EAA Activity 2013‒2015

EAA MANAGEMENT BOARD REPORT: ESTONIAN ARTISTS ASSOCIATION 2013–2015
 
This management report by the management board – the president and the vice president of the Estonian Artists Association – highlights the achievements and events of the past three years, maps the positives and the negatives as of spring 2016, as well as the potential focal points and challenges for the EAA in the near and distant future. In the years 2013–2015, one of the primary objectives of the management board has been to map and give meaning to the activities, structure and situation of the EAA as a versatile and multifunctional organisation. In comparison to the past, an important shift has taken place in regard to the EAA’s self-awareness as an economic organisation. This is inevitable considering the share of own revenues in the budget and the worrying structural condition of EAA buildings resulting from many years of insufficient investment, as well as the environment of the market economy in which the Association operates.
 
While the keywords that have been most characteristic of the EAA as an organisation so far have been intuitive and traditional (with economic activity also represented by the keyword chaotic), we have attempted to further introduce qualities such as coherence, efficacy and modernity, while understanding that implementing changes in a large organisation with a diverse membership will be a process that first and foremost demands time and persistence, as well as taking various points of view into account.
In accordance with the EAA’s statute, the Association’s highest governing body between general assemblies is the council. There were three council meetings in 2013, four in 2014, and five in 2015. The management board considers cooperation with the council to be constructive and productive – together they have developed viewpoints and found solutions to many challenging issues.
 
There have been numerous changes in the team of the EAA between 2013 and 2015. The management board aims to improve the organisation of work and to define employee obligations and responsibilities more clearly. At the same time, we value human relationships and a friendly spirit of cooperation – the proof of which lies in the fact that in addition to what is implied by their job titles, everyone in the Association is expected to be ‘multi-talented’ to a greater or lesser extent.
 
Buildings, tenants and activities
 
The Association owns the buildings at 6 and 8 Vabaduse väljak, 2 Hobusepea, and 154 Pärnu maantee in Tallinn as well as the Uuetalu farm in Nõmmküla on the island of Muhu. The buildings at 6 and 8 Vabaduse väljak have a total of 39 studios rented out to artists who are members of the EAA on the basis of a personal application and subsequent decision made by the studio committee.
 
In addition to studios for artists and the offices of the Association, 6 Vabaduse väljak is also home to Vabaduse Gallery, with the art supplies seller Galerii-G being a long-term tenant. Since 2015, the art platform NOAR is also an occupant. In November 2014, the gallery of the Estonian Academy of Arts, EKA Gallery, opened in the cellar, which is accessed from the inner courtyard of the building, and it has by now become well-known among students, artists and art enthusiasts.
 
The gallery and exhibition halls at 8 Vabaduse väljak or Tallinn Art Hall, as it is more commonly known, are undoubtedly the cornerstones of its public face and are operated by the Tallinn Art Hall Fund (Tallinna Kunstihoone Fond). The Tallinn Art Hall accommodates the Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia and the Association’s visiting artist studio. On the ground floor there is Tuum cafe and the design shop Nu Nordik. Kuku Club operates in the cellar. As of the writing of this summary, its 1990s atmosphere is being modernised in order to allow it to once again become the centre of our cultural life in a manner suitable for the 21st century.
 
Between 2013 and 2015, 43 foreign artists have stayed at the EAA’s visiting artist studio and it has also been used by around ten local artists preparing work for exhibitions and other projects. The most distant visitors have come from Japan, Australia and Brazil.
 
The building at 2 Hobusepea has 29 studios and workshops with more than 40 artists working there. The building is home to Hobusepea Gallery, which showcases contemporary art, and HOP Gallery, which focuses on applied art, both of which belong to the Association, as well as A-Galerii, which is dedicated to Estonian jewellery.
 
The metal and jewellery artists who work at 2 Hobusepea are worried about the poor state of the building, having organised the charitable jewellery event EHE KATUS on multiple occasions in the hope of earning additional resources for repairing the roof of the building.
 
Between 2013 and 2015 the EAA galleries (Hobusepea, Draakon, HOP, Vabaduse) hosted a total of 243 exhibitions that attracted 206,192 visitors, with 623 artists and curators taking part.
 
As of 24 March 2016, the EAA has 103 rental agreements at the ARS building and territory situated at 154 Pärnu maantee – over 70% of the tenants are creative individuals and enterprises. The Association aims to ‘reconquer’ ARS for art – to restore the majority of tenants from creative industries at the historic Art Products Factory, thereby creating an environment where the exchange of ideas and experiences, the cross-utilisation of services, project spaces, training activity, and so on, create the preconditions for the development of a modern creative hub.
 
Between autumn 2014 and spring 2015, under the leadership of the creative industries expert Maria Hansar, we mapped the professional wishes and expectations of sub-associations, as well as the development prospects of creative industries at the EAA premises. We also examined the particularities of the EAA’s economic model and its role in the Estonian cultural scene. The meetings, discussions and brainstorming sessions resulted in the thorough 49-page document compiled by Ruth-Helene Melioranski and Geroli Peedu, entitled ARS 21 Strategy and Business Plan 2015–2020 (ARS 21 strateegia ja äriplaan aastateks 2015–2020). In order to fund this from the creative industries grant, we submitted a funding application following the introduction of the project at a council meeting on 18 May 2015. Unfortunately, the EAA’s application was rejected by Enterprise Estonia – while deemed to meet requirements and being placed 9th among 24 applicants, there was only sufficient funding for the first six. In the field of arts, it was the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center that received support.
 
In summary, the aim of ARS 21 is to provide ambitious initiatives, creative individuals and enterprises access to new technologies and to enable them to use smart materials in product development and in small-scale productions, resulting in a higher added value and competitive advantage, as well as better conditions for entering foreign markets.
 
Funding ARS 21 and other creative industries development activities without additional resources is undoubtedly difficult for the Association, but we have nevertheless been able to launch numerous positive changes. On 5 June 2015, the ARS Open Studios Day took place for the first time, providing an opportunity for 33 creative individuals and enterprises to showcase their work.
 
In November 2015, the open-format series of events called ARS Maker Tuesdays was launched under the leadership of the studio Varvara & Mar, inviting participants to learn from each other’s experiences, to create and experiment with the aim of initiating cooperation projects and implement new technologies in creative work. Examples of events include workshops in 3D printing, electronics (Arduino) and creative coding (Raspberry Pi), and behind-the-scenes sessions providing a view of the creative process by Taavi Suisalu (Sound as a Material (Heli kui materjal)) and Kristi Kuusk (Smart Textiles with Artisanal Value (Käsitöö väärtustega targad tekstiilid)).
 
The ARS Project Space has become an important setting, with the project platform Rundum operating in the ARS courtyard building since 2015, among many others. The activity of Nukufilm’s children’s animation studio in the courtyard building is notable for its role in developing the art education side of ARS and attracting a wider group of interested people.
 
Newer tenants at ARS include such noteworthy names in the contemporary Estonian art scene as Marge Monko, Raul Keller, Krista Mölder, Taavi Talve, Laura Kuusk, Taavi Suisalu and Robin Nõgisto. Growing numbers of younger generation applied artists and designers can also be found at ARS, such as shoe designer Sille Sikmann and jewellery artist Darja Popolitova, Kristi Kuusk, who works with smart textiles, and the leather design studio Mokoko. Metal artist Tõnu Narro has set up his workshop as a newcomer on the territory of ARS, realising artists’ ideas and installing exhibitions, among other things.
 
Recognition is due to the artists who have remained loyal to ARS – Arne Maasik, Elna Kaasik, Fideelia-Signe Roots, Laura Põld, Piret Rohusaar, and many others. ARS continues to be home to ARS Keraamika, which produces ceramics and high temperature glazes, ARS Portselan, which specialises in porcelain painting, ARS Vaibastuudio, and many other enterprises with historical roots.
 
