8.9 Enhancing social inclusion through culture
On this page
On this page
Lithuanian public cultural institutions like The House of National Communities, Kaunas Cultural Centre of Various Nations and Visaginas Cultural Centre, in cooperation with national minority Saturday/Sunday schools operating in Lithuania (Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, German, Jewish, Latvian, Armenians, Karaites, Tartar, Greek, and others), have been organising the National minorities’ Saturday/ Sunday School festival since 2002. The mission of the festival is to provide a platform to bring together representatives of different national minorities in Lithuania to enrich each other with the diversity of cultural expressions, to promote their sense of community, and to promote intercultural dialogue and cooperation. The success of the festival lies in creating favourable conditions for children and young people from national minorities, enabling their full participation in one cultural space and presenting their traditions to the public. The innovation of the festival lies in searching for new spaces of encounter each time the event is organised. Almost every year the location of the festival may differ, providing a new and diverse cultural programme and creative workshops for the participants. This makes it possible to expand the geography of the festival, to present traditions of national minorities in various forms of art. The festival’s programme usually includes a concert, where the participants give a performance (each time a different one, depending on the theme of the festival); cultural and educative programmes; creative workshops; and a round table discussion (where leaders and teachers of national minority Saturday/Sunday schools can discuss the results of the festival and provide feedback on the event, and exchange work experience). It is noteworthy that the festival has one major requirement – the greater part of the performance has to be presented in the native language, with a view not only to showcase national traditions and customs, but also to acquaint the audience with linguistic diversity. Festival participants – children and young people as well as their teachers of Saturday/Sunday schools throughout Lithuania – are involved in the preparation process of the performance (they rehearse national dances and songs, and prepare performances based on national fairy tales, etc.).The theme of the festival is announced to the teachers of national minority Saturday/Sunday schools in advance, so that children and young people studying there can prepare their performances. For example, the themes proposed thus far are as follows: ‘Language’, ‘National fairy tales’, ‘National traditions and customs’, ‘My Europe’, ‘Myths of my nation’, ‘National doll. Folk puppet theatre’, ‘Riddles’, and others.
The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, recognising that the preservation of regional, historical and cultural identity is one of the cornerstones of the European Union’s regional policy and emphasising the importance of fostering the uniqueness of Lithuania’s ethnographic regions, declared 2013 the Year of Dialects and 2015 – the Year of Ethnographic Regions. This decision was aimed to emphasise the historical and cultural importance of dialects and ethnographic regions as well as to form a public opinion in favour of preserving the cultural heritage of dialects and ethnographic regions and accenting their identity. 2017 has been declared the Year of National Costume.
The State Jonas Basanavičius Prize has been established for the most significant work done by Lithuanians living in Lithuania and abroad related to the development, fostering and study of ethnic culture. Since 1992, a total of 35 people have received this prize.
Each year, the Ministry of Culture bestows three prizes for the fostering and dissemination of traditional culture. The objective of the prize is to recognise the contributions individuals have made in in ethnic culture activities as well as to encourage them. Curators and presenters of folk music and customs, heads of folk ensembles and amateur theatres, founders and heads of non-governmental museums, collectors of ethnic cultural material, folk artists, craftspeople and national heritage creators living in Lithuania and abroad can be nominated for the prize. Since 2006, 31 promoters of traditional cultural have been awarded this prize.
The innovative cultural spaces, the so called Multi-Functional Cultural Centres in Lithuania, replaced the traditional venues in the small towns in Lithuania. They consist mainly of public cultural institutions, such as public cultural centres, libraries, museums, art galleries, theatres, cinemas, concert halls etc. “under one roof”. These spaces have been significant factors for encouraging intercultural dialogue in local communities and there are further possibilities to make better use of these spaces in order to address even broader audiences and diverse communities. The multi-functionality of traditional cultural spaces allows all kinds of cultural activities to be organized in one space and attract wider audiences.