Changes brought by the coming year include a wage increase for culture professionals, enforcement of the Legal Deposit Copy Act and other activities that connect various fields, the additional support system of recreational activities will be implemented and other activities that were started in 2016 or earlier will also be continued.
Wage increase for culture professionals
The minimum monthly gross wages of a cultural professional who receives remuneration from the state will increase to 942 euros (13.5%) in 2017. This was confirmed with the agreement of common intentions of the Board of the Estonian Employees' Unions' Confederation (TALO) on 21 December 2016. The increase in the wage fund will affect those culture professionals who receive their wages from the state budget. Namely those culture professionals who have a higher education degree, a higher level of professional qualifications or specific expertise that is equated to higher education. The principles that will be agreed upon are recommended for all institutions active in the field of culture, regardless of their subordination or ownership.
According to Minister of Culture Indrek Saar, a year ago, the minimum wage of a culture professional was 731 euros; however, the significant increase of minimum wage will help us reach the predicted average wage for 2020, as is stated in “The Fundamentals of Cultural Policy Until 2020“. “In addition to this, the coalition agreement includes additional resources for increasing the wages of those culture professionals whose remuneration is already higher than the minimum wage. We have to deal with this as well,” said Saar.
In 2017, 130,000 euros will be allocated to the national support fund for covering the labour costs of coaches who belong to the higher professional category (5th-7th professional category). In addition, the Government has already decided to ensure 352,000 euros for covering the labour costs of coaches, as the number of coaches who belong to the higher professional category is expected to increase approximately by 100 persons in the coming year.
Minister Saar explained that the increase in wages has come to a halt because the number of coaches who belong to the higher professional category has increased rapidly and the state has had to carry an ever-increasing burden. “If the state adds 10-13%, the sports organization should add an equal amount. This would allow for an annual growth tempo of 20-26% and to finally catch up with the average salary,” noted the Minister about perspectives for the coming year.
Nearly 15 million euros to recreational activities
The additional support system of recreational activities will be implemented as of 1 September 2017 and it shall help improve the accessibility, diversity and quality of supervised recreational activities for children and young people. The development of the support system for recreational activities for youth was initiated and guided by the Ministry of Culture and the system brings 14 million euros to the field every year.
According to the Minister of Culture Saar, in addition to ensuring accessibility, it is also important that supervised recreational activities support the emergence of a next generation of people who are interested in culture and culturally aware. The aim here is that local governments would offer recreational activities in at least three fields – culture, sport, hard sciences and technology.
The support system for recreational activities for youth will continue to be implemented by the Ministry of Education and Research.
The Legal Deposit Copy Act shall enter into force
As of 1 January 2017, Estonia will be the first country in the world to regulate the preservation of digital source materials of publications and films by law. The Legal Deposit Copy Act aims to update the submission, collection, and storage of publications important for the culture of Estonia. The draft legislation takes future digital developments into account and covers publications regardless of their form and method of distribution.
Ülle Talihärm, Libraries Adviser of the Ministry of Culture, explained that the Act makes it possible to save money on the preservation of source materials, as well as develop innovative future services. “Estonia will be the first country in the world to regulate the preservation and accessibility of digital source materials of publications and films. The key improvement for readers concerns the use of digital information in computer terminals, which will be established in five big libraries. These computer terminals provide readers with an opportunity to study the majority of legal deposit copies of new publications without any assistance needed from library workers,” noted Talihärm.
The Legal Deposit Act influences all parties involved in publishing publications and making them available, such as the authors, publishers, printing houses, audiovisual producers, and libraries that receive a legal deposit copy under current law. For the publishers, the greatest change will occur in the number of compulsory legal deposit copies – it will fall from eight to four. The new Act will replace the earlier Legal Deposit Act.
The number of artist and writer salary earners will increase
The number of people who receive artist’s and writer’s salaries from the State will increase from 10 to 16 in 2017. The Estonian Artists Association and the Estonian Writers Union announced at the beginning of December that they will be paying additional salaries to one artist and one writer next year.
Hillar Sein, Undersecretary of Arts at the Ministry of Culture, gave recognition to artistic associations. “This is exactly the kind of initiative that the field of art and literature currently needs in order to ensure that creators have the peace of mind to create, as well as social guarantees,” said Sein.
The artistic association shall pay the salary to people who have been chosen on the basis of a public competition over a three-year period.
Increased efficiency in language learning enhances integration
The Government will direct 846,000 euros to teaching Estonian in 2017. Piret Hartman, Deputy Secretary General of Cultural Diversity at the Ministry of Culture, considers the expansion of language learning one of the most important means of moving towards a better integrated society. “The question here is whether a significant part of our population can participate in society and have a say on issues that concern them. Language skills ensure better education and career opportunities, and thereby a more stable living standard,” noted Hartman.
Language courses will be supplemented with practicing the acquired language. By the end of 2017, there should be 60 Estonian language clubs active in Estonia, which provides a great opportunity to practice and speak in a real language environment. These clubs can bring together about a thousand participants and more than half of the clubs shall be organised in the Ida-Viru County. Learning will continue in language cafes in Tallinn and Narva.
Outreach activities related to culturally and linguistically diverse workplaces will be carried out during the first half of 2017, in order to encourage state authorities to hire more people whose mother tongue is not Estonian and to encourage those people to apply for jobs in the first place.
Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Estonia will hold the Presidency of the European Union and lead the political calendar of the Council of the EU as of 1 July 2017. During that time, the key topics of the Presidency for the Ministry of Culture will be developing the draft directive of the audiovisual field, digital cultural heritage and the role of a sports coach in the society.
According to Heili Jõe, the Adviser on European Union affairs at the Ministry of Culture, the main focus will be on the first of the aforementioned three. “The regulation of audiovisual media services will be revised both within the EU and across borders. The results of this work and, thereby the opportunity to consume services can affect all of us. It is important to us that Estonia can, during the Presidency, lead this topic for half a year,” explained Jõe.
The Ministry of Culture will also organise five expert-level conferences. In addition, the start of the Tartu Cycling Marathon will also mark the beginning of the European Sports Week. The expected number of participants at the marathon starting line is about 10,000.
The cultural budget for 2017 amounts to a total of 217 million euros. You can read more about the priorities of 2017 on the website of the Ministry of Culture.
Head of Communication Department at the Ministry of Culture