Malmö 2013: SVT to downsize the contest

Due to the current economic situation in Europe – and the rest of the world – a lot of organizations have decided to downsize. This will also be happening to the Eurovision Song Contest. But what will this mean to the audience and fans of the contest?

The last couple of months, the EBU and the SVT have published a lot of seperate messages about the changes in the contest. Here you can read a small round-up of all the news from the period that our website was offline.

Swedish broadcaster SVT has already published some details about the 2013 contest, which will be held in Malmö. A decision that have been taken, to underline their ambition to downsize the contest. Capital Stockholm was also in the running, but Europe’s favourite tv-show will be held in Malmö.

Executive producer Martin Österdahl said on the official Eurovision-website that the infrastructure and spirit of Malmö were important factors to give the city the honor of hosting the contest again. But the fact that city and it’s arena are smaller then the venue in Stockholm will also have something to do with the decision.

Just one presenter
The SVT has revealed that they are looking to only have one presenter in Malmö this year, a big contrast to previous years where up to three have compared the three live shows. The last time this happened was in 1995 when Mary Kennedy presented Europe’s favourite TV show at the then Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. From Oslo in 2010 to Baku in 2012 three presenters have been used to host the show but now SVT are taking it back to basics and want to do something in the style of ‘The Oscars’. The presenter has yet to be picked but we will announce it as soon as it becomes known.

The 39 delegation that are taking part in this year’s contest also have to work with a smaller stage, without the LED-screens that were available the last couple of years. The ‘small songs’ have taken the lead in the contest. Even though some bombastic up-tempo songs have done well last year, everything stayed within the intimate setting.

The growing popularity of the contest seemed to go along with a growing visual spectaculair show. The Swedish organization will now break with that tradition.

Swedish renewal
SVT believe that in the past when Sweden has hosted the competition that it has undergone a so-called renewal, marking a new era for the contest and setting a new tone. 2013 hopes to be no exception and the organizers have an ambition entitled “unleash the full potential”, which will underpin the entire planning process of the show.

The show from Globen in 2000 became a benchmark for the modern Eurovision. For the first time a large, modern arena and new movable LED technology were used. The program hit a new tone. “Perhaps now it is time to change that tone again”, the Swedish will think.

Whilst the television audience will see a smaller, more intimate contest, for the fans that are travelling to Malmö, they have big plans in Sweden. “The fans belong to the event’s most important group,” tells Martin Österdahl. He and his team want to make the public an active part of the discussion surrounding the programme and to encourage interaction with the organisers and each other.

“We want to draw attention to the fans and involve them. One of our core values is that we want to create a passion that lasts. It is largely the fans that write our closing chapter. They are culture bearers and important when it comes to passing on our version of Eurovision”, he says.

A more efficient approach
Downsizing the contest also means: work more efficient. The rehearsal-schedule has been revised, when you compare it with last editions. Delegations, journalists and fans mainly criticised the lengthy and thus expensive stay at the host city and the usually low attendance at the delegations’ first out of two press conferences. Meanwhile, numerous artists expressed their wish to have a first rehearsal without media attending, filming and taking photos, allowing them to get used to the stage, light and sound, before revealing fully their act to the world via the press and social media.

What does this mean, concretely? We have taken the next couple of points from the EBU-website:
•The event weeks will kick off on Monday, 6th of May, one day later than usual. The EuroClub will open the same day
•Until Thursday, 9th of May, all Semi-Finalists will rehearse once behind closed doors. Journalists and fans can follow their rehearsal on screens at the EuroClub, which will facilitate the basic needs of the press. After their rehearsal, artists will be transported to the EuroClub, where they can give a short statement, do one-on-one interviews and photo shoots.
•On Friday 10th of May, the Press Centre will open, right next to the Malmö Arena. A kick-off press conference will be given by the EBU and SVT in the early afternoon
•A second round of rehearsals, which lasts from Friday, 10th of May until Sunday, 12th of May, is open to the media and will start at 16:00
•After their second rehearsal on stage, the artist will give a 20-minute press conference, which can be followed by one-on-one interviews and a photo shoot as usual
•The ‘Big Five’ (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) and host country Sweden will rehearse on Sunday 12 May and Wednesday, 15th of May
•The Dress Rehearsals and live shows will take place following the usual schedule, from Monday 13th to Saturday 18th of May

The 2013 Eurovision Song Contest will take place on 14th, 16th and 18th of May. Traditionally, participants, their delegations, journalists and fans come together in the city the preceding week to prepare and enjoy the so-called Eurovision weeks, during which the host city becomes the buzzing capital of European music.