Krõõt Filippov. Photo: Evelin Lumi
Why did you choose to apply for the Tartu 2024 Communications Manager position?
My candidacy was a conscious and thought-out decision. Being a part of the European Capital of Culture is a once in a lifetime opportunity. My career has previously been defined by various clients in a PR agency. I felt ready to commit myself to one topic for a long time. This initiative is one of the most important and consistent undertakings of the European Union in the field of culture. It is a rare opportunity to represent Estonia and implement something unique. Already during the application process, I realised that there are very dedicated, thorough and ambitious team players in this team. This made decision making easy.
You have two Master’s degrees, politology from Tallinn University and communication from Baltic Film and Media School. In addition, you have worked at PR agencies, advised different businesses as a freelance strategic consultant and led PR projects in the cultural field. Which practices gained from your previous experiences will you use in your current position?
Practical tips change over time, but basics mean basic values and are unchanging. I am a representative of social communication discourse, which means that I abide by maintaining an unassuming attitude, I-messages, respect and, above all, listening. It is difficult to point out one practice, it all depends on the background system and the goals. However, each new challenge has the same logic and stages of development. I am analytical and I love strategy-based, systematic and meaningful action.
Everything starts from the team and relationships between team members. The best communication for any organisation is a dedicated employee whose eyes are shining and who knows what they are doing and believes in the strategic goals set together. No giant budget advertising campaign can beat that.
I am joining the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 project with the expectation to change the world. I want to help the Foundation with my contribution and commitment and the city of Tartu and 19 Southern Estonian municipalities to create a new mode of thinking in the region, which develops more environmentally friendly urban and rural culture through different artistic interpretations; continues to highlight local features and raises pride; focuses on education and ingenuity, intergenerational co-creation, critical vigilance and cross-sector cooperation. I may be naive, but I sincerely believe that over the next four years it is possible to create a change in people's thinking that will have an impact on the future through our activities and programme. I strongly believe in our programme team.
What cultural events and projects are you interested in? What would you most like to see in the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 program?
I always try to follow the thoughts and activities of people like Juhan Ulfsak and Taavi Eelmaa, who have previously created something completely new in the Estonian cultural space. It is very interesting to see how people's artistic development changes over time and what their creative introspection process is like. I also keep an eye on large commercial projects aimed at a wider audience, akin to Estonian Music Awards, both in terms of the technical and conceptual solution. Every success is made possible by a dedicated team. I also regularly attend the major opening concerts of the Estonian Composers’ Union's classical music events, and over the years it has become a tradition to participate in at least one Arvo Pärt Day concert.
The Tartu 2024 programme is not yet finalised, but I am already convinced that there will be many exciting projects and events. In the development process, I have faith in Wild Bits, an open-air exhibition of technological art, that explores technology and its relationship with man and nature.
I am also very fond of the music project Psühhoteek, which together with 21st century European and world musicians, artists and listeners rediscoves, revives and reworks the archive of Eastern European alternative pop culture.
I would definitely like to see a food related project in the final programme, because there is so much potential in Estonia to change the world through food. I look forward to it, as I have been a part in PR and marketing activities of a number of slow food themed endeavours.
What does “Arts of Survival” mean to you? What are the first connections and topics that come to mind?
For me, the Arts of Survival relate on the one hand to the mundane vital everyday practices, and on the other sensing the whole in a changing world that defines the cultural space in which we live and our daily activities that have a global and local impact. We talk about Tartu to the local population and other Estonians one way, and in a completely different way, for example, to some Southern Europeans. For me, the Tartu 2024 artistic concept Arts of Survival helps and inspires us to spread the Estonian narrative in Europe. Thanks to it, we will also have a great opportunity in 2024 to show Tartu and Southern Estonia to the entire Europe as we are.
In your opinion, what does the European Capital of Culture title give to Tartu and Southern Estonia?
Holding the European Capital of Culture title has a major economic impact on the organising city and the region as a whole. Following the example of previous European Capitals of Culture, in the most successful cases, each euro invested in the operating budget has generated revenue of between five and six euros, thanks to additional investment, co-financing, a growing image of the region and tourists visiting it. Assessing previous data, it is likely that the events of the Tartu 2024 programme may receive up to a million visits. That is the goal we are moving towards very clearly.
To me, more important than all that is the impulse that will create a lasting impact. The goal of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 is to facilitate positive change in the region that will last and develop over time. I hope that many events will be born through our programme, which will become traditional events in Tartu and South Estonia.
Lastly, what will be your first steps in your new position?
As usually with communications people, I will start drafting a communication plan and begin implementing it. But seriously, there has not been much time to adjust. I have hit the ground running. My first day started with the beginning of a four-day press tour through 19 Southern Estonian local governments. I even did preliminary work for it before the first official workday.
The Covid pandemic has given us time to write plans down and do strategic mapping. As Communications Manager, my goal is to create a common ground where the whole team breathes together and knows why and what other colleagues communicate. This means that we all must acknowledge what messages, why and to whom we send them in the name of the Tartu 2024 Foundation.