What is the present situation?
The valid Performing Arts Institutions Act entered into force in 2003. Although this Act takes partially into account the special characteristics of theatres operating in different forms of ownership, the main purpose of the Act is to provide the organisation of activities of state performing arts institutions. By now, the landscape of performing arts institutions has changed considerably – all the former state performing arts institutions have been transformed into foundations and there has been a significant increase in the number of private theatres. In 2016, the Ministry of Culture supported 25 performing arts institutions, out of which 15 were private performing arts institutions. Thus, it needs to be reviewed which regulations can still be used and which ones need to be supplemented, taking into consideration both formal and substantial diversity of today’s theatre landscape.
Why is it necessary to update the Performing Arts Institutions Act?
In the valid Act, substantial amendments have been made only twice, mostly with regard to the employment contracts of persons engaged in creative activities. By now, we are facing the situation where it is mostly not possible to implement the Act and it is difficult to be guided by the Act when organising and financing the work of performing arts institutions.
One of the most important goal in amending the Act is to make the process of applying for subsidies from state budget clear, transparent and reasonably labour-intensive. Current financing system, which is based on the difference between the expenditure of servicing theatre visitors and calculated ticket price, is not sufficiently effective.
In addition, the set of rules for organising daily work and management of performing arts institutions has become obsolete or is inappropriate for other reasons. For example, it is necessary to update the requirements for notifying the general public, recording and preserving valuable national cultural stage performances in the digital era.
Who will be affected by updating the Act?
Planned amendments to the Act concern the whole area of performing arts and the institutions operating there, including the national opera whose activities are regulated by a separate National Opera Act. It will affect indirectly the members of artistic associations of performing arts. Another affected target group is also the audience, because the planned amendments give an opportunity to support sectoral diversity and availability of performing arts in all regions.
What will be more specific changes caused by updating the Act?
At the legislative level there has been established a funding model of performing arts institutions that is unambiguously understandable for all parties. It enables to make decisions, taking into account qualitative, sectoral or national cultural importance of institutions. A reasonable income is ensured for the professionals of different sectors, so that they can practise their specialty as a main activity. The Act contains easily understandable and justified conditions, which must be met by local government institution, institution acting as a foundation or private performing arts institution.
What will be the schedule for updating the Act?
The intention to amend the Act was forwarded to the relevant institutions in February 2016 and in the spring period, meetings were in the Ministry for discussing the material with different organisations acting in the field of theatre, e.g. the Association of Professional Actors of Estonia and Estonian Association of Performing Arts Institutions, and with the representatives of the performing arts institutions operating in different forms of ownership. At the second half of 2016, we would like to word the specific amendments in the draft resolution to amend the Act.
More information Katre Väli Adviser (Theatre) Katre.Vali@kul.ee