Viljandi Folk Festival organizers request €180,000 additional 2024 funding

Tarmo Noormaa
Tarmo Noormaa Source: Kris Süld

The organization which holds the annual Viljandi Folk Festival has appealed to the state for additional support of €180,000 next year, citing several years' losses and a lack of reserves to cover further deficits.

The Estonian Traditional Music Center (Eesti Pärimusmuusika Keskus), and NGO, appealed to the two ministries for support after making a 2022 loss of €190,000 in the wake of rising prices.

The Estonian Traditional Music Center predicts similar losses for this year as well and says reserves will no longer be sufficient to cover any deficit in 2024.

The center's head, Tarmo Noormaa (pictured), says that if additional funding is not found, NGO's board and members will have to decide on a further action plan. "Essentially, we have one person at work for each line of activity - which area are we leaving inactive?"

"The Viljandi Folk Music Festival will remain, as it is the largest, best-known and most successful of the Estonian Traditional Music Center's activities," Noormaa went on.

"However, the management of the Pärimusmuusika ait (a venue operated by the center - ed.) and the center's other areas of activity, such as education, year-round concerts, publications, competitions, etc., will remain in a difficult situation," if things remain as they are.

Noormaa added that thus far, covering organizational operating costs by hiking ticket prices has been working, but as of now a reasonable price ceiling for visitors has been attained. 

Funding issues have also hit music teaching and school concerts, he added, since prices charged for these have been hiked.

Ministry of Culture spokesperson Hannus Luure said that whether the support levels are increased or not will have to wait until the state budget negotiations are underway. This takes place from September onwards.

The past few years have been difficult for the culture sector in general; the Estonian Traditional Music Center has had to cut its employee payroll in half, in addition to raising ticket prices, participation fees at camps and courses, and rental prices for rooms and equipment.

Both the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Research were approached for the potential additional funding for next year. 

The culture ministry was requested to grant the bulk of the sum (€150,000), with a further €30,600 requested from the education ministry.

The culture ministry component would cover fixed costs, primarily admin and labor costs.

In the last three years, the Ministry of Culture's support for the traditional music center has remained at a constant €378,000 per annum. 

The Ministry of Education has so far not provided support since 2019.

Whereas in 2019 the support from the state budget made up 27 percent of the Estonian Traditional Music Center's budget, in 2022 this figure had fallen to 22.5 percent. 

Should the center receive the requested sums from both ministries, this would total 32 percent of its 2024 budget.

The center has been operating in Viljandi since 2008 and hosts over 100 traditional music, attended by up to 70,000 people a year. 

The flagship event is the Viljandi Folk Festival held in July, with an average of over 20,000 attendees. This year's event is the 30th of its kind and runs July 27-30.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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