6. Cultural participation and consumption
Last update: November, 2020
The General Principles of Cultural Policy up to 2020 (see chapter 1.1) state the objective of Estonian cultural policy to be: forming a society that values creativity by maintaining and improving the national identity of Estonia, researching, storing, and transferring cultural memory, and creating favourable conditions for the development of a vital, open, and versatile cultural space and for participating in culture.
Participation has become a more important factor and indicator in cultural life for state as well as for local authorities. There are a number of cultural institutions (museums, theatres, cinemas etc.) that have special discounts or membership cards. The Culture Endowment and the Ministry support the programme Theatre to Rural Areas (see chapter 3.3.), which helps professional theatre and dance troupes to hold guest performances in the countryside or school groups to visit performances in theatre-cities.The Ministry’s programme Support for Music Festivals and Support Programme to Private Organisers and Music Groups helps to reduce the urban-rural difference and to effectively implement the social effects of cultural policy by improving access to the arts.
According to Museums Act, state museums in Estonia upon establishing a fee for tickets shall be take into account that:
- visiting a museum is free of charge for children under 9 years old, disabled persons and their escort;
- a separate and reduced price shall be established for the entrance of up to two adults together with a minor.
The annual Museum Night, when most museums are open free of charge, is very popular and museums get quite crowded.
The digitalisation of museums, archives and libraries increased the accessibility of their cultural services, which resulted in people making more use of the digital opportunities provided by these institutions.
Last update: November, 2020
Cultural consumption and participation studies are carried out by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research and in some sectors also by Statistics Estonia. The latest study in the form of a survey was carried out by Estonian Statistics in 2017. The survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and its methodological basis is ESSnet Culture, the framework for harmonized European cultural statistics. A sample of 10 000 Estonian residents aged 15 or over who have been randomly selected were invited to participate in the cultural participation survey.
While the population aged 20-64 attending Estonian cultural institutions in 2009-2010 decreased compared to period before the economic crisis, in 2011 it started to increase again. In 2009-2010, museums became the most popular cultural institutions, with 59% of the population aged 20-64 attending, and in 2011 the performing arts took first place.
In 2017, 78.7% of the questioned population participated in cultural activities. Cinema was the most popular activity with 50,6% and the total number of visits was close to 3,5 million a year. Concerts follow with 49,6% and theatre visits with 41,2%. Considering the size of the population (1,315 million in January 1,2017) and the number of theatre visits (in 2017 total 1,163 million theatre visits), Estonia has topped Europe and the entire world for years. In 2017, libraries were visited by 37,5% and art galleries by 17,9% of those questioned in the survey.
In 2018, museums were visited under 3,4 million times.
Especially during the summer season, there are quite a number of summer tours and music festivals in Estonia, which attract many music and culture lovers. According to Statistics Estonia's cultural participation survey, in 2017 every second Estonian attended a concert. One out of four concert attenders visited some folk music festival. The average visitor is a 48 years old women, and one in five attenders is retired.
According to the Estonian Statistics’ database, the total number of amateurs participating in permanent hobby groups was 83 205 at the end of 2018. In 2013, these amateurs were members of 2 772 institutions and organisations and they had 4 763 conductors, tutors and coaches (see chapter 6.4 for more information and data).
Table 4: Population and participation of cultural activities during 12 months period at least once (in % of the population), 2015 and 2017.
|2015 (%)||2017 (%)|
|Persons having participated in cultural activities (excl. sports events)||84,4||78,7|
|Art gallery visits||24,9||17,9|
|Cultural site visits||56,0||38,3|
|Literary event visits||7,5||5,2|
|Handicraft event visits||32,6||15,4|
|Participation in other cultural events||39,0||6,8|
Estonian Statistics, 2016 and 2018
Last update: September, 2014
According to Statistics Estonia and their most recent research, in 2013 a visitor to a cultural or sports event spends an average of EUR 14 per visit. A visitor to a cultural or sporting event will spend an average of EUR 6,80 on tickets, EUR 3,80 on food and drinks and EUR 2,50 for transportation and parking.
When attending a concert, an average household cost is EUR 38 per visit. While attending a theatre, the household spends an average of EUR 36, attending other cultural events (festivals, community gatherings etc.) EUR 33, the museum EUR 22, and the cinema EUR 19.
In 2013, households spent a total of EUR 67 million on cinema, accounting for 27% of total spending on cultural and sports facilities. Concert visitors spent a total of nearly EUR 57 million (23%), theatre, opera, ballet or dance performances around EUR 55 million (22%), museums, exhibitions or heritage sites over EUR 28 million (11.5%), sports and visitors to other cultural events nearly EUR 20 million (8%).
Table 5: Household cultural expenditure by expenditure purpose, 2010 and 2015
|Items (Field/Domain)||Household expenditure (in million EUR)|
|I. Books and Press|
|II. Cultural Services|
|Cinema, theatre and others||N/A||102,9|
|Museums, libraries, parks and similar||3,4||14,1|
|Photographic services and other||N/A||6,6|
|III. Audiovisual equipment and accessories|
|Support for recording image, sound and data||N/A||N/A|
|Audiovisual equipment and accessories||13,3||11,4|
|IV. Subscriptions of television, information processing|
|Rental and subscriptions of radio and television|
|Subscriptions of radio and television||33,3||47,9|
|Rental of cultural equipment and accessories||N/A||N/A|
|Information Processing and Internet|
|Material for information processing||N/A||N/A|
|Mobile and Internet services||N/A||N/A|
Last update: November, 2020
According to Estonian Statistics’ research, the total number in 2018 of amateurs participating in permanent hobby groups (choirs, folk dance ensembles, hobby theatres and -orchestras etc.) was 83 205 people. These amateurs are members of approximately 2 800 organisations and these organisations have about 4 790 conductors and coaches.
