Cultural institutions want money for dry toilets and safe chandeliers

The Estonia Theater in Tallinn, home of the National Opera (Rahvusooper) in Tallinn.
The Estonia Theater in Tallinn, home of the National Opera (Rahvusooper) in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Theaters and museums that function as state foundations are asking the culture ministry for renovation support in order to fix potentially dangerous situations, such as chandeliers that could fall on patrons.

The Russian Theater has asked the Ministry of Culture for renovation support to replace mechanisms for raising chandeliers in the building's grand hall, fireplace hall and the latter's vestibule. The cost is €88,000 and the problem to be fixed is listed as "danger to life."

"The hoisting mechanisms for ten chandeliers do not meet safety requirements and are dangerous," a spokesperson for the theater wrote to the ministry, adding that the money would be used for project documentation, new mechanisms and a control system.

The Estonia Theater has problems with chairs both in its concert and theater halls. Repairing the seating in the latter would cost €60,000. "The chairs are cracked, their fastenings broken. Seats are falling apart in the middle of plays," the theater's representative wrote. Replacing the fabric and cushions of seating in the concert hall would run more than double that at €130,000. "People are ripping their clothes on metal parts sticking out of the padding, the cushions have taken all they can over the last 24 years. We replaced the balcony seating in 2022. We can make do until 2024 by moving some chairs from the balcony to the floor. However, the situation might be poor enough by then to have to replace the cushions and backrests too," the theater's memo reads.

Ugala theater is also having trouble with seats ruining patrons' clothes and wants €15,000 to replace the design seating in the cloakroom. "These are original round seats that function as elements of decor (interior decorator Mait Summatavet), and while the fabric was renewed as part of the 2017 renovation of the theater, it has become worn and broken to the point of ruining patrons' clothes again," the theater wrote in.

The Pärnu Concert Hall, managed by the Estonian Concert Foundation, is also looking to replace the fabric and cushions of its seating, which it estimates would cost €200,000. "People are ripping their clothes, the fabric has holes in places, while this particular fabric is no longer available. It is impossible to replace the entire fabric pulled over the foam rubber without compromising fire safety, quality and acoustic effects. This means that the theater will have to procure cushions and fabric ready-made from the factory to renovate 1,180 seats."

Wish lists include a dry toilet and bicycle parking structure

Problems at Vanemuine Theater also extend to patron transport. The theater finds it could use €55,000 to fix up parking near the building. "The parking lot is completely dilapidated, the brick masonry around manholes is falling apart. The continued need to fix them is expensive, while it is not sustainable or effective," a spokesperson said.

Vanemuine wants €25,000 to construct a bicycle parking structure. "The green transition and gradually improving bicycle infrastructure necessitate a bicycle storage solution as there is no longer enough room for bikes."

The Drama Theater wants to undertake an extensive renovation for which it needs €1.5 million. "It has been 17-21 years since the theater was last renovated and the building needs freshening up outside and in," head of the theater Rein Oja wrote.

The theater also wants to replace its main curtain, which would cost €111,000. "The curtain, one of the calling cards of a presentable hall, is turning 20 and could use replacing. The curtain has sustained considerable water damage. It is also very heavy," Oja explained.

The situation is life threatening in Jõhvi as its stage elevators are 17 years old and their automation is no longer working properly. "They are no longer moving in sync and are putting people at risk. According to the manufacturer, the lifts cannot be fixed as the technology is too old," a representative of the Estonian Concert Foundation wrote. New lifts would cost €150,000.

The Karilatsi Museum in Kanepi Municipality, Põlva County is asking for money to build a modern indoors dry toilet that can be kept clean and has good ventilation. That would cost €35,000. "The building has a single dry toilet the entrance to which is on stage – people have to pass through the stage in order to reach it," the museum's letter reads.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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