The Estonian Parliament, Riigikogu, enacted the 2019 state budget into law on 12 December 2019. The volume of budgetary expenditures and investments is €11.2 billion.
The 2019 culture budget totals € 251.3 million. Its main focuses are on salary increases for cultural workers, funding for sports, the initiation of a large investment, additional funding for film production and many more significant items.
And in addition to all this, 2019 is the jubilee year for Estonia’s song and dance festivals, which will be celebrated appropriately and on a grand scale.
The minimum wage of cultural workers is approaching the Estonian average wage.
Culture is the first and most significant theme for the Estonian state. People who are dedicated to the field of culture must be sufficiently remunerated for their work. The policies related to the wages of cultural workers are outlined in the document called ‘The Principles of Cultural Policy until 2020’, according to which the salaries of full-time cultural workers must equal the Estonian average wage by 2020.
In 2019, the minimum wage of salaried cultural worker will be €1,300. In addition to the minimum wage, the salary fund will increase by 7% for the cultural workers who are paid from the Ministry of Culture’s budget and whose wages are already higher than the minimum, or who work in jobs providing support services.
The minimum gross salary in 2018 was €1,150. In 2015, the minimum was €731. This means the minimum wage has increased by over 78%.
In the field of sports, coaches are the key people. In addition to the cultural workers who are paid from the Ministry of Culture’s budget, the support fund for youth trainers with a 5th or higher level of qualification will also increase by €1,060,000. This is 17.6% more than in 2018, and will enable the gross minimum wage of coaches to be increased from the current €850 to €1,000 a month.
The state minimum wage will also provide the basis for determining the salaries to be paid next year to artists and writers. The three pilot years (2026 to 2018) have provided the justification for paying these salaries. The programme has provided the freedom to create and helped to instil the understanding among the population that creation is work. The writer and artist salaries are paid by the creative associations in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, which guarantees the salary fund, and all the social guarantees. In 2019, €505,000 is being included in the budget to cover these expenses.
Investing in new projects
The current facilities of Estonian Public Broadcasting do not comply with valid safety requirements; its use of energy is ineffective; and the buildings are depreciated. The Ministry of Culture is guaranteeing €1.5 million to start the design of new Estonian Public Broadcasting facilities.
In the future, the National Library of Estonia building must become more secure, economical, and functional. The possibility of providing new services must increase. €1.3 million is being appropriated from the state budget for this purpose.
Currently, Hiiumaa is the only county that lacks a proper sports building. Based on a proposal by the Ministry of Culture, €2.9 million from the state budget has been designated for this purpose.
Supporting Estonian film production
Never before have so many films been produced in Estonia. And film lovers must continue to have the opportunity to enjoy our national cinema, Estonia’s own stories, and the efforts of our directors and actors in the future. Filmmaking is an important calling card for Estonia and a field of activity that involves many other economic sectors. Therefore, film production must continue at least at the current level.
An additional one million euros will help the Estonian Film Institute increase the current grant limits for films, and hereafter, it will be possible to support up to six films a year.
The film production budget has increased steadily during the last few years. Next year, the budget for filmmaking will increase to a total of €4.8 million – this is a 28% increase compared to last year.
Support for sports
In order to compete with the best athletes internationally and be able achieve good results in title competitions, athletes must be able to prepare for and participate in title competitions – in the youth, junior and adult age classes.
Until now the government has only supported young athletes and those favoured to win medals in international competitions. However, those future athletes who are not included in either category have had a hard time coping financially. Next year, the Ministry of Culture would like to provide an additional one million euros for these athletes. The additional funding will reduce the danger that future medal contenders will have to abandon their sporting aspirations for economic reasons.
As of 2019, the Paralympics and Special Olympics will part of general sports organization and will therefore be included the Ministry of Culture’s administrative area. In 2019, a sum of €713,000 has been designated in the culture budget for the support of this field of activity. And there are plans to further increase this amount a year later.
Support for valuable rural architecture
Heritage can best be preserved if it is in constant use. A great deal of unique and, from a cultural heritage viewpoint, significant rural architecture has survived in Estonia.
The Ministry of Culture will provide additional funding of €100,000 to help owners properly restore and utilise farm buildings, so that local culture and building traditions remain vital. The Rural Architecture Centre at the Estonian Open Air Museum had determined that, during the past few years, the number of well-informed owners has increased who wish to restore their farmhouses, but the state has only provided small grants to support these activities. The additional funding will help to alleviate this problem.
The pilot project for supporting rural architecture will initially last for 4 years.
Additional money for heritage conservation
The conservation of cultural heritage through the ages is the state’s constitutional mission. Heritage survives best when it is in use.
With the new law on heritage conservation that is due to be enacted in 2019, a move will be made from a controlling-style of heritage conservation to an inclusive-style of heritage conservation. And a better balance will develop between the obligations of the owners and the state as they relate to the conservation of monuments.
A new law will add €1.4 million to the field of heritage conservation.
A jubilee song and dance festival year
In 2019, 150 years will have passed since the first song festival was organised by J. V. Jannsen. And it will also be 85 years since the first dance festival. And the summer dance festival will be the twentieth to be organised. This is a suitable time to celebrate 2019 as the ‘year of the song and dance festival’. For this purpose, €200 000 has been allocated in the state budget. The year’s activities will be organised and coordinated by the Estonian Song and Dance Festival Foundation
An additional €2 million in funding is planned for the ‘year of the song and dance festival’ so that the jubilee can be appropriately celebrated.
A large budgetary increase in the art field
In 2017, the state and the Association of Estonian Artists established a joint foundation to operate the Tallinn Art Hall. As of 2019, the Art Hall will function totally with operating grants from the Ministry of Culture. For the ministry, the Art Hall will continue to be the largest grant recipient in the art field, and the allocated €615,000 will comprise almost half the budget for this field of activity. Hereafter, the exhibitions in the Art Hall will no longer be dependent on grants from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
Increasing the cohesion of Estonia
The Estonian government must ensure that all residents can watch a high-quality and independent Russian-language TV channel. This is important because it provides a uniform information space for all the residents of Estonia regardless of their nationality or native language. A total of €300,000 is allocated in the culture budget for this purpose.
Until now ETV+ has been broadcast on a free broadcasting network (Multiplex 6), which covers about 90% of Estonia’s territory. However, this means that about 80,000 Estonian residents cannot watch the channel or the broadcast quality is poor. With the help of the additional funding, the broadcasting problems will be resolved – Estonian Public Broadcasting will transfer the ETV+ channel to the main free broadcasting network that covers all of Estonia.
In 2019, Estonian languages houses will open in Narva and Tallinn. A total of €2 million is included in the budget for improving Estonian language skills and the opportunities to use those skills.
Head of Communications Department