While the City of Tallinn's police orchestra's (Politseiorkester) sales revenues last year totaled €50,000, the ensemble bears an overall cost, not earnings, for the capital's authorities.
Possible sources of revenue might include being booked for private performances, a practice the Tallinn police orchestra's military equivalent also follows sometimes, albeit without the same level of revenue.
From January 1, 2022, the former Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) orchestra changed ownership, becoming the Tallinn Police Orchestra as a result.
Tallinn has its own municipal police force, ubiquitously known by the acronym Mupo; it is to that organization that the former PPA orchestra is now appended.
According to Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Tiit Terik (Center), the city's police orchestra took in nearly €50,000, in so doing making Mupo liable for VAT – by going over the €40,000 VAT-exempt threshold.
Terik said: "Since the police orchestra revenue last year exceeded the limit of VAT liability, i.e. it was over €40,000 euros, this means Mupo became VAT-liable."
Despite this revenue and the VAT liability, the orchestra cannot be considered as turning a profit, Terik added. "Since the orchestra's annual budget stands at around €972,000, while their own sales revenue was around €50,000, it therefore cannot be considered a profitable project."
"The City of Tallinn subsidizes them quite a lot more out of its own budget," Terik went on.
However, Terik noted that despite incurring costs of nearly one million euros, it preserving the orchestra from the perspective of the city's history and traditions, even as it is an ostensibly new organization, is important.
"In fact, the history of the police orchestra goes back to 1928, when the current ensemble's predecessor was created, and I think it important to retain these memories and values," Terik, a former culture minister, said.
Not only the PPA orchestra, but also that which had been under the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) auspices, was spared imminent redundancies by being transferred to the national war museum (Eesti Sõjamuuseum). It is now known as the Estonian military orchestra (Eesti Sõjaväeorkester).
This orchestra's leader and chief conductor, Simmu Vasar, says that the orchestra does not generate much revenue; its main task is to attend and play at national ceremonies and parades, which incurs no extra payment.
"There are some company events and/or corporate balls that book us based on our tariff, but they are not particularly numerous," Vasar said. "So, while we options to generate revenue, this is definitely not a profitable project."
However, Vasar said that despite this, his orchestra too, is needed and is, in his opinion, sustainable. "I don't see any need for the state to terminate having parades accompanied by an orchestra, welcoming visitors in front of the presidential palace, or marking anniversaries, such as the celebration the Tartu Peace Treaty," he said. "The nation still needs these, so consequently, the military orchestra is also needed
Editor: Andrew Whyte