4.3 Other relevant issues and debates
In recent years there was a very intense debate in Latvian society about the major Cultural Buildings Project called Jaunie trīs brāļi (The New Three Brothers, as a reference to the "old" Three Brothers - a grouping of three houses from the 15th-18th centuries in the old town of Riga). Three construction projects were envisaged: building a new National Library (http://www.gaismaspils.lv), a Contemporary Art Museum (http://www.camriga.lv/) and a Concert Hall in Riga. Due to the economic crisis, the Ministry of Culture has cancelled the plan to build a concert hall. Also, the project of building a Contemporary Art Museum has been postponed. Still, the Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with private sponsors, and with the support of the EEA and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, is developing a museum holding that, starting from 2010, is stored at the Latvian National Museum of Art.
The construction of the National Library was started in 2008. The project has overcome long lasting public and political debates and finally opened in 2014. The originally planned investment of 114.6 million LVL (around 163.7 million EUR) was reduced due to deflation. Gunnar Birkerts, who is the most famous architect of Latvian origin in the world, named the project Castle of Light.
Numerous cultural heritage buildings are under reconstruction. See chapter 4.1.
Three concert halls are being built in the regional cities: Cēsis, Liepāja and Rēzekne with the support of the European Regional Development Fund (see chapter 4.1). In 2013, The Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre was opened. All these initiatives in the regions increased the professional art supply outside the capital.
European Cultural Capital 2014
Four cities – Rīga, Jūrmala, Cēsis and Liepāja – applied for the competition to become European Cultural Capital 2014. The international jury made its decision at the end of 2009, choosing Riga to be European Cultural Capital (see http://riga2014.org/).
Involvement of citizens
The economic crisis has stimulated consolidation and involvement of citizens in public policy development. Also, cultural operators have established several umbrella organisations of major public cultural institutions such as the association Time for Culture (2010) and the Association of Contemporary Culture NGOs (2007). The Alliance of the Association of Contemporary Arts, NGOs and The Council of the Creative Unions of Latvia was established in 2009.The representatives of the Alliance work closely with the Minister of Culture, meeting weekly and being informed about cultural policy developments.
Chapter published: 08-10-2014