According to the original plans, the renovation work on the Tallinn City Theater complex was supposed to have been completed this year, with doors open to the public in 2024. However, due to rising construction costs and a range of unforeseen circumstances, the re-opening of the complex is now set to be postponed by at least half a year.
"Last November, we held a launch party for Tallinn City Theater, apparently safe in the knowledge that audiences would be able to enter the theater in September 2024. However, now we have to admit that that is no longer realistic," Tallinn Deputy Mayor Kaarel Oja (SDE) said at a city government press conference.
"I have to remind you that we are rebuilding an entire quarter of the Old Town, which means the construction and renovation of 17 buildings. These buildings are centuries old and we are working according to the strictest heritage protection conditions," Oja said, confirming that there have been no shortage of surprises during the construction process.
"With all these different things piling up, now is the final moment to make an honest decision and postpone the completion date, because at the end of the day, underpinning this entire process is Tallinn City Theater, which is an active, functioning performance institution, which has to plan its activities," he said, adding that, barring any further surprises, the doors will open to the public in February 2025.
"If there are more surprises, and in theory ,there could be, then it will be pushed back a bit further," Oja said.
According to Oja, what this means above all, is that Tallinn City Theater will be operating for half or maybe even an entire season more than originally planned, at the Salme Cultural Centre.
While according to previous estimates, work on the Tallinn City Theater complex was expected to cost a total of €36.9 million, Oja said it was now fairly certain that the final sum would be in excess of €40 million. "Over the years there have been plenty of reasons and a need to make considerable adjustments, because, as you can imagine, if you dig down to a depth of nine meters in the Old Town, then what comes out of that, is valuable in itself."
"The construction of the building itself has been expensive. However, when building a theater complex like this, it is also important to understand that the theater itself is not finished at the point when the building has been completed. This is because the theater is not only the building and the auditorium, but also very specific, high-tech stage, video, sound and lighting equipment," he said, adding that prior estimates for the cost of the technology required have also been subject to change.
According to Oja, hopes that the state might come to the city's aid in relation to the renovation of the Tallinn City Theater have not disappeared. "At the moment, we know that the state will not come to our aid in the 2024 budget, but that mistake could be corrected in the 2025 budget."
Editor: Michael Cole