8.4 Promoting culture and cultural participation
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According to the data of the Lithuanian National Cultural Centre, in 2018, there were 158 cultural centres and about 500 of their branches and subdivisions that are located in urban and rural territories of Lithuania, with 2915 amateur art groups, 886 studios and clubs that have in total 52 819 participants. Children's and youth groups comprise 36 per cents of all amateur arts groups, and young participants comprise about 38 per cent of all participants.
Two of the four main objectives of the Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030, adopted in 2019 by the Lithuanian Government, are targeted to the accessibility of culture and cultural participation. The first objective is to strengthen the cooperation between the state, municipal and non-governmental sectors, reducing cultural exclusion and inequalities. The objective has to be achieved by accomplishing three tasks: to ensure leadership and proportionality of performed functions within the network of cultural institutions; improve the quality and efficiency of the performance of cultural and art institutions by optimally distributing services across their networks, and to ensure the sustainability of cultural human resources and their equal distribution. The second objective is to stimulate creation and participation in culture. It also comprises three tasks: to develop and foster talents by providing the appropriate conditions for creation in different artistic fields; promote the equal accessibility of high quality and various forms of culture for diverse social groups, and promote the participation in diverse creative activities by lifelong development of cultural competencies.
The third goal of the Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030 links the issue of cultural participation to the development of civil society and the critical thinking of people. The tasks of the goal are the following: to strengthen the immunity of citizens and institutions to information threats and their civic activity and knowledge; to strengthen people's critical thinking ability and understanding of cultural phenomena, and develop national awareness and cognition of tangible and intangible heritage of modern society.
Before the adoption of the strategy in 2019, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture already implemented some measures to increase the accessibility of culture and cultural participation. The newest measure is free admission to museums. Since the beginning of 2019, under the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, permanent exhibitions of national and state museums can be visited free of charge every last Sunday of the month. This regulation does not apply to private museums.
In 2018, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, launched a programme for schoolchildren called Cultural Pass (Kultūros pasas). The aim of the measure is to improve access to cultural and educational projects and events, develop cultural awareness and experience of schoolchildren by providing appropriate cultural and artistic services. The measure provides each pupil with a "cultural passport" worth 15 EUR per school year that could be used for visiting performances, concerts or exhibitions offered by various cultural organisations and selected by expert groups according to the needs of different age groups and other criteria. Depending on the age group, the pupil attends cultural and artistic events either with their class or individually. The range of services that can be chosen per year depends on the price of the service. In 2019, pupils of all age groups were involved in the project. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture allocated to the measure a total of 4.808 million EUR.
To encourage creativity among cultural centres and recognise the best achievements and work of cultural centres, the Ministry of Culture established three Prizes for the Best Cultural Centres of the Year. These prizes are awarded for active, creative and innovative activities over the past five years in fostering ethnic culture and amateur art, creating artistic programmes, expanding educational and recreational activities, meeting the cultural needs of the community and organising the spread of professional art. Since 2006, 40 cultural centres in different categories have received this prize as a form of incentive.
In 2005, the Ministry of Culture established the Prize for Active, Creative Activities at Cultural Centres. The goal of the prize is to encourage professional activities among arts and culture employees at cultural centres and recognise their best achievements and work. Heads of cultural centres and arts and culture employees who work at cultural centres can be nominated for the prize. Since 2005, this prize has been awarded to 11 cultural centre employees.
To encourage cultural institutions and creators of culture and evaluate their activities in the field of cultural education for children and youth, the Ministry of Culture has, since 2007, been awarding four prizes per year for the best education projects that were prepared and implemented for children and youth.
Article 6(13) of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Local Self-Government establishes that the ‘cultivation of general culture and fostering of ethno-culture of the population (participation in cultural development projects; the establishment, reorganisation, restructuring and/or liquidation of museums, theatres, culture centres and other cultural institutions as well as the supervision of the activities thereof; the establishment, reorganisation and/or restructuring of public municipal libraries as well as supervision of the activities thereof)’ is the independent function of the municipalities.