Table 6: Participation in hobby groups, number of people
|TOTAL||83 790||83 487||84 810||87 476||89 968||88 729||88 728||88 342||83 205|
|Hobby theatres||5 697||6 250||6 244||6 343||6 507||6 496||6 286||6 161||5 442|
|Choirs||41 619||40 045||40 132||42 349||42 938||40 412||40 437||40 171||37 829|
|Other vocal music||3 394||3 727||3 863||3 859||4 157||4 354||4 235||4 222||3 962|
|Wind orchestras||3 057||2 926||2 929||2 941||2 909||2 850||2 836||2 853||2 868|
|Folks bands||1 916||2 003||2 031||2 013||2 041||2 062||1 971||1 846||1 906|
|Folk dance||19 867||20 135||20 746||20 828||21 472||22 052||22 890||22 997||21 598|
|Other folk groups||2 063||1 866||1 871||1 998||2 066||2 168||2 031||1 978||1 899|
|Handicraft||3 974||3 961||4 078||4 128||4 318||4 453||4 234||4 228||4 064|
|Other||2 203||2 574||2 916||3 017||3 560||3 882||3 808||3 886||3 637|
Estonian Statistics, 2019
In Estonia, as well as in Latvia and Lithuania, the main cultural event uniting the society is the Song and Dance Celebration. The first Estonian National Song Celebration took place already in 1869 in Tartu, and the history of Dance Celebrations goes back to 1934, when the dance and gymnastics festival of the First Estonian Games took place. The tradition of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian song and dance celebrations has been entered into the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Song and dance festivals are organised by the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration Foundation (Eesti Laulu- ja Tantsupeo SA), which was founded by the Ministry of Culture. The General Song and Dance Celebration and the Youth Song and Dance Celebrations take place in turns, both once in every five years. Before each festival, the number of aspiring participants reaches new records.
In 2013, the sociological study "My Song and Dance Festival", commissioned by the Song and Dance Celebration Foundation, indicated that 96% of the more than thousand people who responded to the poll consider song and dance festivals an important event and 63% considered it a very important event. The study showed that 49% of the Estonian population has performed at one of the festivals at least once in their life and 91% has been indirectly linked to the festivals as the audience. Song and Dance Celebrations are one of the most important manifestations of the Estonian identity. The study indicated the importance of Estonian choir singing and folk-dance traditions for the national value orientation and preservation of the Estonian identity.
At the same time, the results show that the continuation of this tradition is not self-evident. The biggest issue is the salaries for choir conductors and folk-dance teachers. There is no song celebration legislation in Estonia, as it is in Latvia, therefore there is no state salary system yet and no social guarantees for carriers of the Song and Dance Celebration tradition. The ruling Minister of Culture has taken a clear political direction to start with state wage subsidies from the year 2020, with a budget of EUR 1.2 million. Governmental support will be increased until half of the wage comes from the state budget and until the salary of these conductors and dance coaches is at the minimum level for cultural workers (see also chapter 2.3).
The Estonian Folk Culture Centre is a national organisation under the Ministry of Culture, whose mission is to support the survival and evolution of Estonian folk culture and to participate in the process of developing and carrying out cultural policy for communities. Thus, the centre is a state competence centre that gathers specialised information, organises training courses, and supports and advises people and organisations that deal with national culture. Each county has a folk culture specialist who works in the Estonian Folk Culture Centre and handles the field of folk culture, for example curates national folk culture events (e.g. local song and dance celebrations, and folklore festivals).
The main tasks of the Folk Culture Centre are:
- to maintain the specialised database of folk culture;
- to maintain the list of Estonian intangible cultural heritage on the basis of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which Estonia joined In 2006;
- to organise the application processes of folk culture support programmes, which are financed by the Ministry of Culture;
- to organise trainings and courses on folk culture.
The main creative hobby activities in Estonia have their own non-profit umbrella organisations (central folk culture associations): Estonian Choral Association, Estonian Folk Dance and Folk Music Association, Estonian National Folklore Council, Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union, Estonian Amateur Theatre Association and Estonian Association of Cultural Societies.
The central folk culture associations mainly develop creative hobby activities in the area. They often commission new projects, organise courses, national and international events for different age groups — e.g. festivals, dance- and theatre-days. Through the Estonian Folk Culture Centre, the Ministry of Culture allocates support for these associations yearly and main grants for activities come from the Cultural Endowment.
In 2013, there were 453 community centres in Estonia.
Important organisations from the viewpoint of local societies are also the foundation Kihnu Kultuuriruum (Culture Space of Kihnu Island), the NGO Mulgi Kultuuri Instituut (Institute of Mulgimaa Culture) and the state institution Võru Institute.