Estonia 100 Art Competition: “Comers, Goers and Stayers – the histories of Estonian communities” Finished

The Center for Contemporary Arts and the Organising Committee of Estonia 100 are pleased to announce that entries are now being welcomed for “Comers, Goers and Stayers”, which is being organised to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The competition is open to projects in any art form – from exhibitions to single artworks, from workshops to lectures, from performances to festivals and any other art interventions. Art projects entering the competition should be inspired by the various migrations and settlings that have left their mark on Estonian history and continue to effect present day Estonia. For example, projects might consider the reasons for immigration to and emigration from Estonia; how the affected communities have adjusted to migration; or the cultural expression and outcomes of these experiences over the past 100 years.    

Estonian refugees. Miami, October 18th, 1946

In 2015, the population of Estonia was estimated to be around 1.3 million people, a third of them in Tallinn and Harju County and another third living and working in other countries across the world.  Globalisation is old news. The wave of asylum seekers fleeing war in the Middle East that has reached Europe means an unprecedented change in population dynamics. A free market economy encourages the mobility of workers. Although populations remained relatively immobile in the centuries from the Middle Ages to World War 1, natural disasters, famine, wars, slavery and other calamities have always forced people to flee their homes. That is why Estonia became home to the Baltic Germans, Estonian (Coastal) Swedes, Old Believers, Russians, Jews, Romas, Azeris, Armenians and many other groups. Just like the ‘income-challenged’ Estonians that go to Finland, Finnish and Russian miners head for Norway in search of better work opportunities. In the past, Estonia was a desirable destination for Polish seasonal workers. Nowadays, Estonians seek seasonal employment in the Nordic Countries, UK and Australia.
The largest migration flows from Estonia have been to Finland, Norway, UK, USA and Australia. The Estonian language has been granted special status in Finland thanks to the large number of speakers. The extremely heavy burden of debt on private households, coupled with increasing child poverty, has forced many people to leave their homes in search of better employment opportunities in welfare countries where they work as builders, cleaners, bus drivers and carers in nursing homes. More often than not, they live in very modest conditions to save money in order to pay back their loans and send money home to their relatives. School-age children and grandparents are left behind, in Estonia. What cultural space are this generation of ‘abandoned’ children growing up in, when they have to go to school by themselves and take care of themselves while their parents are toiling away elsewhere in the name of their future family home?
Students studying at the top universities of the world and start-up developers who are ‘going international’ comprise another group of migrants. Their potential is lost to Estonia – they drift away from the cultural space of Estonia , drawn instead to the high life in the international communities of world metropolises where, despite tight competition, there is enough room for everybody. There is an element of running away from oneself in migration – a romantic search for happiness and the promise of many exciting stories of self-discovery. What should we do to make the word ‘migration’ sound less depressing, while encouraging discussion? How do immigrants to and emigrants from Estonia interpret their sense of belonging and their own identity? What are the various identities that migrants themselves acknowledge? In the modern world, how important is it that the concept of nationality is strictly associated with a specific territory or language? How can art contribute to the creation of a cultural space that supports community solidarity and encourages us to take notice of one another?
The grant for the “Comers, Goers and Stayers” project can be used to cover the costs of communication, remuneration (partially) and production. The remaining funds should come from other sources, which should also be reflected in the budget of the project.

It is expected that projects and their proposals will:

1. Offer an idea relevant in the context of modern Estonian society;
2. Have a regional dimension, intellectual ambition and the potential to go national;
3. Offer definition of the most important target groups;
4. Outline the expected impact on local communities or target groups, including the scale of involvement by various cooperation partners, communities, local authorities and volunteers;
6. Outline feasibility (budget and scale);
7. Outline a project communication plan (the means of reaching various target groups).

Each submission should include:

  • project description (1-2 pages long);
  • project budget specifying all costs and benefits (there are no limitations to the budget; the grant amount is decided based on the results of the competition and the nature of entries);
  • project schedule (the project is expected to be implemented between  Jan 2017 and Dec 2018)
  • short description of the project team;
  • confirmation of the receiving organisations 


SA Kaasaegse Kunsti Eesti Keskus (Center for Contemporary Arts) will sign a grant agreement with the representatives of the winning projects and the grant amount will be made available in two tranches: the first (80%) after signing the agreement and the second (20%) after the completion of the project. The grant recipient will be responsible for the implementation of the project, while the Center for Contemporary Art will develop a single communication platform for all winning projects.

The competition is open to artists, artist groups, curators and institutions.

Both long-lasting visions and ephemeral formats are welcome. The number and amount of the grants will be decided by the selection board based on the results of the competition and submitted projects.
Deadline for entries is 1 March 2016 at 5 p.m. All submissions must be sent via email or delivered by post to the Center of Contemporary Art ( and/or Vabaduse väljak 6, Tallinn).
Selection board: Maria Arusoo and Rebeka Põldsam (Center For Contemporary Arts), Merilin Piipuu (Museum of Occupations), Tiit Pruuli (member of the Organising Committee of Estonia 100), Garri Raagmaa (urbanist), Veronika Valk (architect), Aro Velmet (historian).

Inquiries and further information:

Rebeka Põldsam
Curator/Project Manager, Center For Contemporary Arts, Estonia
631 40 50


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