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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 23.09.2020, 18:54

Reopening of cultural establishments has gone well in Estonia

BC, Tallinn, 06.08.2020.Print version
Estonian Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas, who visited the island of Saaremaa on Tuesday, said that the opening of cultural establishments has been safe and that consideration should be given to reducing the precepts restricting their activities, the regional Saarte Haal writes, cites LETA/BNS.

Lukas noted that state subsidies in connection with the emergency situation in the field of culture amounted to 25 million euros. Museums, theaters and concert organizers were compensated for lost ticket revenue. "It can be said that they have earned this honorably, because as soon as they were free of the virus restrictions, the performances and concerts started again. Admittedly, to a limited extent, the halls are not at 100 percent, but you can say that the people came back to the halls both to listen to concerts and watch performances. And life is happening. The cultural program is very active throughout the summer, varied and when someone looks at it from the side, they are surprised that we even have some festivals going on," the minister added.

The minister also praised the organizers of the events, because although there are currently fears of an increase in the virus infection, it has not started with concerts or theater performances, but with spending free time at entertainment establishments. "I think that all museums, theaters and concert organizers have proved that they can open their cultural establishment to the public very well and safely. And it gives us the courage to further reduce their precepts," he said.

The minister acknowledged that the emergency situation brought out new cultural channels and contributed to innovation. The performances were watched simultaneously on location and also on the internet. "It is definitely a technical path that can be used in the future to increase the audience. It may change the nature and image of the culture a bit, but I believe that joyful real theater and concert with a direct relationship will not go away in the future," he said.

Lukas noted that some researchers have become very active in projects for safe ventilation systems and ventilation in order to create technical solutions in the halls where, from every seat, people's breath is immediately sucked up towards the ceiling and transported out of the building. "I believe that if these viruses start to haunt society more in the future, some technical solutions will be devised, after all, to ensure that people can enjoy their usual theater and concert experience in the future as well," he said.

The emergency situation also raised a question regarding the role of private capital in culture. The minister said that it has always existed in the form of ticket money. Another thing is patronage and the lasting relationships of individuals or companies with some cultural institutions. There are many of them in the field of art, including literature. Private capital, for example, has supported translation programs, Cultural Endowment. And, of course, one-time projects, exhibitions, concerts. But steps can definitely be taken to make cultural patronage more active.

Lukas confirmed that a tax reform initiative on this topic has been on the Cabinet's desk for three months now, which, however, is not a high priority in the light of recent times. It will likely be discussed during the budget procedure in August-September. "My message is that if we give courage to private donors that they receive tax incentives and that their subsidies for culture are welcome, the burden on the state budget will actually be reduced. On the one hand, some taxes will not be received, but on the other hand, culture will actually get more money the amount of which can be saved in the budget, although, I am rather seeking that this money be given to culture as extra," Lukas said.

He explained that the amendments concern the increase of the tax-free rate of donations made by individuals to non-profit organizations and the creation of the possibility for the Cultural Endowment of Estonia to receive donations from individuals tax-free.

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