8.4.1 Amateur arts and folk culture
Traditional and amateur art is linked to culture houses and cultural centres located throughout Latvia (see chapter 8.4.2).
The State Cultural Policy Guidelines 2006 – 2015 recognise the very important role of amateur arts in the life-long learning processes of every individual.
Participation of Latvian inhabitants in amateur art groups has sharply declined after 1990 when 4.57% of the population took part in amateur art groups, while in 1992 – only 2.9%. Since the end of the 1990s, the participation rate is stable, reaching 3.33% in 2008, 3.06% in 2009, and 3.05% in 2010.
Due to the economic crisis, state subsidies to the organisers of amateur art groups were reduced, thus the development of amateur art is now mainly the responsibility of municipalities. The Centre for Intangible Heritage and Culture Education (under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture) has a coordinating role. The aim of the Agency's activities is to implement national policies in the field of intangible cultural heritage and in the associated fields of amateur arts, as well as in cultural education. It is also organising different events, festivities, and seminars involving amateur art groups all over the country.
Folk art, or its contemporary interpretation, is the basic activity for a great majority of amateur art groups (especially dance and folk ensembles). Choir singing is another significant aspect of the amateur art sector. Once every 5 years, the best amateur choirs and dance groups are selected to take part in the Nationwide Latvian Song and Dance which is among the most important cultural events in the country. It is included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural heritage of Humanity of UNESCO. The last festivity took place in the summer of 2008. Over 8 days, 39 different concerts and events took place, half of which were free of charge. A record number of participants took part in the event – 38 601; 48 principal conductors and artistic directors, including 17 honorary principal conductors and artistic directors, 394 choirs and 54 vocal ensembles (including ensembles from minority communities), with a total of 18 464 singers (in comparison – 212 female singers and 791 male singers took part in the 1st Song Celebration in 1873); 544 dance groups, 13 700 dancers; 55 brass bands; 5 professional orchestras. As part of the Celebration events, 913 master craftspeople from 103 traditional applied arts studios exhibited 2 942 pieces of traditional applied art at the Railway History Museum.
See chapter 4.2.4 on support for traditional culture of ethnic minority groups.