The term “culture industry” has since mid-2000s been adopted across different policy areas. A report on design was launched in 2004 by the Ministry of Economics and Communication, and it has been followed by the creation of a working group on culture industries at the Ministry of Culture, with participation from different experts and stakeholders. The year 2010 saw the start of a media debate about the content and meaning of the term creative industry in a local context. The art critic Anders Härm argued that the rhetoric of the creative industry is not based on existing art practices, while a growing adaptation of cultural policies to a creative industry model could instead lead to further commercialisation of the arts (Päevaleht 13.12.2010). On the other hand, the focus of cultural policies on the creative industries was seen to be coupled with a growing bureaucratisation, and becoming an important danger for government funding of the arts. According to Andres Laasik, Päevaleht’s editor of culture, the concept of creative industries is currently appropriate only when discussing the local cinema sector (Päevaleht 14.12.2010). The media theorist Indrek Ibrus concluded the discussion by asserting the necessity for various forms of cultural expression – high culture as well as incubators of creative industries (Päevaleht 21.12.2010).
In 2013, the Ministry published the third report on the creative industries, based on research carried out by the Estonian Institute for Economic Research (Eesti Konjunktuuriinstituut). The report estimates that the creative industries’ share of GDP has diminished after the economic crisis (from 2.9% in 2007 to 2.7% in 2011). At the same time, the number of enterprises has grown in the field (in 2011, 11.4% of the total number of enterprises), and also the number of people working in them (in 2011, 4.8% of all employed). The average number of people employed in one enterprise or organisation has decreased from 5.7 in 2007 to 4.1 in 2011. The previous reports have resulted in proposals for the state budget strategy, for the development plan of the Ministry of Culture, and for the government’s strategy for the use of the EU structural funds for the years 2007 to 2013.
Educational programmes in cultural management and arts offer training in skills required by professionals in cultural industries.
Hitherto, direct state intervention into cultural industries has mainly taken one of two forms:
- the government has established a practice of granting support to specific projects instead of subsidising the industry on a permanent basis. Project support has above all been given through the Estonian Cultural Endowment, but also through the Estonian Film Foundation, established in 1997, and the Ministry of Culture; and
- state intervention in the cultural market has been maintained through continued state ownership of some companies such as the foundation Kultuurileht (until 2004, Perioodika), a publishing house for cultural periodicals; or the public broadcasting companies. A comparison between the different branches of the culture industries shows that the juridical status of the companies is not the most decisive factor. What matters is what they do. By means of project support, private-owned companies can also be made more independent from the laws of the market. It is important that the raison d’être of state enterprises be explicit and that they specify more clearly their future role.