Committee sends four buildings to Riigikogu for cultural endowment

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A sketch of the extension to the National Opera building. Source: AB Ansambel OÜ/architect Toivo Tammik

The Riigikogu's cultural affairs committee decided to forward four cultural objects of national importance to the Riigikogu: the Narva Kreenholm Cultural Manufacturing Quarter, the extension of the current National Opera Building, the Arvo Pärt Music Hall and the Tartu Cultural Centre in the Heart of the City (Süku).

Committee chairman Aadu Must said the committee's proposal will move forward to the Riigikogu, where a final decision will be made regarding the ranking of the objects and which ones need to be developed or restored in the coming years. The objects will receive funding from the Cultural Enowment of Estonia (Kultuurkapital).

Must noted that the draft will be discussed at a plenary in two readings and the final vote is expected to be reached by the end of the spring session. 30 total proposals for objects of national importance were made and 11 objects reached the final round of voting. All proposals are available in Estonian here.

Must said there should be no more choices made, but amendments to the draft are possible. "There could be amendments for reductions, if it becomes clear that some projects are not sustainable or viable even with state support, but we worked hard for those objects to not be listed," he noted.

Each project had its positive aspects, Must said. For example, the local community's support for the Arvo Pärt Music Hall and the fact that the project would mean restoring an already existing building, spoke to its advantage. "Work on it has been done for a long time, this project has matured for a long time. It had the support of different parties and many, including myself, have visited," Must said.

"It had many small positives, including very large support from the local community and the local municipality government. We are dealing with an existing building in Rakvere, improving and promoting it and not us creating one more box and then having more culture," Must added.

According to the committee, the sum of all four objects would total around €140 million. He said the decision to allow endowment for all four objects was important to avoid major cultural buildings to only be developed in Tallinn and Tartu.

The Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act allows the Endowment's board to support the development or restoration of up to two cultural buildings of national importance. Each year, 60.6 percent of the gambling tax is earmarked for the fund.

The government last decided to develop the Kumu Art Museum, the Estonian National Museum (ERM) and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in 1996.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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