3. Cultural and creative sectors
Last update: September, 2019
Recent debate on cultural heritage has broadened the current heritage concept. Together with the cultural monument protection branch, libraries, archives, museums and intangible cultural heritage, cultural heritage is now recognised as an important resource for the development of the knowledge society and for cultural tourism. Apart from that, the Ministry of Culture supervises the digitalisation projects and the implementation of programmes and conventions of the UNESCO.
There are two state authorities implementing cultural policy in these fields: the National Cultural Heritage Administration (responsible for the protection of cultural heritage) and the Latvian National Centre for Culture (implements national cultural policies in the field of intangible cultural heritage and its associated fields of amateur arts, and in culture education).
Because of structural reform, the State Authority on Museums has been integrated into the structure of the Ministry of Culture. The mission of the Centre of Culture Information Systems is to develop IT tools in order to safeguard and distribute the cultural heritage of archives, libraries and museums. The Centre is responsible for digitalisation projects in cultural heritage institutions, many of them implemented with the assistance of the EU Structural Funds.
Municipalities are directly responsible for funding and administering municipal museums, cultural heritage objects and intangible heritage, notably folk art.
The museum sector in Latvia consists of state, municipal, autonomous, and private museums that are regulated by the Law of Museums. It is a decentralised system. A state founded museum can be supervised by the Ministry of Culture or by another ministry depending on the profile of the museum. Municipal museums are founded and managed by municipalities. Autonomous museums are founded and managed by commercial enterprises or by a derived legal person governed by public law (e.g. universities). Only those private museums that are accredited by the state are addressed in the state strategy for the museum sector. There is a significant number of non-accredited private museums in Latvia, but their operations are not specifically regulated.
Private operators are involved in the field mainly as owners of cultural heritage objects and private museums.
As part of The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014-2020 "Creative Latvia" there is the Development Strategy for Digital Cultural Heritage; Museum Strategy; Safeguarding and Development Strategy for Intangible Cultural Heritage; Strategy for Protection of Cultural Monuments 2015-2020; and Programme “Heritage – 2018”.
The Ministry of Culture's budget for heritage protection increased significantly until 2009. A special programme Heritage 2018 was approved and is being implemented since 2006. The aim of the programme is to restore and modernise all of the over 100 architecture heritage objects in state property up to the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Latvia: the first phase was 2006 – 2009, when 25 objects were restored (14 in Riga and 11 in the regions). However, in 2009, due to the economic crisis, the funding for the implementation of the programme was reduced. In the recent years, the situation has improved. For example, the new Museum of Art "Riga Bourse" was reopened in 2011, the main building of Latvian National Museum of Art was opened in 2016, the reconstruction of Rundale Palace was completed in 2014 mainly supported by private donations. Several art nouveaux and wooden architecture buildings have been reconstructed with support of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism during the period of 2009-2014.
There are also a few special heritage protection and development programmes regularly supported by the Culture Capital Foundation. Another important financial source for development of the cultural heritage is the EU Structural Funds. Significant financial resources have been invested in digitalisation projects (see 2.4.).
In the field of intangible cultural heritage, an important player is UNESCO and the UNESCO National Commission. In 2008, the Baltic Song and Dance celebrations were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2009, the Suiti cultural space was included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
In recent years, there are two popular annual events that make tangible and intangible cultural heritage accessible to everybody: during the European Heritage Days Latvian historic and cultural sites are opened to the public, while the project "Find Your Master Craftsman" (that takes place in the framework of European Artistic Crafts Days) encourages people to learn traditional crafts.
See Research report ‘The Survey of Inhabitants of Baltic Countries on the Song and Dance Celebration’; Research Report ‘Relations between museums and society’: Summary in English.
See also chapter 4.2.2. about legislation.
Last update: September, 2019
As part of The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014-2020 "Creative Latvia" there are the Strategy for the Archives 2015-2020 (Management of documents and archives. National documentary heritage) and the Library Strategy.
