At a 15 December 2015 sitting of Parliament where Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas gave an overview of the situation facing R&D activity and the government’s policy in that field, Rõivas reaffirmed that the government had the political will to complete the Rauaniidi building project as the new home of the Estonian Academy of Arts.

Rõivas expressed that position in response to a question from a member of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Estonian Academy of Arts alumna Yoko Alender: “When will a solution be found to the Estonian Academy of Arts situation. When will the new building be built?”

Excerpt from the transcript:

Yoko Alender:

Thank you, honourable Prime Minister, for a substantive presentation as well as for the discussion in the Cultural Affairs Committee! I would like to touch on the topic of design – design as thinking. Design that creates higher productivity, higher, greater value added that we all, whether it’s fine-tuning or the next big step that we need, greater productivity. In Estonia, design is mainly taught at the Academy of Arts. It is of some concern to me as an alumna of the Estonian Academy of Arts: when will a solution be found to the Estonian Academy of Arts situation. When will the new building be built?

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas:

Thank you! I was thinking where the question would lead to. I’ll certainly agree with the general thinking behind the question, because after all when you come down to it, the Industrial Revolution contributed to the ability to produce more per person. But if we want to get to the next level – again I’m simplifying quite a bit – we have to produce products with higher value-added, more desirable products, and design is indispensable in this regard. Now, as pertains to the new Estonian Academy of Arts building, as far as I know, it will be possible to fund it from a Ministry of Education and Research measure soon to be opened. I’m not completely sure whether I am at liberty to say so officially as Prime Minister. But actually, we have reached agreement in the Cabinet that it’s an important project for us. I don’t know whether there are any specialists who have to assess the eligibility for aid and I don’t want to unlawfully influence them somehow by expressing my support for it. But I hope that I am not doing so when I say that I firmly believe that the Academy of Arts building has to be built. It surely isn’t spilling a great secret when I say that when foreign visitors visit and I show them North Tallinn from the balcony of my office as an example of a very fast-developing area, I always point out the building standing forlorn on the corner and tell the guests that this will be our Academy of Arts, which will actually hopefully give the whole area an additional pleasant Bohemian-like sheen. I for one believe that the Academy of Arts has to be built there. It should be done through a European Union measure and I hope that the political will be accompanied by the whole procedural side and everything that a proper measure entails. All three parties represented in the cabinet share the political will.

The original proceedings in the Parliament can be streamed on demand. Alender asked her question at about 1:48:50. The transcript in full (in Estonian) can be found here.

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Posted by Solveig Jahnke