2. Current cultural affairs
Last update: February, 2020
In recent years, the key developments of the Lithuanian cultural policy are related to the establishment of two cultural policy implementation institutions (Lithuanian Council for Culture and Film Centre) due to the cultural policy system reform in 2012–2013. Although these institutions distribute only a small part of public funds (about 7 and 2 per cent of overall central state funding respectively), they have brought into the cultural policy a new ethos of communication and management based on dialogue, openness and accountability to the public. Each year, the Lithuanian Council for Culture organises a public forum for the cultural community to discuss strategic directions of funding, prepares activity reports for the public, publishes council’s decisions and lists of projects that got and did not get funding, collects and publishes statistics, etc.
The aim of the reform of the cultural policy system was its horizontal decentralisation and democratisation by separating functions of policy development and implementation. The new model had to ensure that the Ministry of Culture, which previously was mostly engaged with the distribution and administration of funding, undertakes a more active role of strategic cultural policy development. However, after the establishment of two above-mentioned institutions, the Ministry continued to finance programmes and projects by way of public tender and did not activate the strategic policy making.
Due to the much discussion in the public sphere about the Ministry’s role in developing policies, in 2017 the National Audit Office of Lithuania performed the audit How the Ministry of Culture Forms Culture Policy and Organises and Manages Its Implementation. The goal of the audit was to assess the processes of the cultural policy development, organisation, coordination and control performed by the Ministry of Culture. The results of the audit showed that the Ministry’s structure was not appropriate for the implementation of its functions; the Ministry lacked sufficient and comprehensive monitoring data necessary for the development of cultural policy; the organisation of the implementation of cultural policy was flawed because the planning documents approved by the Government and the Ministry of Culture were not coordinated; the inconsistent monitoring of subordinate cultural and arts-related establishments failed to ensure that their activities be oriented towards results.
In next years, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture implemented several recommendations of the National Audit Office. In 2018, the structure of the Ministry was reorganised: departments were abolished, 11 units were created instead of 18 structural divisions, the tasks and functions of the units were laid down in regulations which have been made publicly available on the Ministry’s website. In 2017, the Ministry established the Unit of Monitoring and Data Analysis in the Lithuanian Council for Culture. The unit inventoried and analysed the data that was collected by the Ministry and its subordinate institutions, evaluated statistical information, data sources and cultural indicators collected by Eurostat and the Lithuanian Department of Statistics. By 2022, it is planned to develop a data information system. The Ministry also prepared important strategic documents (the Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030 and the Law on Culture 2019) which is currently under the consideration in the Seimas) and commissioned several important survey research and feasibility studies: Outlining directions of cultural policies (2018), Participation of the Population in Culture and Satisfaction with Cultural Services (ESS-net Culture methodology) (2017), Feasibility Study Improving Policy Formation and Implementation of Lithuanian Culture Internationalization (2017) and Examination of the Legislation Governing the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Provision of Services and the Role of the Institutions Involved in the Protection of Cultural Heritage (2019).
Last update: February, 2020
Articles 25 and 44 of the Lithuanian Constitution protect the freedom of expression (see chapter 4.1.1). Article 37 of the Constitution protects rights of national minorities: “Citizens who belong to ethnic communities shall have the right to foster their language, culture, and customs.”
In 2015, amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania, which decriminalised the offense of private persons and public officials, came into force. According to the Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute, this was a significant step in the field of the freedom of expression, because it ensures that exercising this freedom will not lead to disproportionately applied criminal liability. After the decriminalisation of the offense, persons still have the possibility to defend their honour and dignity in civil courts.
The self-regulating authorities of journalists, public relations specialists and advertisers supervise limits of freedom of expression and other ethic issues of public communication. The self-regulatory body of media is the Association of Ethics in the Provision of Information to the Public. The stakeholders of the Association are public information producers, disseminators, journalists and other participants of the media sector, which seeks to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Code of Ethics in Providing Information to the Public, foster principles of ethics in the provision of information to the public in public information activities and raise public awareness for the evaluation of public information processes and the use of public information.
In March 2005, the self-regulatory institution Lithuanian Advertising Bureau was founded on the initiative of Lithuanian advertising agencies, media and advertisers. The Bureau is responsible for the administration of a self-regulatory system and the application of the National Code of Advertising Practice, which is based on the Code of Advertising Practice of the International Chamber of Commerce. The main aim of this self-regulatory institution is to ensure a relevant and effective system of self-regulation, which could enable the advertising industry to regulate its social responsibilities by itself, employing respective fair-trade principles, actively promoting the highest ethical standards in commercial communications and protecting consumers' interests.
The official institution of supervision of journalist ethics established by the Seimas is the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics. The functions of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics are: investigate the complaints (applications) of the persons concerned whose honour and dignity have been degraded in the media; examine the complaints (applications) of the persons concerned in relation to violation of their right to protection of privacy or processing of their personal data in the media; submit proposals to the Seimas and other state institutions for improving the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public and other laws and legal acts regulating the information policy; etc.
The civil right to participate in cultural life and the right to equally accessible and available culture, libraries and information, and leisure services are emphasised in the Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030. The first objective of the strategy is to strengthen the cooperation between the state, municipal and non-governmental sectors, reducing cultural exclusion and inequalities. It is stated in the strategy that residents of different regions of Lithuania must have more equal opportunities to participate in cultural life and receive high quality public services. To this end, it is planned in the Strategy to create a basic set of cultural services that would be approved by Law and offered throughout the Republic of Lithuania.
Despite the activity of the above-mentioned institutions related to cultural rights and ethic, some cultural events during the last years raised wide public discussions and revealed a controversial understanding of freedom of expression in Lithuania. In autumn 2012, Romeo Castalucci's play "On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God" included in the international theatre festival Sirenos in Vilnius evoked extremely fervent debates among theatre audiences, art critics, cultural society, and the Church. Before the first performance in Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, the opponents of the play organised a protest campaign. Although nobody had seen this play in Lithuania before, the protest was prompted by rumours and controversial reviews in foreign press. Members of the Lithuanian Parliament joined the fight of the public against the play and prepared a resolution that urged Lithuanian society “to boycott the play that offends Christians, rises discord in society, instigates a religious dissent and potentially violates the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania”. The Parliament of Lithuania discussed this resolution in three meetings, spent more than one hour for the issue, but did not adopt it, as one of the Parliament fractions requested a break till the next meeting that was scheduled after the play is presented to the public. When the Parliament did not adopt the resolution, 35 members of Parliament published it with their signatures. The Lithuanian arts news portal Menufaktura.lt published the records of the Parliament debates about the play “as the documents of a historical event that shows the attitude towards censorship and art”.
