Author: Viktoras Liutkus
The Declaration of Lithuanian Independence in 1990 substantially changed all sectors of national culture. The main directions of state reforms were focused at creating a culture legislation system, enhancing the role of arts associations, elaborating national heritage protection, creating specific "arm's length" bodies for evaluation of culture and arts projects (expert commissions, arts councils, self-government organisations, etc). In 1990, the Lithuanian Cultural Congress set the guidelines for national culture and formulated strategic trends for cultural life. That year also marked the beginning of several organisational changes in the administration and management of culture. From 1990 to 1994, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education were merged into one ministry, which has responsibility for arts education at all levels of training (art academies, art schools, non-formal education). Art education remains under the remit of the Ministry of Education and Science.
The first years of independence were characterised by the privatisation of many previously state-run cultural institutions. In the 1990s many state-owned cultural institutions changed ownership and / or organisational form. Privatisation had the greatest impact on the press, book publishing, film production and broadcasting sectors. Most of the network of former public cinema theatres was privatised and many state-owned historical buildings were returned to their previous private owners. The new phenomena of NGO's in the culture sector took over much of the concerts, festivals, and theatre life. Censorship of the media ceased officially in 1990.
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 government's and Ministry of Culture's legal documents was decentralisation of the cultural administration. 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 the cultural activities of local museums, cultural centres, libraries, and theatres, and to take care of amateur art, ethnic culture and heritage.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. However, 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.
The other type of decentralisation that took place was decentralisation of the "decision making process". In the 1990s, several important cultural bodieswere established (Culture and Sport Support Fund; Press, Radio and Television Support Fund) in order to endow independent bodies to take decisions on cultural development and financing of art, culture and media projects. The Culture and Art Council, as well as a number of expert commissions at the Ministry of Culture, state cultural institutions and various commissions at self-government level (municipalities) were established and still function as important "actors" in the cultural sector.
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 government 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.
On 14 May 1993, Lithuania became a member of the Council of Europe. An important development in the history of this country was the entry to the European Union on 1 May 2004. Lithuania's entry date to the Euro zone is January 2015. Lithuania took a leadership role as President of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2013.
In 2012, the government passed the Resolution on the Programme of National Advancement for the years 2014-2020, which included the horizontal priority "Education of society, science and culture". Through this document, culture became an important sector for social life, science, the economy, technology, ecology, etc. issues.
Chapter published: 28-11-2014