Author: Ornela Ramašauskaitė
After the 2nd World War, Lithuania came under the Soviet regime. The occupation and incorporation into the Soviet Union essentially transformed all spheres of social, political and cultural life. Administration and censorship of culture and the implementation of cultural policy was strictly centralised and all democratic forms of cultural self-government were lost. Cultural policy was based on the ideological control of the Communist Party, which propagated communist ideology using all forms of cultural and artistic life. More favourable changes took place in the 1960s during the Khrushchev era of "thaw" and in the 1970s, when national culture gradually obtained internal strength due to intellectual growth in society and the role of the Lithuanian intelligentsia.
"Perestrojka" and the social movement for Lithuania's independence SÄ…jÅ«dis, during the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s, brought positive changes to the development of cultural policy and administration. In 1990, the Lithuanian Cultural Congress set the guidelines for national culture and formulated strategic trends for cultural life. However, new economic and social factors influenced the development of Lithuanian culture in the 1990s, which faced problems such as privatisation of cultural institutions, free market processes, reform of the administrative system, changing status of culture institutions, etc.
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 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); and strengthening the importance of NGOs for culture. 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/).