1. Cultural policy system
Last update: May, 2022
Cultural policy objectives
In 2012, the Lithuanian Parliament adopted the long-term national strategy Lithuania 2030. The strategy presents a national vision and priorities for the development of Lithuania as well as guidelines for their implementation by 2030. According to the strategy, Lithuania aims “at a creative empowerment of each and every member of society, focusing on ideas that would help Lithuania to become a modern, energetic country, embracing differences, and with a strong sense of national identity”.
To implement this strategy, the Government of Lithuania adopts long term development plans. The National Development Plan of Lithuania for 2021-2030 sets ten strategic goals to be achieved over the next 10 years. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture is mostly involved in the realisation of the fourth goal of the Plan, which is “to strengthen national and civic identity, increase the spread of culture and the creativity of society”. For realisation of this goal, the Lithuanian Government adopted the2021-2030 Culture and Creativity Development Programme, which is carried out by The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and entails 7 objectives: 1) to increase the capacity of cultural and creative industries (CCIs) and promote the development of new products and services based on creative content; 2) encourage the population to participate in cultural activities and contribute to the development of culture; 3) improve conditions needed for creation in Lithuania and increase the dissemination of Lithuanian culture abroad; 4) promote the integration of national minorities; 5) strengthen the relevance of historical memory in society; 6) revive the cultural and national heritage of public significance and increase its usage for the needs of society; and 7) increase the relevance of the Lithuanian language in the context of globalization and technology.
In general, these objectives are in line with the main European cultural policy principles represented in A New European Agenda for Culture of 2018 and the Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022, as they encompass social, economic and international dimensions of culture. The 2021-2030 Culture and Creativity Development Programmeformulates measures, indicators and financing projections for the implementation of the objectives.
Features of cultural policy system
The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania is in charge of the following areas of culture: memory institutions (heritage, libraries, museums, archives), performing arts (theatre companies, concert halls, orchestras, etc.), visual arts (galleries, arts centres), media and information (press, radio, television), creative and cultural industries (design, architecture, publishing), copyright, and ethnic culture (cultural centres). The Ministry shapes, organises, coordinates and evaluates the policies in these areas, allocates appropriations to the state institutions, and implements several funding programmes. In its activities, the Minister relies on the advice of the Board of the Ministry of Culture and 16 Advisory Councils. To deal with individual current issues, the Minister forms temporary working groups and commissions.
Cultural policy implementation bodies in the fields of arts, cinema and media are the Lithuanian Council for Culture, the Film Centre and the Press, Radio and Television Support Foundation. These institutions allocate funding for arts, culture and media projects through calls for tender. They are relatively autonomous and make funding decisions on expert judgment. The activity of these institutions is regulated by special laws that define their functions and the sources of their funds (see chapter 4.1.2).
The cultural heritage protection policy is mainly implemented by the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture. The functions of the Department include maintenance and management of cultural properties, maintenance of accounting and control of cultural heritage, as well as presentation of cultural heritage to society. The Department also contributes to the formation and implementation of national policies in protection of cultural heritage.
In general, the Lithuanian cultural policy system is centred in the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, which performs the main functions of cultural policy formation, implementation and control. The establishment of the three above mentioned funding institutions was meant as a step towards horizontal decentralisation of the system, however, their influence is quite limited due to their small financial capacity. The Lithuanian Council for Culture distributes approximately 7-8 % of the total central government funding for culture, the Film Centre 2%, and the Press, Radio and Television Support Foundation about 1%. Although by establishing these institutions the idea was to decentralise cultural policy and to create independent policy-making bodies of the "arm's length" type, they mainly act as projects' funding and administration bodies.
1991 – 2000.Lithuanian cultural policy has undergone profound transformations since 1990, as Lithuania declared Independence from the Soviet Union. In 1991, the 3rd Lithuanian Government declared in its programme the aim to reform the cultural policy system and to base the new cultural policy “on the principles of freedom of expression, self-regulation of culture, openness of the national culture, modernity, democracy and decentralization”. Democracy was understood in the document as self-government of the cultural community and freedom of expression. In practice, it meant the abolishing of the former regulation of artistic and cultural expression, support for the new self-emergent social structures of cultural community, and the division of the decision-making powers between the government and arts experts. The Government’s programme also postulated that “State regulation is meaningful only in the areas of education and heritage. The State refuses to regulate the artistic and cultural expression; it will promote priority directions of cultural development and non-commercial art by financial means only”. The programme declared the necessity to establish an Arts Foundation and allocate financial support for culture on the basis of expert evaluations. In the same year, the Ministry of Culture established the Arts and Culture Council and some other expert councils and commissions. However, they did not have real political power and acted as advisory bodies only.
Over the next five years, Lithuanian cultural policy discourse was marked by active discussions about the Lithuanian “model” of cultural policy, particularly about the relationship and division of power between the Ministry and the cultural community. In 1996, the 7th Lithuanian Government organised the Lithuanian Cultural Congress that had to find a consensus of the cultural community and formulate the main cultural policy principles. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture prepared the draft document of cultural policy principles for discussion in the Congress and the Council of the Congress prepared an alternative document on the same subject. None of these documents, however, were adopted during the Congress. The cultural community found the principles proposed by the Ministry too conservative, as they did not make any significant institutional changes in the cultural policy system. The principles proposed by the Council of Congress, in opposite, were too radical and did not gain the acceptance of the participants of the Congress. Both sides, however, agreed on the need to establish a foundation for the support of culture, which was implemented in the same year. The Lithuanian Parliament established The Press, Radio and Television Foundation and, two years later, the Culture and Sports Foundation was established, which in 2007 was reformed into two separate foundations, i. e. the Culture Foundation and the Sports Foundation. The budgets of the foundations, however, were very limited and therefore they did not play any significant role in the financing of culture. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture remained the most powerful and important institution in strategic and operational matters of cultural policy, so the overall system of cultural policy remained centralised.
The next four Governments did not try to reform the Lithuanian cultural policy model and attempted only to achieve consensus on the main cultural policy principles. In 2001, the 11th Government approved a programme document titled Provisions on Lithuanian Cultural Policy. The document defined goals and objectives of cultural policy but did not include any changes to the cultural policy implementation mechanism. The institutional system of cultural policy remained the same, i. e. the Ministry of Culture remained the main body of cultural policy formation and implementation.
2001 – 2010. In the decade after the adoption of the mentioned provisions in 2001, the need for changing the cultural policy implementation mechanism grew. Artists and professionals of different cultural spheres demonstrated their discontent with the existing centralised model and financing of culture. Like in other East European countries, the traditional/governmental/centralised financing mechanism seemed to be “the obstacle” that, once removed, would allow cultural life and the arts to flourish, fostering new forms of creative expression, excellence and diversity. The situation became especially tense within the Lithuanian professional theatre community. During the first decade of Independence, a number of highly professional private theatres emerged in Lithuania. Compared to state-funded theatre, the quality of their performances was similar or even higher and they achieved recognition from the best international theatre festivals. Since the state theatres received direct funding from the Ministry of Culture and private theatres had to earn their own living, they were forced to operate and compete under extremely uneven conditions.
In 2010, the 15th Lithuanian Government returned to the reform of the cultural policy system. The Ministry of Culture prepared the strategic document Lithuanian Cultural Policy Change Guidelines, which was approved by the Lithuanian Parliament. The Guidelines claimed that the “model of cultural policy implementation and its institutional character inherited from the soviet time was never essentially changed in Lithuania and cultural self-regulation was not ensured” and stated the need “to reform and democratise the governing of culture by further developing the self-regulation of the cultural sphere. ... [For that purpose] It is necessary to: 1) make the cultural policy model more democratic, i.e. to separate policy formation from policy implementation and to follow the example of the Science Council by establishing the Arts Council”.
2011 – 2020. In autumn of 2012, the Parliament of Lithuania adopted the Law on the Council for Lithuanian Culture. The Law defines the Council as a budget-financed institution under the Ministry of Culture that has these main functions: to finance culture and arts programmes, distribute grants and other types of support to culture and arts professionals, and monitor the culture and arts projects that are under implementation. The newly established Council took over the administration of the Culture Foundation. However, in 2021 this Foundation was abolished and since then the funds of the Council have consisted of the state budget finance allocated by government (see chapter 2.1). According to the Law on the Council for Lithuanian Culture, the Council consists of 10 members and a chairperson. The chairperson of the Council is appointed by the Government. The members of the Council are elected in two rounds following the principle of proportional representation of all spheres of culture and arts, including all geographic regions. Both natural and legal bodies can delegate candidates to the first round of the elections. Of these candidates, 20 are selected to the second round by a secret ballot cast by the voters delegated by culture and arts organisations. Out of the selected 20 candidates, the Minister of Culture selects 10 candidates to form the Council that are submitted for the approval of the Government by following the principle of broad representation (for more about the activity of the Council for Culture see chapter 1.2.2).
The Lithuanian Council for Culture was established in 2013. One year earlier, in 2012, the 15th Lithuanian Government had established the Lithuanian Film Centre. The Film Centre replaced the Film Council that operated since 2002 as a collegial advisory body on film policy formation and film funding under the Ministry of Culture. The decisions of the Film Council on film funding were constantly criticised in the press because of the unclear assessment criteria and funding of projects that were related to the members of Council. The newly established Film Centre started to operate more transparently, with clear procedures and criteria, but its decisions were criticised anyway, particularly by the Lithuanian Cinematographers' Union because of the “overall direction of film policy”, since the Centre did not select some projects of eminent filmmakers for funding. At the end of 2013, the Minister of Culture re-established the Film Council as an advisory body under the Ministry. The Ministry and the newly established Film Council took the function of film policy formation, and the Film Centre remained as a funder for film projects and an administrative body (more about the activity of Film Centre see chapter 1.2.2).
The Lithuanian Cultural Policy Change Guidelines was the most important strategic document on cultural policy for the next 5 years. The Government adopted the Action Plan of the Implementation of Guidelines. Besides the aim to establish culture as a strategic direction of the state development, giving priority to the cultural policy and the establishment of the Council of Culture, the Plan included other important tasks and measures: to establish a quality evaluation system of cultural and artistic institutions linking institution funding to the results of its evaluation; to conduct research about the accessibility of culture by social, economic, geographical and other indicators; to draft legislation establishing tax incentives enabling the development of the Lithuanian film industry; to improve the process of accounting of immovable cultural heritage by ensuring its transparency and efficiency; and more. Many of the planned measures, however, were not implemented. In 2012, the Lithuanian Parliament approved the state progress strategy Lithuania 2030 and the Government passed The National Advance Programme for the years 2014-2020, which did not fully integrate the provisions of the Action Plan of the Implementation of Guidelines. In the new Programme, culture was treated as a horizontal priority that had to be implemented through the Inter-institutional Action Plan of the Horizontal Priority Culture. The Action Plan, however, was only partially successful, as not all implementing institutions were fully aware of the potential contribution of culture to other public policy objectives.
In 2018, being aware that the implementation of the plan did not lead to a necessary consolidation of culture and other areas of public policy and the establishment of its strategic role, the Ministry of Culture prepared a new Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy for 2020–2030 that was approved by the Lithuanian Government in 2019. The Strategy was the first comprehensive long-term cultural policy strategic document since the restoration of the independence of Lithuania. The strategy was based on empirical data, situation analysis and experts’ evaluation of the current situation of culture.
In 2021, Lithuania adopted the Law on Strategic Governance that seeks to create and develop a results-oriented strategic management system integrating the processes of strategic planning, regional development and spatial planning, in order to ensure long-term and sustainable progress of the state, efficient planning and use of government finances. The Law classifies strategic planning documents into 4 levels. The top-level documents are the 3 state strategies - the Progress Strategy, the National Security Strategy, and the Concept of the General Plan of the Territory. All strategic plans and programmes for their implementation must be based on these strategies. Culture is the focus of the fourth goal of the National Development Plan of Lithuania for 2021-2030: “to strengthen national and civic identity, increase the spread of culture and the creativity of society”. The implementation of this goal and some other tasks of the Plan is carried out by the Ministry of Culture according to the2021-2030 Culture and Creativity Development Programme(see cultural policy objectives).
Last update: May, 2022
Last update: May, 2022
In Lithuania, State power is executed by the Parliament (Lith. Seimas), the President of the Republic, the Government, and the Judiciary. The Seimas is the national legislative body composed of 141 members elected for a four-year term on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. The Seimas Committee on Culture deals with various cultural development issues, discusses questions of current interest and adopts decisions, and analyses culture-related legislation. Advisory and expert bodies of Seimas are the National Commission for Cultural Heritage, the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania, the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language, and the Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture. All these institutions also have several cultural policy implementation functions. Their governing bodies are composed of members delegated by the Seimas, the President and/or NGO’s working in the relevant areas.
Three independent media policy institutions are established by and accountable to the Seimas: the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics, the Council of Lithuanian National Radio and Television and the Press, Radio and Television Support Foundation. The latter institution was established in 1996 and was the first independent cultural policy implementation body of the “arm’s length” type in Lithuania. The Foundation has the legal form of ‘public institution’ that ensures its greater autonomy and independence from political institutions, since the Foundation is governed by the General Meeting of the Foundation’s Stakeholders that are various media and culture associations and unions. The stakeholders delegate members to the Council of the Foundation and approve its final composition. The Foundation's main mission is to support the creation and dissemination of non-commercial cultural and educational content in the Lithuanian media. All projects submitted to the Foundation are evaluated by experts. Expert groups present their conclusions pertaining to project evaluation to the Council of the Foundation. Each year the Foundation publishes its annual activity report, while the Chairperson of the Council of the Foundation presents the annual report on the allocation and use of the budgetary appropriations each year at a plenary meeting of the Seimas.
The Government of the Republic of Lithuania exercises the executive power in Lithuania. The Ministry of Culture is an institution of the Government, which develops and implements state cultural policy. The main functions of the Ministry of Culture are to prepare draft laws and other legal acts; define concepts and programmes for the development of different artistic fields, and coordinate their implementation; finance museums, libraries, arts, cinemas, concert halls and other organizations, and important art and cultural projects; coordinate the implementation of the system of protection of copyright and related rights; co-ordinate the implementation of public policy in the field of public information; ensure the accounting and protection of cultural property; develop and implement transnational cultural programmes; and draft international treaties.
The Ministry of Culture has 16 advisory councils that provide advice and consultations on current issues of interest in different fields: Media Council, Literature Council, Council on Ethnic Culture and Intangible Cultural Heritage, Council for Cultural Education, Lithuanian Culture and Art Council, Library Council, Film Council, Museum Council, Theatre and Concert Institution Council, Culture Centres Council, Council for Granting the Status of Art Creator and Organisation of Art Creators, Council for Digitisation of Lithuanian Cultural Heritage, Archives Council, Lithuanian Design Council, Song Festivals Council, and Patronage Council. All these advisory councils are composed of representatives of non-governmental organizations active in the relevant fields of culture and persons delegated by ministries. The councils meet approximately 1 to 5 times a year, as needed.
The Ministry of Culture also has four administrative institutions: Lithuanian Culture Institute, Secretariat of the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO, Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania, State Inspectorate on Language, and the Department of Cultural Heritage.
Cultural policy implementation bodies under the Ministry of Culture are the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Lithuanian Film Centre. Functions of the Council for Culture, defined in the Law on the Council for Lithuanian Culture are as follows: to finance culture and art programmes, projects and other measures; award grants and provide other financial support to culture creators and artists; organise culture and art research and coordinate the implementation thereof; monitor culture and art projects being carried out; within its remit, prepare and submit conclusions concerning the awarding of prizes established by the Ministry of Culture; etc. The Council allocates state funding to cultural projects through calls for tender and makes financing decisions based on experts’ evaluations.
Activities of the Council are organised in accordance with a publicly announced annual operational plan approved by the order of the Minister of Culture. Priorities and objectives of the Council's activities and financed fields of culture and art, as well as results evaluation criteria, are laid down by the Minister of Culture in an annual operational plan of the Council. The Council’s decisions are taken and executed by the Meeting of the Members of the Council and the Chair of the Council. The Chair of the Council heads the Council, the Meeting of the Members of the Council and the Administration of the Council. The Chair of the Council is appointed to the office for a term of four years and dismissed from it by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister of Culture. The Meeting of the Members of the Council comprises ten members, elected in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Law on the Council for Lithuanian Culture (see chapter 1.1 for more about Council members' election). The Lithuanian Film Centre is a budgetary institution under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. The principal activity goals of the Centre are to promote the long-term development and competitiveness of Lithuanian cinema and to participate in the formation of efficient national film policy. The Centre coordinates national film production, administers state funds for the development of the film sector: organises film project tenders for state funding, consults applicants, administers partial funding of production and promotion, exercises control over the use and reporting of state funding, represents Lithuania in foreign and international organisations, and organises the work of the Film Council that is a consulting body of the Centre. The activities of the Lithuanian Film Centre are organized according to the annual action plan approved by the Minister of Culture. The Director of the Centre is appointed and dismissed by the Minister of Culture for a four-year term and is directly subordinate and accountable to the Minister of Culture (see chapter 3.5.3 for more about the Film Centre).
Last update: May, 2022
There are no regional authorities in Lithuania. From 1994, 10 higher administrative units, i.e. counties (Lith. apskritys), functioned in Lithuania with their own administration. In 2010, due to the administrative reform, counties were liquidated as administrative units and since then their territories function as geographical units only and do not have their own authorities.
Last update: May, 2022
In Lithuania, there are 60 municipalities (local self-government). A municipality (Lith. savivaldybė) is a unit of State territory, a community with a right to local (municipal) self-government guaranteed by the Constitution and exercised through the Municipal Council and through executive and other municipal institutions and bodies that are formed by the Municipal Council and are accountable to it. The Council is elected by residents of the administrative unit concerned. The municipality is a public legal entity headed by the mayor.
The local authorities have a right to establish committees (boards) to deal with cultural policy issues. Many municipalities have units or special staff responsible for cultural management, financing and maintenance of local cultural institutions and cultural heritage. Many of these units, along with culture, are responsible for the management of tourism, youth affairs, and community leisure politics. Some municipalities provide online information about the activities of these units, but there is no common data system showing how many of these departments exist in Lithuanian municipalities and what functions they perform.
Last update: May, 2022
The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania provides data on 19 artists’ associations that have a special status of “artists’ organisation” granted to them according to the Law on the Status of Artists and Artists' Organisations (1996): Architects’ Association of Lithuania, Lithuanian Union of Journalists, Lithuanian Theatre Union, Professional Folk Artists’ Association, Lithuanian Writers’ Union, Lithuanian Musicians’ Union, The Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators, Lithuanian Composers’ Union, Lithuanian Filmmakers’ Union, Union of Lithuanian Art Photographers, Lithuanian Designers’ Society, Lithuanian Artists’ Association, Lithuanian Association of Landscape Architects, Contemporary Dance Association, Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association, Association of Performing Arts Critics, Lithuanian Choral Union, Association of Vilnius Region Folk Artists, and the Lithuanian Association of Art Creators. The latter organisation is an umbrella association of twelve unions of artists, listed above. It was established in 1995 and aims to coordinate cooperation between artists and artists’ organisations in Lithuania. The association represents interests of Lithuanian professional artists and writers abroad, organises public debates between artists and politicians on the issues of the development of culture and arts, organises conferences, submits proposals on draft laws and regulations, and awards Lithuanian artists for outstanding professional works created in the last two years.
Members of the above-mentioned organisations delegate members or take part in the activity of many cultural policy bodies, such as advisory Councils of the Ministry, the Lithuanian Council for Culture, the Council of the Press, Radio, and Television Support Foundation, the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania, the National Commission for Cultural Heritage, the Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture, the State Commission on the Lithuanian Language, and the Council of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Company (see chapter 1.2.1, the organigram of the Lithuanian cultural policy institutions).
Last update: May, 2022
The basic principles of the inter-ministerial and inter-institutional co-operation in Lithuania are formulated in the Law on Strategic Governance (approved in 2020) and the Strategic Governance Methodology (2021). Transversal cooperation at the national and local levels is mainly based on special inter-institutional action plans. These plans are approved by the government and provide for the distribution of tasks and activities of the cooperating parties, and performance indicators. According to the Lithuanian Ministry of Finance, in 2022, 41 inter-institutional work plans are going to be implemented at the national level.
Another form of inter-institutional cooperation is working groups that are created to address specific issues. Working groups are defined as advisory expert bodies that carry out specific tasks assigned to them by the Minister of Culture within a specified time frame. In 2022, the Ministry of Culture coordinates 10 inter-institutional working groups and 18 commissions that dealt with various issues of cultural policy, such as the emergency during the Covid-19 quarantine, preparation of documents on the inclusion of Kaunas modernist architecture in the UNESCO World Heritage List, implementation of the Culture Pass programme, etc. The latter programme is a joint project of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. These two ministries are also cooperating on the Reading Promotion Programme.
Last update: May, 2022
The Lithuanian cultural institutions system comprises 4 kinds of institutions: national, state, municipal and private, i. e. established by private persons or their organisations. These kinds of institutions are present in all of the main areas of culture: museums, theatres, libraries, cultural centres, etc.
Almost all national and state cultural institutions have the legal status of budgetary institutions that is defined in the Law on Budgetary Institutions (1995, new edition 2022). According to the Law, the budgetary institution is a public legal entity with limited civil liability, which performs state or municipal functions and is maintained from the appropriations of the state or municipal budgets, as well as from the budgets of the State Social Insurance Fund, Compulsory Health Insurance Fund and other state monetary funds. Authorities exercising the rights and obligations of the owner approve the statutes of a budgetary institution, appoint and dismiss the head; decide on the reorganisation or liquidation of the budgetary institution; take a decision regarding the establishment of a branch of a budgetary institution and the termination of its activities; etc.
In 2022, there were 10 national cultural institutions in Lithuania: 3 theatres (the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, and National Kaunas Drama Theatre), 4 museums (National Museum of Lithuania, Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art), 1 library (Martynas Ma˛vydas National Library of Lithuania), 1 concert organisation (Lithuanian national Philharmonic Society), and 1 broadcasting company (Lithuanian National Radio and Television). National institutions themselves manage the appropriations that are allocated to them each year by government in accordance with the Law on the Approval of Financial Indicators of the State Budget and Municipal Budgets that is adopted by the Seimas each year.
State cultural institutions are financed through the Ministry of Culture, i. e. the Ministry allocates their appropriations according to its budget plan of the respective year. In 2022, 39 state cultural institutions were in the purview of the Ministry: 12 museums, 10 theatres, 6 libraries, 6 concert organisations, 1 arts centre, 1 cultural centre, 1 park and 2 cultural reserves. Additionally, four state museums are financed by other Ministries: the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of the Environment. Most of these state cultural institutions are concentrated in the three largest cities of Lithuania.
Local authorities are responsible for the financing and maintenance of local cultural institutions and cultural heritage. They have the right to establish or abolish cultural institutions of local importance and finance them through appropriations from the local budgets. Most local cultural organisations have a legal form of budget or public institution and their owner is the municipality. According to the data on municipalities of the Lithuanian Statistics, in 2020 there were 1221 municipal public libraries, 54 municipal museums, 11 municipal theatres, 6 concert organisations and 159 cultural centres with 475 structural subunits.
Data on private cultural institutions are not systematically registered. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture only provides data on some private museums and theatres. According to the Ministry’s data, there were 10 private museums and 36 private professional theatres that have the status of professional performing arts' organisation granted by the Ministry. However, the Association of Lithuanian Museums provides data on 64 private museums, and the Register of Legal Entities provides information on 120 registered organisations with the word “theatre” in their name that have the legal form of NGO, individual enterprise etc. Data about private cultural institutions in other areas of culture can be gathered only from the registers of companies and is approximate as well.
In general, the Lithuanian system of national and state cultural institutions changed very little over the last years. In 2009, a new national cultural institution was established: the National Museum Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. In 2012, the state Kaunas Drama Theatre became the national theatre. Some national institutions renovated their buildings and opened new permanent exhibits, such as Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum.
Last update: May, 2022
Table 1: Cultural institutions, by sector and domain
|Domain||Cultural institutions (subdomains)||Public sector||Private sector|
|Number (2020)||Trend last 5 years (In %)||Number (2020)||Trend last 5 years (In %)|
|Cultural heritage||Cultural heritage sites (recognised)*||8 175||+1.3||NA (not available)||NA|
|Visual Arts||Public art galleries / exhibition halls||9 / 194****||NA||NA||NA|
|Performing arts||Scenic and stable spaces for theatre||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|Dance and ballet companies*******||4||NA||13||NA|
|Interdisciplinary||Socio-cultural centres / cultural houses*||634||-1.7||NA||NA|
*Data from Statistics Lithuania
**Data from the Register of Cultural Values
***Data from Lithuanian Museums
****8 galleries belong to national museums; Special exhibition halls have Contemporary Arts Centre; 194 exhibition halls are accommodated in cultural houses (data from the National Cultural Centre)
*****Concert halls in various organisations, data from the Lithuanian Musicians' Union
******Data from the Register of Legal Entities
*******Data from the Lithuanian Dance Information Centre
********Data from the Lithuanian Film Centre
*********Data from the the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania
Last update: May, 2022
The Lithuanian 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; to represent the creation of high artistic value; to form the image of Lithuanian culture; to develop international creative partnerships; 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; to present classical and contemporary professional performing arts' works of high artistic value in Lithuania and abroad; to develop public demand for professional performing arts; and to ensure 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 do 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 tie the funding of institutions with the quality of their performance.
The other problem of the 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. 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.
Last update: May, 2022
The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania is the main coordinator of international cultural cooperation and culture internationalisation policy. In 2018, the Ministry of Culture adopted the Concept of the Culture Internationalisation Policy that defines the goal, objectives and evaluation indicators of the culture internalisation policy. According to the Concept, the goal of the culture internationalisation policy is to advance the internationalisation of Lithuanian culture in pursuance of the diversity of cultural expressions, enhance the quality and competitiveness of creative products and cultural services, and contribute to the development of an open and dynamic society that is able to perform in an ever-changing world.
The Ministry of Culture coordinates the interface of the culture internationalisation policy with the objectives of foreign and economic policy with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Economy and the Chancellery of the Government. The Minister of Culture also forms an Integrated Culture Internationalisation Policy Management Group that consists of 5-7 members.
The function of the representation of Lithuanian arts and culture abroad is performed by the Lithuanian Culture Institute. The institute organises and coordinates representational Lithuanian cultural programmes abroad; implements cooperative bilateral and multilateral exchanges as well as cultural programmes in Lithuania and abroad; works closely with and implements projects of the cultural attaches of the Republic of Lithuania in foreign countries; promotes Lithuanian literature abroad: consults and informs foreign publishers and translators on issues concerning Lithuanian literature; organises seminars for translators and publishers; organises presentations and creative sessions of Lithuanian writers abroad; administers a translation promotion programme; organises and administers the cultural events programme at the annual Vilnius Book Fair; coordinates Lithuania’s participation in the Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens programmes of the European Union; prepares and disseminates information about Lithuanian culture, artists and creative works; and produces informational publications that promote Lithuania’s art and culture.
Culture attachés working in diplomatic missions of Lithuania also represent Lithuanian arts and culture abroad. Currently, 11 cultural attachés work in the European Union, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Poland, Sweden, USA, Ukraine, UK and China. The Lithuanian Culture Institute helps to carry out their activities. The Institute partly coordinates the programmes of representing Lithuania through the attachés, administrates the funding allocated to the projects of those programmes, and provides other support as well. The main purpose of attaches’ activities is to help Lithuanian artists, cultural and creative institutions and companies to reach the international market, support professionals in the cultural and creative sectors while seeking long-term international cooperation and on the basis of their activity to present Lithuania and Lithuanian culture in foreign countries.
Several programmes of the Lithuanian Council for Culture are directly aimed at the promotion of the internationalisation of culture, e.g. the programmes supporting international mobility of artists, dissemination of Lithuanian culture and art abroad, organisation of international events, festivals, and contests, and participation of artists in important international events. Other programmes of the Council also fund a number of projects that are implemented abroad.
The Lithuanian Film Centre cooperates with Lithuanian and foreign film festival organisers, film industry fair organisers, and presents Lithuanian national and co-production films and the potential of Lithuanian film industry at festivals, film industry fairs, and other events. The Centre also informs film professionals and organisations about the EU programme “Creative Europe” (Media sub-programme).
Last update: May, 2022
Lithuania joined UNESCO in 1991. In 1992, the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO was established and the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Lithuania to UNESCO in 1993. The Secretariat of the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO serves the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO and supports implementation of its decisions. The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania coordinates the implementation of the UNESCO conventions and decisions (see the list of UNESCO conventions ratified by Lithuania in chapter 4.2.1).
Lithuania became a member of the Council of Europe on 14 March 1993. In 2022, Lithuania participated in the following cultural initiatives of the Council of Europe: EURIMAGES – European Cinema Support Fund, the national coordinator is the Lithuanian Film Centre; European Audiovisual Observatory, the national coordinator is the Lithuanian Film Centre; HEREIN: Observatory on policies and values of the European heritage, the national coordinator is the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture; European Heritage Days, the national coordinator is the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture; and European Cultural Routes, the national coordinator is the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture.
Lithuania became a member state of the European Union in 2004. Since then, Lithuania has participated in the EU programmes - European Capitals of Culture, Creative Europe, Europe for Citizens, Horizon and Horizon Europe. Currently, the Lithuanian Science Council and the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology coordinate the network of Horizon Europe national contact points in Lithuania. The participation of Lithuania in the Creative Europe Programme was coordinated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute that was responsible for the CULTURE sub-programme, and the Lithuanian Film Centre that was responsible for the MEDIA sub-programme.
Lithuania takes part in the Council of the Baltic Sea States, established in 1992. The Council is an overall political forum for regional cooperation. It aims to develop and foster the concept of a Baltic Sea Region identity and a sense of belonging to the Baltic Sea Region through engagement, dialogue, people-to-people contacts, macro-regional networks and multilevel governance. To this end, several activities, programmes and networks are operational within the priority. This includes the Baltic Sea Monitoring Group on Heritage Cooperation, focusing on preservation of the common heritage in the Baltic Sea States, and specifically on building preservation and maintenance in practice, underwater heritage, coastal culture and maritime heritage, and sustainable historic towns. The national coordinator of the project is the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of the Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
In 1991, the Ministries of Culture of the Baltic Sea Region created the Ars Baltica network that was aimed at encouraging cultural collaboration. Ars Baltica supports cultural cooperation within the Baltic Sea Region and beyond, advocates for the significance of arts and culture on the political level and promotes cultural life around the Baltic Sea. It is a cultural framework, gathering and offering information on different aspects within the arts and culture sector through network building and by supporting the implementation of multilateral cultural projects.
In 1991, the Baltic countries started to cooperate with the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania was established in 1991. The Office promotes Nordic culture in Lithuania and encourages Nordic-Lithuanian cultural cooperation. Since 2009, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture participates in the Nordic-Baltic Cultural Mobility Programme, which is coordinated by the Nordic Council of Ministers and consists of 3 modules: networking, art residencies and artist mobility.
Lithuania also cooperates with the two other Baltic States. Cooperation between the three Baltic States is based on the trilateral Treaty on Concord and Cooperation, signed on September 12, 1934 in Geneva. The Declaration on Unity and Cooperation, signed on May 12, 1990 in Tallinn, in full scope restored the cooperation between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Pursuant to the Geneva Treaty, the Baltic Council was established in 1990. The Baltic Council of Ministers – the institution of trilateral intergovernmental cooperation was established at the meeting of Baltic Prime Ministers on the 13th of June 1994.
Within the framework of Baltic co-operation, active dialogue is on-going at the level of Presidents, Speakers of Parliaments, Heads of Government, Ministers and experts. Baltic Parliamentary Cooperation takes place in the Baltic Assembly, which was established on November 8, 1991. While intergovernmental co-operation takes place in the Baltic Council of Ministers, founded on 13 June 1994. The Baltic Assembly is a regional organisation that promotes intergovernmental cooperation between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It attempts to find a common position in relation to many international issues, including economic, political and cultural issues. Since 1993, the Baltic Assembly annually awards prizes for achievements in literature, arts, and science.
Trilateral cooperation in the field of culture is coordinated by the Baltic Cultural Committee of senior officials, who meet annually to discuss cooperation issues. Cultural cooperation guidelines are provided by the Programme of Cultural Cooperation, signed between all three Ministries of Culture in 1994. The programme is regularly renewed. The current programme is designed for the period 2019-2022 and proposes to continue such long-term joint projects as a Baltic Museology Summer School and the international chamber orchestra of three Baltic States Kremerata Baltica, and to foster collaboration with the Baltic Film and Media School, the Baltic Drama Forum, the Baltic Dance Platform, the Baltic Architects’ Unions Association etc.
As of 2019, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture participates in the Baltic Culture Fund programme. The main goal of the Baltic Culture Fund, founded on 8 July 2018 on the basis of the Agreement between the Ministries of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Republic of Estonia and Republic of Latvia on the Establishment of the Baltic Culture Fund, is to promote cultural cooperation between the Baltic countries and strengthen the internationalisation of Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian culture through joint cultural projects and events. Grants are awarded annually. The Fund is administered by national cultural endowments on a three-year rotation basis. The Cultural Endowment of Estonia was the first to coordinate the Fund’s activities from 2019 to 2021. In 2022, the coordinator of the Fund became the Latvian State Culture Capital Foundation. Each Baltic country contributes 100 000 EUR to the Fund annually. The Fund also accepts donations.