Other prominent cases of freedom of expression restrictions in 2016–2019 demonstrated that the limits of the freedom are understood quite narrow in Lithuania and more extreme forms of expression received disproportionate prohibitions and punishment-based responses from the authorities. Performers, designers, advertisers, and social actions initiators had to defend their freedom of expression in courts and these cases demonstrated that law enforcement authorities are not always able to distinguish permissible self-expression, criticism or black humour from hate speech, bullying or contempt.
Last update: February, 2020
The Law on the Status of Artists and Artists’ Organisations (1996) establishes the basis and procedure for granting and abolishing the status of artist and artists’ organisations. According to the Law, the status of an artist is granted to a person who creates professional art, and 1) a person’s individual or collective creation of art has been positively evaluated as professional art in monographs, reviews or articles published by professional artistic assessors; 2) a person’s creation of art is included in general education curricula, vocational training programmes and higher education study programmes approved in accordance with the procedure laid down by the law; 3) the creation of art by a person or a group of persons has been honoured with national or international art prize, other prizes and awards given by organisations of artists, or a laureate’s diploma of an international competition of professional art creators and/or performers (except competitions of pupils and students); 4) the person’s artworks have been acquired by national museums or galleries of Lithuania or foreign states; 5) the person has published art-assessment articles and reviews in Lithuanian or foreign publications for not less than five years; as well as the person who has been awarded the Doctor of Science degree or the Doctor of Arts degree for research activities in an appropriate art form; 6) the person who teaches subjects of the art study field and holds the position of professor or associate professor at a higher education institution which prepares professional artists according to art study programmes; or 7) the person has been, individually or with a group of artists, selected and represented Lithuania at internationally recognised events of professional art.
Article 11 of the Law determines state support for artists from the Social Security Programme, approved by the government in 2011. The Programme guarantees the state financial obligation to cover social and health insurance of artists, and support to self-employed artists. One of the purposes of the Programme is to allocate creative idle time payments for artists. Creative idle time means a period of time when an artist of employable age, for objective reasons, temporarily has no conditions for the creation of art and (or) dissemination of its results. Creative idle time payment is a payment in the amount of a minimal monthly wage, which is paid to the artists from the Programme's budget.
The Law also defines the procedure of granting the status of “artists’ organisation” to an association. The status is granted if 1) not less than 25 artists have founded the association; 2) only artists or organisations holding the status of an artist and uniting not less than five members – organisations of artists – are members of the association; 3) the association promotes creation of art of high professional value, its diversity and dissemination; 4) the association sets conditions for the creation of art, creative work and professional development of its members; 5) the association arranges for art works to be accessible to the public; 6) the association represents artists of the whole country (not one of its regions).
In 2019, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture provided information about 19 unions and associations that have the status of “artists’ organisation”. These organisations play an important role in cultural policy. According to many Laws that establish the procedure of formation of cultural policy institutions (councils, commissions, foundations), these organisations have the right to delegate their members to consulting or governing bodies. Thus, artists participate in cultural policy decision-making mainly through their unions and associations (see chapter 1.2.5 for more about the activity of artists organisations).
The state funding for individual artists’ creative activity is mainly allocated through the Lithuania Council for Culture (see chapter 7.2).
Last update: February, 2020
In Lithuania, digital policy is mainly implemented in the fields of libraries, museums and cultural heritage.
In 1995, the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania started to implement the project of the Lithuanian Libraries Integral Information System (LIBIS). The objectives of the project were to develop a library system that would enable automation of all library and reader service processes; create a union catalogue based on shared cataloguing; adapt integrated library information resources to customer service; extend the infrastructure created by LIBIS and develop the existing software tools. LIBIS was launched in 1998. Till 2019, the LIBIS software has been installed in 5 county libraries, 60 public libraries, 1 academic library, Vilnius University Faculty of Communication, 7 other major and special libraries, and 10 Lithuanian museum libraries. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture allocated 8 627 780 EUR for the project.
In 2005, the Lithuanian Government approved the Concept for the Digitisation of Lithuanian Cultural Heritage. This policy paper defined the goals and objectives of digitisation of Lithuanian cultural heritage and established a special coordination body: the Board of Digitisation of Lithuanian Cultural Heritage.According to the Strategy, the goal of the digitisation of Lithuanian cultural heritage is to transfer unique and valuable pieces of cultural heritage into digital form. The objectives are the following: to create an integrated information system of Lithuanian cultural heritage based on uniform standards and information usage agreements, ensuring long-term preservation of digitised information and access to it; facilitate the long-term preservation and use of the cultural heritage by providing its digital copy and information on it; promote the actualisation and dissemination of the Lithuanian heritage in the context of world cultural diversity; and contribute to the creation of an integrated information space on European cultural heritage.
By 2009, 80 000 objects of cultural heritage were digitised, but only 42 per cent of them were available through the Internet.
In 2009, the Lithuanian Museums’ Centre for Information, Digitisation and LIMIS, department of the Lithuanian Art Museum, started to implement the project of the Lithuanian Integral Museum Information System (LIMIS). The aim of the project was to establish an integrated system for Lithuanian museums heritage digitalisation and to create common digital content of national cultural heritage by digitising information about unique and valuable cultural heritage objects, art and literary works, and information about the most significant historical and social phenomena. The portal www.limis.lt became available for users in 2012.
In 2009-2013, almost 70 million LT (about 20 million EUR) was allocated for cultural heritage digitisation initiatives. The result of these investments was a national infrastructure for the digitisation of cultural heritage, which provided a basis for further investment in this area.
In 2008, in order to ensure targeted dissemination and promotion of the country’s cultural heritage within the European digital platform for cultural heritage, the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania was entrusted with the representation of the country in the European digital library Europeana. At the end of 2015, Lithuania contributed over 159 000 digital cultural heritage objects to Europeana and was actively involved in initiatives organised by Europeana to publicise digital heritage, such as Europeana 1989, Europeana 280, Athena Plus, Europeana Space and Europeana Photography.
In 2015, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture approved the 2015-2020 Programme for Digital Cultural Heritage Actualisation and Preservation. The Programme established the general principles for the development of virtual cultural heritage: consolidation of resources and capacities; cooperation and coordination of the digitalisation, digital content dissemination and access processes; the assurance of integrated access to Lithuanian digital cultural heritage according to the one stop-shop principle; orientation to the needs of society; and the reuse of digital cultural heritage.
Digitisation activities at national memory institutions are coordinated by national (the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Art Museum, the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Central State Archives), regional (the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, the Lithuanian Sea Museum, the Šiauliai Aušros Museum, county public libraries) and sectoral (Vilnius University Library, the Wroblewski Library, the National Radio and Television of Lithuania) competence centres in digitisation.
