Developments of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia in 2016–2020  

Mission 

The Cultural Endowment of Estonia contributes, with area-specific knowledge and flexible decision methods, to the variety and continuity of the areas of culture and sport.

Vision to the future 2020 

The existence and systematic activity of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia is still of great value. In its regular operation, the Cultural Endowment has significant impact on the areas of culture and sport.

Values 

The activity and development of the Cultural Endowment is based on values that are shared by experts and employees of the Cultural Endowment and the cultural public sphere:

  • reliability – decisions of the Cultural Endowment are competent, impartial, transparent and reasoned and accepted by the general public;
  • competence – reliability of the Cultural Endowment is based on assessments of professional experts proficient in their field;
  • independence – decisions of the Cultural Endowment are based on the best understanding of the experts and needs of a cultural discipline, not on political or cliquish interests;
  • flexibility – the Cultural Endowment proportionately supports both the preservation and renewal of culture and quickly responds to the changing needs of cultural disciplines.

Analysis of the current situation 

The Cultural Endowment of Estonia (hereinafter the Cultural Endowment) s a legal person in public law, whose activity is based on the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act. The objective of the activities of the Cultural Endowment is to support the arts, folk culture, physical fitness and sport and the construction and renovation of cultural buildings. The structure of the Cultural Endowment consists of eight endowment panels, 15 county expert groups, supervisory board of the Cultural Endowment, an internal auditor and employees. Activities are supported in eight areas: literature, visual and applied arts, audio-visual art, music, dramatic art, folk culture, architecture and fitness and sport. The regional dimension also plays an important role, since the Cultural Endowment awards grants based on the decisions made by county expert groups.


In addition, the supervisory board of the Cultural Endowment decides the funding of cross-area and inter-area projects to carry out strategic activities, and approves the funding decisions of endowments and county expert groups. Members of the supervisory board, endowment panels and county expert groups rotate in every two years and one member may hold a position for no more than two consecutive terms of office.

The budget of the Cultural Endowment is formed through the state budget (in the extent of 3.5% from alcohol and tobacco excise duty proceeds and 46% from the gambling tax proceeds). The Cultural Endowment also accepts property donations and bequests.

Figures: Income of the Cultural Endowment in 2011–2015 compared to 2007–2010


               

 

 

 

















 

Pursuant to the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act, after the increase of fixed capital and allocation of the amounts intended for cultural buildings, 75% of annual revenue is appropriated to the disposal of the endowments and 25% to the disposal of county expert groups for financing cross-disciplinary and county cultural projects and the administrative expenses.

Figures: Expenses of the Cultural Endowment in 2011–2015 compared to 2007–2010

 

 


















The Cultural Endowment shall allocate budgetary proceeds four times a year based on submitted application and on its own initiative. Application deadlines are 20 February, 20 May, 20 August and 20 November, which enables fast reaction to developments made in the areas of culture. 

Figures: Applications submitted to the Cultural Endowment and acceding thereto in 2011–2014 compared to the period of 2007–2010.


 

 








































An increase in the number of application reflects the growth of general activity in the field of culture, and the position of the Cultural Endowment as an important and well-known support channel. At the same time, an increase in the number of applications also reflects growing pressure on the funds of the Cultural Endowment, which may be caused by the small increase or also a decrease in other facilities supporting culture. Based on the comparison of periods, it may be generalized that applications have become more focused, the amount of support per initiative has increased and activities have become costlier. An increase in the income of the Cultural Endowment is, however, faster than the increase in the cost of living.