The main institution responsible for the policy development is the Ministry of Culture (department of Archives, Libraries and Museums). Latvian National Archive (after reorganisation in 2011, 18 state archive institutions were merged) implements the policy in the document and archive management field. In the library sector, the Latvian Library Council is a consultative body and – in addition -- several professional non-governmental organisations operate as well.
Altogether, there are 1597 libraries in Latvia (in 2018, Central Statistical Bureau). The National Library of Latvia has a special mandate being a centre of theoretical research and practical analyses of the activities of Latvian libraries. The Library operates as the centre of Latvia's Interlibrary Loan system, provides library and information services to the Saeima (parliament), and is implementing library- sector standardisation. From its very beginning, it has been responsible for Latvia's national bibliography.
There is a dense network of 789 municipal public libraries all over Latvia (see chapter 1.3). Public libraries play a special role in the life of local communities, not only providing books, but also being a
social cohesion centre, providing access to Internet, supporting creative activities and fostering entrepreneurship of individuals.
The Latvian Library for the Blind has 7 branches. Another large network are the libraries of education institutions.
The most significant developments in the field have been digitalisation of libraries (see chapter 2.4 about digitalisation projects of public libraries) and the construction of the Latvian National Library (2008-2014).
See also chapters 4.2.2 and 4.2.5 about legislation.
Last update: September, 2019
As part of The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014-2020 "Creative Latvia" there is the Strategy of Theatre Sector, the Strategy for Dance Sector and the Strategy for Music Sector.
In all performing arts sectors there are public institutions (state or municipal capital companies) and private companies (usually non-governmental, non-for profit sector). The most powerful and financially viable institutions are the public ones. They also reach a great part of the audiences as they deliver regular performances in large permanent venues. There are 7 state theatres, 1 circus, 2 municipal theatres, 6 state concert organisations (including the National Opera and Ballet). State institutions receive public subsidy from the Ministry of Culture; though ticket sales, other own income and fundraised money constitute a significant part of their budget (for some of the companies more than 50%). The non-governmental sector has a special role in providing an artistic mission or targeting such audiences, which usually are not in the focus of public performing art institutions. There are contemporary and experimental theatre and dance companies, international festival organisations, organisations providing educational activities etc. To some of the non-governmental organisations the Ministry of Culture delegates certain functions for three-year period, combined with a grant. Otherwise, non-governmental organisations get only short-term grants from the State Culture Capital Foundation or other funding sources.
In recent years, four new concert halls have been built outside the capital city Riga (with public funding and support from the EU structural funds): in Rēzekne (opened in 2013); in Cēsis (in 2014), in Liepāja (in 2015), in Ventspils (in 2019). They operate as municipal capital companies. The main aim is to foster the distribution of professional art in the regions, in particular focusing on professional music. In addition, many other cultural buildings have been reconstructed during the last decade all over the country. Culture consumption studies (2014; 2016; 2018) suggest that there is an increase in regional cultural activity: more and more people attend cultural activities in the region (in 2014 – 43% of respondents; in 2016 and 2018 – 57% of respondents took part in at least one cultural activity in the region per year). These data might indicate the positive impact of regional cultural activity of the residents.
See also chapter 4.2.3 about legislation.
Last update: September, 2019
As part of The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014-2020 "Creative Latvia" there is the Visual Arts Strategy. The Strategy covers traditional visual art sectors, crafts (applied arts) and photography, but also the venues of visual art (art galleries and commercial galleries). It is also stressed that the interdisciplinarity of contemporary visual art is growing, therefore the Strategy includes installations, electronic art (video, sound, multimedia), performing art elements, and art history and theory.
Visual art exhibitions are curated and exposed in different venues: the Latvian National Museum of Art; the exhibition hall of the Latvian National Library and the Art Academy of Latvia; and private galleries (both commercial and non-for profit). Outside the capital city Riga, there are few venues (usually as part of a museum) for visual art exhibitions (Cēsis, Jūrmala, Madona). Exhibitions are provided also by the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre. There are limited possibilities for exhibiting contemporary visual art. The non-governmental sector plays the most significant role here; these organisations also implement international cooperation projects, educational activities and research of contemporary art practices (Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art; Kim? Contemporary Art Center; Culture and Arts Project NOASS; RIXC Centre for New Media Culture; Centre for Art Management and Information).