Digitised heritage with cultural and scientific significance is represented in the Virtual Electronic Heritage System (VEPS). The main tasks for the system are to integrate the digitised cultural heritage at all of the country’s memory institutions, to create opportunities for seamless digital content search and access via a national portal, and to ensure effective dissemination of Lithuanian cultural heritage. The basis of the system is a database of digitised items which currently contains three million pages of digitised objects (archive files, manuscripts, books, posters, paintings, prints, photographs and digitised images of other items).
Last update: February, 2020
The national intercultural dialog in Lithuania is mainly understood as a dialog between different national communities living in Lithuania, fostering their cultural identity and citizenship. According to the data of the Overall Population and Housing Census, in 2011 Lithuania was inhabited by people of 154 nationalities (in comparison with 2001, 115). People belonging to national minorities constituted approximately 16.5 per cent of the total population in Lithuania. Lithuanians made up 84.2 per cent (2 million 561 thousand), Poles – 6.6 per cent (200.3 thousand), Russians – 5.8 per cent (176.9 thousand), Belarusians – 1.2 per cent (36.2 thousand), Ukrainians – 0.5 per cent (16.4 thousand), people of other ethnicities – 0.6 per cent (19.3 thousand). The majority of the people of other than Lithuanian nationality reside in the municipalities of Eastern and South East Lithuania, in Vilnius, Klaipėda, Visaginas, and other cities and towns of Lithuania.
The main initiator of national intercultural dialog at policy level is the Department of National Minorities to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, established in 2015. The Department funds cultural projects within the frame of the Integration of the National Minorities in the Society while Preserving Their Identity Programme. The programme funds three categories of projects proposals: 1) the Dissemination of National Minorities Culture; 2) the Dissemination of National Minorities Culture and Cultural Cooperation in the South East Lithuania; 3) the Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue and the Dissemination of the National Minorities’ Culture in the Mass Media. In 2018, the Department allocated 70 000 EUR for 33 cultural projects of Lithuanian and national minorities organisations aimed at development of non-formal education, 25 000 EUR for 10 media projects, and 175 000 EUR for 132 projects of the development of culture of national minorities.
A consultative body of the Department of National Minorities is the National Communities Board. The board represents national minorities and deals with the policy coordination issues related to Lithuanian national minorities and involves the representatives of the national minorities into the decision-making process. The members of the Board are selected from the national communities’ representatives. The number of Board members from each national community depends upon the communities’ population as presented in the Population and Housing Census 2011. If the national community’s population is above 100 thousand, then 3 Board members from the community shall be selected into the Board; if the national community’s population is from 10 thousand to 100 thousand – 2 representatives; small up to 10 thousand population national communities have one Board member.
National communities living in Lithuania develop cooperation and dialog through cultural centres and non-governmental organisations. There are 4 intercultural centres in Lithuania, financed by municipalities: the House of National Communities in Vilnius (established in 1991), the Kaunas Centre of Various Nations Culture (established in 2004), the Roma Community Centre (established in 2001), and the Folklore and Ethnography Centre of the Lithuanian National Minorities (established in 2007). These and others cultural centres initiate various arts, culture and interdisciplinary projects, organise cultural events, arts exhibitions, books presentations, and cooperate with non-governmental organisations of national communities. Approximately 300 non-governmental organisations of national minorities are engaged in cultural activity in Lithuania. The Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Chechen, Estonian, Greek, Karaits, Latvian, Polish, Roma, Romanian, Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Hungarian, German, Jewish, and other national communities have established their cultural, educational, professional, and other non-governmental organisations.
Intercultural dialog on an international level is coordinated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute. For several years, the Lithuanian Culture Institute has been realising Lithuanian culture seasons in various countries. In 2015, the Lithuanian Culture Institute represented Lithuania in Krakow; in 2016, it organised Spring and Autumn seasons in Ukraine; in 2017, Lithuania was a guest of honour at the international Leipzig book fair; in 2018, the institute realised two large-scale international events – Baltic Countries Market Focus programme at London Book Fair and the Lithuanian art festival “Flux” in Rome. In 2019, Tel Aviv became a host to the largest to date presentation of contemporary Lithuanian culture: “Lithuanian Story. Culture Festival in Tel Aviv 2019”. The festival aimed to introduce Israel’s audiences to Lithuanian artists from the fields of poetry, classical and contemporary music, performance, dance and film.
Last update: February, 2020
In Lithuania, diversity in education is mainly manifested through schools with different educational approaches that are called non-traditional education schools. Their activity is regulated by the Concept of Non-Traditional Education, approved by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports in 2010.
The aim of the non-traditional education in Lithuania is to provide opportunities to realise the right of both the parents and children to choose the type of education that corresponds to their values, worldviews and religions. The Concept of Non-Traditional Education statesthatestablishment of educational institutions based on alternative education structures increases the range of choice, expands the institutional diversity of Lithuanian education, promotes modernisation of the educational process and the emergence of alternative teaching methods, as well as reflects and reinforces the democracy of the Lithuanian education system.
According to the Concept of Non-Traditional Education, non-traditional education is the type of education implemented according to the formal (primary, basic and secondary), and (or) non-formal (pre-school, pre-primary and other non-formal) education curricula based on some unique pedagogical system (Maria Montessori, Waldorf, Shin'ichi Suzuki, etc.) or its separate elements. Non-traditional education is part of the education system that is consistent and equivalent to the traditional system of education and comprises formal (except for vocational training and higher education) and non-formal education of children. Non-traditional education is implemented in non-traditional schools and in traditional schools according to the curriculum of primary and (or) other non-formal education. Schools of non-traditional education may operate according to their own programmes, but the total number of subjects and the total number of hours allocated for each subject in forms 1-12 can only differ from those specified in the state general education plans by not more than 25 per cent.
In 2019, a range of non-traditional education schools operated in Lithuania, for example: 1 school with special focus on ecology and environmental technologies, 4 schools with special focus on arts and humanistic culture, 3 schools based on the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, 17 catholic schools, 1 school with classical curriculum, 2 Montessori schools, 1 Suzuki school and 4 schools of Waldorf education. In these schools, the duration of organising the education process (days, weeks or the entire school year) may differ from the duration of organising the education process in a traditional school. Alternative schools are free to choose teaching methods and strategies to help realise their goals of education. They can create a unique learning environment, develop and use specific teaching materials and school achievement assessment systems.
Four Lithuanian secondary schools of non-traditional education in the three largest cities focus their curriculum on the education of humanistic culture and artistic abilities. Their aim is to combine general educational curriculum with the development of artistic competences and awareness of humanistic values, cultural heritage and cultural diversity. In the curricula of traditional education schools, diversity is not a particular focus of education. Arts education curricula in traditional schools are more focused on creative self-expression, development of artistic skills, and understanding of works of art. Schoolchildren’s awareness of cultural and social diversity is mainly developed through subjects of history and citizenship that are compulsory in basic and secondary education.
