Tallinn Music Week organizer Helen Sildna has now submitted the documents requested by the Estonian Ministry of Culture concerning her company Shiftworks' use of public funds. The ministry previously requested accounting data from Shiftworks on several occasions in order to complete an audit, though had not received a response.
According to the Ministry of Culture, Sildna submitted the requested documents, namely extracts from Shiftworks' general ledger account, on Friday.
"The documents we have repeatedly requested from Sildna have now been provided. The internal audit department of the Ministry of Culture will now look at them and if there are any further questions or there is a need submit anything else, they will contact Shiftworks," said Ministry of Culture General Secretary Tarvi Sits.
The accounting documents, which the Ministry of Culture has now received from Shiftworks cover the period from 2019 to 2021. "The final deadline for our audit is May 31. If it turns out that we can do it earlier, that's great, but the deadline is the end of May. The internal auditors will give us their suggestions and assessments, and then we'll move on," said Sits.
Last week, Sits and Sildna signed an addendum to the ministry's contract with Shiftworks. According to the new terms, Shiftworks is obliged to hand over its audited annual report for 2022 to the Ministry of Culture by October 31.
Going forward, an audited annual report will also become a prerequisite for receiving an operating grant from the Ministry of Culture. This was previously not the case for Shiftworks.
"The inclusion of the auditing obligation as part of the cooperation between Shiftworks and the Ministry of Culture from 2022 onwards is a sensible step. It will provide additional certainty to us and to the festival's other partners, funders and service providers. It will also give the Ministry of Culture with a thorough overview of the actual volume and costs involved in the activities of the Tallinn Music Week and Station Narva festivals' activities," Sildna told ERR.
The operating grant from the Ministry of Culture covers between 15 and 20 percent of Shiftworks' budget for the two festivals, which are both held annually.
Between 2019 and 2023, the Ministry of Culture has provided Sildna's company with operating grants, project grants and funds to ease the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, totaling approximately €1.1 million.
Upon receiving the various grants, Shiftworks agreed to keep all the necessary documents in order and to allow the Ministry of Culture to verify how the money was being used. Otherwise, according to the terms of the contract, the grant money would have to be returned.
The main stumbling block for the auditors, who began looking into Shiftworks' accounts last October, related to the forwarding to them of an extract from the accounts.
While the ministry had expressed concern at the situation, it opted not to ask for Sildna's company to repay the grant money, instead agreeing on a deadline of April 3 to submit the required documents.
Editor: Michael Cole