Cultural entrepreneurs in Hiiumaa are working to bring life back to a long-vacant 110-year-old factory complex in the Kõrgessaare Parish. On Saturday evening, the process began, with a concert held as part of the annual Pühalepa Music Festival, which takes place every August.
Just under 20 years ago, Hiiumaa was hit by a major socio-economic blow when a fish processing plant in Kõrgessaare, based in a former silk factory built in in 1912, closed down, leaving several hundred people unemployed. Now the non-profit organization 'Viscosa Culture Factory' wants to turn the facility into a venue to host cultural events.
Niels Rattiste, one of the founding members of the NGO and current Mayor of Kõrgessaare, said the idea came from a discussion with real estate entrepreneur Marco Pärtel.
On Saturday evening, the first public event of the Pühalepa Music Festival, a concert by Erki Pärnoja and Collegium Musicale, took place at the Kulturitehdas for an audience of several hundred people.
"Next year, the children's theater 'Piip ja Tuut' will come here with their entire season's repertoire. We have been hearing about agreements with the Hiiumaa cinema, which will come here regularly to show films regularly, and negotiations are also under way with the organizers of various festivals and concerts," said Rattiste.
Events have now started to be held in the parts of the Kõrgessaare complex which are known to be safe. For the other parts of the former factory, structural engineering experts will be commissioned to determine, which areas are suitable for public use.
"There has been a real leap forward here in the last month. There has been a lot of voluntary work (going on) here, especially under the leadership of the NGO 'Viscosa Culture Factory'. The local community has also come along to help out, so we have been able to get the space cleaned up," said Rattiste.
Rattiste added that a separate foundation will be set up to manage the culture factory.
Kristel Üksvärava, who organized the first concert at Kõrgessaare, said the venue even has the potential to become well known in the wider Baltic region.
"No one is questioning why there is a cultural center in Tallinn or why we are developing and promoting Kreenholm (A former textile factory in Narva). This is another great example of a place to which really very diverse (types of) culture could be brought," said Üksvärav.
Editor: Michael Cole