The most comprehensive treatment of cultural policies can be found in a parliamentary declaration called The Foundations of the Cultural Policy of the Republic of Estonia, adopted in 1998. This document mainly outlines the plans and overall situation and seeks to express and establish general consensus on some central issues. It is not, however, legally binding. It will be soon replaced by the recently drafted, updated document, Directions of Cultural Policy 2014-2020.
In practice, cultural policy making relies on a number of specific acts, some of which are relevant for many areas outside the sphere of cultural policy. Generally speaking, legislation has moved towards a greater differentiation between the tasks of different governmental agencies. It seems that in addition to domestic discussion, international contacts and influences have played an important role in the development of legislation, either through international conventions ratified by Estonia (copyright legislation in particular), or through the use of foreign countries’ practices as models when designing domestic legislation.
The acts regulating the functions of different institutions do not usually include explicit provisions on their financing. The Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act (1994) is one of the exceptions, making the state-owned Endowment independent of the overall cultural budget.
The following major legislative acts regulate the cultural field.
- Foundations of the Cultural Policy of the Republic of Estonia (1998);
- Income Tax Act (1999, latest amendment 2012);
- Value Added Tax Act (2003, latest amendment 2012);
- Gambling Tax Act (1995, amended in 1997, replaced in 2002 and 2009);
- The National Library of Estonia Act (1990, replaced in 1998 and 2011);
- The Copyright Act (1992, latest amendment 2013);
- Law on Cultural Autonomy of National Minorities (1993, amended two times in 2002);
- Law on Media Services (2010, amended 2011 and 2012);
- The Estonian National Broadcasting Act (2007, amended latest 2011). The Act merged the national TV and radio companies into one organisation (see chapter 2.9);
- The Public Libraries Act (1994, replaced in 1998, latest amendment 2010);
- Heritage Conservation Act (1994, amended in 1997, replaced in 2002, latest amendment 2011);
- Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act (1994, latest amendment 2012);
- The Estonian Language Act (1995, replaced 2011, amended 2012);
- Act on Creative Artists and Creative Artists’ Unions (2004, latest amendment 2014);
- By-Laws of the Ministry of Culture (1996, latest amendment 2013);
- Museums Act (1996, latest amendment 2011);
- Compulsory Copies Act (1997, latest amendment 2010);
- National Opera Act (1997, amended in 2000, 2002, 2003);
- Act to Regulate Dissemination of Works which Contain Pornography or Promote Violence or Cruelty (1997 latest amendment 2011);
- Sports Act (1998, replaced in 2005, latest amendment 2012);
- State Cultural Awards and Cultural Grants Act (1998, latest amendment 2007);
- Performance Establishment Act (1997, replaced in 2003, amended in 2008 and 2009);
- Law on Return of Cultural Objects Unlawfully Removed from the Territory of a European Union Member State (2003, latest amendment 2011);
- Law on the Export and Import of Cultural Objects (2007, amended 2010 and 2011);
- Placing Orders for Works of Art Act (2010, amended 2014);and
- The Laws on State Budget (annual).