Apart from public subsidies (state and municipal), the State Culture Capital Foundation provides short term grants for artistic projects, including mobility of the artists. In the visual art sector there are also several private sponsors. The closure of the ABLV bank in 2018 was a shattering event for the contemporary visual art scene in Latvia.
Last update: September, 2019
Definition of cultural and creative industries
In the various planning documents, different and distinct definitions of the cultural and creative industries have been used. The breakdown – culture, cultural industries, and creative industries – is the most common. The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014 – 2020 Creative Latvia included the following definitions:
Cultural industries – industries that produce and distribute goods and services, which have the cultural value irrespective to the commercial value they may have.
Creative industries are based on individual or collective creativity, skills and talents and, by creating and using intellectual property can bring prosperity and create jobs. They create, develop, and produce products and services that have value in economic development.
In the above mentioned document and in other documents, various sectors are defined as cultural and creative industries (the most often – museums, libraries, archives, cultural monuments, intangible cultural heritage, digital cultural heritage, cultural education, literature and publishing, music, theatre, dance, visual arts, films, architecture and design), however, their definition is not related to any economic activity classification, consequently statistical and economic analysis of these sectors is challenged.
In 2004–2005, the Ministry of Culture took a more active position on the development of the culture and creative industries. After introducing creative industry issues in the national cultural policy guidelines, the Ministry of Culture encouraged the inclusion of creative industry matters in all key policy planning documents in Latvia, such as the National Development Plan 2007–2013, the National Development Plan 2014-2020, the National Lisbon Programme 2005–2008 of Latvia and the National Strategic Reference Framework document 2007–2013. The cultural policy guidelines Creative Latvia 2014-2020 sets the development of creative and cultural industries as one of four priorities.
Studies and trends
There are several significant research papers concerning the culture and creative industries in Latvia: The Economic Contributions of Copyright-based Industries in Latvia (WIPO, Robert G. Picard and Timo E. Toivonen, 2005); Design for Latvia (by Mollerup Designlab A/S, Denmark, 2004); and Creative Industries in Latvia (by the research institute BICEPS of the Economic School of Riga, 2007); Demand and Potential for institutionalising interdisciplinary design, higher education programme in Latvia (Stockholm School of Economics, 2007); Creative Industry Research. Update of Statistics (BICEPS, 2008); Architecture in Latvia: Statistical characteristics (Excolo Latvia Ltd, 2014); Methodology To Determine The Design Influence On The Latvian Economy (Excolo Latvia Ltd, 2014); Study on the Breakdown of the Financing Cultural Sectors Provided by the State Culture Capital Foundation (Analitisko petijumu un strategiju laboratorija Ltd, 2014).
The latest in-detail study on creative industries study was published in 2013: The Performance of the Creative Industries Sector of Latvia and Preconditions for its Targeted Development (summary in English; report in Latvian). The main conclusions presented in the study are as follows:
- Although the share of creative industries and related industries in the economy of Latvia has not changed significantly over the period from 2008 to 2011, major changes occurred within the creative industries sector itself – a significant increase in the number of enterprises, while there was a significant drop in the number of employees, as well as in the total amount of turnover.
- So far the creative industries are developing more in the capital city Riga; in the rest of the territory of Latvia the development centres of creative industries are not strong enough to promote the sector to the polycentric growth.
- Quality, professionalism and competence, and low prices – these are three competitive advantages most frequently identified among creative industries entrepreneurs.
- IT programmers, IT experts, project managers, designers, marketing experts, architects and wood crafters are those professions for which demand in the next five years could grow in the job market.
- Availability of a skilled and professional workforce is one of the important obstacles for development of the creative industries, which could become more acute in the upcoming five years. This applies particularly to the IT sector experts.
