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Liechtenstein/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

A standing responsibility of Liechtenstein's cultural policy is a peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding between the various cultural and national groups. The motto is: to express solidarity in the acknowledgment of common cultural values, inwardly and outwardly, and to be curious, tolerant and hospitable towards "strangers". However, since a segment of the foreign population remained closed to integration efforts, the revised Foreigners Act (2009) requires foreigners seeking integration in Liechtenstein to learn the German language and accept a consensus of values: cultural groups must respect all human rights and discrimination is forbidden.

At the beginning of the new millennium, Liechtenstein was still a cultural land of building sites: Two Music School facilities, the School of Fine Arts, the Kunstmuseum and the National Museum were built; the medieval Balzers Castle was being equipped for the 21st century. Since then, the focus has been on the expansion and utilisation of the cultural acquisitions obtained and discovered by the communication and cultural pioneers over the course of the four decades following the Second World War. The institutions continued to develop, aware of their responsibility to the next generations. One motive for this responsibility outlined by cultural policy is the fact that the Liechtenstein must continually document its sovereignty, also by way of its cultural heritage and cultural values.

In 2006, Liechtenstein celebrated 200 Years of Sovereignty and presented its artistic output abroad. In 2006, the Liechtenstein Parliament authorised new avenues of cooperation, approving 1.15 million CHF (731 600 EUR) towards the joint purchase of the Ricke Collection. The Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein – opened in autumn 2000 – together with the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen in Switzerland and the Frankfurt Museum for Modern Art in Frankfurt Main acquired this significant collection of groundbreaking contemporary US art.

In 2007, the Liechtenstein Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced its new objectives. It determined to carry its cultural activities out into the world as a permanent and integral part of its foreign policy: through its embassies, its engagement in the EEA Steering Committee for Culture and in the Council of Europe Steering Committee for Cultural Heritage, through participation in the cultural commission of the International Lake Constance Conference, through participation with the cantons of Eastern Switzerland and with the Austrian province of Vorarlberg.

In 2003, the Cultural Advisory Council of the Government of Liechtenstein published its first detailed annual report. It disclosed all cultural promotion funding allocated by the country of Liechtenstein and the Pro Liechtenstein Foundation, which was established in 1964 for cultural promotion. 2007 was the 43rd and final year of existence for the Cultural Advisory Council. When the new Cultural Promotion Act came into effect in 2008, The Liechtenstein Cultural Foundation assumed the duties of the Cultural Advisory Council. With the revised Act, the state explicitly acknowledges its respect for the independence, freedom and variety of cultural activities.

What was previously regulated by several different laws is now summarised in one modern Cultural Promotion Act which covers issues such as participation on the part of the entire population in cultural activities, the free exercise of artistic and cultural expression, the promotion of new, innovative forms of culture and organisations, the division of responsibilities between the state and the municipalities, the promotion of appearances by groups and organisations abroad and cultural exchange projects. Liechtenstein has also recently passed a Cultural Property Immunity Act, 2008. The Swiss legislation regarding importation, exportation and transit of cultural assets also applies to its customs treaty partner Liechtenstein. With this new legislative act, Liechtenstein exhibitors and museums are equipped for the future exchange of cultural assets.

Liechtenstein has been participating in the European Heritage Days since 1993, however its legislation regarding the preservation of historic sites dates back to 1977. Since that time, the integral preservation of historic sites has evolved into an indispensable part of European history and the cultural landscape. In 1985, Liechtenstein ratified the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe. Above and beyond the commitment to maintain historical edifices, ensembles, neighbourhoods and town centres as a whole, additional obligations include: public relations, scientific research, exchange of knowledge and land-use planning.

Since 1997, the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage has also been in force in Liechtenstein. Since October 2006, a more comprehensive proposal for expanded historical preservation has existed. The aim of the revision was the express responsibility of handing down valuable cultural assets to future generations. According to the consultation report on the Law on the Protection of Cultural Assets adopted by the government in August 2012, the plan is to restructure historical preservation and the protection of archaeological heritage and cultural assets in terms of both content and organisation.


Chapter published: 12-11-2014

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              Council of Europe/ERICarts, "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 15th edition", 2014 | ISSN 2222-7334