The Law on the Status of Artists and Artists’ Organisations (1996) establishes the basis and procedure for granting and abolishing the status of artist and artists’ organisations. According to the Law, the status of an artist is granted to a person who creates professional art, and 1) a person’s individual or collective creation of art has been positively evaluated as professional art in monographs, reviews or articles published by professional artistic assessors; 2) a person’s creation of art is included in general education curricula, vocational training programmes and higher education study programmes approved in accordance with the procedure laid down by the law; 3) the creation of art by a person or a group of persons has been honoured with national or international art prize, other prizes and awards given by organisations of artists, or a laureate’s diploma of an international competition of professional art creators and/or performers (except competitions of pupils and students); 4) the person’s artworks have been acquired by national museums or galleries of Lithuania or foreign states; 5) the person has published art-assessment articles and reviews in Lithuanian or foreign publications for not less than five years; as well as the person who has been awarded the Doctor of Science degree or the Doctor of Arts degree for research activities in an appropriate art form; 6) the person who teaches subjects of the art study field and holds the position of professor or associate professor at a higher education institution which prepares professional artists according to art study programmes; or 7) the person has been, individually or with a group of artists, selected and represented Lithuania at internationally recognised events of professional art.
Article 11 of the Law determines state support for artists from the Social Security Programme, approved by the government in 2011. The Programme guarantees the state financial obligation to cover social and health insurance of artists, and support to self-employed artists. One of the purposes of the Programme is to allocate creative idle time payments for artists. Creative idle time means a period of time when an artist of employable age, for objective reasons, temporarily has no conditions for the creation of art and (or) dissemination of its results. Creative idle time payment is a payment in the amount of a minimal monthly wage, which is paid to the artists from the Programme’s budget.
The Law also defines the procedure of granting the status of “artists’ organisation” to an association. The status is granted if 1) not less than 25 artists have founded the association; 2) only artists or organisations holding the status of an artist and uniting not less than five members – organisations of artists – are members of the association; 3) the association promotes creation of art of high professional value, its diversity and dissemination; 4) the association sets conditions for the creation of art, creative work and professional development of its members; 5) the association arranges for art works to be accessible to the public; 6) the association represents artists of the whole country (not one of its regions).
In 2019, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture provided information about 19 unions and associations that have the status of “artists’ organisation”. These organisations play an important role in cultural policy. According to many Laws that establish the procedure of formation of cultural policy institutions (councils, commissions, foundations), these organisations have the right to delegate their members to consulting or governing bodies. Thus, artists participate in cultural policy decision-making mainly through their unions and associations (see chapter 1.2.5 for more about the activity of artists organisations).
The state funding for individual artists’ creative activity is mainly allocated through the Lithuania Council for Culture (see chapter 7.2).