Currently, ARS houses nearly seventy artists and creative enterprises, proving that ARS has made its comeback and is becoming the ‘hottest’ art house and creative centre in Tallinn.
 
New life is also being breathed into the Muhu Art Residency (i.e. Uuetalu farm in Nõmmküla, on the island of Muhu). The farm complex, which is under heritage protection, is distinguished by its storehouses with their thatched roofs, quarry stone outbuildings and native trees, as well as its noteworthy history – the cottage-cum threshing barn and storehouses were already visible on an 1853 map of the local manor. The farm, which was used as a holiday retreat for the ARS Art Products Factory from the 1970s until the 1990s, had for a long time seen only occasional use, due to its modest living conditions and probably also due to a lack of vision and communication.
 
From spring 2015, the Muhu Art Residency is once again rousing the interest of artists – this in large part thanks to the enterprising actions of EAA members Tiiu Rebane and Karl-Kristjan Nagel. The vision for the development of the contemporary Muhu Art Residency imagines it as an international art residency and cross-disciplinary creative and holiday centre. According to project manager Tiiu Rebane, the challenges of the heritage-listed farm complex present a suitable setting for both contemporary artists and historians, innovators and restorers. The centre welcomes both adults and children.
 
In 2015, the main event at the Art Residency was the art festival Future – Horizon, which brought more than thirty creators from as far away as Germany and Russia to Muhu island. Other actions include the plein air painting event Border State, which took place with the participation of 10 painters from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the week-long international printmaking event Muhu Print, organised by the Association of Estonian Printmakers. Creative partners include the community art centre Kultuurivoimala (Oulu, Finland), Hirvitalo Center of Contemporary Art (Tampere, Finland), and Rucka Artist Residency (Cesis, Latvia).
 
The plans for 2016 include continuing the development and maintenance work in the buildings, and the themes of this edition of the art festival will be From Artists to Children and Art and Energy. Members of the Artists Association and their friends are welcome to come to Muhu to spend their holidays and to create art either as part of planned events or independently and on their own.
 
On the topic of tenants, it must be noted that both the management board and the employees of the EAA have been forced to dedicate a lot of time and energy to solving long-term issues with rental arrears (some having begun 5–10 years ago). In the worst cases, this has meant having to use the services of a debt collection agency, as well as bringing the issue before a court in order to protect the rights of the Association.
 
Mapping, construction and renovation
 
In 2014, the management board launched an extensive process aimed at determining the value, problems and perspectives of buildings belonging to the EAA, including their structural condition and investment needs. In the course of this process, expert assessments were prepared for all the Association’s buildings located in Tallinn. In addition, we commissioned a building survey, a fire safety survey and a thermal energy audit of the buildings at 154 Pärnu maantee, structural surveys of the facades at 6 and 8 Vabaduse väljak, an assessment of the condition of the courtyard balconies at 2 Hobusepea, and many other services.
 
In order to enable state-of-the-art planning to take place in a functional manner, we prepared detailed inventories of all EAA buildings and their rooms in Tallinn between 2014 and 2015, resulting in digitalised drawings in a format suitable for architectural planning work. Considering the works that need to be carried out in the coming years, we commissioned multiple specific engineering projects (fire barriers and an automatic fire alarm system for the buildings at 6 and 8 Vabaduse väljak, a heating system for 8 Vabaduse väljak), as well as the renovation of the facade at 8 Vabaduse väljak.
 
We requested special conditions for heritage conservation for the Muhu Art Residency, which were based on the preliminary renovation project (Jaak-Adam Looveer and Indrek Järve from the company PAIK Arhitektid). By autumn 2015, the last buildings in the farm complex had received new thatched roofs.
 
Most noteworthy among the more important construction and renovation works carried out between 2013 and 2015 are the emergency repairs to the facades at 6 and 8 Vabaduse väljak and the main building at 154 Pärnu maantee, the aim of which was to slow down the degradation process and to improve safety.
 
