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A Revolution in Sustainable Cultural Management: A Naive Dream or Systematic Action?

In difficult times, culture has always been an escape and a promoter of peace and democracy. The role of culture is invaluable during difficult times when we as a society are tackling various issues from safety and security to climate crisis. It may sound naive but I sincerely believe that culture and the arts have the ability to inspire and influence the way people think and act.

Triin Pikk's portrait.
05. May Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

Triin Pikk. Photo: Mana Kaasik.

Tartu and Southern Estonia will hold the title of European Capital of
Culture in 2024 and it is our goal to revolutionise sustainable cultural
management. A number of crazy changes have taken place in the world during our
joint journey towards 2024: the coronavirus crisis is still on-going and Russia
has invaded Ukraine. On 24 February, the world was irrevocably changed and the
concept of Arts of Survival of Tartu 2024 took on a new heart-wrenching
meaning. Europe is literally fighting for survival. The people of Ukraine are
fighting for survival before our very eyes, in our own home – Europe. 

The values of Tartu 2024 will help us keep moving forward even in the
new, changed world. Uniqueness, sustainability, awareness and co-creation are
more important today than ever before. The role of culture in adapting to the
new situation is invaluable as it helps us face new challenges together. 

War and security concerns will continue to haunt our society for a long
time. Nevertheless, we must address with due seriousness the threat that often
goes unnoticed but which will soon have a real impact on our lives, as well as
those of our children. Scientific warnings about climate change have led to
growing concerns and the amount of critical change required is increasing.
Culture can lead the way when it comes to change in its sector and inspire
other sectors to develop creative solutions as well.  

The programme of European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 calls for the
prioritisation of ecological factors over economic factors in activities. As a
capital of culture, we are aware that events have a significant environmental
impact. The impact depends, for example, on which means of mobility the
performers and audience use, what kind of energy is consumed and what kind of
food is served at the events. With regard to this, finding a balance and
implementing new solutions is going to be a major challenge and objective over
the next few years. One way of reducing environmental impacts is to follow
common principles in the organisation of events. In co-operation with Acento and the City of
Tartu, Tartu 2024 Foundation drew up guidelines for organising environmentally
friendly events, which all events of the official programme must follow. In
2024, a revolutionary and unprecedented change will take place in Estonia as
one quarter of Estonia will be organising hundreds of events following the same
principles under the auspices of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024.
Something like that has never been done before in Estonia.  

During the preparatory phase, the Tartu 2024 Foundation is organising
the Kultuurikompass forum. This year, the international edition of the forum
focuses on the urgent need to change the current functioning of the cultural
sector to tackle climate change. The belief that cultural events can play a
pioneering role in environmental change is at the heart of this year’s programme.
The contribution of each sector to the fight against climate change is
essential. In the cultural sector, this entails reviewing and supplementing
cultural policy strategies and changing everyday practices. 

A revolution in sustainable cultural management may seem like a naive
dream, but through systematic co-operation it can become a reality. On 28
April, Tartu will host the trailblazers of sustainable culture at the Estonian
National Museum. Let’s meet in Tartu, the European Capital of Culture, and discuss
how we can change the world through environmentally friendly cultural
management. Tartu aspires to be an attractive city with the best living
environment for healthy, happy, and active people.

Every change starts within ourselves – how we carry out our activities
both at home and at work, as well as when we organise evens and offer
experiences. The Kultuurikompass programme will be sure to give you ample
inspiration, good examples from Europe and ideas for planning your future

Triin Pikk, Tartu With Earth Programme Line Manager at Tartu 2024 Foundation