What is Aparaaditehas?

Lemmit Kaplinski

My name is Lemmit Kaplinski and I am the manager of the space, which is called Aparaaditehas that after a translation to English would be the Widget Factory as a factory where they manufactured various widgets literally from various electronic apparatus to umbrellas. And this is a completely new development in Tartu. It is about 13000 square metres, which in maybe 5 years will be a full-blown culture centre. And right now we are struggling to get toilets up and running electricity to the first building and so forth. I am hopeful that in a year already we see that we made changes here. And there will be things happening.

Background. I got in the cultural management scene and the whole culture factory scene in 2009. And this is already the third attempt in that to build something which will last. So we started out in 2009 in an old factory across the river of the side of the city. That one worked for about a year and a half but because of lack of investments from the owner and the economic crisis, which was the reason for the lack of investments. It kind of winded down.

Then me and my colleague Madis Mikkor we set up this new place. We did not really get into a good relation with the owner. As on a side, all these three developments have had private donors, which is a very big difference from most of the culture centers even in Trans Europe Halles for example. So we did not get a good working relationship and that lack of good quickly deteriorated into mutual distrust. So we kind of managed to hold on for four years in a place, which we call Creative Centre Carnation. But in the end it was clear there is no future, there is no point in trying to set up something there.

So we were on a look out for an alternative. And for several years I kept visiting abandoned industrial spaces, talking to people, organizing events to draw attention to them to see if any of them would be a good home for the creative types. There were several locations, which were good but none of the owners were interested, not the city and none of private owners.

And then in the autumn 2013 the owner of this space contacted me and said, look I have this creative center running in Tallinn. I would like to do something like this and that. I heard that you are local with the connections. Let’s do it. I took a look at the place and it was like, yes, let’s do it. So now we are trying to set up a 13000 square meters into coherent whole, a center where non-profit and profit sides are balanced. And it will be a half of the journey.

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