The main directions of the state’s budgetary strategy for 2018-2021 will ensure salary hikes for people working in the cultural field; as well as a support system for recreational activities and the long-awaited reform of heritage conservation regulations.
On Wednesday, April 19th, the government cabinet agreed on the budgetary strategy for the next four years until 2021. Minister of Culture Indrek Saar said the following about the general achievements of the negotiations: Thanks to the course that was set, the people’s wellbeing will benefit most – be they those working in the cultural field, those who partake in culture, the owners of monuments, or families with children. “The course that was agreed upon for the next four years is clearly focused on people,” Minister Saar affirmed.
Salaries in the cultural fields
During the current year of 2017, the gross minimum wage paid to cultural workers by the state increased to €942, i.e. 13.5% just like in the previous year. The Minister of Culture confirmed that salary increases are still a priority for the government in the legislation of the state budget, as well as in the budgetary strategy as a whole.
A total of €52 million was allocated for the salaries of cultural workers, which will ensure that the minimum wage for cultural workers with higher education will continue to increase at the promised pace.
“The aggressive increase in the minimum wage must continue in order to achieve the average wage level that is projected for 2020. This is a goal that was established in the base document called The General Principles of Cultural Policy until 2020,” noted Saar. He added that it is just as important to deal with maintaining the motivation of the cultural workers with higher education whose salaries are already above the minimum, as well as the provision of auxiliary services to these employees.
The implementation of a support system for recreational activities
The amendment to the Youth Work Act passed by the Riigikogu last week provides the basis for providing addition grants to local governments and sector-based umbrella organisations to support recreational activities. Additional grants totalling €66 million will be provided over four and half years. The support system will be implemented as of 1 September 2017.
“This additional money will be of great benefit to families for whom providing their children with access to recreational activities would otherwise be an unattainable luxury. The additional funding available through the local governments will ensure the availability, diversity and quality of recreational activities. Looking toward the future, it is important to note that an informed cultural public develops largely due to meaningful recreational activities,” said Saar.
The concept for the support system for youth recreational activities was developed by the Ministry of Culture, and it will be implemented by the Ministry of Education and Research.
The long-awaited reform of heritage conservation is coming
The preservation of cultural values is a constitutional assignment of the state, but about a quarter of Estonia’s structural monuments are in poor or disastrous condition. In order to improve the situation, it is necessary to switch from regulatory heritage conservation to inclusive heritage conservation, which means, among other things, the passage and implementation of a new Heritage Conservation Act.
The decision of the government calls for initiation of heritage conservation reform in 2019 and a total of €4.2 million has been allocated for this in the budgetary strategy.
Minister Saar said that the draft legislation assigns the special conditions for heritage conservation, as well and the organisation of the monitoring and its costs, to the state. As of 2019, €1.4 million will be allocated annually for this purpose. “Flexibility is especially important. It is very simple to prohibit, issue edicts, and fine property owners, but global experience has shown that prevention and consulting makes much more sense for the state and the owners,” said Saar.
The implementation of heritage conservation reform means making various changes in work management, as well as cooperation with museums and the National Heritage Board that will start to manage the consulting and other updated forms of cooperation. Read more about the needs and planned changes here.
Additional funds for the film sector were provided in the state budgetary strategy. The volume of Film Estonia, a pilot project for supporting film and series production based on foreign capital, will double, i.e. to €2 million annually. In addition, the support for the production of local films will be increased by €350 thousand per year.
The budgetary strategy agreement also ensures the reconstruction of Kalev Stadium and the completion of the Arvo Pärt Centre. The additional €2.2 million allocated to construction will allow the centre to be constructed as planned so that the research and storage of the composer’s legacy will occur totally in Estonia. The €7 million allocated to the reconstruction of Kalev Stadium will ensure that the jubilee dance festival in 2019 will take place in beautifully renovated stadium with new staging possibilities.