Culture Minister: Local authorities sometimes think culture just an expense

Culture Minister Piret Hartman
Culture Minister Piret Hartman Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

In an interview with ERR, Culture Minister Piret Hartman said, that in addition to increasing education levels among workers in the cultural sector, she also plans to focus on promoting culture more to local authorities in order to convince them of its value.

"I had three priorities when the state budget negotiations began: salaries, an increase in overheads and physical exercise. Added to that, was the organization of the Song Festival and social cohesion," explained Hartman, adding that her targets related to salaries and overheads were fully met. "We have a base amount of €17 million to pay the salaries of cultural workers and coaches for next year and over €12 million to cover the increased cost of overheads," she said.

According to Hartman, the aim is, that next year, departments which fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture will receive a 10 percent increase in funding." In addition to that, we will also come to the aid of those partners, that are not our departments, but receive funding from the Ministry of Culture in the form of various operating grants or as a result of calls for project proposals."

While the salary concerns of dance teachers are currently considered to be rather acute, Hartman confirmed that they were not taken into account during the state budget negotiations. "We will not solve this issue within the current state budget," Hartman admitted, adding that there are also major concerns when it comes to the relationships between cultural institutions and local governments. "I myself have met with a lot of organizers, and when I have asked how many of them receive a salary of €1,400 or more, it turns out there are very, very few."

"A few weeks ago, we also sat down with the Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities and jointly agreed that we would try to start promoting the cultural sector and its potential more to local government leaders," Hartman explained, adding that cultural workers' salaries are often low at the moment because there is a common misperception that culture is just an expense. "In reality, culture creates value on the ground and also attracts tourists," the culture minister said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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