TEH Conference 97 in Tartu

This upcoming spring we are meeting in Tartu, Estonia, for the 97th time! We will be hosted by our member centre Aparaaditehas - a popular destination for locals and an important landmark in the Estonia independent arts and culture scene.

The theme of this event is 'Art of Survival'!

Why 'Art of Survival'?

We are living in tumultuous times, the world is changing rapidly, and we all must adapt and find ways to survive. What kind of difficulties do (independent) art and culture centres face in these changing times and how will we survive? How can our centres support each other and our communities? 

The term "Arts of Survival" encompasses the wisdom, abilities, and principles essential for navigating these difficult times to enjoy a culturally diverse and exciting future.

Sub-themes for Art of Survival

In a world where things are turned upside down, we unravel the intricate connection between humanity and democracy. Observing the distressing events unfolding in the world, it becomes crucial to emphasize the significance of amplifying the voices of the victims and refusing to remain passive bystanders. In addition to that, the deafening silence brought about by cutting funding and shutting down cultural spaces prompts a call to action.

Amidst adversity, however, emerges resilience. Our discourse embraces the empowering notion of participatory funding for cultural spaces, exploring innovative ways for communities to own and sustain these vital hubs. In the face of censorship, we discover the transformative power of sharing ideas and resources, sparking a creative rebellion that transcends borders.

In our exploration of 'Green Resilience: Sustaining the Arts in a Changing Climate,' we embark on a journey to cultivate environmental consciousness within the realm of creative centres. Join us as we share knowledge and best practices, weaving a narrative of how to make our creative spaces more sustainable and greener.

Our discourse extends beyond the walls of our cultural centres to the very fabric of our network conferences and meetings. Together, we delve into the environmental impact of our gatherings, seeking innovative solutions to ensure the sustainability of our collaborative endeavours.

A special focus is placed on the voices of tomorrow – the youth. We dedicate time to listen, engage, and address their concerns, recognizing the importance of fostering a sustainable future through intergenerational dialogue.

Amid economic turbulence, join us in an exploration of 'Adapting and Thriving: The Creative Economy in Times of Turmoil.' We acknowledge the challenges many of us are facing, providing a space to share experiences, difficulties, and, importantly, the resilient strategies that have emerged in response.

Together, we create a supportive environment to vent, connecting with peers who understand the struggles unique to our field. As we candidly discuss what we've had to give up and change, we will foster a collective dialogue on the evolving landscape of the cultural sector.

We invite you to immerse yourself in the vibrant and colorful tapestry of Tartu, exploring both its overground and underground treasures with us. Join our various tours of Aparaaditehas and the enchanting streets of Tartu – whether by walking, running, or cycling, there's a unique adventure awaiting every enthusiast.

Aparaaditehas with the Culture Capital of Tartu team will put on an underground extravaganza, a celebration that transcends the challenges we face daily. Join us to revel in the essence of life – a reminder of why we endure, survive, and thrive. Amidst music, art, food, and the warmth of good company, we'll rediscover the reasons that make life truly worth living.

Full programme ready: register for session now!

General information

Ticket sale is closed now. If you didn't get your ticket on time, but have already arranged your travel, please contact us at teh2024@publicon.ee.


  • …has a population of just 1.3 million but is larger than Denmark or the Netherlands. Being among the least densely populated countries in Europe, Estonia makes for a great nature and city break destination for those looking to stretch out their limbs and enjoy some peace, quiet, and solitude.
  • …is more than 50% forest. It’s fair to say that Estonians have a certain tree-hugging spirit. More than half of the country is covered by forested land and almost a quarter is protected by nature. As a result, Estonia has the 4th best air quality in the world.
  • …has over 2,000 islands. Estonia is the only Baltic country with a deep-rooted and extensive island culture. Although most are uninhabited, Estonian islands tend to be rural, with some holding traces of their local Viking and medieval legacy.
  • …is a Digital Society. From voting to signing documents to doing taxes online, Estonia implements a hassle-free and modern approach to doing errands.

We have made a detailed guide listing all travel options to Tartu. Check it out here.

We have also made it easy for you to find accommodation as we have made deals with local hotels and hostels and published it on our ticket platform. You can even book your stay when buying a ticket to the conference: Book it now here!

