I woke up today to discover that the shareholders of Eesti Maja voted to proceed with the Madison avenue cultural centre. (Unfortunately, as I did not own shares I was not eligible to vote, but had I been eligible, I would have supported the project)
Having been the President of the Estonian House Art Committee (Eesti Maja kunstikommittee) 1992-2001, and having had numerous one woman shows in Eesti Maja, I too feel passionately about the building and what it represents. The cultural activities which I organized in the past, i.e. art shows, workshops and managing the art collection in the Estonian House, I believe can and will be better served in the Culture Corridor at Bloor and Madison.
Even during my tenure leading the art committee in the 1990s, we struggled with how to introduce Estonian art and artists to a broader community.
The opportunity which the new location offers can bring the arts and cultural activity of the Estonian Canadian community into the mainstream, alongside all the other major Toronto cultural institutions in the Culture corridor. This is a positive move for the next generation of Estonian artists, born in Canada, while respecting our heritage, stepping forward in the broader Canadian cultural mosaic.
As a third generation member of the Toronto-Estonian community, I am writing this to articulate my reasons for supporting the proposal to start the due diligence process to move the Eesti Maja to Madison Ave.
While 958 Broadview holds many fond memories for me, I agree with the facts that the current Eesti Maja has reached the end of its lifespan. Even if the resources required to revive it were available, I believe it is time to move on to a space that is more suitable and sustainable for the long term. It is clear from the usage statistics, which show a steady decrease, that the Eesti Maja is not viewed as an attractive rental space to those both inside and outside of our community - people have already voted, with their feet! We need a facility to be able to sustain itself on its own merit, and not on subsidization. At Madison, it appears that we would be able to create an attractive, flexible space for our own purposes that can also provide desirable rental spaces for the busy surrounding neighbourhood when not in use by us. The location, in the middle of downtown Toronto and close to U of T, means that there will likely be strong demand from a wider variety of potential renters, and having a new and modern space will make us an attractive option.