In the area of regional cultural policy-making, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for the formation of a national policy in the fields of culture and amateur artistic activities. The strategic objective of the Ministry of Culture in the area of regional cultural policy is to promote access to culture for various groups of society as well as their participation in nurturing cultural traditions and diversity of cultural expression. The Ministry of Culture works in constant collaboration with Lithuanian municipalities in implementing this objective.
In 2003, the first State Programme for the Development of Ethnic Culture was approved by the resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. One of the goals of this programme is to activate the development of culture in the regions and to give residents the opportunity to foster their regional and national traditions and customs. In 2015, the 2015–2018 Action Plan for the Development of Ethnic Culture was approved by order of the Minister of Culture. In 2011, the 2012-2020 Programme for the Development of Regional Culture was approved, as well as the measures for implementing this programme in 2012-2014. The purpose of the 2012-2020 Programme for the Development of Regional Culture is to establish priority areas of regional cultural development and create conditions for cultural access and dissemination by making the regions more attractive for young persons, local communities, investors and tourism. In 2015, the measures for implementing the 2012-2020 Programme for the Development of Regional Culture in 2015–2017 were prepared and approved.
Numerous municipalities have approved programmes for the development of ethnic culture and regularly plan their budgets to provide funding for the nurturing, preservation and dissemination of traditional culture.
The main initiator of national intercultural dialogue at the policy level is the Department of National Minorities to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, established in 2015. The Department funds cultural projects within the frame of the Integration of the National Minorities in the Society while Preserving Their Identity Programme. The programme funds three categories of projects proposals: 1) the Dissemination of National Minorities Culture; 2) the Dissemination of National Minorities Culture and Cultural Cooperation in South-East Lithuania; 3) the Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue and the Dissemination of the National Minorities’ Culture in the Mass Media. In 2018, the Department allocated 70 000 EUR for 33 cultural projects of Lithuanian and national minorities organisations aimed at the development of non-formal education, 25 000 EUR for 10 media projects, and 175 000 EUR for 132 projects of the development of a culture of national minorities.
A consultative body of the Department of National Minorities is the National Communities Board. The board represents national minorities and deals with the policy coordination issues related to Lithuanian national minorities and involves the representatives of the national minorities into the decision-making process. The members of the Board are selected from the national communities’ representatives. The number of Board members from each national community depends upon the communities’ population as presented in the Population and Housing Census 2011. If the national community’s population is above 100 thousand, then 3 Board members from the community shall be selected into the Board; if the national community’s population is from 10 thousand to 100 thousand – 2 representatives; small up to 10 thousand population national communities have one Board member.
National communities living in Lithuania develop cooperation and dialog through cultural centres and non-governmental organisations. There are 4 intercultural centres in Lithuania, financed by municipalities: the House of National Communities in Vilnius (established in 1991), the Kaunas Centre of Various Nations Culture (established in 2004), the Roma Community Centre (established in 2001), and the Folklore and Ethnography Centre of the Lithuanian National Minorities (established in 2007). These and others cultural centres initiate various arts, culture and interdisciplinary projects, organise cultural events, arts exhibitions, books presentations, and cooperate with non-governmental organisations of national communities. Approximately 300 non-governmental organisations of national minorities are engaged in cultural activity in Lithuania. The Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Chechen, Estonian, Greek, Karaits, Latvian, Polish, Roma, Romanian, Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Hungarian, German, Jewish, and other national communities have established their cultural, educational, professional, and other non-governmental organisations.
Intercultural dialog on an international level is coordinated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute. For several years, the Lithuanian Culture Institute has been realising Lithuanian culture seasons in various countries. In 2015, the Lithuanian Culture Institute represented Lithuania in Krakow; in 2016, it organised Spring and Autumn seasons in Ukraine; in 2017, Lithuania was a guest of honour at the international Leipzig book fair; in 2018, the institute realised two large-scale international events – Baltic Countries Market Focus programme at London Book Fair and the Lithuanian art festival “Flux” in Rome. In 2019, Tel Aviv became a host to the largest to date presentation of contemporary Lithuanian culture: “Lithuanian Story. Culture Festival in Tel Aviv 2019”. The festival aimed to introduce Israel’s audiences to Lithuanian artists from the fields of poetry, classical and contemporary music, performance, dance and film.