- Software, internet portals, other entertainment and recreational activities and work of artists are those creative industries spheres, which show substantial growth in turnover. Consequently, growth takes place mostly in the area of services (especially in IT and internet spheres).
- Architectural services, work of advertising agencies, publishing magazines and periodicals, placing advertisements in the mass media and publishing newspapers are those creative industries spheres that showed the biggest decrease in turnover.
- So far representatives of creative industries have not been active in export markets; most enterprises were focused exclusively on the internal market.
Support for culture and creative industries and main actors
The Ministry of Culture cooperates with the Ministry of the Economy, the Ministry of Science and Education and the Ministry of Finance in providing support to the creative industries. The consultative Design Board was established at the Ministry of Culture (2006). In 2011, a Consultative Council of Creative Industries at the Ministry of Culture has been established and renewed its work in 2014.
There are certain indirect measures for support of the culture and creative industries. A reduced VAT rate (of 12%, while the regular VAT rate is 21%) is applied to the press and publishing of books. VAT is not imposed on theatre and circus performances, concerts and events organised by cultural institutions. See also chapter 4.1.4.
As to direct incentives from the state budget, financial support is available from several sources:
The State Cultural Capital Foundation regularly supports the culture industries (Literature, Music and Dance, Theatrical arts, Film arts, Visual arts, Cultural Heritage, Traditional Culture, Design and Architecture, Interdisciplinary) in its project competitions and special target programmes.
The Cultural Monuments Research, Conservation and Restoration Programme of the National cultural heritage administration provides support for emergency conservation, restoration of cultural monuments, as well as for research of cultural monuments.
The support of the National Film Centre is granted to promote the development of the film industry of Latvia, which covers the creation of films of Latvia, distribution of films of Latvia and foreign films, the preservation, protection, accessibility and popularisation of film heritage.
The different types of funding for cultural projects are also available in local municipalities – the majority of Latvian municipalities announce annual open calls for projects (they can be either specific for cultural sector, or intersectoral), where it is possible to receive a small amount of financing (most often not more than EUR 1000 ) for cultural activities or events.
A larger amount of support is available in the capital city. One example is the grant programme of Riga City Council (Take off) aiming to support innovative small and medium enterprises. There is also Creative Industry Incubator in Riga (structural unit of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia).
In the film sector, there are two support schemes for international co-productions. Latvian Co- Financing Fund (support programme for international film productions in operation since 2013) and Riga Film Fund (Riga City Council co-financing programme for international film productions in Riga, in operation since 2010).
The authors of the study The Performance of the Creative Industries Sector of Latvia and Preconditions for its Targeted Development (2013) conclude that the availability of financial support has a significant impact on the development of the creative industries – enterprises that have received financial support more frequently express the willingness to increase the number of employees, as well as to expand business, and more often introduce new products. Moreover, the reduction of corporate income tax, adjustment of vocational training programmes to the needs of employers and enhanced cooperation with the educational institutions are part of the state support "kit", which entrepreneurs evaluate as the most effective.
Main challenges for SMEs
Cultural industries are still a rather new concept that is not fully conceived either by the public sector or the commercial sector. Therefore, some cultural industry companies (even if not profit oriented) fail to receive public support earmarked for culture, while others do not match up to the criteria required by the Latvian Investment and Development Agency or the EU Structural Funds. Small and medium sized enterprises operating in the cultural industry sector, and cultural NGOs, face problems in applying to the EU Structural Funds for various reasons: legal status, requested minimum funding level is too high, and limited possibilities to get pre-funding and co-funding.