Our strengths

1.     The stable system of financing, which operates under the law, provides confidence in planning activities, since the activity of the Cultural Endowment does not depend on the annual budget negotiations and is not affected by the current political situation. As such, the Cultural Endowment has a unique financing mechanism that is of critical importance to financing and carrying out projects in the areas of culture and sport.
2.     The possibility of project-based funding involves flexibility that enables to carry out new ideas and one-time initiatives.
3.     The Cultural Endowment has broad-based expert knowledge of developments in the areas of culture and sport in Estonia through involving respective professionals in the decision-making process. Pursuant to the law, experts must be professionals active in their area, who are nominated the area-specific organizations. Constant rotation of experts ensures pluralism of opinions and changing priorities, if need be, according to developments in the area.
4.     The cornerstone of the Cultural Endowment is the political independence of endowments and county expert groups.
5.     The decision process of the Cultural Endowment is public and transparent. All decisions and their underlying principles are public. The general principles of the Cultural Endowment, as well as distribution principles and priorities of endowments and county expert groups are explained to applicants. 
6.     The Cultural Endowment is reliable and well-known among actors of culture and sport.
7.     Professional employees support the activity of decision-makers. Applicants have the opportunity to get current information about the application procedures and related issues.
8.     The Cultural Endowment has a thorough database that contains all information since the re-establishment of the Cultural Endowment in 1994. It contains information on all applications and applicants and gives a good overview of the made developments, lasting traditions and new approaches.

Our weaknesses

1.     The support mechanisms of the Cultural Endowment cannot provide the applicant that receives funding with a guarantee that the project will also be funded in the future. Due to the 2-year election cycle of experts, decisions may not be consistent.
2.     Within one endowment or expert group, there are more supported areas than there are experts in the membership of the endowment, which is why all sub-disciplines are not equally covered with expert knowledge. Therefore, an endowment may lack the necessary background information on applications. In addition, the opinion of one expert as the specialist of a certain discipline may gain disproportionately large weight.
3.     Communication between endowment panels and county expert groups with experts from other disciplines and with other county experts is deficient. This may result in the situation, where decisions on some applications end up in the so-called “grey area”.
4.     Weight of personal relationships and possible conflicts of interest in decisions.
5.     Superficial explanation of denying an application.
6.     Analysing the impact and productivity of decisions is not regular enough and does not stand on harmonized basis.
7.     Due to the work organization of the Cultural Endowment, a fairly large load of work falls around the deadlines of submitting applications.

Opportunities of the external environment

1.     The capability of the Cultural Endowment to support important project in larger volume is directly linked to fiscal policy decisions. As taxation of vices and addictions increases, so does the income of the Cultural Endowment.
2.     The state has worded the foundations of cultural policies until 2020. Once a year, the Minister of Culture reports on carrying out these policies to the Riigikogu, which gives a good overview of the state's priorities and choices to be made.
3.     Increase in the budget of the Ministry of Culture decreases pressure on the insufficient funds of the Cultural Endowment and enables the Ministry of Culture support organizations of national importance from the state budget.
4.     Along with the changes in value judgements and growth of general welfare in the society, the proportion of private funding increases in the area of culture in terms of both private donations and sponsorship.
5.     The success of joint funding platforms creates additional opportunities of collecting support for different initiatives also outside the funds related to the public sector.

Threats of the external environment

1.     Unstable tax collection would worsen the capabilities of the Cultural Endowment in supporting projects.
2.     Amending the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act may decrease the independence of the authority from political interest.
3.     Possibilities of funding Estonian culture are restricted, which is why a negative decision from the Cultural Endowment may become detrimental to the existence of significant cultural phenomena.
4.     Today, the motivation to make donations to the Cultural Endowment is hindered by a situation, where no tax incentives are involved in such activity.

Trends of development

 

1. Fundamental principles

1.1. The fundamental principle of the Cultural Endowment is budgeting pursuant to the procedure provided by law and independent endowments and expert groups consisting of experts in disciplines. These principles shall not be changed.
1.2. Fundamental principles of the Cultural Endowment are consistent with the national cultural policy and are laid down in the document “The general principles of Estonian cultural policy up to 2020”.

2. Funding

2.1. First and foremost, the Cultural Endowment supports creative persons and project-based initiatives.
2.2. The tasks of the Cultural Endowment and the Ministry of Culture are clarified based on budgetary means, in order to ensure sufficient flexibility to the Cultural Endowment in allocating funds.
2.3. The proportion of distributing funds provided by law as support between different endowments and counties, is decided by the supervisory board of the Cultural Endowment.
2.4. In case financing plans foresee the Cultural Endowment as the most effective financing authority, projects related to establishing and renovating cultural buildings of national importance is also supported from the funds of the Cultural Endowment.
2.5. Additional financing of the Cultural Endowment is increased, incl. by promoting private donations.

