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Court rules Ministry of Culture must reconsider Vaba Lava grant

Vaba Laba Narva
Vaba Laba Narva Source: Vaba Lava Narva

Tallinn Administrative Court has ruled that the Ministry of Culture must reconsider the grant application made by Vaba Lava, which operates two theaters, one in Tallinn and the other in Narva.

Vaba Lava had requested a grant of €575,000 from the Ministry of Culture to support its annual operations, with the ministry agreeing to provide the lower sum of just over €350,000.

The ministry's decision was challenged in court by Vaba Lava, which did not consider the proposed sum sufficient to maintain and run its two theater centers for the duration of the year.

On Friday, the court ordered the Ministry of Culture to reconsider the subsidy amount, while also requiring the ministry to cover Vaba Lava's legal costs of almost €5,000.

The ministry now has a one month window in which to decide whether to appeal against the court's decision.

Commenting on the court ruling, Vaba Lava chairman Allan Kaldoja said he very much hoped that the ministry would quickly issue "a new and fair evaluation decision" regarding the matter.

Theater Advisor to the Ministry of Culture Laur Kaunissaare, said the ministry would decide in the coming days whether to appeal the ruling. "If we don't go ahead with the appeal, there will be a re-evaluation of Vaba Lava's grant application," Kaunissaare said.

The ministry will discuss the Vaba Lava issue next Wednesday, when it is scheduled to meet with heads of the Estonian Association of Performing Arts Institutions.

"The current grant is given to Vaba Lava on the assumption that they are a private performing institution and can therefore be funded on that basis," Kaunissaare said.

He added that the rules and conditions for funding private theaters are currently being developed under the framework of the Performing Arts Institutions Act. "We have had three meetings with representatives of private theaters about this law. As Vaba Lava is also a member of the representative organization, whose views have been conveyed (to us) by the negotiators, it follows that they have also been represented at these meetings," Kaunissaare said.

The issue is one of rules and exceptions, and how to make exceptions for individual institutions, according to Kaunissaare. "We know about Vaba Lava's situation, but we also know the situation of the other performing arts institutions and that, in their view, they too, are underfunded," Kaunissaare said.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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