin to a Eurovision Song Contest. The hostings of Eurovision in Sweden in 2013 and 2016 for example both roughly landed at €13.5 million. Now the SVT production team was one of the cheapest in recent times without need for significant arena renovation or external experts being brought in, but the levels of magnitude to go up to modern-day Eurovision costs is a much smaller jump than those other cheaper Junior Eurovision recordings. Rotterdam’s figure for 2021 came in at just over €20 million with Turin able to bring that lower to €16.3 million. The Liverpool budget is projected to hit €23 million which includes €5 million from the participating delegations.

Remember here that Junior Eurovision is a one-week spectacle of one Sunday afternoon show. In Liverpool that budget will work out at around €600,000 per participating nation. Yerevan is coming in at around €800,000 per nation for half the time on the ground.

Why is Junior Eurovision 2022 so expensive?

“An Opportunity For Armenia”

At the press conference of the EBU and our host Armenian broadcaster we asked about the details and reasoning behind this show having such a record-breaking budget. Hovhannes Movsisyan, Executive Director of the Junior Eurovision 2022, answered as follows.

“The 20th anniversary of Junior Eurovision should be celebrated and Junior Eurovision this year should be different. This is an opportunity for Armenia to host events on a large scale. This is very important.”

“A detailed breakdown of the money spent has been prepared. There have been a lot of discussions about this. A lot of equipment such as lights, LED screens, stage, technical sections, video equipment has all been rented and imported.”

“Also have spent a significant amount of money at the Opening Ceremony and the Metro. We have also brought in specialists not from Armenia who have experience with Eurovision, this was important for us. About 60-70% are big line items.”

There are numerous thoughts to pick out. Firstly there is the point that the host broadcaster has decided to invest in the concept of this being the 20th Junior Eurovision and with that invite these previous winners to entertain us on Sunday. Not only are they here for the live show but many previous winners have been here for the entire week to also perform to the local audiences in Republic Square. This gesture is fantastic to get more people the chance to see the acts from the show, but does add to the total costs incurred.

Second, we must comment on the stage itself. This is a stunning production. When taken from the back of the venue you would have to focus in on the pint-sized junior performer to realise that this show is a *Junior* Eurovision. The levels of visual production on offer here could fool the best of us that this is the real thing in May.

To do this Armenia came to the conclusion that it was best to bring in the best experts and materials from abroad to make this happen. For example, the multi-camera directors for the show, Marcin Migalski and Tomasz Motyl, worked on the Polish Junior Eurovision production in 2019. It is not only that this year’s show is of a Eurovision scale, it looks like it could be a Eurovision from any on Earth. Bringing in those materials and experts from abroad, even on their foreign salaries and inflated import costs to get to this landlocked nation, is worth it for the sleek end product.

Finally, I want to focus on the point that Hovhannes mentions that, for a country like Armenia, what is so attractive about Junior Eurovision is that it gives Armenia the chance to host events on a global scale. Armenia, with a population just shy of three million, rarely attracts events of this stature. This is a once-in-a-generation chance to put the nation and broadcaster on the map.

Life In Modern Armenia

This conclusion misses another very important factor at play, and that is where Armenia is in the world as of 2022. We spoke to Narék Petrosyan, President of OGAE Armenia, to explain a part of the current perspective.

“War came to Armenia in 2020, we should have participated [that year] but we didn’t. That’s why it was very important for us to enter in 2021 and that’s why our delegation put in a large effort in that year. We from our side as a fan club were promoting everything and when Malena won on December 19th we were on the streets screaming because Armenia had won.

“In the community we feel we failed the organisation part in 2011 and this year’s hosting it is very important to take the contest to the highest level. That’s why you see that there are many millions of Euros being spent. It is important to show Armenia from another side, to see our kind and beautiful nation. We need to show Europe that we can put on a modern show.”

“After the war we need some more concentration on Armenia. I was always checking newspapers abroad and I didn’t see anything about our situation.”

The withdrawals from Junior Eurovision 2020 and Eurovision 2021 were directly linked to conflict with Armenia. The country was under martial law during this period, which resulted in the broadcaster focusing their entry on providing informative content as opposed to entertainment. While there has been more conflict in 2022 in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, resulting in Azerbaijan taking land previously held by ethnic Armenians, Armenia in December 2022 has escaped those martial law times and is desperate to show itself as a global nation once more.

