Design policy in Lithuania is shaped and implemented by two Ministries: the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation and the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture supervises various cultural initiatives of the design sector and copyright. The Ministry of Economy and Innovation is responsible for design export and the growth of small and medium sized enterprises.
Financial support for the design sector is provided by several institutions. The Council for Culture provides funding for various projects of design and other design related initiatives, such as publications, events, education, and festivals. It also supports small and medium sized enterprises of design. The Ministry of Economy and Innovation funds design through its programmes and agencies, e.g. the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA). MITA is a national innovation agency and provides free services for clients from the business, science and public sectors interested in possibilities to develop strong cooperation relations with international partners and get financial support for research and innovation projects. There are also other organisations that finance design projects, e. g. the Lithuanian Business Support Agency, the public institution Enterprise Lithuania (“Versli Lietuva”), and the financial institution INVEGA.
As the sector of design gets funding from various institutions and falls under several programmes, it is impossible to calculate the total amount of funding it receives. In 2021, the Lithuanian Council for Culture allocated 268 740 EUR for 28 projects of design and awarded 58 individual grants for designers.
Despite various financing sources and two Ministries that are concerned with design, the Lithuanian policy of design is not systematic and has been quite neglected for a long time. Until 2015, Lithuania had no strategy of design policy, although there were some “bottom up” initiatives aimed at preparing such a strategy. For example, in 2008, Vilnius Academy of Art commissioned the study The Complex Development of Lithuanian Design that was conducted by the international design research team Mollerup Designlab. The study provided the development plan for the Lithuanian design sector for seven years that was presented to the Ministry of Education. However, the plan was not adopted.
In 2014, the Design Innovation Centre of Vilnius Academy of Art prepared a feasibility study for the development of the Lithuanian design sector. One of the recommendations of the study was a proposal to establish a National Design Council, whose long-term activities would include the maintenance of communication between public authorities, business companies, design agencies, and educational institutions, as well as consultation about the design policy.
In 2015, on the basis of the above-mentioned study, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture adopted the Guidelines for the Development of Architecture and Design. The document established five development guidelines: 1) to strengthen informal education in architecture and design, and to increase the knowledge of the general public and professionals on architecture and design; 2) to develop the science and knowledge transfer by promoting innovation in architecture and design; 3) to strengthen cooperation between different sectors of society; 4) to increase the visibility of design in society and to raise the awareness of the influence of design on the social and economic development of the country and its impact on innovation; and 5) to increase the visibility of architecture in society and to raise the awareness of the influence of architecture on sustainable urban development, quality of life, environmental protection and the economy. In 2022, the Guidelines were still in force.
In 2019, the Lithuanian Design Forum Association carried out a feasibility study on the establishment of the coordinating institution of the Lithuanian design sector. The study identified the main issues that hinder the development of an efficient ecosystem of design: under-representation of the sector at various levels; ill-matched functions of design institutions; miscommunication between different design sectors; and a lack of cooperation and coordination of activities. Also, as it is stated in the study, Lithuania did not have a consistent Law on Design that would be appropriate for contemporary design understanding and improvement of the design sector’s performance. Although the Lithuanian Parliament had adopted the Law on Design in 2002, the Law dealt only with industrial design of products and lacked the definition of design in up-to-date terms consistent with contemporary models of design activities. The study proposed to establish a single central institution responsible for coordinating the design sector – the Lithuanian Design Office.
In 2019, the first step towards consistent design policy was taken – the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania established a joint unit – the Design Council. The task of the Council is to contribute to the development of a long-term continuous design policy by submitting to the Minister of Culture and the Minister of the Economy and Innovation proposals and recommendations on the issues concerning the strategic planning of the design sector, programmes and measures of design development, priorities, and sources of public funding for design, protection of design heritage, strengthening of international competitiveness of Lithuanian design industry, etc.
In 2001, Lithuania became a member of the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) and began the process of organising its activities in compliance with European legislation on architecture and building policy. The activity of architects is regulated by the Law on Construction (1996), the Law on the Architects’ Chamber (2006) and the Law on Architecture (2017).
The policy of architecture is shaped and implemented in Lithuania by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry of the Environment develops spatial planning, urban planning, architecture and construction policy, and organizes, coordinates, and controls its implementation as well as makes recommendations to municipalities in the field of architecture in the territories of municipalities. The Ministry of Culture protects and develops immovable architectural, urban and ethno-cultural heritage. The most important political document prepared by the Ministry of Culture for architecture is the Guidelines of the Development of Architecture and Design 2015-2020 (see above).
The Lithuanian Council for Culture funds projects of architecture under its special programme. The Council provides funding for the following activities: 1) professional creation and its dissemination in Lithuania and abroad; 2) events; 3) accumulation of information (archiving, documentation) and its dissemination; 4) publishing; 5) professional criticism and analysis; 6) networking and mobility; 7) co-production; and 8) skills development and education. In 2021, the Council allocated 329 713 EUR for 35 projects of architecture and awarded 16 individual grants for architects.
The Architects’ Chamber was founded in 2006. The objective of the Chamber’s activities is to ensure the transparency and quality of architectural activities; to oversee architect certification, recognition of qualifications, professional qualification development and compliance with professional ethics standards; to carry out monitoring of professional activities; to represent architects in dealings with state and self-governance institutions and other legal and natural persons at both the national and international level; to act as an expert in courts and other institutions on issues concerning the professional activities of architects; to satisfy and defend public interest related to architecture; and to resolve other related issues. In 2022, the Architects chamber had 1 253 members and 12 440 architectural works registered in the Chambers’ database.
The Architects Association of Lithuania (AAL) (founded in 1924) is a voluntary NGO that unites the licensed architects of Lithuania. In 2022, AAL had 943 members, 695 of which have the status of artists. The organization has 5 sections in 5 different cities.
On 22 November of 2019, the Lithuanian Architects’ Chamber, AAL, Architectural Fond and International Kaunas Architecture Festival published a public letter appealing to the President, Prime Minister and other leading figures to establish the Lithuanian Centre of Architecture as a necessary institution to implement Lithuanian national policy on architecture. The centre would document, collect, preserve, research and disseminate architectural works to the public and foreign visitors. In 2021, the Ministry of Culture caried out a feasibility study on the possibility to adapt the building of Kaunas Central Post Office to the needs of society. The building, designed by the famous architect Felix Vizbar, is one of the most prominent buildings of Kaunas modernism architecture of the interwar period. As of 2019, the building is no longer in use, as the Lithuanian Post has moved. The authors of the feasibility study recommended to establish an Architectural Centre in the building that could present Lithuanian architecture and design.