Culture Minister Rein Lang has denied the Tartu Artists' Union status as an artistic association, which would make them ineligible for state grants. The union is turning to the courts.
The union sent an application for acknowledgment to the ministry in September, only to be rejected. The union applied again in May, but the minister also rejected that with a directive on Thursday.
The ministry said that the profile of the union is identical to that of the Estonian Artists' Association (EKL), which is already listed as an artistic association, adding that they do not want to open the doors to a flood of similar organizations.
The thorny issue is overlapping membership, with the ministry saying that nearly half of the Tartu union's members also belong to the EKL and they have the right to apply for funding through EKL, while others are free to join.
Markus Toompere, who heads the Tartu Artists' Union, told ERR News today that the Estonian Artists' Association has long ignored the needs of its members who reside and work outside of the capital and the Tartu Artist's Union is only trying to protect its members.
Toompere said there is nothing in the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act that bans membership of two artistic unions.
The Tartu union said they will analyze the ministry's directive in the next few days and then take the ministry to court.
Only 10 percent of state funding for artistic association can be used for administrative purposes, with the rest going directly to members.