We successfully represented Vaba Lava, a theatre center and accelerator of experimental performance art, in a dispute with the Estonian Ministry of Culture.

The dispute began in the Spring of 2022 when Vaba Lava contested the financing decision of the Ministry of Culture in court. According to the decision, three points out of five were attributed to the regional and national cultural importance of Vaba Lava’s activities, which meant that Vaba Lava’s request was satisfied in the amount of 60% of the requested amount.

Strengthening the cultural space in Ida-Virumaa

A comparative analysis with the evaluations given to other applicants was at the center of the preparation of the complaint. In comparison with 19 performance institutions that also applied for the support, Vaba Lava was in 17th place in regard to its regional importance and in last place among those who received the support.

Märt Meos, the Managing Director of Vaba Lava comments: “Last year there was an international theatre festival called Vabadus held in Narva. In addition to Narva, we also performed in Tallinn, Tartu, Sillamäe, Kuressaare, Jõhvi, and elsewhere. This is multiple times more than some other theatres whose regional role was evaluated higher than ours.”

New evaluation

The Administrative Court of Tallinn found that the Ministry of Culture has been controversial while making the financing decisions, the decision includes errors of judgment and does not include enough reasoning. As such, the court concluded that the ministry did not evaluate Vaba Lava legitimately.

The court’s decision obligates the Ministry of Culture to re-evaluate Vaba Lava’s application for the support „Etendusasutuste tegevustoetus“ in the application round for the year 2022. In addition to that, the ministry has to pay EUR 4959,8 to Vaba Lava for the procedural costs related to the dispute.

As the administrative court obligated the ministry to fully re-evaluate Vaba Lava’s support application, its regional and national cultural significance also has to be re-evaluated.

The ministry has the right to appeal the court decision within 30 days.

Our services and client team

We composed Vaba Lava’s complaint to the Administrative Court of Tallinn and represented Vaba Lava during the dispute.

Our client team was led by senior associate Mario Sõrm, supported by counsel Kadri Härginen.