NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

Estonian Art Week has been organized by the contemporary art center NOBA.ac for six years, this year due to financial difficulties it will be postponed to an uncertain future. The reason for postponing the art festival, which is popular among artists, art institutions and the audience, is the lack of financial resources.

According to Andra Orn, founder of the revived Estonian art week festival tradition, it is regrettable to postpone the art festival to the distant future, but it is not sustainable with a constant budget deficit. “This was also the recommendation of the Ministry of Culture, as organizing the event consistently underfunded, based on the enthusiasm of organizers, exploits both the artists and the organizers of the event,” Orn explained.

Orn added that the funding concerns, which affect the art field more deeply every year, have a much more significant impact. The opportunity to present their creative works and ideas to a broader domestic audience and international guests is very important for artists, and continuous support from the state and the private sector is vital for its realization.”

The organizer of the art week adds that the budgets of the art festivals in the neighboring countries Riga and Helsinki are several times larger in scale, a large part of which is covered by the contribution of the private or state sector, and reach several million euros. For example, the City of Oslo supported the first art biennale in 2019 with 3 million euros, while the Helsinki biennale in 2020 was supported with 2.5 million euros with the city’s support and a private foundation. With its dense program, significant exhibitions and events, the support of the private and public sector for Art Week has been only 30,000 euros for many years, which incredibly covered the production of major exhibitions, where most of the work was made by organizers and artists themselves and the costs of organizing several events and communication activities. 

“Looking back, it seems completely unbelievable that with such budgets, we have been able to organize major exhibitions and events on an international level. Thank you to all the art institutions and artists who have presented their works and activities during Art Week and supported the festival with their advice and strength. It wouldn’t have been possible without you!” says Orn.

Art Week, held in Tallinn and Pärnu since 2016, has been a unique, inclusive festival introducing various types of contemporary art in the city’s heart, representing authors from Estonia and neighbouring countries. One of those was a major exhibition, “Cathedral of Technology”, in Noblessner area, Tallinn, covering nearly 2,000 m2. Most memorable exhibits were the large-scale project “Memopol 3” by the internationally renowned technology freak artist Timo Toots, the project “Waterproof Heart” by the Lithuanian artist Ignas Pavliukevicius and the installation “Endless Connections” by Noolegrupp art group.  

As part of the 2020 Art Week, a major exhibition by Edward von Lõngus called  “Doomsday Cathedral” was opened in Ülemiste City, introducing the street artist’s vision of death and destruction in modern capitalism. Watch the virtual tour of the exhibition https://noba.ac/en/virtual-tour/virtual-tour-edward-von-longus-exhibition-doomsday-cathedral/

However, one of the most scandalous events in the history of Art Weeks was the Performance Festival organized in cooperation with Non Grata in Telliskivi’s creative campus, where both the fire department and the police stepped in as a car was set on fire to the performance “Force Majeure”. Watch the Art Week Non Grata Performance “Force Majeure” video of Pedigree’s song “How Fucked?” as video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-JS1jpsFFc&t=11s

As part of Art Weeks, multiple different events, intriguing and educational discussions, exciting workshops and memorable performances have been held in different locations around the towns. The most outstanding event has been the annual Big Art Day, where galleries and art institutions have presented their creations in a large-scale outdoor exhibition in the city’s heart – on Vabaduse Square in Tallinn and Independence Square in Pärnu.