Continuing the implementation of measures to value cultural diversity
Estonia with the population of less than 1,4 million is a multicultural country with 192 different nationalities (69% of the population are Estonians) and a strong cultural identity. The cultural diversity springs from a wealth of diverse regions, languages and cultural heritage – diverse cultural expressions and mores. The Estonian Ministry of Culture and Estonian Ministry of Education and Science seek to secure equal opportunities for language and cultural minorities and special-needs groups to participate in culture and express their creativity. The task of the Estonian Ministry of Culture is to ensure integration process within Estonian society between Estonians and the representatives of national minorities, and support the cultural life and societies of the Estonian minorities to preserve their cultures and languages in Estonia. Therefore in the context of cultural diversity one of the activity areas of the Ministry of Culture is integration and another relevant priority area deals with folk culture.
In 2008-2013 the Estonian Ministry of Culture co-ordinated the activities of the “Estonian Integration Strategy for 2008-2013” as well as was the implementing body of the programme “European Fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals for the Years 2007–2013”. Today, the ministry is in charge of the coordination of the strategy of integration and social cohesion in Estonia “Integrating Estonia 2020” (https://wwwkul.rik.ee/sites/kulminn/files/23748_en_proofreading_le2020_eng.pdf) and the integration measures of the European Social Fund for the period of 2014–2020. The Ministry of Culture is the representative of the state that exercises the founder’s rights of the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA).
In addition there are several state programmes that support regional activities to promote and protect cultural diversity in various areas of Estonia. The period of the programmes is usually four years and they are updated on regular basis. The task is to ensure that our intangible cultural heritage is valued, preserved and developed, and to maintain the long tradition of song and dance festivals. Popularity of folk culture guarantees the survival of ancient customs also in modern times.
The purpose of integration is to foster a situation where other nationalities living in Estonia, as well as Estonians themselves, are ensured a cohesive and tolerant society where everyone can feel comfortable and safe – to work, study, develop their culture, be a full member of the society. Integration is a broad-based societal process involving many different areas of life.
Through culture programmes the state helps with the preservation and continuation of cultural heritage and with community efforts in the field. Cultural space programmes are regionally significant as they generally support communities on the periphery, where the heritage culture has been preserved better.
For the integration measures there are 10 million euros allocated from the European Social Fund for the period 2014–2020.
For regional support programmes each year approximately 550 000 euros is allocated in the budget of Estonian Ministry of Culture.
Since 2008 Estonian Ministry of Culture is monitoring regularly the integration of the society by in-depth surveys carried out after 3-4 years. Last survey was conducted in 2015 and all the reports are available at the website http://www.kul.ee/et/uudised/uuringud#l6imumisuuring
From regional support programmes currently there are more than 200 NGOs that benefit from the programme. These organisations carry out different projects e.g. folk culture festivals, educational activities, seminars, work-shops and many other events related to popularise their ethnical roots. To make these initiatives more visible and spread best practices there is a website http://etnoweb.ee/en/