Author: Ornela Ramašauskaitė, Viktoras Liutkus
Lithuania's cultural policy during the Soviet regime was based on the ideological control of the Communist Party, with a strictly centralised organisational system, which covered all forms of cultural and artistic life. "Perestrojka" and the social movement for Lithuania's independence Sąjūdis, during the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s brought positive changes to the development of cultural policy and administration. The main cultural issues after the Declaration of Lithuanian Independence in 1990 were related to: creating a culture legislation system; defining the role and responsibility of the state, counties (apskritys) and municipalities in the administration of culture; establishing new models of management in cultural institutions; enhancing the role of arts associations; elaborating a national heritage protection system; creating specific bodies for evaluation of culture and art (expert commissions, arts councils, self-government organisations). In 1990, the Lithuanian Cultural Congress set the guidelines for national culture and formulated strategic trends for cultural life.
In the mid-1990s, discussions on cultural policy issues were related to the creation of the Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy – a legal document on long-term goals and tasks for Lithuanian cultural policy. Heated debates over cultural policy involved artists, philosophers, politicians, and cultural administrators. Discussions were focused on such issues as cultural democratisation, protection of the national cultural heritage, guaranteeing freedom and diversity of creative activity, cultural self-governance. The Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy was finally adopted by the government in May 2001 (see: http://www.lrkm.lt/).
One of the important tasks outlined in the document was decentralisation of the cultural administration. A challenge was posed by the process of decentralisation and the redistribution of financial and managerial responsibilities between different levels of government – state, counties and local self-governments. In 2002, the Cultural Development Programme of the Regions was adopted by the government to form the administrative, financial, legal and information basis for the development of regional (counties) culture. County administration units were abolished in July 2010 and a new programme for the regions was adopted in 2011. The Programme defines priorities for culture development in the regions, provides preconditions for access and consumption of culture in province municipalities, and underlines the role of regions in cultural tourism and capital investment. There are 60 local self-governments in Lithuania, which, according to the Law on Local Self-Government (1994; amended in 2012) have a substantive right to develop cultural activities of local museums, cultural centres, libraries, theatres, to take care on amateurs' art, ethnic culture and heritage.
In the 1990s and 2000s, cultural policy issues became an important subject in government Programmes. The Government Action Plans include state finance, legal, administrative and cultural information measures for the implementation of the Programmes. The main institutional cultural activities, programmes and projects are scheduled in the strategic plan of the Ministry of Culture. In March 2013, the strategic plan for the year 2013-2015 was passed by a ministerial order.