In Lithuania, the issue of social inclusion and cohesion is mainly related in cultural policy to the equal opportunities of different social groups and inhabitants of different regions to participate in cultural life, i.e. cultural participation is considered to be an important factor of social inclusion and cohesion. The Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030 argues to be a positive correlation between the active participation in cultural life and higher quality of personal and social life: people engaged in cultural and creative activities have more trust in other people, they participate more actively in elections, have stronger and more conscious civic identity, feel happier and healthier. Hence, one of the tasks of the Strategy is “to promote the equal accessibility of high quality and various forms of culture for diverse social groups”.
According to the survey Population participation in culture and satisfaction with cultural services (2017) commissioned by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, the inhabitants of villages and small towns are less involved in cultural activities. 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 rural areas, compared to 30.6 per cent in cities. Services of libraries are the only kind of services more actively used in rural areas than in cities. That could be explained by the fact that the network of libraries is the densest network of cultural institutions in Lithuania. Residents of small towns and villages visit cinemas, galleries and heritage sites much less often. As the main reason not to participate in cultural activities, one quarter of small towns residents indicate the difficulty to arrive at the locations, where cultural activities take place.
In 2018, in order to improve the accessibility of culture in regions and the development of diversity of local cultural expressions, the Lithuanian Council for Culture created the model of the support of Even Cultural Development. The aim of the model is to decentralise cultural funding decisions, enable regions to decide independently on the implementation of cultural and artistic projects that are important for them, and involving local communities, creators and municipalities in decision-making processes. The model also has to enhance investments of municipalities in cultural or artistic projects of regional importance.
The main idea of the model is to create 10 Regional Councils for Culture, which decide independently on funding of cultural projects through local calls for tenders. The Regional Councils for Culture are formed of representatives of regional municipalities, representatives of regional arts and culture organisations and one delegate of Lithuanian Council for Culture, who does not have voting right. Each Regional Council forms its own funding priorities reflecting the situation of local cultural communities, infrastructure and potential.
The model was approved by the Ministry of Culture in 2018. In 2019, the Lithuanian Council for Culture granted about 3 million EUR for 470 projects selected by the Regional Councils.