MPs discuss extending Cultural Endowment support to speed up construction

The likely location for Süku in Tartu.
The likely location for Süku in Tartu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

MPs are discussing speeding up the construction of nationally important buildings and may permit the Cultural Endowment to fund three buildings at once rather than two due to higher than forcast tax receipts.

The talks are being held by the Riigikogu's Culture Committee due to the endowment's better-than-expected financial situation. The change would speed up construction.

The Cultural Endowment is funded by excise taxes, including those from the sales of alcohol, cigarettes and gambling. The fund has supported the building of the art gallery Kumu and the Estonian National Museum (ERM), amongst others.

Buildings being considered for future funding include, and have been ranked by the Riigikogu in importance in the following order, Tartu's Downtown Cultural Center (Süku), the Kreenholm Culture Quarter in Narva, the Arvo Pärt Music House concert hall in Rakvere, the extension of the Estonia National Opera and the Tallinn Film Campus.

Endowment manager Margus Allikmaa told Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" progress is underway with Süku and a contract has been written and is likely to be signed this autumn. Discussions are also underway with the city council over the Tallinn Film Campus.

Allikmaa said the fund is in a better than expected situation as "both excise and gambling tax receipts are on the rise" giving the endowment has more money to support new projects.

"Today, in the Riigikogu's Culture Committee, we proposed to consider the possibility that the Cultural Endowment should finance not two, but three objects at the same time. This would help the Rakvere Pärt Music House to be completed faster and open up additional possibilities for earlier financing of the film campus," he told ERR on Monday.

Allikmaa said he did not support ending the ranking system which he said had been "comprehensively agreed" by the parliament.

Culture Committee member Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits (Isamaa) said the law, which agreed on the ranking and number of buildings that can be supported, needs amending.

"The Cultural Endowment has money but we cannot move forward with construction quickly enough. I support the proposal that up to three construction objects can be financed because then we will start building faster," she said.

"We have five projects on the list that we need to finance, it was the Riigikogu's will to formalize it as a ranking, which means that all objects must be financed in that order. My position is that if one object cannot be moved forward with as quickly as planned, then we could help others which are on the list, and which are in such a phase that they can be started. For that, it is necessary to put amendments to the law on the table," Ladõnskaja-Kubits said.

The MP said tensions already exist, highlighting the situation of the film campus where a lot of progress has already been made.

"The film campus is very much waiting for financing, but it is the last in line. If we look at the ranking we will reach the funding of the film campus in 15 years, but if we want to move forward with the project, it could be done now," she said.

Liina Kersna (Reform), committee vice-chairman, said there are millions of extra euros in the fund every year because gambling taxes rise faster than forecast.

"It is not reasonable to leave this money in a bank account, when it could be used to support the faster construction of other cultural objects," she said.

Kersna said a discussion will be made on Monday.


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Editor: Mari Peegel, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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