The new music and city culture festival Tallinn Music Week (TMW) that took place in the capital of Estonia last week explored economic benefits of the arts and affirmed North Tallinn as the new creative city district. The 11th edition of the festival proved to be more compact and focussed than before.
The common theme of this year’s TMW that took place from 25th to 31st of March was the impact of arts on economy. In addition to the music programme and the conference, visitors were able to enjoy public discussions, an art and design programme, creative workshops for kids and urban space explorations.
Most of the festival was concentrated in the walkable, compact area of North Tallinn, with the main landmarks being Telliskivi Creative City, the Kalamaja district, Port Noblessner and the new building of the Estonian Academy of Arts (EAA) which hosted the TMW conference and the cross-genre audiovisual showcase EKA ÖÖ.
The TMW conference, entitled “The Impact of Arts on Economy,” took place on the 29th and 30th of March at the Estonian Academy of Arts. It featured 113 speakers from various sectors, of which 64 were men, and 49 women. The discussions at the conference were centred on the impact of culture as a driver of the economy and the artist’s role to provoke and to enlighten. The topics included, among others, how to make the cooperation between enterprises and the culture sector more effective, the possibilities for music festivals to survive and thrive, the future of the Russian music industry, and the gender pay gap. Conference topics were developed in collaboration with Music Estonia and Tattarrattat production company.
President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid greeted the conference participants and international tech companies at the e-Residency and Startup Estonia reception held within the conference.
“30 years ago we did not know what Estonia was going to be,” she said. “Now we know —it is the creative hub of Europe. We want Estonia to be the safe dock for people who think globally and act globally. Without freedom there is no creativity.”
President’s speech in full:
“Tallinn Music Week is here to serve the society, and we measure our success by impact and sustainability,” says Head of TMW Helen Sildna. “Our aim is to create opportunities for artists and talent who perform and for guests who arrive and do business here. We are here to facilitate global collaboration, and to make Estonia bigger. While doing it, we need to keep in mind that our task is not to grow in numbers, but in impact, content and knowledge. By keeping this purpose in focus, we will continue. The next Tallinn Music Week will take place from 23rd to 28th March 2020.“
The international audience gathered at the auditorium of the Estonian Academy of Arts was greeted by the academy’s rector Mart Kalm, the CEO of Telia Robert Pajos, student and initiator of the climate strike in Estonia Kristin Siil, and the Head of TMW Helen Sildna. A key figure in British contemporary design, Malcolm Garrett, gave an opening address entitled “Brexit Is Over! If You Want It,” providing a window into the context of the time and its social issues.
“Just like Amos Rex in Helsinki or Fotografiska in Stockholm, inspirational institutions like TMW or the Estonian Academy of Arts help to create an environment that is worthwhile to live in, and thus make it possible to do business successfully,” said rector Mart Kalm, paraphrasing the slogan of TMW conference.
“The main motivator for travelling is culture,“ stated the Director of Enterprise Estonia’s Estonian Tourism Board Margus Sameli at the TMW conference. “There were less than one million euros worth of investments made in international culture and sporting events in 2018, but the economic impact of that was approximately 14 million euros.”
One of the speakers to express the central topic of the conference was Finnish entrepreneur and culture leader Gunvor Kronman. Exciting pop-cultural conversations and discussions on different music-related topics were provided, among others, by polymath musician Barry Adamson and pioneering designer Malcolm Garrett, acclaimed music writer Zoë Howe, the Head of Independent Label Support at Spotify Jennifer Masset, the logistics manager and pilot of the infamous Fyre festival Keith Siilats, the CEO of Tampere Hall Paulina Ahokas, and the CEO of Keychange and PRS Foundation, Vanessa Reed. In collaboration with the Finest Sounds project, the conference hosted a largest number of participants from Japan so far.
The music festival united the best new artists from all over the world, with more established stars from home and abroad. A diverse range of sounds were represented—experimental future sounds alternated with chart pop, jazz and metal. The most popular events were, among others, the 30th birthday party of Finnish record label Stupido Records, which plays an important part in the Estonian music history, the audiovisual exploration EKA ÖÖ at the Estonian Academy of Arts curated by Üle Heli festival and British record label 130701 / FatCat, and a concert by the Russian neo-classical star Kirill Richter at Kalju Baptist Church in Kalamaja.
TMW is becoming an increasingly important destination, most of all for Estonia’s neighbouring countries, as seen in the fact that after 70 local artists from Estonia, the most foreign artists that performed at the festival arrived from Finland and Russia (14 each).
Tanya Makarova, Co-Founder of Russian music export office RUSH said, “I think that TMW is something like a hub for Russian artists and professionals who want to know more about the music industry in Europe, and build their career outside of their home country. It’s really a very important cultural exchange. In addition, the conference raises very important issues, and every year you find new topics and questions that you have not thought about before.”
