Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas said that the city government of Tallinn has long been aware of the developments concerning the Linnahall arena.
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Aivar Riisalu told public broadcaster ERR last week that neither the city nor him personally support establishing an opera theater in the Linnahall arena awaiting renovation as it would inhibit the building's potential as a concert and conference center. Riisalu also said that the state has not held negotiations regarding Linnahall with the city.
Lukas said during question time in the Riigikogu on Wednesday that the city has long been informed of developments and Mayor Mihhail Kolvart was also aware of issues concerning culture and education when he was responsible for that field as deputy mayor. Lukas also said that he has planned a meeting on that topic with Kolvart next week.
The minister said that there are two major reasons why merging the needs of Linnahall and the opera theater should be dealt with. "One is that the current state of Linnahall is sad and it is located in a very visible place in the capital of the Republic of Estonia, it makes up one part of the view of our capital from the sea, there should be something proper there, a crumbling former colossus is definitely not that, it rather serves as an embarrassment," Lukas said.
Another reason is finding a new home for the opera and ballet productions of the Estonian National Opera. "At one point, in 1913, Estonia was opened as a spoken-word theater and it does not have good conditions for producing opera and ballet. After all, we are a nation with such a high music culture, well-known namely for our music culture and because of this, this one symbolic object could also be visible in the planning of the capital," the minister said.
According to Lukas, the opera and concert hall solution is one of the most promising of the options proposed at present. "I have not heard of any alternative proposal that could be taken as seriously," he added.
The minister also highlighted that the Linnahall project will in any case require support from the state, which is why partnership between the state and the city is especially important.
The Estonian government at a sitting on Thursday last week was scheduled to discuss whether to give the Linnahall arena in Tallinn the function of an opera theater in addition to that of an international conference center, however, the discussion will be postponed as Prime Minister Juri Ratas will be in Brussels at the time.
General manager of the Estonian National Opera, Aivar Mae, said in early October that the funding for establishing an opera theater in Linnahall could partially come from the Cultural Endowment.
In accordance with the national budget strategy for 2020-2023, the government decided as part of a plan to develop Tallinn as a destination of conference tourism to invest 40 million euros in the reconstruction of Linnahall into a multipurpose culture and conference center.
The government is planning to invest 20 million euros into Linnahall's reconstruction both in 2021 and 2022, it appears from the state budget strategy for 2020-2023. No money has been earmarked for Linnahall in next year's state budget as authorization from the European Commission to grant state aid has not yet been received.
Editor: Helen Wright