From April 2007 to April 2015, the Ministry of Culture was led by the liberal Reform Party. In 2012, the Minister of Culture started the process of compiling a new general principle of cultural policy. This process ended in February 2014, when the Parliament approved the General Principles of Cultural Policy up to 2020. These principles became the basis for the state’s decisions in the field of culture (see chapter 1).
From 2015 to 2019, the Minister of Culture was a leading politician of the social-democratic party. During this period, the Ministry of Culture paid great attention to improve the social problems (health insurance, pension) and salaries of creative persons. The wages of cultural workers in the state sector increased every year, low-paid employees (in museums, etc.) were a priority in this development. Freelance visual artists and writers were given the opportunity to apply for artists’ and writers’ wage through the corresponding artistic associations. In 2019, the process of drafting the new general principles of cultural policy up to 2030 began. At the same time, the Ministry began to deviate from the arm’s-length-policy by providing financial support, thereby bypassing the principles of support programmes.
Since April 2019, the Minister of Culture is a representative of the conservative party Isamaa. At the end of 2019, the drafting of a document outlining the new cultural policy general principles has been stopped. The Government Office of Estonia (in charge of strategic planning on a governmental level) steered at first completing the preparation of sectoral development documents (including the general principles of cultural policy) in different ministries and to consolidate all in one national strategy document.
The ruling Minister of Culture has initiated discussions on what kind of cultural and sportive venues should be built over the next decades, the construction of which will be funded through the Cultural Endowment (see chapter 1.2.2). The previous three cultural buildings financed through Cultural Endowment with such an instrument are finished. Various organisations and municipals have made proposals for the construction of new cultural objects with the funding of the Cultural Endowment. Funding decisions will be made by Parliament in 2021. Currently, there are active debates in society about the priority of objects.
Several creative business organisations and associations have put pressure on the Ministry of Culture to reduce VAT on theatre and concert tickets from 20% to 9%. So far, it has been decided not to make tax differences, as nightclubs and other commercial entertainment would also benefit from that tax benefit.
The Ministry of Culture is updating The Public Library Act. As the law is being drafted, new forms of cooperation will be taken in use to develop the library network and services, so that the library service as a whole will be up-to-date and meet the needs of the reader. The act must be completed by the end of 2020.
The Ministry of Culture has initiated the updating of The Performing Arts Institutions Act. It has received significant feedback from the coordination round along with supplementary proposals from partners.
In order to strengthen the language policy under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Research, a draft law has been completed to establish the Language Board from September 2020, which will deal with language policy implementation activities instead of the Ministry and the Estonian Language Institute.