In addition to the main showcase programme TMW also offered free City Stage concerts, bringing the festival buzz to unexpected locations; the art programme, curated by the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center; music-related workshops for kids at Estonian Children’s Literature Centre; TMW Tastes, presenting North Tallinn restaurants; and a TMW-special Record Fair.
TMW Talks took place at Telliskivi’s Pudel Bar, Velvet design office and Tallinn Arts Gymnasium, tackling topics varying from the role of TV channels in showcasing music culture to the occurrences of “cancel culture” as a reaction to scandals in the entertainment industry.
Festival visitors also enjoyed a light-and-sound installations exhibition—“Time as Light”—by students of the Estonian Academy of Arts at the Port Noblessner, providing access to a space uniting scenarios of futures already past or histories yet to arrive.
Port Noblessner’s head of special projects Ann Virkus said: “Our aim is to breathe new life into the grand industrial architecture and create a district that is open to people and the sea, alive in every sense. Arts, promoted by TMW, is the foundation and engine of this development.”
The founder of Telliskivi Creative City Jaanus Juss said that by concentrating TMW in Kalamaja area the festival got more visitor-friendly and the slogan “Arts as the engine of economy” became a reality. “Culture—the driving force of the Creative City—does not only cover art and entertainment, but it also represents a major boost to the economy,” he said. “Our shops saw more than a one-third increase in the number of visitors and our restaurants worked at full capacity, even running out of dishes and drinks at times.”
According to Katrin Isotamm, the Head of Communications at Telia Estonia, the partnership between Telia and TMW has become more substance-based with each year, saying: “There is a lot of potential in culture and business partnerships if you have similar values. Music makes it easier to understand challenges that might at first seem distant and the new technologies of Telia, in turn, help to carry music and important messages to more people.
The next TMW will take place on 23rd–28th March 2020.
TMW 2019 in numbers:
170 artists from 28 countries
75 festival venues, incl 18 showcase venues
22 587 festival visitors
956 delegates, incl 456 international delegates
100 international journalists
Photos: TMW 2019 best of
TMW conference opening speeches on Youtube.
TMW festival is organized by Shiftworks OÜ together with many partners and co-organizers.
TMW 2019 programme partners:
Jazzkaar ja Eesti Jazzliit, Rada7, Fenno-Ugria, Manka Boutique Pop Festival, Intsikurmu Festival, Station Narva, Kalana Saund, World Clinic, Made In Baltics & Sony Music, Üle Heli & 130701/ FatCat Records, Damn.Loud Agency, Stupido Records, Sveta Baar, HALL, MÜRK, Kasaganaan, Kivi Paber Käärid, Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, Design Center
TMW 2019 City stage venues:
Viru Keskus, Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA), Telia shop at Kristiine Keskus, Tallinn Arts Gymnasium, Balti Jaam Market Humalakoda, design office Velvet, bookshop Puänt, Põhjala Tap Room, Leila Baar
TMW 2019 Tastes:
Trühvel, La Muu, Kaja Pizza Köök, Jahu Resto, Kopli Puljongibaar, Moon, Kolm Sibulat, Bekker Pagariäri, Põhjala Tap Room, Noodle Box pop-up @ Burger Box Bar, Burger Box, Kokomo Coffee Roasters, Sfäär, Fika – Leib ja Kohv, Muhu Pagarid, Kärbes Kitchen&Bar, Homeart, Lendav Taldrik, Kivi Paber Käärid, Frenchy Bistro, F-hoone, Taibaan, VLND Burger, Curated by Bakerman
TMW 2019 presenter: Telia Estonia.
Main sponsors: Nordic Hotel Forum, Enterprise Estonia, Telliskivi Creative City
Partners: Music Estonia, Estonian Academy of Arts (EAA), BLRT Grupp / Noblessner, Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, Viru Keskus, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Yandex.Taxi, Postimees Grupp, Raadio 2, Raadio 4, ERR Culture, IDA Raadio, Soundhouse, RGB, aKustikAudio, Kingivabrik, Vita Pictura, Moe Peenviinavabrik, Economy Hotel, Go Hotel Shnelli, Go Bus, Go Travel, Digiekraanid.
International partners: Embassy of Finland, Embassy of Canada, Finnish Institute, British Council, Tattarrattat, Stupido Records, 130701/ FatCat Records, Chimes, Noise Unit PR, Ebba Lindquist PR, Keychange, The Orchard, Finest Sounds, Radio Helsinki, Tiketti, ETEP
Supporters: Ministry of Culture, Tallinn Culture Board, Cultural Endowment, Tallinn Entrepreneurship Board.
TMW 2019 website: Velvet and Festivality
Visual identity: AKU