Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) said it is possible to make savings in every field, but culture should not be the first area for the state to start making cuts.
Members of the government have said, in recent days, the state needs to start cutting down on its expenses to support the economy due to the economic crisis caused by the effects of the coronavirus. Lukas confirmed on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Wednesday evening that spending cuts will start with the state itself.
"Estonian culture is definitely not the first area. There are some things that haven't been done in the state, distance-work is being done, there is not so much traveling. But we have the areas to cut down on," he said.
"The state's expenses will be checked. In the second half of this year, we will have to reopen the finances. But culture is not the area the government is eyeing up," the minister added.
"There's a chance to save in every area, to makes changes in structure. I'm not talking about formalities but if we think about the experience that the last month has given us, cultural life has gone in a different direction, even concerts are happening [online]. Many changes like these can stay permanently. I'm not saying that our culture will become only virtual but we can use some of these measures and take them with us into the new period," he said.
"Why should I be talking about cuts when we have announced to the cultural institutions that we are trying to go through the situation so that functions can remain, people get to keep their jobs and the public sector will live on reserves for some time," he added.
Minister: There is no reason to cancel events taking place in the second half of the year
While virologist professor Irja Lutsar, a member of the government's Scientific Council to advise on the coronavirus, has said mass public events should not be held anytime this summer. However, Lukas is a little bit more optimistic.
"When the health indicators, or the knowledge we get from getting to know the virus, show that some of the restrictions need to remain in place for longer then they will. But we have to be ready for the best outcome not only the worst. Events in the summer - there's no reason to cancel them at the moment," the minister said.
"Even if there's a date set and the doors will be open, the halls will not be filled with people. Organizers understand that a couple of months after stopping the restrictions, they will need to adjust, to invite people and to market their events. Everything will not restart where it finished. For this reason, it would be wise to postpone bigger events or maybe even cancel them," Lukas said.
"In the second half of the summer, I think that we should be ready to hold some kind of public events. For example the Viljandi Folk Music Festival, there is no reason to cancel it at the moment but the announcements will come at the right time," he said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino