Hallo OGAE International: Maiken Mäemets

Hello Maiken, how are you?

- Hi there, I’m very well, thanks for asking. It’s nice to do an interview with you.

You are the president of OGAE International. Tell us, is it difficult to coordinate with over 40 different OGAE clubs?

- I would describe the task as challenging. Every club has their own interests and pressure from their members. Clubs want to serve their members as well as they can, they want as many tickets and accreditations as possible. Our job at OGAE International is to make the calculations as balanced as possible and make sure that OGAE-members get useful benefits. Yes, it’s sometimes disappointing when we’re unable to help everyone with their requests, but we work with the tools that we’re given and we do the best we can.

Tell us, how the OGAE network operates?

- Each of the 42 clubs in the network is an independent club with their own government and their own members. They each have their own individualized ID-cards and are responsible for their own incomes and expenses. Individual members, like you and I, are always members of national club. National clubs are members of OGAE International, which is governed by the OGAE International Bureau, consisting of 7 people. Our job is to coordinate issues that concern all the clubs, and we tend not to get involved with issues that concern clubs internally.

The decision making power lies within all the clubs – each club is represented by the club President and they have one vote. The Bureau acts on what the Presidents decide.

We rely on volunteers both in the OGAE International Bureau, the National OGAE clubs as well as the host OGAE-club in the Eurovision-city in creating the Eurovision-weeks – hundreds of people put in their spare time to organize events, act as press and to coordinate tickets for their club members. We are a non-profit organization, with the aim of promoting the contest also during times when it’s not on TV in May.

What benefits do OGAE members have?

- Being a member of OGAE is most importantly a status-question. OGAE is a well known organization and in total we amount to some 10 000 people. We are brought together by the same interests and the wish for the Contest to stay strong. In order to make cooperation more flexible and fluent between the different clubs we started to use the OGAE ID-cards. We use the cards also to show our partners that we have real people in our clubs. As you know, ID-cards are necessary when buying tickets through your OGAE-club.

We are also cooperating with the Eurovision Shop and OGAE-members get a discount from everything they purchase. The discount is also connected with the ID-card.

The ID-card also allows cheaper entrance fee to the Euro Fan Café during the Eurovision-weeks and was used in Copenhagen also for entrance to the official EuroClub.

Many people join their national OGAE club so that they would get tickets to the Contest. To those people I’d like to say: Perhaps you’d like to consider helping out next year with this huge task? Is there something else that you could perhaps contribute to your club in order to make both the club and the tickets-task more easy and professional?

What is the cooperation between OGAE International and EBU?

- Our cooperation is a two-way-street. We help EBU and EBU helps us. We appreciate EBU as our most important partner in our endeavor, and EBU appreciates our work for and with the fans.

Are you satisfied with the cooperation between OGAE International and OGAE Serbia?

- Yes, very much so. The serbian fans are passionate about Eurovision and are always also present at the host country. It’s a delight to see the Serbians each year.

You are from Finland. We have very nice memories from Finland, our first victory on the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007. Tell us, how much is the Eurovision Song Contest popular in Finland?

- Eurovision in Finland is popular. The OGAE-network was originally founded in Finland back in 1984 and this year the Finnish OGAE is celebrating 30 years of OGAE. That’s amazing! Finland also has one of the biggest OGAE-clubs in the network and the club is doing a great job in promoting the contest in Finland.

Do you like any Serbian song from Eurovision Song Contest?

- I do, Serbia has many beautiful songs with wonderful lyrics. If I have to mention a song, then „Lane moje“.

Thank you very much Maiken. We wish you all the best. See you in Vienna!

- Thank you and have a wonderful Eurovision season! See you in Vienna!