Estonian culture minister seeking support for Song, Dance Festival already from 2021

  • 2020-08-06
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian government on Thursday approved the salary support proposal for the instructors of the groups participating in the Song and Dance Festival movement and Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas said he is pleased that the perpetuity of the Song and Dance Festival tradition is a priority for the government and added he wants to start allocating funds through the support measure already next year.

"If we want the tradition of our Song and Dance Festival to continue in the future, we must act now. The analysis shows that there are fewer and fewer motivated instructors and that young people do not tend to come when wages are low and there is uncertainty about social guarantees. The government has realized that the current decisions are crucial when it comes to the vitality of our Song and Dance Festival movement," Lukas said. "In order to secure the future of the Song and Dance Festival, I was given the task of preparing a draft Song and Dance Festival Act," the minister added.

The proposed support must ensure a stable income for the instructors of the groups participating in the Song and Dance Festival movement, equal to the salary of a state cultural worker. According to the proposal, the support is paid to the employer of the instructor of the group who has an employment contract with the instructor of the group. The employer must bear at least 50 percent of the instructor's labor costs, including taxes.

The proposal for the salary support for the instructors of folk culture collectives is based on the fundamental document of cultural policy until 2020 and the government's action program. A study carried out by the Praxis think tank showed that the continuation of the Song and Dance Festivals in the future is not self-evident, mainly due to the declining number of group instructors. The study found that more than half of current instructors are about to retire and only 15 percent of instructors are under the age of 35. Among other things, the study revealed that instructing does not provide adequate unemployment and health insurance and that fixed-term contracts, which are very common in the field, leave the instructor without any social protection for several months. The wage support system developed by the Ministry of Culture must help to solve all this in conjunction with the contribution of local governments and enthusiasts themselves.

The support measure was developed by the Ministry of Culture and the representative organizations of the groups participating in the Song and Dance Festival movement. Altogether 2.7 million euros will be needed for the implementation of the support measure in 2021, 4.5 million euros in 2022 and 5.8 million euros in 2023. The financing of the measure will be conclusively determined in the fall, when the government will discuss the state budget strategy for 2021 to 2024.