The system of national and state cultural institutions remains unchanged over the last 20 to 25 years. Evaluation of its efficiency and relevance in providing the population with the necessary cultural services at state and municipal level was carried out several times by the National Audit Office of Lithuania and by experts who conducted special studies.
Many of these studies revealed that there is no clear difference between the national and state institutions, their activities and their performance evaluation. For example, the purpose of national theatres, defined by the Law on Professional Performing Art, is to present the most outstanding national and foreign achievements of opera, ballet, drama and music art; represent the creation of high artistic value; form the image of Lithuanian culture; develop international creative partnership; and ensure access to professional performing arts for all societal groups of the country. The purpose of state theatres is to develop a distinctive trend of professional performing arts; present classical and contemporary professional performing arts works of high artistic value in Lithuania and abroad; develop public demand for professional performing arts; and ensure the access to professional performing arts for all societal groups of the country. The evaluation of the achievement of these purposes, however, lacks clear methods and is mostly based on quantitative indicators that not necessarily show the artistic quality of the performances and of the overall creative programme of the institution.
The lack of a unified, clear and comprehensive system of evaluation is one of the basic problems of the Ministry of Culture’s management of the state cultural institutions system. Quantitative data is collected only on state institutions; the municipal and private sectors are not reflected in this data, and qualitative data, even about state institutions, is collected in a very sporadic way. Without the qualitative evaluation criteria of the performance of institutions, the evaluation is incomplete, since the quantitative criteria do not reflect changes in public attitudes, results of expert evaluations, etc. As a result, the Ministry of Culture does not have the data needed to measure the quality of the institutions’ performance and cannot relate the funding of institutions with quality of their performance.
The other problem of state cultural institutions network, stated in the Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030, is its unevenness in terms of accessibility. The strategy states that the existing network of institutions is uneven; it contributes little to the recovery and development of the regions and does not ensure the equal accessibility of culture to all residents of the regions of Lithuania. Culture is the least accessible in villages and small towns. In rural areas in 2017, the share of culturally active people who used more than seven types of cultural services at least once a year was 14.6 per cent. In urban areas, the share was 30.6 per cent. As a solution to this problem, it is proposed in the strategy to define and create a basic package of cultural services, i.e. a basic infrastructure that would be shared and developed by municipalities and the central government. This model would also act as a mobility programme, open to all cultural service providers, regardless of their legal status, thus fostering synergies between cultural activities.