KESKUS leadership donors gather to celebrate project progress

Updated: Apr 13

Update #137



Leadership donors gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking milestone for KESKUS International Estonian Centre and to enjoy live music and art, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and each other’s company.


At the April 10 event at the Cotton Factory’s Imperial Room in Hamilton, KESKUS project lead Ellen Valter announced a new level of giving for the ongoing KESKUS capital campaign: Koidula gild, in recognition of gifts from $50,000 up to $100,000. Tiina and Jaan Timusk, in attendance, were warmly applauded for becoming the inaugural members of this new level of giving, and increasing their already generous donation from the Viru vanemad level to that of Koidula gild.


Estonia’s Ambassador to Canada and champion of the KESKUS project, Toomas Lukk, congratulated all in attendance for KESKUS achievements to date, and presented Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs certificate of recognition to Cotton Factory’s principal, Rob Zeidler, for all that he has done to advance Estonian arts and other activities in Hamilton. This includes establishing the Hamilton Arts Council’s European Artists Exchange.


Current artists for the European Artists Exchange, textile artists from Estonia Kärt Ojavee and Johanna Ulfsak, presented their work thus far in developing a massive and unique art installation into KESKUS with special meaning to diaspora Estonians.


Kärt Ojavee (second from right) discussing work in progress

Livestreams project, photo courtesy of Kärt Ojavee & Johanna Ulfsak

The jumping off point for this installation is their livestreams project. A weather buoy on the Baltic Sea measures wave motion and wind velocity and this is algorithmically translated into code. The code is fed in real time into functional fibreoptic threads woven into the fabric and attached to individual LED lights, such that the entire length of textile undulates with light, reflecting what is going on in real time, on the Baltic Sea. The stormy Baltic Sea is how those in the first wave of Estonians arriving in Canada, escaped the Soviet aggression in Estonia.


Calling it a “dream project for a textile artist,” Kärt and Johanna are working out the materials and feasibility of evolving the concept into an immersive experience around the perimeter of the KESKUS courtyard, including the Jänes-Koppel Grand Hall. If proved out, it would put KESKUS and Estonian arts on the map in even more ways.


Pianist and composer Kristjan Randalu

The gathering of leadership donors welcomed back to Canada after the pandemic hiatus, the extraordinarily talented Estonian pianist and composer Kristjan Randalu, where he dazzled those gathered first with solo works. He was then joined special guests the Madawaska Quartet for an inspired collaboration on Estonian themes, including the childrens’ song Hiirejaht (“The mouse hunt”). The group’s last piece, based on an Estonian children’s song Igal ühel oma pill (“To each their own instrument”) brought tears to the eyes of more than a few in the audience.


Thanks were extended to Riina Knowles and Karin Ivand for event logistics, Merike Koger for support for the Artists Exchange, Rob Zeidler, the Ambassador, Estonian Music Week, the music and textile artists and to the caterers for making the event richly diverse and memorable. Thanks to Elias Gates-Kass for the photos.


The leadership donors lingered to enjoy the food, talk to the artists about this unique KESKUS installation, write ‘love letters’ to KESKUS and enjoy each others’ company.


All KESKUS valued donors make a critical difference


The capital campaign to get KESKUS built is far from over. The levels of giving were named by Priit Vesilind, a now-retired National Geographic journalist, and a new category added.


For each level of giving, the first word sets the reference to Estonia and the second word refers to the size of the group. Kalevipoja laud, for gifts $100,000 and above, reflect the leadership donor group who fit around a (very) large table, Viru vanemad $10k plus who step up as leaders in the community, Kungla rahvas are all who contribute, including the 5 & 7 year olds who gave from their piggybanks.

The new category, for donations $50,000 up to $100,000 is Koidula gild. The Estonia reference is to Lydia Koidula, the pen name for beloved poet Lydia Jannsen. The size of the group reference is ‘gild’. Gild, or ‘guild’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “an association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal”, an apt description of the drive to make KESKUS happen. It also refers to mediaeval associations of merchants or craftsmen that nicely also conjures up the Hanseatic times of Tallinn.


To make a donation, please call +1.647.250.7136 or email donations@estoniancentre.ca. KESKUS leadership donors are recognized here.


To follow the construction journey and for KESKUS updates: