Viljandi folk center halving staff numbers

Estonian traditional music center head of folk festival Ando Kivi and head of program Tarmo Noormaa.
Estonian traditional music center head of folk festival Ando Kivi and head of program Tarmo Noormaa. Source: Olev Kenk / ERR

The Viljandi-based Estonian traditional music center (Eesti pärimusmuusika keskus) not-for-profit is laying off half its workforce, 10 people, citing the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout, and the need to comply with regulations governing such organizations. The status of late July's folk festival in the south Estonian town is still unclear.

The center could not rent out its premises or earn income in other ways, and is also laying off its cafe staff from mid-June.

The not-for-profit continues to fulfill statutory requirements, it says, but after reviewing the house's maintenance costs and already reduced staff salaries, it became clear at the beginning of May that more savings would need to be made. 

"If we do not take drastic measures, we will be in the red to the tune of around €200,000 by year end," the center's head Tarmo Noormaa told ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" Wednesday.

Until now, the Estonian Traditional Music Center employed 20 people, but now the positions of the head of the database, assistant and project manager will be lost, as well as changes in the technical staff.

Many of the losses come in the technical parts of the organization, which previously employed 20 people, though two actual traditional music specialists will also be departing.

Viljandi's annual folk music festival is also hanging in the balance, with a final decision being due for May; even if it gets the green light it cannot rescue the situation.

"If the festival goes ahead, there will certainly not be any financial success arising from it, but rather a loss must be accepted there this year as well," festival director Ando Kiviberg said, emphasizing the center was working to minimize losses.

The folk festival was slated for late July; at present, public gatherings of up to 1,000 people will be permissible in July and August.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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