“The call for proposals sought to find projects for the renovation of empty or underused houses in the old towns, which would bring people and life back to the hearts of these towns,” said Liina Jänes, the Adviser for Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture. “Whereas, a condition for using the funds was that the renovated buildings must be open to the public and enliven the old towns. New economically viable purposes have been found for these buildings, and some will be used year-round rather than only seasonally in the future,” Jänes added.
The new uses suggested for the old buildings included: an art residency, puppet theatre, music house and school, centre for remote work, sustainable renovation information centre, and heritage protection information centre. Other ideas included, a clubhouse, craft workshop, kitchen for cooking classes, museum and galleries. In several cases, there was wish to build a guest house, café, restaurant, shop or a combination thereof.
The applications were evaluated by the State Shared Service Centre and two independent assessors. The decisions were made by a selection commission. “Grants were provided to buildings in the Heritage Protection Areas of Haapsalu, Kuressaare, Lihula, Paide, Valga and Võru, whereas Kuressaare receive two grants. Despite the current travel restrictions, several applicants also managed to find project partners in Norway,” said Kelly Poopuu, Service Coordinator at the State Shared Service Centre.
The grant recipients include the Lääneranna Rural Municipality, which will receive a grant of €500,000 for the building at Linnuse Rd 1 in Lihula. In Võru, the building at Kreutzwaldi 52 will be renovated for €354,383. The Valga Rural Municipality will receive a grant of €359,009 for the renovation of the building at Kesk St 19. In Kuressaare, project grants of €494,489 and €458,264 will be given respectively to Sadamaait OÜ for the building at Veski St 9, and to Holisticum OÜ for the building at Tolli St 4. The Paide Association of the Information Centre for Sustainable Renovation will renovate an unused building at Tallinna St 13 in Paide for €338,328. The building at Karja St 24 in Haapsalu will also receive a grant and the non-profit Evald Okas Museum will be paid €355,171 to carry out the project.
The application round was organised under the auspices of the Local Development and Poverty Reduction programme. A total of 29 applications were received for grants totalling €11 million. The volume of the application round was €2,859,647, which was distributed among seven projects. The programme is being financed by EEA, and the Norway Grants that receive contributions from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Read more about the programme on the State Shared Service Centre website and a photo gallery of the buildings is available on the Ministry of Culture website. The implementation period for the projects is up to 30 months.