Toronto Eesti Maja (2013)
Esmaspäev, 24 Aprill 2017 18:14
Eesti Elu / Estonian Life Online
Much has been written about our attachment to the house that has been our community home for the past 55 years. Much has been said about the dismal state of the "house" and its inability to cover the cost of capital renovations that are required.
So when presented with a "dream" alternative for a new home it is tempting to reach out for the shiny new facility without realizing what we are about to give up and what we have to pay for the new alternative and what we will have to do without.
The Estonian House mandate is "to be financially self sustaining and operate without a subsidy".
Its financial statements reflect the cash flow i.e. the revenues generated and the expenses paid consistent with its financial mandate. Excluding amortization and development costs it comes pretty close to doing this.
Moreover, Estonian House provides benefits to the Estonian Community which are not reflected in the financial statements. We take these benefits for granted .
As we contemplate our options for the future it is important to recognize these benefits and realize that we will have to forgo them in the future or alternatively find real dollars to pay for them.
Benefits that are not quantified in the financial statements.
1. The Estore as a symbol of Estonian Culture has a minimal revenue impact on the bottom line, but in effect pays no rent on space that would otherwise be rentable between 17,000 and 20,000 per annum. Likewise, E-store administration/maintenance costs are absorbed into the Estonian House expenses.
2. The Scouts and Guides have a large third floor space rent free, not only for their weekly activities but also an archive for all their activities and a storage space for their equipment.
3. The Estonian Archive at Estonian House has a large footprint in the basement of Estonian House possibly up to 4000 sq. feet. No rent has been received for this space in the last 2 years.
4. The Estonian House art collection valued well over $100,000 is not only displayed on the walls of Estonian House but is also a large quantity is stored in Estonian house. There is no charge for this.
5. The Estonian Pistol and Rifle club has a shooting range on the third floor. Not only is it irreplaceable but currently it pays only a nominal amount of rent.
6. The Eesti Kunstide Keskus stores their art work at Estonian house in prime space and pays a nominal monthly fee..
7. The "aupeakonsul" the honorary consul of Estonia has office accommodation at Estonian House. Only a part of this cost is covered by rent received from Heinsoo Insurance.
8. All Estonian organizations, are not only subsidized by the Estonian Foundation but they also get below market rates to use Estonian House.
9. All Estonian client organizations that pay monthly rent for space from Estonian House are also given the opportunity to use the Main Hall at least once a year for free.
10. All Estonians organizations or individuals enjoy a reduced rental rate at Estonian House.
11. Estonian house has audio Visual equipment which can be used at a nominal rate by our community and sometimes at no charge.
12. Estonian House provides a gallery wall for the community to promote its activities.
13. Estonian House provides hugely discounted rental rates to Estonian activities e.g. Estdocs, AKEN Bazaar, Estonian school fund raisers, Christmas open house.
14. Estonian House provides free Hall use for all major Estonian events e.g., Vabariigi Aastapäev, Küüditamise mälestus
15. Estonian House has an on-site caterer that is able to service our Estonian events at a nominal charge.
16. Estonian House provides free parking, not just for its patrons but also as a starting point for community bus tours.
This is not an exhaustive list.... only the beginning.
The sad part is that we take all of this for granted, not giving it a thought, and not being grateful.
As our community needs evolve and change we can and should rationalize some of these benefits and decide on whether they should continue to be provided free of charge. They certainly will not be provided at a discount or free in any new facility we move to.
The reality is that our collective refusal to pay appropriate rates for the facilities that we want to use, has effectively prevented us from accruing the necessary funds to pay for the proper upkeep of this facility.
With our concern about the potential operating deficit for Estonian House, Isn't it about time we charged a realistic fee for some of these benefits. At the very least we should put a dollar value to these benefits so that we can put "our needs" in perspective. It would also help us realize what we are about to give up.Väino Einola