And the timing and motivation to make sure that this show is one that delivers has never been stronger. So much stronger in fact that it managed to be an irresistible pull for the hottest Armenian on Earth right now.

You’re Still In My Heart

Of course, we are referring to Rosa Linn, the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest entrant from Armenia. Her journey post a 20th place finish in Yerevan has seen her entry ‘Snap’ become the definition of a viral success and now placing as the second most streamed Eurovision song of all time. It was announced in the summer that she would sign with Columbia Records, move to Los Angeles and start work on an album while performing in both Europe and America to audiences who know every word. Next year she will be the support act for Ed Sheeran on his North American tour.

From the cold-blooded perspective of a new global superstar there is no rational bone in Rosa Linn’s body that reasoned that being here in Armenia today was the correct next step. Yet despite more lucrative offers to perform elsewhere she convinced the label that coming back to her native country had to happen and had to happen now.

We asked her to explain her rationale at her press conference in Yerevan.

“Especially after what happened in 2020 and 2022. I feel very honoured and very proud of my country that despite everything we managed to organise this and from what I see the people did a great job and I’m very proud of my team and delegation.

“I always say anywhere in every interview that I am Armenian and I talk about the importance of sharing the culture and what has happened in the country. I feel like me being here and singing in Junior Eurovision is about combining that logical ending for everything that I have talked about. I had a lot more bigger opportunities but no I don’t want it, I want to be here it is more important for me.

“People who don’t know, in 2020 we have gone through war and in 2022 we went through that again. I as an artist don’t want to talk about politics and I’m not the one to talk about this stuff. What I want to talk about is how proud I am that despite all of that we found the strength and somehow we keep finding that strength in us from 100 years ago even. We just keep standing up and rising from the ashes like a phoenix. I just think that in the 21st century what goes on in the world is just so surreal and absurd and I’m not talking about just Armenia but everywhere in the world.

“I was getting very angry in LA and I had to perform my first show in LA and I heard about the war starting again. And I had to ask myself how am I allowed to sing tonight when that is going on. But I took a huge flag with me, wrapped it around myself because I feel that I have to, to kind of do anything to support my nation somehow. And I hope that humanity starts to be humanity again. We kind of lost it somewhere and I think that the media need to cover what is important, not trendy.”

Rosa Linn here paints a picture that all Armenians can relate to. After the hardship of recent years there is a need to grab the flag at every opportunity and show it to the world. To grasp at those rare opportunities that land on the doorstep of the nation and lift them to the highest possible level to show that this nation can rise again and be as strong as all others.

The Right Show At The Right Time

The hosting of Junior Eurovision at this extravagant level is rational only when one realises the desire of Armenia to prove to itself, and to the world, that it can deliver such mesmerising events. This is a country that desperately desires a future where it is newsworthy beyond whatever movements happen around their eastern border. In the future the goal is that Armenia is known for their strength, their hospitality and their ability to deliver at a global level.

Never before has the need to showcase itself to Europe, and raise its profile there, been stronger. Armenia’s diplomatic relations have depended strongly on Russia in recent years, especially with regards to protecting their borders, but such co-operation has been publicly called into question in recent months. A diversification of Armenia’s support network is ultimately vital for the nation’s future prosperity.

And that is why when the broadcasting team in November approached the government requesting to almost double the budget, that request was approved. Yerevan needs to be seen to be able to deliver these events and show that it can be a top level nation once more. Despite the arena being relatively small at just a 7500 capacity, the casual viewer on Sunday will be watching a production of Eurovision quality, as visually impressive as any production from the west.

That we and many others are saying that is the justification for why they have spent so much this year. Just don’t expect the Junior Eurovision of the future to continue keeping up this level of extravaganza. This budget wasn’t raised for the benefit of Junior Eurovision, but for the best interests of Armenia.

About The Author: Ben Robertson

Ben Robertson has attended 23 National Finals in the world of Eurovision. With that experience behind him he writes for ESC Insight with his analysis and opinions about anything and everything Eurovision Song Contest that is worth telling.

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