The study The Performance of the Creative Industries Sector of Latvia and Preconditions for its Targeted Development (2013) identify the main obstacles as:
- entrepreneurs rather often identify low demand as a key obstacle for business development;
- the availability of financial resources can be identified as an unequivocally interpreted obstacle of business – an equally large number of entrepreneurs are influenced by the lack of current assets, as well as the restrictive high tax burden. Consequently, at least partly, growth opportunities for the creative industries are limited due to the lack of access by entrepreneurs to financial resources;
- the lack of employees is the third most frequently mentioned obstacle for development of business; and
- commercialisation of ideas is most often indicated by industry experts and entrepreneurs as a problematic aspect for the development of business. While the creative industries sector has plenty of ideas for creative work, there are not enough skills to commercialise them. Partly, the issue should be associated with the education system, where creativity is separated from the market economy, and it is considered a "thing" for sale.
According to data of the study The Performance of the Creative Industries Sector of Latvia and Preconditions for its Targeted Development (2013) in the period from 2008 to 2012, the share of creative industries and related industries in the economy of Latvia was approximately 10% of the total number of enterprises and employees about 5% of total turnover and exports.
During this period, the number of creative industry enterprises increased with 35%, and related industries with about 7%. A particularly significant increase is observed for 2011 (+17%), which could be largely linked to the introduction of the micro tax.
The total amount of turnover in the creative industries during this period dropped by 18% and in related industries by 16%. Exports of creative industries increased by 18%, but the relative indicator of the average export volume per enterprise in the sector dropped by 15%.
Unfortunately, more recent data are not available, because regular statistics on cultural and creative industries are not collected.
Last update: September, 2019
See chapter 2.5.3 about press.
See chapter 3.5.1 about general developments in cultural and creative industries.
See chapter 4.1.4 about tax laws.
Last update: September, 2019
See chapter 3.5.1 about general developments in cultural and creative industries and support schemes for film industry.
As part of The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014-2020 "Creative Latvia" there is the National Film Centre and Film Sector Strategy. Some of the contemporary art forms are part of visual art sector in Latvia (see chapter 3.4), while TV and radio are part of media policy (see chapter 2.5.3).
The Ministry of Culture develops policies in all above-mentioned fields. The National Film Centre implements the national policy in the cinema and film industry and administers the funds from the State budget intended for film industry.
In recent years, Latvian film industry has been progressively developing as well as successfully recovering from financial hardships, caused by the financial crisis in 2008 – 2009. The state funding for local industry has raised significantly from 2012 to 2018 (EUR 1,5 million in 2012; EUR 9,8 million in 2017; EUR 4,9 million in 2018). In addition, the number of films has doubled (24 in 2012 and 41 in 2017) and the number of cinema admissions has increased from 103 040 in 2012 to 194 083 in 2017.
Last update: September, 2019
See also chapter 3.3.
The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the music sector. In the Strategy for Music Sector (as part of The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014-2020 "Creative Latvia"), there is a strategic priority focusing on music as a part of culture and creative industries. Still, for most of the activities mentioned in this document it is planned that the Ministry of Economics and the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia will be in charge and financially support the activities. Some activities are funded by the State Culture Capital Foundation.
Last update: September, 2019
See chapter 3.5.1 about the general developments in cultural and creative industries.
Most of the design sectors are the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture. The Latvian Design Council is an advisory body of the Ministry of Culture, including representatives from different sectors and public institutions (cultural sector, commercial sector, education etc.).
As part of The Cultural Policy Guidelines 2014-2020 "Creative Latvia" there is Design Strategy of Latvia. The Strategy positions design as a strategic tool for economic growth, wellbeing of individuals and communities, and for the development of cultural identity and the brand of the country.
Last update: September, 2019
The Ministry of Economics is the leading institution in the tourism sector responsible for the development and implementation of tourism policy. The state policy for tourism development is implemented by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia supervised by the Ministry. The main task of the Agency is the branding of Latvia as an attractive tourism destination on an international level.
The Guidelines for the Tourism Development of Latvia 2014-2020 defines four strategic types of tourism: 1) meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism; 2) medical tourism; 3) nature tourism, and 4) culture tourism and creative industries.
A number of measures are envisaged to support development of each type of tourism, including culture tourism and creative industries: renovation of cultural and nature heritage objects, support for cultural operators (e.g. museums); and the establishment of creative industry centres.