About the Creative City:
Viljandi, with its population of 17,400 inhabitants, has a high concentration of cultural and educational institutions, including the Tartu University Viljandi Culture Academy which specializes in native crafts. Excelling in a number of artistic fields, the Viljandi Folk Arts sector plays a huge role in the city’s commercial life, and today, there are 2,780 registered enterprises in Viljandi, 738 of which are connected to creative fields, including two active blacksmith’s shops, as well as two ceramics shops and the only prototyping wool mill in Estonia. Employing over 2,500 people, the crafts and folk art industry within Viljandi not only provides cultural, but also significant social benefits to the region.
Honouring the country’s crafts and folk art Heritage, Viljandi hosts the Estonian Traditional Music Centre, which organizes the annual Viljandi Folk Music Festival with hundreds of performers and over 20,000 visitors from a number of countries. Furthermore, since 2014, the city has held the annual Craft Camp Estonia. Regarded as Estonia's most prestigious crafts and folk art event, this camp promotes and demonstrates traditional Estonian handicraft techniques and explores the integration of old and new production methods.
Viljandi takes pride in assimilating heritage in contemporary society, and thus preserving and developing local and national culture through modern methods, with the emphasis on cooperation on a national and international scale. In order to support the creative sector, the city provides financial support in form of stipend to its professional artists and craftspeople living and working in Viljandi. This is to provide members of the creative industry with a basic income to allow them to work full-time on their creative endeavours, as well as to publish and promote their work. The stipend is allocated four times a year, and whilst it is not designated specially for professionals in the folk arts field, the funding provides vital economic support for those in the industry.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Viljandi envisages:
- establishing the City Craftmaster Scholarship to be allocated twice a year, of which one for a creative professional from Estonia, and one for a creative professional from another UNESCO Creative City;
- strengthening awareness of crafts and folk art among the general public by promoting the work of local masters and researchers;
- providing greater support for craftspeople and artists with disabilities, by showcasing their artistic talents through exhibitions and other initiatives by the Paul Kondas Centre for Naive Art; and
- offering partner cities multifaceted CraftCamp handicraft training programmes and courses to further promote arts and crafts at a local level.
Villem Varik, Viljandi Creative Industry Center, email@example.com