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Estonia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture

Since the mid-1990s, the enhanced use of new information technologies has belonged to the top priorities of the government. This has been one of the factors behind Estonia's early high position in comparison to other Central and Eastern European countries concerning the number of Internet connections per capita, or the density of cellular phones. The introduction and development of new information technologies in the public sphere (e.g. schools, libraries and museums) has managed to receive financial support from private businesses. In order to secure such programmes, the state provides approximately one third of the necessary resources which are managed by a state-owned foundation. The remaining funds are derived from loans and from other foundations and private businesses.

In 1995, an Information Network of Estonian Libraries was founded by seven scientific libraries. They have been followed by public libraries. In May 2002, the Ministry of Culture agreed with a private firm and a state-owned foundation to start a programme of uniting as many public libraries as possible in an internet-based information network. The programme includes an information campaign aimed at library users. Internet connections have been made available in most Estonian public libraries.

Another example of public-private partnership in the field is the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Estonia. Founded in 1992 as the Soros Center of Contemporary Arts in Estonia, it played an important role in supporting the introduction of new technologies in artistic creation during the 1990s. Since 2000, the centre is no longer financed by the Open Estonia Foundation (a private foundation financed by George Soros). Its administrative expenses have been covered by the Ministry of Culture, and the programmes and events have received external financing (e.g. from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, which has a department for inter-disciplinary cultural projects).

In the field of digital cultural heritage, coordinated strategies have existed since 2004. The present strategy document, third in order, addresses the period 2011-2016. Documentation on cultural heritage monuments has been made available to the public via the Internet through a single portal to access Estonian museums, libraries, archives and other memory institutions (, and via specific portals for museums, archives and the national broadcasting company. Separately from this initiative, the Art Museum of Estonia has opened its own digital database cataloguing its art collection, which is constantly updated ( In 2012 a digital database on Estonian Film ( was launched, as an initiative between numerous state and private organisations and NGOs.

Chapter published: 13-10-2014

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