Rasmus Kaljujärv: Estonia is on the verge of having very few theaters left

Rasmus Kaljujärv.
Rasmus Kaljujärv. Source: Scanpix/Postimees/Mihkel Maripuu

The year 2022 will also be known for the closings of the Paide Theater and Von Krall Theater, among others. Rasmus Kaljujärv, an actor, said on ETV's end-of-year program that the never-ending optimization and budget cuts are particularly difficult for smaller theaters.

Kaljujärv, who has been acting in Von Krahl productions for many years, said that he does not know if he will be able to continue working with the company in January and February. "It is difficult to pinpoint why this has happened so quietly, it has been a general and larger trend."

"Over the past two decades, the ministry of culture's budget has practically halved, from 3.8 percent of the national budget in 2001 to 2.1 percent today, and the slide continues," he said, emphasizing that the melt down begins with the smallest entities first.

"The endless optimization, cutbacks, and austerity will hit these small theaters the hardest - the Von Krahl, the Expedition, the Paide Theater, and eventually the VAT Theater and the Tartu New Theater," Kaljujärv said, adding that Estonia is now on track to have only a few major theaters in 50 years time.

Kaljujärv said that the Paide Teater, which closed this year, had established itself as an inquiring and ambitious theater on the Estonian stage over the preceding three to four years. "They were addressing what theater should be addressing in the 21st century: identity, memory and community, and they stood out."

"This year, Artium was opened in Viimsi, which is a wonderful building with three halls, as well as rooms for recreational activities and for children, and it is wonderful that a municipality can afford this and that it is doing this — building itself such a cultural center, which cost about 15 million euros," he said, adding that this could be compared to Paide, which cannot even find €30,000 to keep the theater running. "These gaps are quite large."


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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