Tallinn has the capacity to set up its planned Tallinn Film Wonderland movie studio, whose construction will begin this year, Margus Allikmaa, head of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Kultuurikapital), says. The fate of the Estonia Theater extension, meanwhile, is the project with the most question marks hanging over it at present, in terms of Cultural Endowment financing, he added.
Appearing on Saturday's "Vikerhommik", Vikerraadio's morning show, Allikmaa said that the ranking of cultural recipients of Cultural Endowment funding is a matter for the Riigikogu and, while the law has been amended to allow for three to as many as five objects to be funded simultaneously, the fund still has to take into account that ranking order.
The proposed Tartu City Center Cultural Center (SÜKU) lies top of the ranking, even though at present it is not even clear where that will be built.
Allikmaa said: "The Cultural Endowment has signed a contract with the city of Tartu and has agreed on financing. All the sums which need to be allocated to Tartu through to 2031 have been scheduled nicely."
"Naturally there are clauses in the contract whereby if SÜKU doesn't materialize, we won't finance it either. We are in communication with the City of Tartu constantly, and we are aware of what's happening there, but not one single cultural object is born just like that. These have been discussed for ten years, and have had to stand the test of time," Allikmaa went on.
The situation with the Tallinn Film Wonderland is healthier, he said. "Tallinn has the means to complete the film campus and have entered the required funds into this year's budget; construction will begin this year. Once Kultuurikapital is certain that doing so will not harm the completion of the other objects on the list in any way, the subsequent financing of the film campus can also start," Allikaa said.
"We have made our forecasts and, since receipts are good, we will be able to finance the film campus, not in five or six years, but already in the year following (ie. 2024-ed.). Everything depends on the pace at which Estonia moves," he went on, referring to the Estonia Theater in Tallinn, home of the national opera and ballet, whose improvement, extension or relocation has been hotly debated for several years now.
"What I know regarding the expansion of the Estonia Theater is that the mayor of Tallinn, Mihhail Kõlvart, has set up a group of experts who should be ablet o come to an understanding on whether this extension is viable. I hope that their goal is to work to ensure that it is forthcoming. Dreams of building a new house on the edge of the city – well it is difficult to find money for that purpose," he went on, referring to earlier plans to build an entirely new theater elsewhere, or even to convert the Linnahall for that purpose.
Allikmaa also said that the Tallinn Film Wonderland and the Arvo Pärt Music House in Rakvere will most likely be completed by the end of 2024.
"SÜKU is moving at a more leisurely pace; the start of construction there is set for 2027-2028. I hope that the discussions with the Estonia Theater will eventually yield a reasonable result," he added.
Margus Allikmaa is a former board chair of public broadcaster ERR.
Tallinn Urban Planning Department rejected the Estonia Theater extension proposal, in summer 2021.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel
Source: Vikerhommik, interviewed by Märt Treier.