by D.M. Helmeste, PhD. [November 11, 2017].
Paul Rebane’s recent article on the Patarei renovation project [https://arvamus.postimees.ee/4298645/raul-rebane-jargmine-rahvuslik-suurprojekt-patarei-korda ] reminds us that Patarei continues to be a very worthy candidate for a heritage and arts center. The recent documentary film “Patarei ärkab ellu” demonstrates this well [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsHr84D8mqM ].
Since other parts of the world are also engaged in similar efforts, it is useful to evaluate the different approaches. The project most similar to Patarei is currently the Victoria Prison renovation project from the British colonial era in Hong Kong (photo 1: Tai Kwun Center for Heritage and Arts). The project, as outlined in www.taikwun.hk/en/tai-kwun/hkj...
, is focused on the restoration of the old prison buildings to promote heritage, education and the arts. The Government of the Hong Kong SAR has partnered with a powerful local non-profit organization (The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust: HKJCCT) to preserve the historic structures as well as construct two new buildings. Understanding the history of the place is a strong commitment locally and arts have always ranked highly in cultural circles there. The completed project will include exhibition space suitable for both small and large-sized works. Changing programs of artists-in-residence working in different media, as well as exhibitions, performances and events are planned. The site will also feature a selection of restaurants and shops. Income from these establishments is expected to contribute to the maintenance and sustainability of the site as well as providing new job opportunities for the local arts community.
It is unlikely the HK government alone would have been able to proceed so quickly in these projects without the partnership with a charitable organization such as HKJCCT. The Club lists itself as one of the world’s top ten charity donors. Whether members of the EU can form similar charitable organizations is worth further discussion.
The Victoria Prison renovation project is blessed by the central location of the complex and easy walking access. Patarei is also favorably located with regard to central Tallinn. One can envisage how the city core will expand in the future to include it even more.
Does the complex enhance community and cultural needs? There are always different revenue-generating options for a site like Patarei. However, including consideration of long-term job opportunities and job diversity, as well as enhancing cultural values and the arts, make renovation along the lines of Victoria Prison more attractive compared to use of the site as a parking lot or warehouse, as some have suggested. Hopefully comparing Victoria Prison and Patarei side by side will generate useful ideas for Patarei’s future.