4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies
The recent debate on cultural heritage has broadened the current heritage concept. As well as the cultural monument protection branch, libraries, archives, museums, and the intangible cultural heritage are now recognised as important resources for the development of the knowledge society and for cultural tourism. Apart from that, the Ministry of Culture supervises the digitalisation projects and the implementation of programmes and conventions of the UNESCO.
There are a number of state authorities implementing cultural policy in these fields: the State Inspection for Heritage Protection; the State Agency of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Cultural Education and the Latvian National Archive (in 2011, after reorganisation, 18 state archive institutions were merged into a single one). As a result of structural reform, the State Authority on Museums has been integrated into the structure of the Ministry of Culture (see also chapter 7.3).
Moreover, municipalities are directly responsible for funding and administering municipal libraries, municipal museums, cultural heritage objects and intangible heritage, notably folk art. Private operators are involved in the field mainly as owners of cultural heritage objects and private museums.
The Ministry of Culture's budget for heritage protection increased significantly until 2009. A special programme Heritage 2018 was approved and is being implemented since 2006. The aim of the programme is to restore and modernise all of the over 100 architecture heritage objects in state property up to the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Latvia: the first phase was 2006 – 2009, when 25 objects were restored (14 in Riga and 11 in the regions). During the 1st phase, it was planned to invest 42.6 million LVL (60.1 million EUR). However, in 2009, due to the economic crisis, the funding for the implementation of the programme was reduced.
There are also a few special heritage protection and development programmes regularly supported by the Culture Capital Foundation. Another important financial source for development of the cultural heritage is the EU Structural Funds (see also chapter 4.2.8).
The most significant developments in the field have been digitalisation in the field of archives, museums and libraries (see chapter 4.2.11) and the construction of the Latvian National Library (see chapter 4.3).
In the field of intangible heritage, an important player is UNESCO and the UNESCO National Commission. In 2008, the Baltic Song and Dance celebrations were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2009, the Suiti cultural space was included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
See also chapter 5.3.3 on culture legislation.
For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Latvia