At 154 Pärnu maantee, the middle section of the main ARS building was given a new roof coating, the courtyard was partly resurfaced, and a new automation system was installed on the gate. Hobusepea Gallery now has proper ventilation, while balconies at risk of collapse were removed from the courtyard. At 6 Vabaduse väljak, we emptied and cleaned the cellar, previously a playground for mice and rats, and turned it into a storage space for artists, while rooms that had been used for storing items were turned into a gallery in cooperation with the Estonian Academy of Arts. The Association’s visiting artist studio was given a fresher look and furnishings.
 
Unavoidable repair work was mostly related to outdated water, sewerage and heating systems across all EAA properties, with constantly out-of-order elevators also causing problems. It is perhaps worth mentioning that a significant clear-out has happened in the Association during the past three years, with 164 m³ of clutter and construction waste having been removed from our premises.
 
The final highlight of this summary of completed works and activities is the biggest undertaking and investment in the Association’s real estate of the past years – connecting ARS to the
district heating network, at a cost of 96,000 euros, ensuring reliability and presumed cost savings for the creative people and enterprises operating in the building. There will be no more fear that the Artists Association’s outdated boiler room will stop working in the middle of winter and leave the occupants in the cold.
 
Collaboration
The EAA participates in law-making pertaining to the field, including the development of the Commissioning of Artworks Act, the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act, and the Copyright Act, as well as in the development of thematic strategies and action plans (including the priority objectives in cultural politics, the development plan for the field of the arts, and others).
 
As the expert organisation in the field, the EAA appoints representatives to various committees, supervisory boards and juries (including those regularly formed under the Commissioning of Artworks Act) at the request of the state and local governments, as well as other organisations.
 
The EAA cooperates with all the major organisations and educational institutions active in the field of art and culture in Estonia (the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia, the Art Museum of Estonia, the Estonian Academy of Arts, the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, and many others) by participating in debates, consultations, communications and joint projects.
 
With the aim of mapping common perspectives and potential courses of action in representing the interests of creative persons, developing the creative industries, and promoting art education, the EAA signed cooperation agreements in 2015 with the Estonian Academy of Arts, the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, Tartu Art School, Sally Stuudio art school for children and young people, and the Nukufilm children’s animation studio.
 
As a representative from the EAA, Vano Allsalu attended the General Assemblies of IAA Europe on 4–5 October 2013 in Oslo and 15–16 October 2015 in Pilsen, Czech Republic. With the aim of developing joint activities with sister organisations in neighbouring countries, the artists associations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a creative cooperation and partnership agreement on 2 September 2014 in Vilnius. On 6 November 2015, Vano Allsalu gave a presentation entitled Between Dreams and Details at the Lithuanian Artists Association’s international conference The Significance of Institution in the Processes of Culture, held in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the association’s founding. During the presentation, he spoke, among other things, about the challenges facing the Estonian Artists Association as an artistic association and an economic organisation.
 
A constructive and mutually beneficial collaboration is developing with the Association’s foundation, the Tallinn Art Hall Fund. As the founder of the foundation, the EAA has an important role in the process of updating the Fund’s statute, for example. In 2016, with joint efforts, we hope to renovate the facade of Tallinn Art Hall, which has been in poor condition for a long time. The Association usually provides rooms at Tallinn Art Hall free of charge to the foundation for its activities.
 
In addition to organising exhibitions in the Toompea Castle Exhibition Hall, the EAA’s vice president Elin Kard has collaborated with Riigikogu Toimetised, the socio-political periodical published by the Chancellery of the Riigikogu. She has also contributed to the development of the format of the Estonian Public Broadcasting art show OP! kunst.
 
The EAA is one of the biggest of the 17 recognised artistic associations in Estonia. In 2013, the artistic associations garnered significant public attention with a joint statement issued on 20 November in relation to the scandal regarding the cultural newspaper Sirp and the subsequent resignation of the Minister of Culture Rein Lang. The representatives of the union of artistic associations attended the 19 December meeting with the new Minister Urve Tiidus with a clear intent to restore the regular meetings between creative people and cultural officials first initiated as the Advisory Committee for the Arts (Kaunite Kunstide Nõukoda) during the tenure of Minister Jaak Allik.
 
