University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy

University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy (Estonian: Tartu Ülikooli Viljandi Kultuuriakadeemia) is an Estonian institution of higher education, situated in the provincial town of Viljandi, central Estonia. The UT Viljandi Culture Academy merged with the University of Tartu in 2005.[1] The UT VCA has been teaching professional higher education and performing applied research within information science, culture education and creative arts since 1952.[2] The academy has about 1000 students, half of whom are open university students.[3] The teaching and instruction are based on the continuity and sustainability of Estonian native culture enriched by new impulses which widen the notion of traditional culture. Director of the UT VCA is Dr. Iñaki Sandoval Campillo.

University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy
Tartu Ülikooli Viljandi Kultuuriakadeemia
Students800 (2015)
58°21′59″N 25°35′50″E


The UT Viljandi Culture Academy offers undergraduate study programmes in such fields as theatre and dance arts, music, Estonian native crafts, youth work and culture management. Most programmes are 4-years (240 ECTS) professional higher education programmes (equal with BA studies). One programme (School Music) is a BA programme with 3 study years (180 ECTS).

The Academy also offers MA graduate study programmes with 2 study years (120 ECTS), in such fields as music education, traditional music and.

Since 2011 UT VCA offers an international Master programmes, where teaching takes place in English: MA in Sound Engineering Arts .

Departments and their specialties:

  • Department of Culture Education: Leisure Time- and Culture Management;
  • Department of Performing Arts: Theatre Arts, Dance Arts, Performing Arts Visual Technology;
  • Department of Music: Traditional Music, Jazz Music, Music Education, Soundengineerging;
  • Department of Estonian Native Crafts: Native Textile, Native Construction, Native Metalwork, Inherited Crafts.

Research and Creative studies

In the last decades, the UT VCA’s main area of research has been the humanities, but there is an increasing amount of cooperation with social, economic, technological and material sciences. The contemporary teaching methods within creative arts, non-formal education and education in arts and music are among the most covered applied research areas. The most remarkable development has taken place in the field of applied inherited crafts. In 2009 the Academy began publishing a series of academic publications, Studia Vernacula.[4] The future direction of the applied research will focus on the contemporary teaching methods within creative arts, information science and cultural education as well as applied inherited crafts. As an applied research institution, the UT VCA has a leading role in the development of the regional competence centre of the knowledge capacious creative industry.

Continuing Education

The Department for Continuing Education offers courses of different volumes based on the degree studies curricula at the academy or according to the topics suggested by the ordering party. In recent years, UT VCA's continuing education has grown and developed significantly, and the academy places great emphasis on the lifelong learning principle. During the academic year of 2009/2010 the department offered 69 courses for more than 1000 people from all over Estonia. Courses are provided on different study levels and aimed at various age and interest groups. The main target groups are culture, educational and library staff.

International cooperation

The international cooperation of the UT VCA follows the objectives of the Lisbon treaty and supports the aims of the European Union to promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue (the European Agenda for Culture). Our activities support sustainable development and have positive effects on the environment. Participation in the EU educational programme Life Long Learning/Erasmus constitutes a great section of the UT VCA foreign relations, supporting the study and training exchange of students, lecturers and university staff.

UT VCA students study as exchange students abroad and foreign students study at UT VCA for a semester or two through several exchange programmes. The major and most widely used options are ERASMUS, Nordplus, ISEP, inter-university agreements and inter-governmental agreements.

There are also various international projects in which different departments from the academy are taking part. In addition, the academy also participates in the activities of several international university networks:[5]

  • AEC the European Association of Conservatoires.
  • IASJ the International Association of Schools of Jazz.
  • NORDTRAD a Nordplus network of academies and universities in the Nordic and Baltic countries offering third level education in traditional music.
  • NORTEAS a Nordplus network for Nordic and Baltic Theatre and Dance Institutions of Higher Education.
  • DAMA a Nordplus network of Dance and Media Art Schools.
  • NNME a Nordic Network for Music Education.
  • NORDPULS a Nordplus network of academies and universities in the Nordic and Baltic countries providing professional music training in the area of pop, jazz and related music genres.

