Tartu Artists' Union former head criticizes culture funding

The former head of Tartu Artists' Union Markus Toompere said on the show "Kunstiministeerium" that culture funding is not allocated equally. He said theater takes money from art.

Toompere, who stepped down from his position after a decade, said the government's current cultural policy does not operate with equal rules: "The picture on paper and reality - there's not just a small shift, it's two different worlds."

In Toompere's opinion, the Ministry of Culture is working on ideas that have strong lobbyists and the most vocal ones win.

"The main message from the ministry in the field of art is that we do not have money and we cannot support you. At the same time, we see how there are new venues for theaters, such as in Kuressaare, Pärnu, Narva and there seems to be enough money in the theatre field," he said.

"At the same time, the theater industry gives the impression that they have no money, and the entire theater industry will immediately collapse if another €20 million is not given to them. That national culture will end as soon as a small theater has to close its doors.

"I don't know what the theater has done to charm the Ministry of Culture," Toompere said. "I dare say that nothing happens in theater sector if a couple of theaters are closed. The theater has simply been in the Minister of Culture's mind for a long time. The current situation is abnormal."

Toompere talked about art funding in 2016–2017, as a result of which, according to him, all the funding was largely given to the Tallinn Art Hall. The Estonian Artists' Union received a small amount of support alongside several other institutions. Even if the activity takes place outside the capital, its curation is still from Tallinn and the money will actually stay in Tallinn, he said.

"The rest of the art sector should ask for funding from the Cultural Endowment, and if they do not agree with such a "fantastical" plan, they are just idiots.

"From the beginning, there was only one plan - we finance the Tallinn Art Hall and everyone who doesn't like it is just idiots. The wording of the rhetoric was a bit different, but the content remains the same," he added.

Toompere wished his colleagues strength and encourages them to move forward on the issue of art funding: "Nothing has been put in place in terms of funding for three years."

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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