The monthly meetings between the artistic associations and the Estonian Chamber of Culture (Eesti Kultuuri Koda) with the management and employees of the Ministry of Culture have by now developed into a practical forum for discussing important cultural issues and coordinating joint activities. The topics discussed have included issues relating to the social protection of creative individuals and copyright, the involvement of representatives from creative fields in the management of foundations, devising development and action plans pertaining to the field, advancing the creative industries, the need to promote higher education and non-formal learning as well as a stronger integration of the fields of culture and education, the representation of cultural topics in the channels of the Estonian Public Broadcasting and in the wider media. Common views on matters pertaining to our culture and society have been expressed strongly – regarding, for example, the change in the detailed plan that threatened the development of the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia or Gunnar Okk’s Report on the network and policies of Estonian universities, research institutions and institutions of professional higher education. In 2015, the EAA performed the role of the coordinator of the Union of Artistic Associations, taking over from the Estonian Association of Architects.
 
As a member of the Estonian Chamber of Culture, the EAA has highlighted the joys and sorrows of the EAA’s artists in various cultural discussions. The EAA’s president Vano Allsalu gave a presentation at the Chamber of Culture’s annual conference What is the Value of Culture? (Mis on kultuuri väärtus?) on 21 November 2014 in Haapsalu, entitled Between the Two (Kahe vahel), focusing on the decisions facing a cultural organisation between strategic planning and day-to-day problem solving, mission fulfilment and economic survival.
Together with its partners, the EAA gives out art awards – the Kristjan Raud Prize (in collaboration with the City of Tallinn) and the Konrad Mägi Award (in collaboration with the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Estonian Painters’ Association).
 
Grants and support measures
 
Grants and social protection for creative individuals
 
The grants and support paid from the national budget under the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act are undoubtedly the most significant financial resources available to artists and art historians through the Association. In 2015, creative grants were awarded to 44 individuals (107,171 euros in total, including social taxes). In addition, nearly 27,000 euros of creative grants were paid to 62 members of the EAA to support their professional activities and personal development. In 2014, support totalling 110,675 euros was granted to 36 individuals. The fact that a growing number of artists require this kind of support is a concern. On the positive side, however, artist’s awareness of the measures is high and they know how to use it.
 
The Act Amending the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act and Other Related Acts, in force from 20 January 2014, brought about many positive changes for artists who mainly operate on a freelance and project basis. Among other things, those who receive the support no longer have to register as self-employed and their social taxes are paid by the artistic association.
 
Other amendments that came into force include changes to the bases for recognising artistic associations and for applying and granting support for creative activity; for example, in cases where a creative individual belongs to multiple artistic associations, the fee that accompanies support for creative individuals is paid either to all associations equally or, upon the request of the individual, to one association only. Subjects relating to the databases of artistic associations have been comprehensively regulated and described.
 
An amendment to the Health Insurance Act, which came into force at the beginning of 2016, sets out that from now on those who work on the basis of one or multiple contracts under the law of obligations are able to obtain health insurance (e.g. an artist working for multiple employers on the basis of small contracts). The precondition for receiving health insurance is that the minimum monthly obligation for social tax (currently 128.70 euros) is met as a total of all contracts.
 
Support for the activities of the EAA
The Estonian Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia contribute significantly to the exhibition activities in the EAA’s galleries – in the years 2013–2015, the Ministry of Culture supported the activities of the EAA’s galleries with 68,900 euros, while the Cultural Endowment of Estonia provided 60,114 euros in 2014–2015.
 
The National Heritage Board has supported the renovation of the facade of Tallinn Art Hall and the restoration of the thatched roofing at Uuetalu, while the Estonian Choral Association has
contributed to the Association’s chamber choir.
 
