Arts of Survival – Unique Forward-looking Experiences in Tartu and Southern Estonia

Tartu with Southern Estonia is the European Capital of Culture in 2024. Tartu 2024 is guided by the artistic concept Arts of Survival. These are the knowledge, skills, and values that will help everyone lead a good life in the future. Tartu and Southern Estonia’s goal is to share these values with and to learn more from Europe.

Photo: Mana Kaasik

This year, on the 24th of February, the world changed. So has the artistic concept Arts of Survival gained another meaning, which pains us all. Europe deals with survival in its literal sense. The people of Ukraine are fighting for survival before our eyes, in our home Europe that we share. 

Overnight the role of European Capitals of Culture changed. We find ourselves in a situation where European cooperation and unity is necessary for the survival of culture. Culture has always been an escape from difficult times and the proponent of peace and democracy. Today, Estonia has a lot to say to Europe, due to our history and geographical location. We must speak of, learn, and teach the Arts of Survival. 

The four values or Arts of Survival that are reflected in the Tartu 2024 programme are uniqueness, sustainability, awareness, and co-creation. In February, the European Capital of Culture introduced the first 25 main programme projects, which reflect these values through their events and activities. 

This is a symbolic milestone for any European Capital of Culture because the audience now has the opportunity to learn more about the upcoming programme. “We invite people from Estonia and abroad to experience all that Tartu and Southern Estonia has to offer. The events in our programme are special, they change the world through arts,” says Tartu 2024 Artistic Director Kati Ilves. Only two years are left until the title year. According to the Artistic Director more events will be added to official programme this year and the next. 

Good Urban and Rural Living

Photo: Mana Kaasik

The European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 programme asks how to live well both in the city and in the countryside as an individual and a society. Sustainable culture is socially and environmentally responsible.

The title year programme highlights local uniqueness. It focuses on the characteristics of Tartu and Southern Estonia that currently are lesser-known in Europe and perhaps even in Estonia in general. Nevertheless, these peculiarities are beloved by locals. Uniqueness is what inspires people to travel to Southern Estonia, spend time here and return. 

“We have received many outstanding proposals for the title year programme from Southern Estonia through the regional project application round,” said Tartu 2024 Southern Estonian Coordinator Annela Laaneots. “We will showcase our uniqueness and fascinating stories to visitors from near and far. There is a lot to look forward to!”  

Trailblazers in Environmentalism

Photo: Mana Kaasik

Our every action affects the environment. Cultural management must be sustainable. All events organised under the Tartu 2024 banner must follow the guidelines for organising environmentally friendly events. This means that a quarter of Estonia does something unprecedented and organises hundreds of events based on same principles. 

The Tartu 2024 programme line Tartu with Earth manager Triin Pikk finds that the culture sector can support environmentally friendly lifestyles: “Cultural events can be trailblazers in sustainability as well. The European Capital of Culture title gives us the opportunity to speak up about topics that are near and dear to us. Tartu and Southern Estonia values the environment, and this is reflected in our cultural programme through our environmental strategy.” 

Critically aware co-creation

Photo: Mana Kaasik

Education and ingenuity are historically associated with the university town Tartu and Southern Estonia. The Tartu 2024 programme explores the relationships between people, technology, and sciences through the arts. Entrepreneurially aware projects promote participation in culture by creating new experiences and environments. 

Tartu 2024 is defined by cross-generational, cross-sectoral, and transnational co-creation. It is the European Capital of Culture for grandparents, mothers, fathers, and children alike.  

Carrying the European Capital of Culture title is the largest cross-sectoral project in Southern Estonian history, and it will be the main event in Estonia in 2024. It is the biggest cultural initiative in Europe and a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience Tartu and Southern Estonia in all of its glory.

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