The session registration has been launched now.

How can you register for sessions?

  • Step#1:You will receive an email with a registration link from us
  • Step#2: Create your personal account using the registration link from the email. This year we are using the platform Swapcard for the registration to our conference sessions
  • Step#3: Reserve a seat for the sessions you want to attend. Most of the sessions have a limited capacity so it is important that you book your seat in advance!
  • Step#4: Make sure you remember your login details as you will need them to enter the platform later via website or the mobile app. Below we prepared a guide for you how to navigate the system.

We recommend you  INSTALL SWAPCARD APP on your phone: ANDROID or IPHONE

Check out the Guide we made to help you navigate the platform.

On Swapcard, you will also be able to see who else is attending the conference, network and connect with other participants. We haven’t activated this option yet but more information how to do that is coming soon!

*We’ll keep all of your sensitive information and data confidential. You can read our Privacy Policy

If you have a question or need an invitation letter from us, please reach out to us at events@teh.net.

About the host

The venue and host is Aparaaditehas (Kastani 42, Tartu), a cultural and creative centre. The name “Aparaaditehas” translates to “widget factory” in English, and it is housed in a former factory building that has been converted into a space for events, exhibitions, workshops, and performances. It is known for its vibrant cultural scene.

Aparaaditehas is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and it has become a hub for the creative community in Tartu. The centre has helped to revitalise the area and has played an important role in promoting the arts and culture in Tartu.

During the Soviet times, the factory was used for manufacturing refrigeration equipment, secret submarine parts and in order to mislead the public, also non-functioning umbrellas and zippers. At its heyday in the middle of 1970s, the factory provided employment for almost 1,500 people. Since 2014, the 14,000 m2 centre has been developed into a culture factory.

Aparaaditehas hosts four restaurants and two cafés, many galleries, artists’ studios, many different event spaces and venues. There is a rooftop sauna and a rooftop garden. The Widget Factory is a home for many different office spaces, a co-working area called Sofa Office and rooms for numerous small and exciting shops. The courtyard called Taskupark (the Pocket Park) is the coolest meeting place in the area that hosts both concerts, flea markets and an outdoor cinema in the summer. Aparaaditehas hosts a variety of different events every week from concerts to workshops and parties to exhibitions.

TYPA centre (formerly The Estonian Print and Paper Museum) recently moved to a larger building and is located in the neighbouring courtyard.

Discover Tartu with locals!

There is no better way to discover a new city than to ask locals for some recommendations. We have asked our hosts and event producers from Aparaaditehas - Erki, Karmen and Stina for their suggestions on what we shouldn't miss when in town.


Erki Pruul

Managing Director of Aparaaditehas

Erki is a melophile who has an impressive vinyl collection and knows where one can find good music in Tartu. He is also the one to ask for suggestions if you want to discover rare tunes from the region.

Check out Erki's tips!

A pedestrian and cycling path built on an old railway line, which starts near Aparaaditehas and ends (at least for now) nowhere in particular. You will not meet tourists there, because it does not pass by any attractions and the route does not connect any important points in the town. At the same time, on this approximately two-kilometer car-free gravel road, you can get a real taste of Tartu, especially if you prefer the backsides of shopping malls, the parking lots of street maintenance vehicles, the abstract pyramids of scrap metal yards, hundreds of car doors in neat rows lining the scrapyards, lots of graffiti, the overgrown riverside with willow bushes and wastelands instead of tourist traps.

(PS! The Friday morning running tour with Erki will be passing through this route)!

A very special vinyl store hidden in an old building that's located exactly between the city center and Aparaaditehas. A shop whose owner, Ahto, loves records so much that sometimes it feels like he doesn't even want customers visiting the store because they might buy some of his beloved records and take them away from him. However, when the initial wariness has passed and you've shown that you come with good intentions, you can take part in an emotional history lesson on music and vinyl records of Estonia and the former Eastern Bloc with sound samples to go with it. About music that isn't on Spotify and isn't recognized by Shazam, as he likes to say. If you can't find the store yourself, there will be a Night Shopping event on Friday evening between 21:30 and 23:00, where Ahto will present his treasures to the interested conference visitors.