In February of 2022, the Lithuanian Minister of Culture, the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine and the Polish Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage signed the declaration of intent on trilateral cooperation in the Lublin Triangle format. Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland will carry out a joint effort to promote common cultural heritage and history, to foster cooperation between cultural institutions and experts, and provide more opportunities for young culture professionals.
Last update: May, 2022
International professional cooperation in the non-governmental sector proceeds through professional networks, cooperation projects and participation in international events. All these activities can compete for funding by participating in the Lithuanian Council for Culture funding programmes aimed at promotion of international cooperation or culture dissemination, such as “Cultural and Creative Industries: Networking”, “Strategic Funding of International Events”, and in the Lithuanian Culture Institute a “Study Visit Programme”.
Some Lithuanian NGOs organise long-term international events that, among other functions, serve as a hub for maintenance of international cultural relations and cooperation. The Lithuanian Publishers association, together with the Lithuanian Culture Institute and the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre LITEXPO organise the Vilnius Book Fair , which is the largest annual book fair in the Baltic states and hosts an international forum and discussion club of publishers, writers and other artists. The NGO Vilnius Festivals organise an international theatre festival Sirenos that hosts a Lithuanian Theatre Showcase. Sirenos is a member of the international network of theatre organisations, IETM (Informal European Theatre Meeting). The Lithuanian Art Gallerists’ Association organises ArtVilnius, which is the largest event of visual arts in Eastern Europe. Every year foreign galleries and museums take part in it and international projects of artists are presented.
Several of the main Lithuanian artists organisations and unions participate in international professional networks. The Lithuanian Association of Artists takes part in the International Association of Art (IAA) Europe. The IAA is a network of about 40 national member organisations within Europe, representing professional visual artists. The IAA supports international cooperation and artistic exchange, aims to improve the economic and social position of artists on a national and international level, cooperates with UNESCO and is engaged with other organisations concerned with the arts and culture.
The Architects Association of Lithuania is a member of the International Union of Architects, the Architects’ Council of Europe and the Baltic Architects Unions Association (BAUA). The International Union of Architects is an international non-governmental organisation recognised by UNESCO as the only architectural union operating at an international level. The Architects' Council of Europe is a non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that aims to promote architecture in Europe, advance architectural quality in the built environment, ensuring high standards of qualification for architects, etc. The Baltic Architects Unions Association’s mission is to promote the growth of architectural practice in the Baltic States.
The Lithuanian Journalists Union is a member of the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists. The International Federation of Journalists organises collective action to support journalists’ unions in their fight for fair pay, decent working conditions and in defence of their labour rights; promotes international action to defend press freedom and social justice through strong, free and independent trade unions of journalists; fights for gender equality in all its structures, policies and programmes; opposes discrimination of all kinds and condemns the use of media as propaganda or to promote intolerance and conflict; and believes in freedom of political and cultural expression.
The Lithuanian Writers’ Union is a member of the Baltic Writers’ Council (BWC) (seated in the island of Gotland, Visby, Sweden) which unites creative organisations of writers and translators from Northern Europe. It is the most important organisation bringing together European writers’ unions. The Lithuanian Writers’ Union is also a member of the Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Council (seated in Rhodes, Greece).
The Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators is a member of the European Council of Associations of Literary Translators (CEATL), the International Federation of Translators (FIT), the Baltic Writers’ Council (BWC) and the Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Council (TSWTC).
The Lithuanian Association of Cultural Centres is a member of the European Council of Artists that promotes co-operation between artists in safeguarding their political and cultural position within Europe, with special focus on the policies of the European Union, the Council of Europe, UNESCO and other relevant organisations and on promoting the interests of professional artists in political, economic, judicial and social contexts.
The Lithuanian Composers’ Union is a member of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). ISCM is a premier forum for the advancement, dissemination and interchange of new music from around the world. Through ISCM, our members promote contemporary music in all its varied forms, strengthening musical life in their local contexts and making their music and its creators known to the world.
Many Lithuanian NGOs cooperate with their partners abroad through joint events, festivals, masterclasses, etc. The Lithuanian Professional Folk Artists’ Association cooperates with the Polish Folk Artists’ Association (Stowarzyszenie tworcow ludowych, STL), the Latvian Folk Artists’ Association, the Lithuanian High School in Hüttenfeld, Germany, Bialystok Crafts Centre (Poland), the Lithuanian Culture House in Puńsk (Poland), Saint-Egreve (France) Water-colourists’ Club, and Boxholm (Sweden) organisation Friends to Friend. The Lithuanian Designers’ Society maintains and develops international relations with the Latvian Designers’ Society, the Estonian Association of Designers and the Shenzhen design cluster. Activities include improving designers’ qualifications, strengthening community-based relations, building a network of national and international specialists, developing inter-institutional relations (professional development courses, conferences, seminars, creative workshops, residential activities and other events).