In a panel reflecting on the Tallinn city center, Muses and Mammon, film-maker Artur Talvik issued a call for more Bohemians in the city center, which is generally considered the preserve of high-rise buildings, retail and financial services.
With the Academy of Arts losing its bid in January to move into an EU-funded high-rise near its previous home near the Viru Keskus shopping mall, and opting for the Kalamaja district instead, Talvik said that Estonia needed people of all stripes to be rich and diverse - nowhere more so than in the city center.
"When I read comments about why those hippies [Talvik here used a pejorative term, märsilohistaja] are needed, I think that we need precisely such people, especially in the city center area, so that it would not turn into a one-dimensional, cynical, consumerist environment," he said.
A school would be one of the best ways of keeping life humming in a city district. Still, Talvik allowed that he was pleased the academy, which celebrates its centennial next year, was able to retain its identity and autonomy.
Another panelist, architect Margit Mutso, said she was fervently in favor of the old location and that it was a "wonderful island" among the shopping malls, "an island where lights were on late into the evening."
"It brought a different kind of contingent into the area, not just snobs and suits."
Krista Kodres, a board member and professor at the Academy, said that white-collar workers and artists should not be cast as opposites. She said the Academy's decision to move to Kalamaja should be celebrated, as times have changed in the meantime and the recession taught a valuable lesson. "It seems to me that crying over the Academy moving a kilometer away is pointless," she said.
Journalism scholar Maarja Lõhmus said that the Academy had been located in a city center shrine to art and culture - albeit one called "ugly" even in a clip on the Academy's website - for 100 years and that she was sorry to see it go.
"The thing is, there's no point in giving away public space and spaces belonging to culture in the Tallinn city center. After all, it doesn't say anywhere that a building should not belong to culture," she said.