Commissioning of Artworks Act
 
The effect of the 2011 Commissioning of Artworks Act has become an ever more important source of professional income for artists, as it sets out that 1 per cent of the cost of public buildings must be allocated towards the commissioning of artworks, thereby enriching the public space with art. During this time, tens of works of art have been commissioned for schools, hospitals and other institutions, with Riigi Kinnisvara AS having held the most competitions. The financial volume of the commissions has ranged from 7,000 euros to 65,000 euros, the latter being the maximum possible. Commissions have included outdoor sculptures, installations, paintings, as well as photography.
 
To summarise the discussions that took place in 2014, the EAA defined the following priorities in relation to the revision and implementation of the Commissioning of Artworks Act:
 
-         the quality of results – both the idea and the execution of the art that reaches public spaces must be of a high standard, lasting in time, and suitable for the specific environment;
 
-         a variety of results (representation of various creative statements and practices), which can be guaranteed, among other things, by alternating jury members and ensuring their competence;
 
-         accessibility and feasibility for artists (including clearer rules and amending the manner in which participants are informed, a phased approach to funding, sufficiently long competition deadlines);
 
-         training and support for contracting authorities (including recommended documentation, example conditions);
 
-         better conditions for production and contemporary creative environments for designing and executing artworks that are produced in the context of the law (a link to creative industries).
 
With the amendments that came into force on 1 February 2015, the law became more flexible for participants. Among other things, a minimum competition deadline of 50 calendar days is applicable, which should ensure that competition entries are more thought-through and of a higher quality. In addition, the contracting authority must allow the artist to be paid in parts – removing the obligation of competition participants to invest tens of thousands of euros at the start of the project to cover the costs of materials and execution. Everything connected to the organisation of competitions is now set out in the text of the Commissioning of Artworks Act. An overview of the procurement results and instructional material can be found on the website of the Ministry of Culture.
 
In accordance with the law, two-thirds of the jury members are appointed by two artistic associations: the EAA and the Estonian Society of Art Historians and Curators. In accordance with the amended law, participants are not obliged to pass a design contest via the electronic procurement system nor register on the procurement register, instead the contracting authority announces the competition on their website and this will be communicated via both the Ministry of Culture and the relevant artistic associations.
 
Artist Laureate Salaries
 
Quality and development in the field of art cannot be guaranteed solely on the basis of projects or by focusing on market relations. A professional artist needs an income and a sense of security in the same way as a doctor, a teacher or a policeman does. The idea of the ‘suffering artist’ for whom cold and hunger are essential parts of the creative process is outdated and dehumanising. For art to be able to play its role in society, both in shaping our surroundings and in exploring vital questions, more attention needs to be paid to the creators behind it.
 
The establishment of the laureate salaries for artists and writers has been one of the moves in the Estonian cultural scene that has garnered the most public attention in recent years. The first competition was officially announced on 2 November 2015, after which five artists began to receive a laureate salary for three years from the beginning of 2016. On the basis of the 73 applications received, the broad-based selection committee created within the EAA, which included representatives from the major art exhibition organisations (Kumu Art Museum, Tartu Art Museum, Tallinn Art Hall, Tartu Art House, the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design), the Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia and the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, decided to name Kaido Ole, Marge Monko, Kris Lemsalu, Mark Raidpere and Anu Vahtra as the recipients of the laureate salary for artists.
When selecting the recipients of the laureate salary, the emphasis is placed on the future – the candidate’s motivation, three-year creative plan, and the relevance and innovation of their creative objectives are evaluated first and foremost.
 
The goal of the laureate salary is to enable professional artists to fully commit to creative activities and thereby contribute to the development of Estonian culture. In addition to its long-term nature, the difference between the salary and the grants for creative activity is that the former also comes with social guarantees, providing greater stability. The size of the gross monthly laureate salary for artists in 2016 is 1005 euros. The value of the laureate salary lies in more than just financial support – equally important is the message that the activity of creative individuals is important and anticipated in society.
 
