No. 34




Shame is not in culture, but the lack of it

The latest Riigikogu Toimetised panel discussion took place on 9 November. This time, the representatives of the parliamentary parties discussed culture. The panel discussed cultural history until the present day, with the participation of Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Toomas Jürgenstein (Social Democratic Party), Priit Sibul (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union), Aadu Must (Estonian Centre Party), Krista Aru (Estonian Free Party), and Laine Randjärv (Estonian Reform Party). The latter sent her thoughts in writing.

Mart Helme: From the point of view of our little Estonia, I would say that the basis of our culture is still our language, and everything connected to it. I believe that we must pay wages to our writers, artists, maybe even representatives of certain other professions, because after all we cannot separate science from culture. But our education system is definitely also directly linked to culture. We must strive towards bringing up top specialists. I feel that neither our schools, nor our high culture can actually manage it.

Toomas Jürgenstein: When speaking of culture, it is extremely important to have a sense of balance between concrete [construction investments] and people. Whether we want it or not, we have cultural monuments that need huge funding to maintain, or to build. Cultural workers’ salaries should also not be neglected. Apart from that, we need to find a balance between high culture and folk culture. When it comes to supporting culture, I believe we must be conscious of networks. For example, theatre workers in village societies also deserve a little financial support.

Aadu Must: Our cultural memory has become quite fragmented. We need to work with important foreign archives, and the state should support this. The state does not have to create all the culture by itself. It is important to involve the people. In our history, in our national identity, there are some extremely important aspects that the state must be responsible for, and ensure their completion. We should also be more aware of the developments in Latvian and Lithuanian cultures.

Krista Aru: During the last decade, we have experienced the widest gap in the part of culture that is based on norms and values. If we look at the history of the Estonian nation, or the history of our entire society, we will see that a striving for education by our people is what has preserved our culture. In order to preserve our national culture, we need dependable large institutions that would keep memories alive and treasure the past. Those are, in a way, the pillars of our culture, and the state must definitely support these. There must also be a freely developing part that should not be over-regulated, or burdened by excessive bureaucracy.

Priit Sibul: We tend to believe that culture is somehow static and self-generating. We need to be braver and more systematic [in keeping our positions], as our surroundings change constantly. The definition of family has changed, and I am not sure I approve of the direction. It certainly will not carry on the culture in the way it has done for generations. In my opinion, we have also not tasked our education system with carrying it forward either. On the bright side, however, I see communities gathering around their community centres, and doing things together.

Laine Randjärv: The Estonian government actually supports culture very well, considering its means. It is also done very flexibly. I would personally prefer to fund hobby activities of young people in all fields, be it fine arts, ethnic culture, sports, science clubs, robotics, or any other guided leisure activities. This determines whether the next generation will develop the habit and skills of consuming and creating culture, so that in the years to come we could still be sure in the preservation of the Estonian culture.