TALLINN - In two weeks, the Cabinet will start discussing whether to give the Linnahall arena in Tallinn the function of an opera theater in addition to that of an international conference center and general manager of the Estonian National Opera, Aivar Mae, said that the funding could partially come from the Cultural Endowment, the news portal of public broadcaster ERR reports.
As the financing of the Estonian National Museum (ERM) and the new concert hall of the Estonian Music and Theater Academy (EMTA) from the Cultural Endowment will end at the beginning of 2022 or 2023, the plan is for the Riigikogu to adopt a decision according to which the next financing object could be a new building of the National Opera, which would then be located in Linnahall, Mae told ERR. "So, the funding would take place via the Cultural Endowment," he added.
At the same time, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Aivar Riisalu told ERR that the city is holding negotiations with private investors to turn the Linnahall arena into an international conference center. This is the first time the deputy mayor heard about the plan for an opera theater to be built there as well.
"The truth is that the idea of an opera theater in Linnahall has been up in the air for quite some time as a possible option. It has even been priced there. And there has been talk of some 120 million euros that was supposed to exist somewhere," Riisalu said. "However, I am sad to say that if someone has made such a decision, it is not very sensible to make a decision about a foreign property without informing the owner. Meaning, Tallinn's Linnahall belongs to the City of Tallinn. Before coming out with any news, one should discuss it with us. Maybe we would agree with it in that case, but then the state, who is the one that wants to do it, would have to buy it from us at a fair price," the deputy mayor said.
Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas said that negotiations with the city have been launched.
"It will house both -- a conference center to replace the current ice rink, and the great hall would be snatched up by the opera theater, then," Lukas said. "I have spoken with the mayor. But we are currently preparing materials to submit this to a Cabinet meeting, which the mayor has also been invited to. This will take place in two weeks," the minister said.
No money has been earmarked for Linnahall in next year's state budget as authorization from the European Commission to grant state aid has not been received. It is said in the state budget strategy 2020-2023 adopted this spring that altogether 40 million euros will be invested to reconstruct Linnahall into an international conference center.
According to Aivar Mae, this money will be enough for the design and some will also be left over.