The institutions that set the general policy guidelines, legislation and budget of the Republic of Latvia are: the Saeima (Parliament, 100 members voted every four years) and the Cabinet of Ministers (highest executive body of the country, formed by a Prime Minister invited by the State President). In 2019, there were 13 Ministries and 13 Ministers respectively in Latvia. As a result of reorganisation,
one ministry in 2011 has been closed down: the functions of the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Government have been taken over by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Welfare.
Cultural policy in Latvia is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, which organises and coordinates state culture policy, social integration policy and media policy. In addition, the Ministry is responsible for the development of cultural education in the country, including vocational education (music and art schools) and higher education in the field of art, culture and music.
The Ministry co-operates with municipalities and with non-governmental bodies, such as consultative councils, creative unions, foundations etc. The Ministry of Culture and municipalities share responsibility for co-operation programmes and financing in the cultural field in Latvia. The Ministry of Culture plays the most important role in the development of cultural policy and financing national art and culture institutions, and particularly taking responsibility about professional art.
The Ministry of Culture has the following areas of responsibility: copyrights and neighbouring rights, libraries, museums, music, fine art, folk art and intangible cultural heritage, theatre, literature, film art, cultural education, protection of monuments, archives, architecture, design, creative industries and dance. Since 2011, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for integration and the representative of the Ministry is included in the Council of the Social Integration Foundation. In 2015, the Ministry of Culture has established the Media Policy Unit undertaking the development of the media policy. The Ministry of Culture is also responsible for the operation of institutions and organisations in each of the respective sectors.
The Ministry has numerous subordinate institutions that implement cultural policy in certain sectors, such as: The National Archives of Latvia; the National cultural heritage administration; The National Film Centre of Latvia; The National Centre for Culture of Latvia; The Centre for Culture Information Systems.
The Ministry of Culture is directly financing a majority of national institutions in the field of culture, arts and cultural education. Meanwhile, cultural projects are funded by the State Culture Capital Foundation.
The establishment of the State Culture Capital Foundation, which started operating as an arm’s length body in 1998, was a major milestone in Latvian cultural policy and completely changed funding patterns in the cultural sector. The financing of cultural projects which had previously been the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture was delegated to the CCF.
The projects submitted for funding to the CCF are evaluated by expert bodies, which report to the Council of the CCF. These bodies also monitor how the allocated grants are utilised. There are seven experts in each of nine cultural sectors, who are replaced every 2 years. The experts are nominated by governmental and non-governmental cultural organisations (5 experts) and the Minister of Culture (2 experts).
The goal of the CCF is to provide financial support and promote balanced development of creative work in all sectors of culture and art and to encourage the preservation of cultural heritage. It also facilitates the development of international relations and promotes Latvian art and culture worldwide. Until 2003, the CCF was financed from the excise tax imposed on alcohol (3%) and tobacco products (3%), as well as gambling and lottery tax. In 2003, the government decided to change how the CCF is funded and since 2004, it is funded directly by the Ministry of Culture. It is planned to return to the previous funding model from 2022 onwards.
The CCF announces project competitions several times a year in nine fields – literature; music and dance; theatre; cinematography; visual arts and photography; cultural heritage; traditional culture; design and architecture; and interdisciplinary projects.
There also is a Travel Grant Support Programme that enables individuals and groups to participate in short-term scientific, creative and study programmes abroad. The Lifelong Scholarship Programme of the CCF supports outstanding individuals in the cultural field.
Councils and advisory boards
The National Board of Culture is the most important advisory body to the Ministry of Culture. Its aim is to enhance balanced development of different cultural sectors.
In relation to policymaking and implementation, the Ministry of Culture must consult with non- governmental organisations to improve social dialogue. It carries out this role via boards and working groups; the boards have consultative functions and the working groups are created to solve specific tasks during the specified period of time.
Advisory councils to the Ministry of Culture include the Council of Literature and Publishing (since 2003); Latvian Music Council (2002); National Council of Theatres (2000); Latvian Film Council (2004); Visual Arts Council (2001); National Council of Museums (1998); National Library Council (1998); National Architecture Council (2009); the Council of Archives (2011), Dance Council (2013) and the Council of Digital Cultural Heritage. In addition, there are councils operating in the fields of national identity and integration (established in 2012), Roma integration (2012), integration of third country nationals (2013) and a committee of representatives of the minority NGOs. The Ministry of Economics established the Design Council in 2008, which currently operates at the Ministry of Culture. The Consultative Council for Creative Industries was established in 2011 (and re-established in 2014), but ceased to exist.
The Ministry of Culture is consulting with the associations of cultural operators on a regular basis. This dialogue intensified during the period of the economic crisis, and since then cultural operators have established several umbrella organisations. The Time for Culture association (2010), the Association of Contemporary Culture NGOs (2007) and the Council of the Creative Unions of Latvia established the Culture Alliance in 2009. In 2012, they signed a Memorandum with the Ministry of Culture about regular cooperation in cultural policy development and monitoring. This initiative was a unique model of direct participation by the non-governmental sector in public cultural policy development. Currently, three representatives of the Culture Alliance have been included in the National Board of Culture.
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