The UK will host the 67th Eurovision Song Contest on 13 May.
Celebrated and booed by audiences around the world, the world’s biggest singing competition has become a cultural institution in the seven decades since its launch.
But behind the audacious displays and even more bizarre outfits, the annual contest is also seen as a vehicle for political and economic power games.
In 2023, it’s higher than ever.
With the ongoing war in Ukraine (2022 winner), second-placed Great Britain took over the hosting duties and Russia was pulled out of the competition. Rising costs have prompted some countries to bow out before the competition has even begun.
So what’s the cost of the competition – and is it worth it?
What is Eurovision Song Contest?
The first Eurovision Song Contest was held in 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland. Dreamed up by the European Broadcasting UnionA coalition of public broadcasters, as a way of celebrating the culture and unity of a newly defined post-war Europe.
Although the EBU maintains that Eurovision is apolitical, attention has been drawn to the contest’s intersection with European relations.
UK to host 67th edition of Eurovision Song Contest in 2023 as war continues in Ukraine, 2022 winner.
Peter Byrne | Pa Images | Getty Images
“Every year on the Eurovision stage we have presented political, social messages through the songs performed by the artists,” said Dean Vuletic, historian of contemporary Europe at the University of Vienna and author of “Postwar Europe and the Europeans.” singing competition.”
“That’s why people love watching Eurovision because it’s always a reflection of the political zeitgeist in Europe,” he said.
In the decades since its inception, competition has increased greatly, including from non-European countries such as Australia. yet it remains a Co-production between EBU public broadcastersWith all participating nations – usually around 40 – paying a fee to participate.
How much does Eurovision cost?
Europe’s largest economies – Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain, known as the Big Five – pay the most, based on the EBU’s “solidarity principle”, which states that the strongest shoulders “should carry the heaviest load.” They automatically qualify for the final as well.
Other countries then contribute varying amounts to the pot, which in recent years has totaled roughly $7 million. But with heavy inflationary pressures on Europe in 2023, with Bulgaria, Montenegro and North Macedonia pulling out of this year’s event, those fees were deemed too high for some. for financial reasons.
Tourism in Liverpool accounts for 47% of our economy. So it’s not chicken feed for us.
Director of Culture at Liverpool City Council
Nevertheless, the main cost of holding the competition is borne by the host country – usually the previous year’s winner – whose responsibility it is to put on a show to remember. Those amounts have varied greatly over the years – with some countries more forthcoming than others.
In 2013, the Swedish city of Malmö reportedly took pride in hosting its own event. $20 million, it’s right down $42 million spent by Moscow in 2009, roughly $30 million paid for by Düsseldorf in 2011, and $54 million Developed by Copenhagen in 2014.
But the priciest Eurovision crown ever is held by the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, which was spent in 2012 amid an enormous amount of money. $64 million and $76 million on the event alone—not to mention the $100 million spent on a new stadium to host it.
An economic challenge for Britain
In 2023, the UK is expected to spend up to $30 million to organize the contest, as hosts Liverpool seek to reflect Ukrainian culture while showcasing the best of British music and creativity.
As host broadcaster, the BBC will foot the bulk of the bill – an estimated $10 million to $21 million – while the UK government has said it will contribute $12 million,
He budget is top By revenue from ticket sales, sponsorship deals and online platforms. Meanwhile, Liverpool local authorities will spend more $5 millionMainly on events outside the arena.
“Culture is really important to this country, and the way we portray our culture and our identity internationally is hugely important. Tourism in Liverpool is worth 47% of our economy. So it For us chicken isn’t feed, it’s really, really important,” said Claire McColgan, director of culture at Liverpool City Council.
Singer Sam Ryder has lifted Britain to number two in 2022 with his song ‘Space Man’, ending a long run of poor performances for the country.
Marco Bertorello | AFP | Getty Images
The event comes at a challenging time for the UK economy, which is struggling with its European neighbors amid rising inflation and low economic growth. In 2022, the UK was the only major economy to fail to return to pre-pandemic growth rates, instead recording a contraction, In 2023, it is expected to shrink another 0.3%,
It also comes as the BBC undergo major cuts and try to plug a £1.4 billion hole in its finances After the government froze the license fee.
Martin said, “Rarely do we have the opportunity to stage Eurovision, but this is our time. We were really, really honored to take it on behalf of Ukraine, and hopefully a great opportunity to showcase That’s what the BBC does really well.” Green, Managing Director of BBC Eurovision 2023.
He said of the BBC’s budget, “Maybe we’ll do a full assessment when we’re done.” “It’s a movable feast at the moment and we’re right in the middle of it.”
What does Britain stand to gain?
With all that expense, why would the UK want to host the event, especially after scoring poorly or being awarded the dreaded zero point several times in recent years?
For one, the competition can be a great advertisement for the host city – and country – that can endure well after the party is over. In 2019, Tel Aviv’s program ended 180 million TV viewers In over 40 markets, and millions more online.
“It is something that countries put on their CVs when they are willing to host events like the Olympic Games or the World Cup,” Vuletic said. “Just think of Russia: it hosted Eurovision in 2009 and later hosted the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the World Cup for soccer.”
This is something that countries put on their CVs when they are interested in hosting events such as the Olympic Games or the World Cup.
Historian of Contemporary Europe at the University of Vienna
It can also attract tourism spending and boost the local economy. 2022 host Turin, a city in northern Italy, spent around $11 million hosting the event but said it made that money back finish seven times through tourism.
James Bates, managing director of Murray’s Restaurant in Liverpool, said he expected a 50% increase in business during the event alone.
“People talk about the ripple effect, and we certainly saw that in 2008, when we were capital of culture. The city is talking about an increase in the number of visitors such as [that]Which was transformative for the city,” he said.
McColgan said, “Liverpool City Council has invested £2 million and within six weeks we have made £15 million of real cash investment to help us have this great competition. But the economic impact is bigger than that.” “We have estimated the economic impact to be £22 million. I think it’s going to be a whole lot higher than that because the number of visitors on the first day exceeded that.”
statement of solidarity
The event also plays an important role in showcasing the country’s soft power, through arts and culture – something both the UK and Ukraine are keen to do.
Ukraine’s 2023 entrant said, “We can show the world our courage, our bravery, our strength and urge all people to be like Ukrainians, to unite, to be strong, to fight for our freedom, our land and our families.” can inspire you to fight. , Tavorchi.
The BBC’s Green said, “This soft side and the promotion of UK plcs internationally make the investment well worth it.”
Electro-pop duo Torchy is representing Ukraine in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.
Anthony Devlin | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Importantly, however, the contest represents a further act of solidarity with Ukraine, and improving UK-EU relations as Britain seeks to re-establish its presence in post-Brexit Europe.
“The other political context that we also have to look at in this year’s competition is that of Brexit,” said Vuletic. “For many Eurosceptics in the UK, Eurovision has been a symbol of what is wrong with Europe. Since 2000, British entries have tended to score significantly lower on the scoreboard, leading Britons to no longer like Britain. Europeans are criticized for.”
“Last year, that changed. The United Kingdom came in second,” he said. “So we also have to see this edition of Eurovision as a rekindling of the British love affair with Eurovision and the British relationship with Europe.”