UT VCA has signed bilateral co-operation agreement in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme with many universities[6] (selection):


In Tallinn in the year 1952, the Tallinn Culture School (est: Tallinna Kultuurharidusala Kool ) – later the Tallinn School of Cultural Education (Tallinna Kultuurharidustöö Kool ) is founded, where specialists are educated for libraries and community centres.[7] By 1960, the school building in Tallinn has become too small and the Tallinn School of Cultural Education is transferred to Viljandi. In 1978, the school takes its new name, Viljandi Culture School (Viljandi Kultuurikool). In the autumn of 1991, the educational institution is reorganised into Viljandi Culture College (Viljandi Kultuurikolledž), providing applied higher education within different areas of culture. In 2003, the Viljandi Culture College becomes the Viljandi Culture Academy and in 2005 it joins the University of Tartu.[8]


Main Building

The oldest part of the building was built in 1860 as a town-palace by count Theodor von Helmersen, the owner of Karula manor house in the north of Viljandi and was registered as a protected architectural monument in 1998.[9] In the first period of Estonian independence in the 1930s, the building was home to the Sakala partisan battalion's company's and officers' mess. In the 1940s, the time of the first Soviet occupation, it was used by the Soviet army. After 1945, it was home to several city institutions, e.g. the "Leola“ state combine. In the 1960s, it went back to the use of the Soviet Army as home to the parachute troops. The building went back into the use of the Estonian army, after the Soviet army left Viljandi in 1994. Since 1995 Viljandi Culture Academy is situated in the building. In the main building are lecture rooms, special study rooms such as dance classes, a multifunctional black-box type hall, a multimedia-class, a painting class as well as a hand-loom class. There are also four computer rooms.

Music House

The Music House of UT VCA was opened in December 2005. The building is home to the whole music department of the academy, including the chairs of traditional music, classical- and church-music, jazz music, and school music. The music house is of importance not only for the academy but for the whole city. The renovated building is situated in the heart of Viljandi city as well as the main building. Both buildings contribute to the idea of a culture district in the city centre. The Music house, Carl Robert Jakobson street 14, is located at the corner of Carl Robert Jakobson- and Lossi street, in the historical monument preservation zone of Viljandi's old town.[10] The house was built in 1888 in historicist style as a two-storey stone dwelling house, which belonged in the beginning to the Viljandi governor of the Russian tsar, baron von Wolff.[11] In 1917 the building hosted the Viljandi war-revolution committee. Later it was home to the staff of the Sakala partisan battalion and in soviet time it was used as a war-commissariat. After Estonia restored its independence in the beginning of the 1990s, the building was used as the Viljandi department of Estonia's state-defence. The building has been protected as an architectural monument since 1964.[12]

Vilma House

In 2012, UT VCA bought the former building of the Vilma pastry factory in the town centre of Viljandi. After renovation, since 2015, the building became home to the department of Estonian Native Crafts and the textile centre of the Incubator of Creative Industries in Viljandi County.

Traditions and main events

  • The Viljandi Guitar Festival this international guitar festival has taken place in the third week of September since 2008.[13] The aim of the festival is to promote improvisation and playing methods. The first four days are dedicated to master courses given by the performers. All musicians also play together in a guitar orchestra and many high level concerts are given.
  • The Student Theatre Festival TTP this international three-day festival started in 2003.[14] It is now held every year in February, and welcomes amateur student theatre groups who come together, perform their shows, learn new skills and have fun. The festival is strongly connected to the Culture Academy, as the organisers are or have been students here.
  • School Jazz = Jazz School a three-day workshop seminar for young students of jazz music from all over Estonia.[15] Young people are instructed by the best professional jazz musicians and there is a joint open concert for all participants every evening.
  • Dance Week every year the world celebrates the International Dance Day on the 29th of April and the academy isno exception. Since 2010 the celebration is organised as a week full of dance performances, workshops, films and open courses in Viljandi’s secondary schools and in the academy led by students, teachers and alumni.[16]
  • Weekly jazz nights the Jazz Club gatherings see performances by both aspiring and famous jazz musicians.[17]
  • Culture Wednesdays performance events organised monthly by students, alumni and guests of the Performing Arts Department.[18]
  • Public Lecture Series „Own Culture“ is annually organised lecture series on Estonian heritage culture for the local community.[19]

Product development

Regional Competence Center Together with the leadership of the academy, a collaboration agreement between 23 different partners was signed for the creation of a Regional Competence Centre in 2009. The areas of competence are R&D in creative industries in a synthesis of cooperation between different partners. Brokerage services are also offered. The activity area of the competence centre is inherited technology (wood, metal, textile) and its linking with contemporary use.

Incubator of Creative Industries in Viljandi County The academy also heads a project with the aim of developing an Incubator of Creative Industries. The incubator has two different direction or centres: textile - handicraft and metal. The first compartment opened its doors in the academic year 2010-2011.[20] The metal centre will open in the end of 2011. The incubator offers different types of services like equipment, rooms for rent, and entrepreneurial support (e.g. legal and economic consulting) to start-up companies. The incubator provides low-budget manufacture’s spaces (as well equipment as also infrastructure services) to young cultural entrepreneurs during a period of maximum 3 years for the aim to create new businesses. Viljandi’s incubator is the first of its kind, with large equipment (textile + metal) in Estonia.

See also


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