Eesti Kontsert has €3.4 million talk of reduced activities

Kertu Orro.
Kertu Orro. Source: Gunnar Laak

At the beginning of the month, Eesti Kontsert announced that if it does not receive more taxpayer money, the foundation will be forced to reduce its regional concert activities and stop funding the early music ensemble Hortus Musicus, which was founded by Andres Mustonen. At the same time, the foundation has €3.4 million in its accounts.

Eesti Kontsert director Kertu Orro said, that the money had been raised from grants received during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. "There was COVID and also very, very big restrictions. Because of the restrictions, the state paid compensation. In our case, the paradox is that most of our core activities need and require topping up, because we operate in a [period of] market failure. And if we don't [operate], then we don't spend the money," Orro said.

Eesti Kontsert's annual accounts say the same. At the end of 2019, the year before restrictions were introduced, the foundation had €567,000 in its accounts. A year later, it had €2.3 million, rising to €3.1 million in 2021. At the end of last year, it had €3.4 million. By way of comparison, Eesti Kontsert's revenue for last year was €8.7 million.

Asked whether the reserves could be used to enable the foundation to continue operating in an environment where costs have risen, without the need to make cutbacks, Orro replied in the negative. In Orro's view either state support needs to be increased, or Eesti Kontsert's activities will have to be reduced.  

There are also plans to use the money in the foundation's accounts in other ways.

According to Orro, Eesti Kontsert is planning to buy either one or two concert pianos, at an approximate cost of €0.5 million. It also wants to renovate the organ in the Estonia Concert Hall, the final cost of which is not yet to be determined.

Orro also foresees part of those reserves being used for running costs. "That's what all these funds are planned for," Orro said.

At the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the activities of Eesti Kontsert are overseen by the undersecretary for sports Tarvi Pürn, until the new permanent secretary takes office.

Asked whether the foundation's large reserves are in any way unusual, Pürn said it could certainly raise questions. However, he added, that although he is responsible for the issue, he is not familiar with all the details.

At the beginning of July, Eesti Kontsert published its updated five-year financial plan. The plan includes a reduction in the regional dimension of its concert activities, and a greater concentration of events in Tallinn. If the amount of public funds available does not increase, it will also be forced to stop Hortus Musicus.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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