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Lifetime Achievement Awards in Culture go to Olav Ehala, Sirje Helme, Arvo Valton

Olav Ehala, Sirje Helme, Arvo Valton (Vallikivi).
Olav Ehala, Sirje Helme, Arvo Valton (Vallikivi). Source: Ministry of Culture

On Thursday, the government confirmed the winners of the annual prize and the prize for lifetime achievement in culture.

"The awards are the highest government honor for arts and sports. Their ideas, creativity, and accomplishments have influenced society and made significant contributions in their disciplines. This year, 134 candidates were put forward for consideration. It was a great honor to see so many people whose passion develops Estonian culture and sports and whose work is considered worthy of such important recognition," Culture Minister Heidy Purga (Reform), said.

Culture Awards

The Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, composer and pianist Olav Ehala, is one of Estonia's best-known, most-performed and most-loved composers, whose work has captured the hearts of music experts and ordinary people alike. Ehala's extremely significant life's work includes brilliant compositions, performances as a distinguished stage musician, a significant contribution as an educator, and also a selfless and long-standing activity as the chairman of the Estonian Composers' Union.

Sirje Helme, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, is one of Estonia's most prominent art historians and curators. She was the longtime director of the Estonian Center for Contemporary Art and now the Art Museum of Estonia and is a respected opinion leader on art, museum topics and culture. She is an inspiring teacher, passionate leader, accomplished art scholar and researcher, outstanding curator, and advocate for art and museums.

Writer, poet, screenwriter, translator, and publicist Arvo Valton (Vallikivi), a Lifetime Achievement Award winner, is a living classic of Estonian literature. His innovative short stories sparked discussions in the 1960s and have captivated readers and critics for decades. Valton has studied smaller Finno-Ugric culture and literature for decades.

Lifetime Achievement Prize in Culture is €64,000

Five annual cultural prizes are given for exceptional public work from the preceding year. Anna Hints and Marianne Ostrat for their documentary "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood," Kai Lobjakas for producing extraordinary exhibitions based on research and multiple books in 2023, and Mihkel Mutt for book "Liblikas, kes lendas liiga lähedale. Mati Unt ja tema aeg" ("The Butterfly That Flew Too Close") receive the annual honors. Salto architectural bureau for the design of public buildings, including Paide, Narva and Rakvere state high schools. Tiit Ojasoo, Olari Elts and Ene-Liis Semper for "Macbeth," a collaboration between the Estonian Drama Theatre, ERSO and the Eesti Kontsert.

The annual award is €9,600; in the case of a joint nomination, the prize money will be split.

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Editor: Karmen Rebane, Kristina Kersa

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