3. Members of endowment panels and county expert groups

3.1. When establishing the membership of county expert groups, the supervisory body of the Cultural Endowment takes into account the representation of different sub-disciplines.
3.2. Minister of Culture has exclusive competence to approve the membership of endowment panels, but this process must be as transparent as possible and the Minister of Culture must be prepared to explain the principles of forming the membership of panels, if necessary.

4. Distribution of disciplines and priorities

4.1. The supervisory board of the Cultural Endowment makes decisions based on the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act and approves the principles for awarding grants. When committees that decide awarding of grants (endowment panels, county expert groups) commence work, every committee agrees on the principles of awarding grants, which are approved by the supervisory board and published on the website of the Cultural Endowment.
4.2. Endowments and county expert groups are independent in establishing their internal priorities, being guided in their decisions from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act, principles approved by the supervisory board of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, and these trends of development. In the period of 2016–2020, one priority is to contribute to supporting projects related to celebrating the 100th birthday of the Republic of Estonia.
4.3. Duplications between endowments and projects ending up in the so-called “grey area” is avoided. Agreement is reached in the scope of different areas, as well as division of labour between endowments and county expert groups, and explanations are provided, if the content of applications so demands.
4.4. Endowments and county expert groups exchange information with the main funding institutions, representation and development organizations and other endowments and expert groups of the Cultural Endowment concerning the principles of planning important projects and awarding grants.
4.5. One priority of making funding decisions by the supervisory board of the Cultural Endowment is funding inter-disciplinary projects.

5. Reasoning and analysing decisions

5.1. Decisions of the Cultural Endowment are transparent and reasoned by the committees. General data of submitted applications are public.
5.2. The Cultural Endowment initiates a survey, the objective of which is to get an overview of the impact of the activity of the Cultural Endowment, as well as of disciplinary assessments of the role and activity of the Cultural Endowment. The long-term objective is to conduct the survey on a regular basis. Starting points of the survey and action plan are coordinated with the Ministry of Culture.

6. Communication activity

6.1. Actors in the area are explained, which are the principles of awarding grants of the Cultural Endowment, information days are organized and possibilities of the website of the Cultural Endowment are used to introduce and explain the activities of endowments and expert groups. The Cultural Endowment helps to organize information days on project-writing for organizations and to advise them on drawing up applications.
6.2. Internal communication of the Cultural Endowment plays an important role in communicating necessary information quickly to all parties.
6.3. The public is regularly informed on the activity of the Cultural Endowment. In communication directed towards the public, the spokesperson of the Cultural Endowment is the Director.

7. Processing applications

7.1. Excessive red tape is avoided, the whole application process is as optimal as possible for both the applicants, assessors and technical personnel. The procedure process of decisions of the Cultural Endowment must remain transparent and of high quality.
7.2. IT solutions are developed and enhanced, in order to make both the application and procedure process more comfortable and effective, which also helps to retain the optimal number of jobs at the Cultural Endowment.
7.3. Application forms are improved so as to enable comparing applications and automatic processing of information, thereby simplifying the assessment process.
7.4. The applications database of the Cultural Endowment is developed and systematized.
7.5. Supervision of awarded grants is performed by endowment panels and county expert groups.

8. Implementation and monitoring of development trends

8.1. In order to apply trends of development, an action plan is prepared that establishes specific activities, temporal distribution of topics and budgetary needs for carrying out development activities.
8.2. Trends of development and the action plan form a basis to planning the budget of the Cultural Endowment.
8.3. On an annual basis, the Director of the Cultural Endowment reports to the supervisory board on the current status of implementing trends of development.
8.4. Within the management report of the annual report of the Cultural Endowment, an overview is given of the results of implementing development trends and the action plan.

Supporting Estonian culture