Estonian minister says has no intention of resigning following culture sector's criticism

  • 2021-10-21
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian Minister of Culture Anneli Ott said that the culture sector's recent criticism toward her is rather tension caused by the coronavirus crisis and that she sees no reason to step down as minister, public broadcaster ERR reports.

"I have not received any censure motion and I also have no intention of resigning," Ott said.

According to her, the criticism received from the field of culture is necessary, although it is rather caused by the tensions arising from the general coronavirus crisis.

"I have said that I fully understand this feedback and the difficult situation, I understand how culture organizers have had to reorganize themselves in this difficult, ever-changing situation of restrictions and make very different decisions, which are certainly not easy. Of course, it creates a lot of emotions, but it is all human, it is hard, it is hard for all of us. There is no accusation here, rather it is perfectly understandable that these tensions accumulate and must be discussed very sincerely from time to time," Ott said.

Commenting on the letter sent to the prime minister on Tuesday, manager of the Russian Theater and board chairman of the Estonian Association of Performing Arts Institutions Margus Allikmaa said that it was essentially a vote of no confidence in the culture minister, the daily Postimees reported.

Allikmaa said that attempts have been made to explain the concerns and problems of theaters to Ott, but there has been no situation where she sat down at the same table and listened to proposals.

"We do sometimes communicate via Zoom, but there has been no instance of jointly devising proposals that the minister could take to the government," Allikmaa said.

The theater manager said that things are being discussed with officials, but the role of the minister has been passive, rather that of a bystander. "Whenever there has been a meeting, the minister either does not show up or is in a hurry," Allikmaa added.

In light of new possible restrictions, the biggest concern of theaters is making sure that they do not have to close their doors again or implement any numerical restrictions. ”This would have very bad consequences for theaters. Vaccinated people should still have free access to performances," Allikmaa said.

Allikmaa sent a letter to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas asking where the minister of culture was and what her efforts were. "The field has not received the necessary support from the culture minister -- the minister simply is not there," Allikmaa said.

The letter to the prime minister stated that "we would like to hear the minister of culture's recognition of the industry's efforts to combat the virus". It was also pointed out that "confirmation from the minister of culture is needed that she will stand for us and that there will be no unexpected order that only vaccinated employees can work in theater from the government accidentally or knowingly".

As an important issue, the association also accused the minister of confusion regarding the salary fund. "We saw that the minister made promises when standing for the budget in the field of culture, but neither the five percent nor the three percent promised salary fund increase came. Instead, fine mathematics is applied, which seemingly raises the minimum of a culture worker with higher education by altogether 100 euros, but in reality, much of this increase is at the expense of the theatre's own revenues and not from additional resources from the state," it is said in the letter.