Traditions, discounts for members
 
The membership fee of the EAA remained unchanged between 2013 and 2015: 13 euros per year (special price of 3 euros for pensioners, free for honorary members). This accounted for just 1.36% of the Association’s revenues in the 2015 budget.
 
The Association’s members have the right to request studio spaces in the Association’s buildings, exhibition dates at the Association’s galleries, and apply for support and grants for creative activity in accordance with established procedures. From December 2015, the EAA offers its members free primary legal assistance – this opportunity has been used by 9 people during a period of a little over 3 months, some having used it repeatedly. The Association normally also offers its members assistance with the transport of artworks – from 2014, transport takes place with the EAA’s new van, which ensures a smoother arrival for both the artworks and the people delivering them.
 
At the beginning of 2014, the somewhat unclear procedure for giving out milestone birthday allowances was amended, setting out that all EAA members over 75 years of age celebrating milestone birthdays receive a one-off payment with a monetary value equal to their age.
 
Traditional events such as the Christmas reception at Tallinn Art Hall, the reception for seniors and the Christmas party with Santa Claus for little future artists all continued in 2013–2015. As a new custom, on the last three occasions Santa Claus has brought the children of EAA members art supplies in place of treats as holiday presents.
After a break, our sub-associations once again receive operational support in 2016 – initially in the sum of 500 euros. Undoubtedly, one of the EAA’s most important contributions to the creative activities of its members is the provision of studios and workshops.
 
The challenges facing the EAA in 2016–2019
 
The EAA is the owner and developer of the largest art infrastructure targeted towards professional artists in Estonia. The EAA’s activities as a property owner are connected to its core aims, which are focused on the purposeful and sustainable development of facilities designed and built for the creation and exhibition of art, as well as renting these facilities to creative individuals at an affordable price. This task is difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible – ensuring necessary investments in poorly-kept buildings and earning resources for accomplishing the Association’s various statutory objectives, both now and in the future, from the same rental activity that takes the modest financial means of creative individuals into account.
 
Many EAA members and tenants in the Association’s buildings seem to have an idealistic notion that the Association is an organisation that works wonders and is unaffected by the laws of economics – and perhaps even the laws of nature. This fairy-tale status should enable the EAA to have a programme and decision-making procedure in place for providing rooms at a cost far below the market price, while covering in advance the costs of extensive repairs and construction work related to decades-long neglect. The need for the latter is a result of the state of technical systems, facades, etc., that have become critical.
 
With real estate, the EAA has followed the principle that any assets that are in poor condition and unused should be sold in order to earn resources for property upkeep and for accomplishing statutory objectives. But this is not enough.
 
Among the properties of the Association, the plan for developing the ARS creative complex and art centre provides one glimmer of hope. In the vision of the EAA, the 21st century ARS combines innovation with history, contemporary practices and technologies with the traditional skills of professional art in Estonia. Artist studios, workshops and galleries form the heart of the creative hub, while the cross-utilisation of services and resources supports efficacy, and new products and services are born from the contact between creative individuals.
 
The EAA wishes to develop ARS into an attractive hub for both Tallinn and the whole of Estonia. The professional core supports initiatives directed at the general public, including educational and entertainment functions (training, workshops), various exhibition and sales formats for works of art and design, as well as relevant support services along with catering. A functionally coherent ARS complex should operate as a hotbed for ideas and as a cultural centre with a free and creative atmosphere – a refreshing oasis in the urban environment where all curious, creative and active people can enjoy spending time and working.
 
In addition to issues relating to the creative industries and real estate, the challenges for the management board and the council for the years 2016–2019 include continuing the development of the Association as an expert organisation, promoting teamwork and project management skills; being effectively involved as an artistic association in specialist topics at both government and civic levels; representing the interests of members in issues relating to professional livelihood and social guarantees. From spring 2016, the EAA plans to begin paying a fee to artists who exhibit at the Association’s galleries – while this will initially be modest, it sends a good message and sets an example to follow.
 
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