Skip to main content

A Quarter of Estonia Signed the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 Cooperation Agreement

During the last week of January, 19 Southern Estonian municipalities signed a cooperation agreement for preparing and implementing the European Capital of Culture.

Photo collage of winter pictures.
10. Feb Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

The Tartu 2024 delegation travelled over 1000 kilometres and visited 19 Southern Estonian municipalities over the course of four days. The cooperation agreement was signed by Priit Mikk, Member of the Board at Tartu 2024; Urmas Klaas, Chairman of the Supervisory Council and the Mayor of Tartu; and the Mayor (vallavanem) of every respective municipality. The agreement is the basis for preparing and implementing the major European event – it guides the creation, marketing, and funding of the European Capital of Culture’s regional programme.

The Tartu 2024 Southern Estonian Coordinator and organiser of the tour Annela Laaneots stressed: “The great commitment of our municipalities allows us to create a remarkable European Capital of Culture, which highlights the uniqueness of Southern Estonia. This will result in a programme that is attractive to the audience, reflects our values and furthers the development of the region through culture.”

Annela Laaneots. Photo: Mana Kaasik

During the tour, the cooperation agreement was signed in Tartu, Võru, Põlva and Valga Counties and the town of Viljandi. The format of said agreement is unprecedented in Estonia and furthermore, it signals the largest cross-sectoral collaboration in Southern Estonia.

Many concerts, performances and other activities that showcased local characteristics took place throughout the tour. On the first day, the audience in Viljandi enjoyed the world premiere of a new version of the song “Uhti, uhti uhkesti”, performed by Tubli Brothers, featuring Lee Taul. In Valga, the delegation swung over the border from Valga to Valka; a sleigh ride took the cooperation agreement signers to Sillapää castle in Räpina and in Tõrva, beautiful Southern Estonian mermaids swam in icy waters. Antsla and Setomaa Parish invited the Tartu 2024 team into their pure winter wonderlands; a dog sled carried the cooperation agreement to the signers in Kastre Parish. Daffodils bloomed in snow in front of the Alatskivi castle in Peipsiääre Parish, and in Otepää the agreement was signed in the heights of the historic Pühajärve Spa and Holiday Resort tower.

Rõuge Parish welcomed the Tartu 2024 delegation with alluring accordion sounds and Luunja Parish with thundering drums. Tartu and Kambja Parish presented their freshly finished school and kindergarten buildings and in Elva the agreement was signed in the town’s centre square on furniture made of snow. Under the watchful gaze of the tsar family, the agreement was signed in a historic school building in Kanepi Parish and in the Vastseliina castle in Võru Parish, armoured knights stood by as the agreement was signed with quills. The next generation of Estonia cheered the events on in Võru town and Nõo Parish. The last stop of the tour was in Põlva Parish, where a concert performed by Estonian Voices, a musical collective created during Tallinn 2011, passed the torch to the next Estonian European Capital of Culture – Tartu along with Southern Estonia.

Priit Mikk. Photo: Mana Kaasik

The Tartu 2024 Member of the Board Priit Mikk emphasised regional cooperation: “It is especially important for us that Southern Estonian municipalities applied for and won the European Capital of Culture title with the City of Tartu, because that way a quarter of Estonia participates in creating a memorable European Capital of Culture programme.” Mikk added: “I appreciate each and every regional partner who has contributed to the preparation of the cooperation agreement.”

“The European Capital of Culture is the greatest cross-sectoral cooperation project between Tartu and Southern Estonia. I am proud that we have agreed upon the path that will lead up to the major international event,” said the Mayor of Tartu and the Chairman of the Supervisory Board Urmas Klaas. He added: “The cooperation agreement gives us a strong footing to collectively organise Estonia’s largest cultural event in 2024 and if we do it successfully, the whole region and country will win.”

Urmas Klaas. Photo: Mana Kaasik

With the conclusion of the cooperation agreement, the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 will take a big step forward in the preparations, as thorough planning and implementation process will begin in Southern Estonia. In addition to ensuring the success of the major event, the cooperation agreement supports the achievement of long-term positive effects on the culture and economic life of Southern Estonia.

The foundation’s main objective for 2021 is to prepare a regional project application round, beginning in 2022, to find events worthy of the Capital of Culture programme. For this purpose, information days and trainings will take place in local governments this year. Moreover, the municipalities are already in touch with projects currently in the first European Capital of Culture development process in order to find and agree on joint activities with them. The cultural manager’s empowerment program Kultuurikompass, which enables local cultural organisers to prepare and improve themselves on important topics for the European Capital of Culture year will continue.

The European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 is carried out by the City of Tartu with 19 Southern Estonian municipalities: Antsla Parish, Elva Parish, Kambja Parish, Kanepi Parish, Kastre Parish, Luunja Parish, Nõo Parish, Otepää Parish, Peipsiääre Parish, Põlva Parish, Rõuge Parish, Räpina Parish, Setomaa Parish, Tartu Parish, Tõrva Parish, Valga Parish, Viljandi town, Võru town and Võru Parish.

The Tartu 2024 foundation coordinates the preparation and implementation of the European Capital of Culture. The foundation refers to the bidbook and the Arts of Survival creative concept in its work on the official programme, marketing, and other fields.


Signings in Võru County
Signings in Tartu County
Signings in Põlva County
Signings in Valga County
Signing in Viljandi town

The tour’s team. Photo: Mana Kaasik