On March 24, 2021, over 100 community members logged on for an hour-long virtual Community Engagement Session to hear updates on International Estonian Centre construction, fundraising, branding and more. Joining from across North America and overseas, attendees heard from Board members and project managers who delivered key updates and answered questions in a live format.
View a video recording of session highlights here, and here are the top 5 takeaways from the March 24 event:
1 Ambassador Lukk reiterates support
Estonia’s Ambassador to Canada Toomas Lukk delivered opening remarks in support of the project, and, having recently returned from Estonia, noted that the project is an active topic of discussion in Eesti and he considers this International Estonian Centre to be the "project of the century" for Estonia and Estonians.
2 New name for the Centre
International Estonian Centre Inc. Board Chair Heili Toome announced the Centre’s new name: KESKUS.
KESKUS is Estonian for “centre” and is a combination of the individual words “KES=who” and “KUS=where” and using this Estonian word as a brand name will lends personality and invokes curiosity. The KESKUS name will appear on the building itself, as well as on the Centre’s digital channels. Heili noted, “We collected feedback far and wide through a survey and interview process, which led us to define the Centre’s new name and brand identity.”
Heili explained further, that the survey results clearly showed that the KESKUS name resonated across all response categories. Not only did all age demographics prefer KESKUS, those who considered themselves Estonian by heritage, were born in Estonia, partners of Estonians and those who were associated with Estonians through friendship or business, all preferred the name KESKUS. In other words, the centre will be the KESKUS for us all.
3 New logo & visual branding
Along with the new name, a new KESKUS brand identity was unveiled (see more here). The newly designed logo, selected after extensive deliberation by community, committee and board members, will help define KESKUS. The Centre’s new visual identity is strong, clean and modern and the logo incorporates the beautiful and recognizable colours of the blue-black-and-white of the Estonian flag.
Estonian Arts Centre (EAC) Board member Mihkel Kütti explained the meaning behind the logo: “The lines in the icon fold over and change direction, reflecting our ability to pivot to circumstance and also speaks to our ability to pass our heritage from one generation to the next. Another design reference here is the distinct weaving pattern not just to the traditional Estonian rahvariided (traditional dress) but also the intersections with community and communities.”
For a special treat, a new video was debuted with a virtual walk through from the courtyard up into the Centre’s acoustically engineered grand hall with seating for 300, and around the mezzanine to the fireplace and lounge area – see the 3-minute video here!
4 Capital Campaign updates
EAC Board member Kaili Colford touched on why the success of KESKUS is so important to her and her young family, and gave an update on the capital campaign noting that the capital campaign now stands at $7.2 million. KESKUS recently received a one million dollar gift as well as several new Viru Vanemad gifts and another Kalevipoja Laud gift of $100,000.
Kaili thanked all donors and drew attention to the fact that “a quarter of the pledges are from outside of Ontario, meaning that KESKUS has captured the imagination of Estonians around the world, with funds coming from across Canada, the US, Estonia, France and more.”
With the uncertainty in the construction materials market, the capital campaign goal for KESKUS is increased to $10 million. This will also help strengthen the Centre’s ability to secure a healthy reserve for the start of operations. A public campaign is planned to launch this Spring.
5 Ceremonial groundbreaking April 7th
Construction is about to begin!
The KESKUS ceremonial ground breaking will take place on April 7th at the KESKUS site at 9 Madison Avenue. Unfortunately due to current COVID regulations, participation is limited. Ambassador Toomas Lukk and Piret Lukk, and City of Toronto Councillor Mike Layton will be in attendance to mark this exciting occasion. Sign up for the newsletter for updates from the ground!
As we all wish every success for this project, we can quote Ambassador Lukk who said:...Head pealehakkamist meile kõigile.”
Get involved and help support our future
Are you interested in helping build this spectacular new home for the global Estonian community? Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors! KESKUS donor categories are Kalevipoja Laud for gifts over $100,000 (including naming rights for specific areas), Viru Vanemad for gifts over $10,000, and Kungla Rahvas for gifts up to $10,000.
To make a donation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All Canadian and U.S. donations will be issued a tax receipt.
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