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The main policy connected with ensuring young people access to culture is formulated in the Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020 described in more detail in chapter 8.3. Under this policy document, the most important governmental initiative concerned with culture and creativity of young people has been supporting hobby education and hobby activities, including removing obstacles of their access. This initiative is described in detail under chapter 8.5.
Two most prominent top-level projects that aimed to increase access to culture specifically young people are:
- “An Instrument for Every Child”;
- „The HUKK-AP project”.
An Instrument for Every Child
Under the framework of celebrating a hundred years of the Republic of Estonia, coordinated by the Government Office, an initiative „An Instrument for Every Child“ was created in 2015. The programme ended at 1. October 2018, on the international music day with concerts all over Estonia.
The idea of the initiative is to encourage youth involvement in music by increasing access of young people to music instruments so that the fact of owning a music instrument would not limit access to be involved in music education.
The aim of the initiative “An Instrument for Every Child” is to upgrade, in cooperation with the private sector, the instrument collections of the institutions that offer musical education to children and young people. The mapping of the instrument collections of musical education institutions revealed a great need for new instruments.
The target group of the initiative includes any institutions offering musical education, such as traditional music schools and youth orchestras, as well as youth centres, culture centres and music groups in general education schools. There are no limitations in terms of musical styles. The initiative enables musical and hobby education institutions to apply for funding of the purchase of musical instruments. All acquired instruments will remain in shared use in the particular group.
There were 4 annual application rounds (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018):
- In 2015, support was given to 121 institutions to purchase 268 music instruments. A total sum of the support: 196,869 €
- In 2016, support was given to 208 institutions to purchase 726 music instruments. A total sum of the support: 232,990 €
- In 2017, support was given to 220 institutions to purchase 688 music instruments. A total sum of the support: 332,290 €
- In 2018, support was given to 254 institutions to purchase 1,031 music instruments. A total sum of the support: 312,617 €.
The HUKK-AP project
The HUKK-AP Project - Involvement of Organisations Working in Area of Hobby Education for Young People – was initiated by the Ministry of Education and Research and implemented by Archimedes Foundation Youth Agency (since 01.01.2021 the Department of Youth Programs of the Agency of Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps of the Education and Youth Board). The aim of the programme was to support the variety of hobby activities, their efficiency and suitability for youngsters` needs. The objective is to create prerequisites and working solutions in order to involve disadvantaged youngsters in hobby education. It is important to support opportunities for participating, introduce new methods and increase competencies of educators that enable to increase access of disadvantaged young people to hobby education, mostly in the are of culture and art education.
The main directions of activities:
- increasing the capability of hobby schools to involve young people with fewer opportunities systematically;
- promoting hobby activities in new priority target groups;
- involving young people with fewer opportunities into hobby activities;
- monitoring and assessing the impact of the project and hobby education.
The following most important results were achieved through the project (Summary of the HUKK-AP Project. Anything is Possible, 2016):
- 3,231 young people with fewer opportunities participated in hobby activities, 1,806 of them doing so regularly. The participants showed a change in their attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviour. They became more confident, took initiative more likely, and learned to concentrate, communicate and cooperate more successfully. The skills related to their hobby improved and they became academically more successful.
- 69 new regional hobby groups were established that focused especially on the needs of this particular target group: football training, a painting group, a theatre studio, a nature group, car modelling group, dance lessons, a photography group, guitar lessons, motorcycle training, a poetry group, a pool club, a sailors’ club, a handbell group, et al.
- New hobby activity models were established and approaches were tested that had not been previously implemented in the project areas at all or to such an extent. For example, young people with special educational needs were included in regular hobby groups and they were able to participate in smaller groups or individual lessons created especially for them. Young people living in areas that are more secluded were reached via a mobile hobby school.
- 442 parents were involved and advised, which turned out to be of great importance in youth work. Parents play an important role in whether a young person finds a hobby activity and whether they start participating regularly.
- 1,647 specialists working with young people participated in training and mentoring, which has helped to change the way of thinking in the hobby activity system and including young people with fewer opportunities has become a more natural part of everyday work.
The budget of the project was 453,412.57 euros, which was mostly covered by Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway through the EEA Grants. The duration of the project was 01.02.2014-30.04.2016.
Starting from the year 2000, the Ministry of Culture announces a theme for the year, which is different each year. The year 2017 was Children and Youth Year of Culture, which was one of the most prominent youth-specific initiatives to raise awareness of young people about the culture and the participation in culture by the top-level authority.
The goals of Children and Youth Year of Culture 2017 were:
- to inspire children and youngsters to become the creators of culture
- to value children and youngsters as an audience for culture
The motto of Children and Youth Year of Culture, “Me too!” and keywords independence and collaboration invited children and youngsters to participate in culture as well as to create experiences themselves. Supporting and encouraging the young as creators as well as an audience helps us ensure a continuous and abundant cultural life for the coming generations. Public funding in 2017 for that initiative was 40,000 €.
The information on cultural opportunities is available on many levels, depending on the scale of the event or opportunity - either with big activities nationwide media coverage or with smaller ones, the dissemination is done on the local level. On the local level, hobby education and activities that are connected with both culture and creativity, the information is disseminated by either youth workers or schools themselves, and the information is targetted to youth specifically.
The general principles of the cultural policy up to 2020 show that disseminating information on cultural opportunities is one of the recurring topics throughout the strategy and each field has to provide the dissemination of their specific information. The programme for culture for the years 2020-2023 (Kultuuriprogramm 2020-2023) states that the budget for the whole programme for 2020 is more than 201 million euros, from which more than 65 million euros go to preserving the cultural heritage and making it available, and more than 116 million euros go to supporting and developing versatile and available cultural life.
The most important nation-wide top-level programme to support young people's discovery and appreciation of the cultural and artistic heritage of Estonia is The Youth Song and Dance Celebrations.
The Youth Song and Dance celebrations are targeted to youth (7-26, mostly young people in school-age 7-17) and take place every five years in a dedicated area (Song Festival Ground) in Tallinn. Even though the event itself only lasts for few days in, the actual programme is covering also the period between the events as it includes the regular meetings (weekly in general) of dance groups, choirs, folk groups and orchestras in schools, cultural centres etc. throughout the years.
The celebrations focal point is Estonian folk culture with traditional songs and dances, however, also new work is commissioned for every event. Participants mostly wear national costumes.
In addition to youth celebration, also a general song and dance celebration is held, where young people take part. According to the established tradition, every 2nd and 7th year of the decade a youth song and dance celebration and every 4th and 9th year of the decade a general song and dance celebration takes place. The tradition of Estonian Song and Dance Celebrations tradition began with the first Song Celebration in 1869. The celebrations have taken place regardless of the political situation and have been part of building Estonian identity that has united the nation in its struggle for national independence before 1918 and during the period of the Soviet occupation (1941-1991). The “Singing Revolution” began in 1988, based on the Song Celebration tradition, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the Song Festival Grounds to demand Estonia’s independence and sing patriotic songs. Estonia regained its independence in 1991. In November 2003, UNESCO declared Estonia’s Song and Dance Celebration tradition a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
According to the research by Lauristin & Vihalemm (Minu laulu- ja tantsupidu. Sotsioloogilise uuringu aruanne. Eesti Laulu- ja Tantsupeo Sihtasutus, 2013), the tradition to hold celebrations is very viable, also among young people. The number of participants has not dropped in spite of the general decrease of the youth population and the number of groups taking part in the selection process before the event is increasingly larger than the number selected to participate. The Register of Estonian Song and Dance Celebration Foundation has in 2016 a record of 50,196 members of groups (dance, groups, choirs, orchestras, folk music groups), aged 7 to 26; the number of individuals of the same age group is 37,722, which means that the Register has a record of 13% of Estonian young people. In the age group from 7 to 19, the Register has a record of 21% of all Estonian young people (“Hobby education, hobby activity, and youth workers in local municipalities”, the Centre for Applied Social Sciences of the University of Tartu, 2016).
In 2017, the 12th Youth Song and Dance Celebrations were held, in which 797 collectives took part in Song Celebrations, that makes about 24,000 singers. Dance Celebrations had 585 collectives, with about 9,000 dancers. In 2019, the 27th General Song and Dance Celebrations were held. The year 2019 was also the anniversary year of 150 years of song celebrations. During the previous general song and dance celebrations, 1,020 singing collectives (more than 32,000 singers) and 713 dancing collectives (11,500 dancers) participated. The next Youth Song and Dance Celebrations will take place in the year 2022 and General Song and Dance Celebrations in the year 2024.
The event is funded from the state budget and ticket revenue. In 2019, the Ministry of Culture designated more than 2,4 million euros for the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration Foundation who is the responsible body for organisation of the celebrations. Additional 200,000 euros was given in order to organize the theme year of 2019, which was designated to the 150 anniversary described in the previous paragraph. The Ministry of Culture also supported the collectives participating in the celebrations with 1 million euros that were distributed by the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration Foundation.