Do you want to enjoy the brutal architecture of the Soviet era and see the Tartu ghetto, but don't have enough time? No problem, just get on city bus number 2 from in front of Aparaaditehas and take a quick tour that will take you into the heart of Annelinn and bring you back to the factory in 45 minutes, without having to get off the bus. Most likely, your travel companions will be grandmas with market bags and uncles with impressive mustaches who commute this route daily. Buses depart every 15 minutes during the week, every 25 minutes on the weekend. The ticket costs 1.50 (mobile and card payment available on the bus).

Discover Estonian funk

Stina Leek

Founder and frontwoman of the Ajuokse artist collective

Stina is somewhat of a shapeshifter and multitasker whose role at Aparaaditehas depends on the day, time and location. She is a street artist, a curator, a cultural manager, an event producer, an enabler and also - the organiser the "Ajuokse X Factory" party that will take over the whole building on Saturday!


Check out Stina's tips!

From random writings and tags to stencils and bigger pieces, the bridges have organically become ever-changing street art galleries. It's not really legal to paint there, but if you're doing it respectfully, the passing people will more likely encourage you with compliments than call the police.

Freedom and Kroonuaia bridges are very near to each other and closer to the centre, but if you'd like to wander further - go also check out the Friendship bridge from Annelinn's side. 

it's one of the nicest places to just.. sit. Especially in the evenings  - the view is picturesque during the sunsets and when it gets dark, you will be accompanied by local bats. If you're very lucky you might also catch a glimpse of the beaver that lives nearby. Good place to test the theory of Emajõgi being the best river in the world.

PS! Beware of the duck poop, tho. 

Located in a red brick building that had been abandoned as long as I can remember, KÄKK the bakery and coffee shop gave the place a new life just a few years ago. A chill place to grab a coffee and some pastries - try out the spicy cabbage pie, it's my fave.

Just past the city beach, hidden in the rushes - the small sauna boat is a good spot to rewind if you decide to stay in Tartu for a few days longer. They also have the option of renting a canoe to wander on Emajõgi - you can book the place on Airbnb.


Karmen Otu

Programme Manager

Karmen is the heart and soul behind Aparaaditehas who makes things happen and turns the factory into a culture house brimming with events and activities. She is the kindest and friendliest person, but also someone who is a skilled event producer who is not afraid tie take upon herself the hardest tasks.

When you meet her in person this week, give her a BIG hug!

Karmen's tips

Located just a 10 minute’s walk from Aparaaditehas is the Karlova district. If you are looking for a small break from the hustle and bustle of the conference then Karlova awaits you with historic wooden houses, secret yards worth discovering, unique cafes and bars that are very popular among the locals, and lots of greenery. 

Stop by the lovely small café called Karlova Kohv for the best cup of locally roasted organic coffee in town and be sure to grab a drink at the local’s favourite bar Barlova - a tiny piece of southern Italy located in Tartu where even the most reserved Estonians make new friends with ease.

I think Tartu is the perfect city for biking and one of my favourite things to do is just cruise through the town and on the banks of river Emajõgi. I’ve compiled a bike route for you that takes you from Aparaaditehas to the city centre, follows the river to the edge of town (where there’s a beach if you want to take a dip) and brings you back through the bohemian Supilinn (Soup town) district and the historic moats of the Toome castle hill. The route is about 7,5km long and should be an easy breeze of a ride when using the electric bike from the Tartu Smart Bike rental system (PS! We have a discount code for you!).

Here’s a Google Maps link to the bike ride route.

If you’re a thrift shop treasure hunter like me, then you’ll be happy to know you don’t have to wander too far from Aparaaditehas to find some gems. Located here at Aparaaditehas we have a fabulous thrift shop called SAIKO where you can find some true vintage treasures. If you’re looking for something a bit more casual but very budget friendly then drop by Kastani Leiunurk, that’s located in a bright pink house with big flowers painted on the side just across the street from Aparaaditehas (you can’t miss it). 

Catering is included with your conference ticket and all meals will be served at the wonderful restaurant Aparaat, but if you’re craving for something extra delicious then my favourite places in Aparaaditehas are Veg Machine for some amazing vegan fast food and Cruffin for the best pastries in town. From Veg Machine I recommend trying their Like a Bahn Mi sandwich and at Cruffin you can never go wrong with a Bounty croissant. 

Tartu in a glimpse!