In Estonia, where the impacts of Covid-19 have been limited, events are beginning to return. Access meets the organisers of Tallin Music Week to find out more


By most measurements, Estonia is having a good Covid-19 crisis. The country, which is situated just south of Finland in the North-Eastern part of Europe, has seen 1,794 cases of the virus and just 64 deaths (accurate as of 22 May). It has not recorded more than 10 new cases in a single day for the past three weeks, and as a result its live industry is beginning to reopen.

The Estonian government has allowed public events with restricted access from July, which has given the green light to Tallin Music Week (TMW). TMW is a music and culture festival that will run from 26-30 August in the Estonian capital. It comprises a variety of events and performances in different venues, including a three-day music programme, a conference at the Estonian academy of Arts, and free city festival events.

Programme Curator Ingrid Kohtla says the event will still be taking a number of precautions, despite the relatively low spread of the virus in Estonia. “[TMW events] can be adjusted to the current restrictions of 1,000 people maximum capacity at outdoor and 500 maximum at indoor events,” she says.

Kohlta adds that the Estonian government is currently producing official guidelines for events, and that the team is ready to make adjustments for these as necessary. “We will remodel the programme in accordance with the more specific official government regulations and rules expected to be issued soon.”

Among the precautions being taken by TMW are the monitoring of audiences, performers and staff numbers in all event areas, ensuring contactless venue entry and eliminating queues wherever possible. “Being an international event, TMW also takes into account health and travel regulations abroad, which will invariably mean restrictions to performers and delegates from certain countries and regions,” says Kohlta.

The TMW team hopes to get around these travel issues by moving some parts of the event online. Kohlta says: “Covid-19 has created the perfect storm for digital acceleration. It’s time to test its post-lockdown possibilities further via virtual or hybrid solutions for networking and conference panels.”

Director of Tallin Music Week Helen Sildna says she hopes the event can sound a positive note after a difficult summer, while remaining safe for attendees. “This season will give the entire cultural and events sector an opportunity to be smart and responsible, and to prove that we are able to provide value and new quality even in challenging circumstances,” she says. “It’s essential to inject optimism to artists, the whole sector and our audience.”