In Lithuania, there are also schools of national minorities. The schools with national minorities’ language as the language of instruction operate in the areas inhabited by large national minorities’ population. According to the data estimates of 2016-2017, there were 108 schools in Lithuania with one or several national minority/foreign languages of instruction. Of those, 52 schools have Polish as the language of instruction, 30 schools have the Russian language of instruction, 9 Lithuanian and Polish, 12 Lithuanian and Russian, 7 Russian and Polish, 7 with Lithuanian, Russian and Polish languages of instruction and 1 Belarusian.
If the national minorities constitute a small minority group in the area, supplementary education may be organised and Saturday/Sunday schools can be established, with a view to enabling the people belonging to the national minorities to learn and improve their native language. Currently, there are approximately 42 Saturday/Sunday schools established by the Armenians, Azerbaijani, Belarusians, Estonians, Greeks, Karaits, Kazakhstani, Poles, Roma, Russian, Tatars, Ukrainians, Uzbek, Germans, and the Jews residing in Lithuania. People belonging to national minorities learn their native language and become familiar with their national culture and traditions, history and cultural heritage in these schools.
Last update: February, 2020
The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania prohibits censorship and monopolisation of the mass media (Article 44), guarantees freedom of expression and lays down the limits of exercising freedom of expression (Article 25). The principal law governing the activity of public information is the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public (see chapter 4.2.1). The Ministry of Culture is one of the institutions responsible for the media policy and the implementation of the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. In implementing and coordinating national media policy, the Ministry of Culture cooperates with institutions operating in the field of public information and carrying out related supervision: the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania and the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics (see chapter 2.2 for more about the Office).
The Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania is an independent body accountable to the Seimas, which regulates and supervises the activities of radio and television broadcasters, on-demand audiovisual media service providers falling under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Lithuania, re-broadcasters carrying their activities in the territory of Lithuania and other legal bodies providing distribution services of radio and television programmes on internet for the users in the territory of Lithuania. The Commission participates in the formation of national audiovisual policy. It is an expert body for the Seimas and the Government on audiovisual issues. When performing its functions and taking decisions on issues within its remit, the Commission acts independently. The members of the Commission are appointed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the Seimas, the Lithuanian Artists' Association, Lithuanian Bishops' Conference, Lithuanian Journalists’ Association and Journalists’ Society. The chairman and deputy chairman of the Commission are appointed by the Seimas.
In 2015, pursuant to Article 36(2) of the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public, the Lithuanian Minister of Culture approved the Description of the Procedure of Verification of Circulation of Local, Regional and National Newspapers and Magazines, Except for Those Whose Circulation Does Not Exceed 500 Copies and/or Which Contain No Advertising. In accordance with the established procedure, publishers must provide data on the circulation of their published newspaper or magazine for the previous half-year to the Ministry of Culture twice a year, by filling in the approved form. The data on publication circulation (from the first half-year of 2012) and the participants of the media provided to the Ministry of Culture are made public in the Database of Producers and Disseminators of Public Information, available on the website of the Ministry of Culture.
The Ministry of Culture also monitors the media ownership. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 24 of the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public, all legal entities who are publishers of local, regional or national newspapers and magazines or managers of the public information media must submit to the Ministry of Culture the data on their participants who have the right of ownership to or control at least 10 per cent of all the shares or assets (where the assets are not share-based) and inform of the revised data if they change. The data specifies the following: media stakeholders; information about property relations and/or joint activity linking them with other producers and/or disseminators of public information and/or their participants. The Ministry publishes received data on its website in the Database of Producers and Disseminators of Public Information.
The antitrust measures to prevent concentration of media and all other economic entities are set up by the Lithuanian Law on Competition (1999). The Law defines a dominant position as the position of one or more undertakings in a relevant market directly facing no competition or enabling to exert a unilateral decisive influence in a relevant market by effectively restricting competition. Unless proved otherwise, an undertaking (except retailers) with a market share of not less than 40 per cent is considered to enjoy a dominant position within the relevant market. Unless proved otherwise, each of a group of three or a smaller number of undertakings (except for retailers) with the largest shares of the relevant market, jointly holding 70 per cent or more of the relevant market is considered to enjoy a dominant position.
Lithuania has a national broadcasting company: the Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT). LRT is a public body belonging to the State by the right of ownership. The Law on the Lithuanian National Radio and Televisionregulates the procedure of establishing, managing, operation, reorganisation and liquidation of LRT, its rights, duties and liability. The activities of a public broadcaster are also based on the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public. LRT is financed from the state budget and has the right to earn commercial revenues from other legal activities. Advertising and audiovisual commercial communications have been prohibited in LRT radio and television programmes since 1 January 2015, except for communications of support of cultural and sports events and/or their broadcasting and cases when LRT must broadcast advertising and audiovisual commercial communications following its contractual obligations regarding acquisition or granting of rights of broadcasting of international events. The highest LRT body that represents public interests is the LRT Council. It is formed for a term of 6 years and consists of 12 members: public, scientific and cultural figures.
According to the data of Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, in 2018, there were 42 radio broadcasters in Lithuania that broadcasted 52 radio programmes. The greatest variety of radio programmes was in the largest cities of Lithuania: in Vilnius 30 programmes, in Kaunas 25, in Klaipėda 25, in Šiauliai 21, and in Panevėžys 19. According to the time listened, the four most popular radio programmes account for 56.7 per cent of the total listening time of audience.
The Lithuanian public broadcasting company broadcasts 3 radio programmes: “LRT radijas”, “Opus”, and “Klasika”. The last one is dedicated to cultural content. Other radio broadcasters are private companies; most of them are for-profit organisations.
There are two Polish radio programmes in Lithuania: “Znad Wilii”, and “RadioWilno” (streamed online only), and two Russian programmes: “Rusradio” and “Raduga”. The Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT airs information of different duration for national minorities (in Russian, Belarusian, Polish, Yiddish, and Ukrainian).
According to the data of Lithuanian Department of Statistics, in 2018, the share of domestic (original) radio programmes of public broadcaster amounted to 95 per cent of the total volume and it did not change over the last 5 years. The share of domestic (original) radio programmes of private radio companies amounted to 96 per cent and it also did not change significantly over the last five years. The main part of content of radio programmes was entertainment (73 per cent), while educational programmes made up the smallest share (1 per cent).
Table 2: Volume of radio programmes, in hours, in 2014–2018
|State broadcasting company||Total||25 112||25 562||27 944||27 883||27 888|
|Original programmes||24 090||24 450||26 362||26 280||26 280|
|Coproduction programmes||900||990||1 460||1 481||1 486|
|Private companies||Total||321 912||270 548||262 325||253 571||220 896|
|Original programmes||306 285||253 920||252 640||245 616||212 282|
|Foreign programmes||15 253||16 503||9 685||7 955||8 614|
Table 3: Structure of original radio programmes, in hours, in 2014–2018
|Total||330 375||100||278 370||100||279 002||100||271 896||100||238 562||100|
|Information programmes||31 069||9.4||30 722||11.0||30 116||10.8||25 603||9.4||25 857||10.8|
|Educational programmes||2 966||0.9||3 421||1.2||2 959||1.1||2 157||0.8||3 001||1.3|
|Culture programmes||9 550||2.9||9 979||3.6||10 245||3.7||8 873||3.3||10 429||4.4|
|Religious programmes||2 433||0.7||6 208||2.2||5 558||2.0||4 397||1.6||4 439||1.9|
|Advertising||30 458||9.2||13 356||4.8||14 307||5.1||33 953||12.5||11 898||5.0|
|Entertainment programmes||232 316||70.3||199 991||71.8||201 910||72.4||184 461||67.8||174 330||73.1|
|Not classified||21 583||6.5||14 693||5.3||13 907||5.0||12 452||4.6||8 608||3.6|
According to the data of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, in 2018, there were 26 TV broadcasting companies in Lithuania. Most of them were also engaged in re-broadcasting programmes and online broadcasting. There were 6 companies, which broadcasted online only, and 27 re-broadcasting companies. Most of them are private for-profit organisations, except the Lithuanian public broadcaster and 4 public local broadcasting institutions. Lithuanian public broadcasting company LRT broadcasts 3 TV programs: “LRT televizija”, “LRT Lituanica”, and “LRT Plius”. The last one is dedicated to cultural content.
According to the data of Lithuanian Department of Statistics, in 2018, the share of domestic (original) television programmes of public broadcaster amounted to 82 per cent of the total volume, which is 4 per cent less than in 2014. The share of domestic (original) TV programmes of private television broadcasting companies was 70 per cent and it is 14 per cent more than in 2014. The main part of content of TV programmes was entertainment (42 per cent), while religious and educational programmes made up the smallest share (less than 1 per cent).
Table 4: Volume of television programmes, in hours, in 2014–2018
|State broadcasting company||Total||26 837||28 887||27 681||30 447||31 824|
|Original programmes||23 109||24 099||23 514||26 280||26 280|
|Foreign programmes||3 728||4 788||4 167||4 167||5 544|
|Private companies||Total||90 946||124 443||119 837||168 220||194 305|
|Original programmes||51 725||83 945||70 440||136 891||136 891|
|Foreign programmes||27 537||33 638||33 907||21 079||56 752|
|Coproduction programmes||11 684||6 860||15 490||10 250||662|
Table 5: Structure of original television programmes, in hours, in 2014–2018
|Total||74 834||100||108 044||100||93 954||100||163 171||100||158 939||100|
|Information programmes||12 016||16.1||17 834||16.5||17 339||18.5||23 345||14.3||28 258||17.8|
|Educational programmes||797||1.1||1 001||0.9||900||1.0||756||0.5||686||0.4|
|Culture programmes||7 312||9.8||9 581||8.9||11 675||12.4||11 101||6.8||14 869||9.4|
|Advertising||9 302||12.4||31 249||28.9||13 679||14.6||33 040||20.2||13 239||8.3|
|Entertainment programmes||18 232||24.4||29 577||27.4||31 091||33.1||69 577||42.6||67 055||42.2|
|Not classified||26 955||36.0||17 894||16.6||18 910||20.1||24 948||15.3||34 409||21.6|
Production and distribution of original domestic content broadcasted by TV and radio companies are supported through the Press, Radio, and Television Support Foundation (see chapter 1.2.2). In 2018, the Foundation funded 144 projects of national and regional broadcasters and Internet media and allocated for them 1 072 240 EUR (see chapter 3.5.3 for more about support for media).
According to the authors of the Lithuania Report of Media Pluralism Monitor 2017, the MPM2017 for Lithuania shows low risk in the area of Basic Protection (23%), and medium risk in the remaining areas: Market Plurality (56%), Political Independence (48%) and Social Inclusiveness (48%). Among the most representative societal tendencies identified in the contemporary Lithuanian media marketplace are such deviations as enduring political and business influence, on-going media ownership concentration, continuing audience fragmentation and social and political polarisation, declining overall institutional trust, and rising societal uncertainty and scepticism.
Last update: February, 2020
According to the data of the population census in 2011, 84.2 per cent of the total population of the Republic of Lithuania were Lithuanians, 6.6 per cent Poles, 5.8 per cent Russians, 1.2 per cent Belarusians, 0.5 per cent Ukrainians, and 0.6 per cent other nationalities. Most residents of the largest ethnic groups indicated their language as their native language: Lithuanians 99.2 per cent, Poles 77.1 per cent, and Russians 87.2 per cent. Answers to the question about foreign languages showed that about 78.5 per cent of the population knew at least one foreign language. 41.6 per cent of population knew one foreign language, 29 per cent knew two languages, 6.6 per cent knew three languages, and 1.3 per cent knew four and more languages. The biggest share of population knew Russian language (63 per cent), 30.4 per cent English, 8.5 per cent Polish, and 8.3 per cent German.
The constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, approved in 1992, establishes Lithuanian as its state language (Article 14). Article 37 of the Constitution provides that citizens, who belong to ethnic communities, shall have the right to foster their language, culture, and customs.
The Law on State Language (1995) regulates the use of the state language in public life of Lithuania, protection and control of the state language, and the responsibility for violations of the Law on State Language. According to the Law, Laws of the Republic of Lithuania and other legal acts shall be adopted and promulgated in the state language; all institutions, establishments, enterprises and organisations which function in the Republic of Lithuania shall manage filing work, accounting, reporting, financial and technical documents in the state language; legal proceedings in the Republic of Lithuania shall be conducted in the state language; the State shall guarantee the residents of the Republic of Lithuania the right to acquire general, vocational, higher post-school and university education in the state language. The Law does not regulate unofficial communication of the population and the language of events of religious communities as well as persons, belonging to ethnic communities.
The policy of state language is shaped by the State Language Commission. The tasks of the Commissions are to decide issues concerning the implementation of the Law on the State Language; submit to Seimas, President of the Republic and Government proposals on language policy and implementation of the Law on State Language, submit to Seimas conclusions regarding the language of legal acts; establish the directions of regulating the Lithuanian language; decide the issues of standardisation and codification of Lithuanian language; appraise and approve the most important standardising language works (dictionaries, reference books, guidebooks and textbooks); etc.
The State Language Inspectorate is a policy implementation body whose objectives, functions, organisation and procedure of work are regulated by the Law on the State Language Inspectorate (2001). The main function of the Inspectorate is to control whether the activities of state, municipal and other institutions, companies and organisations operating in the Republic of Lithuania comply with the Law on State Language, resolutions of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language and other legal acts establishing requirements for the use and correctness of the State language the activity.
In 2018, the Seimas approved State Language Policy Guidelines for 2018–2022. The guidelines are mostly concerned with factors that exert a negative impact on the current condition of the State language, such as a competition between the Lithuanian language and other languages in the spheres of public life; inefficient linguistic education of society and its insufficiently active involvement (participation) in the initiatives on supporting and strengthening the Lithuanian language; insufficiently rapid codification of the norms of the standard language due to the fragmentation of research into the usage and supervision and a lack of research into the linguistic principles of society; a too slow localisation of computer programmes which does not always meet the society’s needs; insufficient response of the institutions related to teaching the state language to intensified emigration, immigration and remigration processes and the increased need for teaching (learning) the Lithuanian language.
The Plan of the Implementation Measures of State Language Policy Guidelines for 2018–2022, adopted in 2019 by the Lithuanian Government, includes the following tasks: to ensure the flexibility and dynamics of language policy; strengthen the status of Lithuanian language in the context of multilingual Europe; ensure the modernity, renewal and increase of the resources of the standard language to meet the needs of the society; strengthen the prestige of the Lithuanian language; improve the quality of standard language in all areas of public use; promote the teaching and learning of the Lithuanian language abroad.
In 2019, the State Language Commission approved the Strengthening Program of Lithuanian Language Prestige. The aim of the programme is to strengthen the prestige of the Lithuanian language in Lithuania and the Lithuanian-speaking emigrants, develop the linguistic awareness of the society, its activity and confidence in language capacity. For the implementation of the programme in 2020–2024, it is planned to allocate 1 143 000 EUR from the state budget appropriations assigned to the Commission.
Several language promotion measures are funded by the Lithuanian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. The most popular of them is the annual National Dictation Competition that has been organised 12 times. Every year the State Language Inspectorate organises a Competition of the Most Beautiful Name of a Company. The State Language Commission gives awards for significant works in the field of Lithuanian terminology, promotion of the language of science and linguistic education of the public. The Society of Lithuanian Language organises the elections of the Word of the Year and the Saying of the Year that are also very popular among the residents of Lithuania.
In recent years, the main debate in the field of language policy has dealt with the “names spelling issue”. The Article 7 of the Lithuanian Law on State Language provides that personal names of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania in official documents (e.g. passports) shall have the forms prescribed by laws, i.e. have to be written in Lithuanian alphabet. Lithuanian alphabet is based on Latin and consists of 32 letters: the Latin characters with extra nasal letters (ą, ę, į, ų) and letters with diacritics (č, š, ž, ė, ū). The alphabet does not contain the Latin letters “w”, “q” and “x” and this causes problems to the national minority group representatives willing to name their children in accordance with their culture, tradition or language. It also poses a difficulty for the Lithuanian women marrying foreigners and wishing for their surnames to be written in the same way as the surnames of their husbands on documents issued in Lithuania. According to the data, this problem concerns a substantial number of people annually, as many as 16% of marriages are of a mixed character. Further, within ten years, the number of children born beyond the borders of the country has increased from 1% to 16% (2011). Such marriages and the resulting offspring want their family name to be written in its unchanged form in all documents issued within Lithuanian borders.
Two alternative name-spelling laws have been tabled to the parliament. One of the two bills proposed to allow using the letters "x", "w" and "q", which do not exist in the Lithuanian alphabet, on the main page of an identity document, and the other calls for such names to be spelt in their original form on an additional page of one's passport. Neither were adopted.
Politicians of the Polish community in Lithuania and their supporters in Poland have long been asking to allow Polish letters in the last names of Polish speakers, an issue that has been emerging in the bilateral Lithuanian-Polish relations. Critics say that non-Lithuanian characters would undermine the status of the Lithuanian language as the official language and, furthermore, can cause trouble in reading non-Lithuanian last names.
Meanwhile, the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language holds the position that the letters q, w and x could only be used for the spelling of names of Lithuanian citizens married to foreigners, their children and foreigners who gained Lithuanian citizenship.
Last update: February, 2020
In Lithuania, equal rights and opportunities for women and men are enshrined in the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (1998). The Law forbids any discrimination – direct and indirect – on the grounds of sex, harassment on the grounds of sex, sexual harassment and an instruction to directly or indirectly discriminate against persons on the grounds of sex. The Law sets out preconditions for gender mainstreaming. All State and municipal institutions and agencies must ensure that equal rights for women and men are ensured in all the legal acts drafted and enacted by them; must draw up and implement programmes and measures aimed at ensuring equal opportunities for women and men and, in the manner prescribed by laws, must support the programmes of public establishments, associations and charitable foundations which assist in implementing equal opportunities for women and men.
In 2015, the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour approved the fourth National Programme on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men 2015–2021 and its Action Plan. The strategic goal of the Programme is the consistent, complex and systematic promotion of the equality between women and men and the elimination of discrimination between women and men in all areas. The objectives of the programme are to promote equal opportunities for women and men in the field of employment and occupation; balance involvement of women and men in decision-making and holding the top posts; improve effectiveness of institutional mechanisms for the advancement of gender equality.
All these objectives are relevant in the field of culture. However, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture does not have any specific measures (quota schemas or mainstreaming programmes) for ensuring equal opportunities for women and men in the field of culture.
According to the data of Eurostat, Lithuanian cultural sector employs more women than men, but women earn 10–12 per cent less than men.
Table 6: Number of women and men (in persons) and their average earnings (monthly, EUR) in art, entertainment and leisure organisations of public sector in 2014–2018
|Number of women and men working in art, entertainment and leisure organisations of public sector||Females||16 000||16 100||17 200||17 400||15 700|
|Males||9 600||8 900||7 800||7 500||8 700|
|Average earnings of women and men working in art, entertainment and leisure organisations of public sector||Females||507.6||554.67||609.92||654.42||699.65|
Women and men are quite evenly represented in top positions of national and state cultural organisations. In 2018, women headed 27 of 55 national and state cultural institutions (museums, theatres, libraries, etc.). However, women are underrepresented in the pursuit of National Award for Culture and Arts. Lithuanian artists receive the National Culture and Arts Awards for their long-term creative contribution to the Lithuanian culture and art. Despite the fact of the greater percentage of women working in arts and culture sector, they are nominated for the awards far less often than men. Since 1990, women accounted for only 21% of all creators who received the National Awards. In 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2012 and 2013, the national awards in the field of culture were granted to men only. In 2019, unions and associations of artists and other cultural organisations nominated 42 candidates for the National Prize – 15 women and 27 men. For the first time since 1990, more women than men were granted with the Awards – 4 women and 2 men.
According to the survey Population participation in culture and satisfaction with cultural services (2014) commissioned by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, women and men are unevenly active in the cultural and artistic activities. Significantly fewer men than women attend cultural activities: 41% men and 27% women have no intention to attend cultural events and initiatives. One of the reasons for such non-participation is a lack of male interest in culture. 36% of male respondents stated that they have interests other than in culture, 54% named personal reasons (shortage of time, health problems), while others named insufficient supply of cultural services and products and other obstacles. Men are less frequent visitors of museums, galleries or exhibitions than women, and they are less active in stage arts and crafts. Women tend to participate in volunteering more often than men (22% women and 6% men on average), as well as in cultural initiatives, non-governmental organisations and culture-related studies. Besides, women are more interested in books and press than men (71% women and 53% men read books for pleasure) and women have more books at home than men (47% women and 39% men have over 50 books at home).
Last update: February, 2020
In Lithuania, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been in force since 2010. The Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania is responsible for the implementation of the Convention.
The planning, organising and coordinating of measures for the social integration of people with disabilities, in order to create equal rights and opportunities for disabled people to participate in public life, are performed by the Department for the Affairs of the Disabled under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. The National Programme of the Social Integration of Disabled 2013–2019, approved by the Government in 2012, includes several tasks related to the equal opportunities of people with disabilities to take part in arts and culture. The second objective of the programme is to increase the accessibility of physical and informative environments for people with disabilities. In the field of culture, the objective has to be achieved by the development of the titration of film and TV programmes, translations in sign language, and by modernisation of buildings of cultural institutions in order to make them more accessible for disabled. The third objective of the programme is to seek greater employment of people with disabilities in the labour market, and participation in culture, sport and leisure activities.
The cultural and artistic creation of people with disabilities is organised and coordinated by their associations. The Lithuanian Union of People with Disabilities unites 18 associations of disabled people, and 4 public institutions. Each year, the Union implements about 20 projects, many of which are related to arts and culture, such as “Tourism without barriers”, “Creative Bridges” (educational project designated to involve people with disabilities in creative activities), “The Young Film Creators” (creative project that aims to engage in dialog young people with disabilities and without them), “Creation of Social Interactions and Dissemination in Regions”, “Special Creation of Music and Education in Regions” and theatre festival “Begasas”. Funding for these projects is provided by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and international foundations. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture does not have any policy measures designated for people with disabilities.
Last update: February, 2020
In Lithuania, the issue of social inclusion and cohesion is mainly related in cultural policy to the equal opportunities of different social groups and inhabitants of different regions to participate in cultural life, i.e. cultural participation is considered to be an important factor of social inclusion and cohesion. The Lithuanian Cultural Policy Strategy 2030 argues to be a positive correlation between the active participation in cultural life and higher quality of personal and social life: people engaged in cultural and creative activities have more trust in other people, they participate more actively in elections, have stronger and more conscious civic identity, feel happier and healthier. Hence, one of the tasks of the Strategy is “to promote the equal accessibility of high quality and various forms of culture for diverse social groups”.
According to the survey Population participation in culture and satisfaction with cultural services (2017) commissioned by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, the inhabitants of villages and small towns are less involved in cultural activities. The share of culturally active people who used more than seven types of cultural services at least once a year was 14.6 per cent in rural areas, compared to 30.6 per cent in cities. Services of libraries are the only kind of services more actively used in rural areas than in cities. That could be explained by the fact that the network of libraries is the densest network of cultural institutions in Lithuania. Residents of small towns and villages visit cinemas, galleries and heritage sites much less often. As the main reason not to participate in cultural activities, one quarter of small towns residents indicate the difficulty to arrive at the locations, where cultural activities take place.
In 2018, in order to improve the accessibility of culture in regions and the development of diversity of local cultural expressions, the Lithuanian Council for Culture created the model of the support of Even Cultural Development. The aim of the model is to decentralise cultural funding decisions, enable regions to decide independently on the implementation of cultural and artistic projects that are important for them, and involving local communities, creators and municipalities in decision-making processes. The model also has to enhance investments of municipalities in cultural or artistic projects of regional importance.
The main idea of the model is to create 10 Regional Councils for Culture, which decide independently on funding of cultural projects through local calls for tenders. The Regional Councils for Culture are formed of representatives of regional municipalities, representatives of regional arts and culture organisations and one delegate of Lithuanian Council for Culture, who does not have voting right. Each Regional Council forms its own funding priorities reflecting the situation of local cultural communities, infrastructure and potential.
The model was approved by the Ministry of Culture in 2018. In 2019, the Lithuanian Council for Culture granted about 3 million EUR for 470 projects selected by the Regional Councils.
Last update: February, 2020
In Lithuania, the idea of societal impact of art (understood as a capacity of art to engage people in common processes of creative activity, enhance their cooperation and strengthen collective identity) is widely exploited at cultural policy of municipal level. In recent years, there have been many initiatives and projects aimed at community building and cooperation through common artistic activities. These projects are funded by municipalities and by the Lithuanian Council for Culture under the "Creative Initiatives of Communities" programme.
In 2012, the pilot project under the Ministry of Culture "Art for Human Wellbeing" started as a social experimental project to ensure co-operation between culture, health care and the social sectors. The Project's aim was to pursue art activities, to complete the societal research study and to create an effective model of social partnership. Several hospitals and sheltered housing units were involved in the project as specific places for art education and social activities. The network of art health institutions was established, and the results of the project were published in a special report.
Since 2017, the Lithuanian Council for Culture implements the funding programme “Arts for Human Wellbeing”, aimed at strengthening the cooperation between cultural and artistic organisations and other sectors of society, and increasing cohesion between the fields of culture and health policy, culture and social policy. The programme funds pilot projects that focus on the availability of professional art in all categories of health and social service institutions, involve providers of services and users of services of these institutions in cultural activities, and develop new approaches and models of activity. Other activities funded by the programme are social innovations through creative projects (products, services and models) that create new models of social relationships and collaboration, apply new ideas and innovatively use existing mechanisms to solve social problems: population aging, social exclusion, etc. In 2019, the Council granted 70 000 EUR for 16 projects, in 2018 it granted 129 700 EUR for 29 projects, and in 2017, 129 700 EUR for 31 projects.
Last update: February, 2020
Cultural sustainability is not a cultural policy issue in Lithuania. The main principles of sustainable activity are set by the National Strategy of the Sustainable Development approved by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in 2011. The Strategy does not address the sustainability of cultural activities, with the exception of tourism. In tourism, the long-term objectives are to implement the sustainable development principles by planning and performing territorial tourism development and carrying out tourism infrastructure projects at national and municipal levels. The main long-term tasks of sustainable development of tourism are as follows: to enhance the scope and variety of tourism services; to develop the infrastructure of tourism and recreation; to make better use of the distinctiveness of the nature and culture of the country’s regions as well as of the valuable ethno cultural objects; to improve the national system of management, planning and support for tourism and recreation; to prioritise the development of cultural, ecological and active recreation as well as health tourism; to promote the aforementioned activities, giving preference to projects ensuring the preservation of the environmental quality as well as rational use of recreational resources; to promote and provide full support to the development of the public infrastructure of bicycle and water tourism; and to improve dissemination of information.
Awareness of cultural sustainability is manifested in some of cultural projects and activities, mainly in local cultural projects.
Last update: February, 2020
The most fervent public discussions in the field of cultural politics in recent years have been on memory politics and art in public spaces. In cases, where these two issues merge together, e.g. establishment of new public historical monuments, debates have been ongoing for decades and even reach the courts.
Debates on art in public space were provoked during the programme Vilnius European Capital of Culture 2009. Within the framework of the public places humanisation programme aimed at a contemporary interpretation of the city's open space, the sculpture by Vladas Urbanavičius “Embankment Arch” was completed on river Neris embankment. The sculpture imitates a surfaced architectural-communicative construction. Soon it got the name “Vilnius pipe” and split the residents of Vilnius into two groups, one demanded to eliminate the sculpture as soon as possible, as it is a blot on the landscape, while other petitioned for its preservation and claimed that it is an excellent, ironic, and provocative work of art. Despite the criticism, the capital's authorities decided not to eliminate the "pipe", even though its exposition time had expired. In 2010, by the order of the director of Vilnius Municipality Administration, the Embankment Arch became a permanent art installation.
Debates on memory policy are constantly provoked by the decisions of the authorities of the cities to eliminate or not to eliminate sculptures and monuments of Soviet times. The most prominent story of this kind relates to the Soviet sculpture composition over the river Neris bridge "Žalias tiltas" ("Green Bridge"). The composition of four sculptural monuments, including a group of soldiers, was listed on the heritage register as a representative example of the Soviet propaganda art of the 1950s. Part of the Vilnius residents saw the sculptures as authentic signs of a time that needs to have a place in the city’s landscape. However, another part of the residents treated the sculptures as a symbol of communism ideology and a monument for Soviet times and argued for the removal of the sculptures. Discussions among the administration of the municipality of Vilnius, artists, heritage specialists, and the local community about the removal of sculptures lasted for several years. Finally, sculptures were removed because of the need for restoration, by the order of the Department of Cultural Heritage.
The longest story related to the establishment of new public monument is about the monument of the Lukiškės Square. The square is the largest square (about 4 ha) in Vilnius, located in the centre of the city. In the Soviet times, the square was renamed Lenin Square and a statue of Lenin was built in its centre in 1953. The statue was removed in 1991, after the restoration of independence of Lithuania. The discussions about the renovation of the square started immediately after the removal of the statue. In 1999, the Parliament of Lithuania adopted a resolution that “the Lukiškės Square in Vilnius has to be formed as the main representative square of Lithuania with memorial accents of the fights for the freedom”.
Till 2019, three competitions were organised for the monument in the square. The first one was organised by the municipality of Vilnius in 2007–2009. After the first phase of the competition, the commission selected 7 works and presented them to the publics. The public joined the discussion actively and voiced very different opinions. The Lithuanian Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees, some historians, senior citizens wanted a traditional monument, while the younger people wanted an urban space adapted for recreation with a historically neutral art object. In 2009, the commission, feeling the pressure of public and failing to reconcile the interests of the two sides, postponed the decision of the second phase of the competition and none of the presented projects won.
The second competition was organised by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture in 2012–2013. The artists submitted 28 projects to the Ministry of Culture, which were evaluated by 7 experts. The experts selected five projects and recommended to implement one of them – the sculpture “The Spirit of the Nation”. The competition provoked active public discussions again. 33 NGO’s submitted a petition to the Minister of Culture, where they expressed a negative opinion on the winning project and on the commission that elected it. Arguing against the decision of the commission, the NGO’s claimed that “the genre of abstract composition in the case of the Lukiškės Square is inappropriate in principle”, they also criticized the panel of the commission because “there were only two sculptors competent in the field of monument sculpture. Other commission members represented the so-called ‘trends of contemporary interpretive art’, unrelated to the traditional classical concept of sculpture”.
After the second competition, the NGO’s started an active promotion of the idea that the “classical” monument of Vytis should be erected in the Lukiškės Square (Vytis is an old Lithuanian symbol and figure on the Coat of arms of Lithuania that depicts an armour-clad knight on a horseback holding a sword and shield). The NGO’s created a Vytis Support Fund, which announced a competition for the Vytis sculptural model. The competition took place in 2016. The sculpture that won this competition was actively proposed for the Lithuanian Parliament and Vilnius municipality. However, the members of the Lithuanian Arts Critics Association, historians of arts and scholars of the Lithuanian Culture Research Institute were against the sculpture because of its insufficient artistic quality. They also published a petition, which criticized the aesthetic value of the sculpture selected by NGO’s.
In 2017, the Ministry of Culture together with the Contemporary Arts Centre announced the third competition for the monument in the Lukiškės Square. The artists submitted 32 monument projects. The commission selected 5 of them and proposed for the public to vote. Among these 5 selected projects was the statue of Vytis, which won the competition of the Vytis Support Fund previously. More than 11.000 people participated in the electronic voting. The statue of Vytis received 37.66 per cent of votes and 37.55 per cent received the project of a young artist representing a hillock with a partisan shelter. The latter project got the most votes of the commission – 7 out of 8. The votes of the public and commission amounted to 50% of the final result, so the second project was announced as the winner.
The NGO’s expressed their discontent with the competition and the result of it in several public petitions and a meeting. The meeting gathered about 500 people who proclaimed a statement with a requirement that the statue of Vytis should be erected in the Lukiškės Square. The Lithuanian Parliament members joined the fight for Vytis and registered a law project, which sets that a monument of Vytis, representing the historical symbol of Lithuanian fights for freedom, has to be erected in the Lukiškės Square. 41 members of Parliament supported this law project. This gave rise to the negative reaction of the cultural and academic community that spoke against the initiative of the Parliament members. 166 persons signed a public appeal to Lithuanian leaders, expressing their disagreement with the intention to regulate the square monument by a law and claimed that the opinion of experts should not be ignored when dealing with issues related to the art in public spaces.
The creators of Vytis monument went to the court and asked to declare the result of the competition as illegal. The trial took two years and ended in 2019. The court found that the winning work "met the requirements of the workshops" and rejected the applicants' claims that the competition was organised in a non-transparent way. The proponents of Vytis monument stated that the decision would be appealed to the Lithuanian Court of Appeal. Thus, the story continues, and the square still has no monument.