2. Current cultural affairs
Last update: May, 2022
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. Both institutions prepare activity reports for the public, publish lists of projects that got and did not get funding, collect and publish 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 and the newly established institutions take over funding functions. In order to ensure the political independence of the Council for Culture, the Law on the Council for Lithuanian Culture (2012) establishes certain principles for the election of the Council (see chapter 1.1) and its funding. Until 2021, the funding of the Council was carried out through the Culture Support Fund that was comprised of the following: 1) 3 per cent on the income received from the excise duty levied on alcoholic beverages and processed tobacco; 2) 10 per cent on the proceeds received from the lottery and gambling tax; 3) other lawfully acquired resources. This funding regulation increased the Council's independence since the amount of its finances could not be manipulated. A similar funding regulation is established for the Lithuanian National Broadcasting Company (LRT), which is calculated automatically as a fixed percentage of the state's tax revenue and cannot be revised by the government every year. The State allocates to LRT 1% of personal income tax and 1.3% of excise duties collected.
In 2020, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania asked the Constitutional Court to clarify whether these forming principles of the Culture Support Fund and budget of LRT do not contradict its constitutional right to propose a budget to the Parliament, taking into account the social and economic situation of the country. In the LRT case, the court stated that this legal regulation protects the institutional and editorial independence of the national broadcaster and is a way to shield it from political pressures. This argument, however, was not applied to the funding of the Lithuanian Council for Culture and in 2021, the Ministry abolished the Culture Support Fund and changed the Law on the Council for Lithuanian Culture (2021) respectively. According to the new edition of the Law, the funds of the Council consist of the funds of the state budget of the Republic of Lithuania intended for financing the programmes implemented by the Council and administering its activities.
The Lithuanian Art Creators Union published a public appeal to the Culture Committee of the Parliament and the Ministry of Culture, arguing against this change as it removes regulatory safeguard that maintains the autonomy of the cultural field. According to the new edition of the Law, the possibilities for the field of culture and art to provide arguments regarding the budget of the Council are rather limited. The Council is not an appropriation manager and negotiations on its entire budget are ongoing in the Ministry. Non-governmental organizations in the field of culture have less opportunity to take part in these negotiations than the state cultural and artistic institutions. The Union have proposed to set up a working group in the Seimas to develop an alternative or improved funding model for the arts involving the community within a year.
Last update: May, 2022
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 ethical issues of public communication. The self-regulatory body of media is theAssociation 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 theCode of Ethics in Providing Information to the Public, to foster principles of ethics in the provision of information to the public in public information activities and to raise public awareness on 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, the 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 consumer interests.
The official institution for 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.
Despite the activity of the above-mentioned institutions related to cultural rights and ethics, some cultural events during the last years raised wide public discussions and revealed a rather narrow understanding of freedom of expression in Lithuania (see Human Rights Monitoring Institute report). For example, in 2014, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania upheld a fine imposed on the company of designer Robertas Kalinkinas for his advertisement campaign that had used the visual images of a young woman and man who were stylized like Jesus and Mary. The fine was imposed by the State Consumer Rights Protection Service deciding that the advertisement violated the provision of the Law on Advertising on public morality. In the same year, a pre-trial investigation was launched against the comedian Whydotas, who posted a song on his YouTube channel called “Devil, please” which contained a verse “Devil, please take my soul, and let me bash children’s heads into the wall”. The author was suspected of inciting violence against a social group – children. Despite the song being obviously intended to be humorous and no actual aim to incite violence being present, Whydotas and other creators of the song were only acquitted on appeal, after almost 2 years of investigation and litigation. In 2018, the Parliament’s Commission of Freedom Fighters appealed to the prosecutor's office to open a pre-trial investigation against writer M. Ivaškevičius regarding his public support for international crimes committed by the USSR or Nazi Germany against the Republic of Lithuania or its inhabitants. According to the applicants, the writer had committed these crimes in the novel “Greens” while assessing Lithuania’s resistance to the occupation and depicting the partisan struggle, its main leader, and other partisans. In general, these events show that even though freedom of expression and the importance of its protection are acknowledged at the highest level in Lithuania, more extreme forms of expression received disproportionate prohibitions and punishment-based responses from the authorities. Performers, designers, advertisers, writers, and social action initiators had to defend their freedom of expression in the 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: May, 2022
The Law on the Status of Artists and Artists’ Organisations (1996) establishes the basis and procedure for granting and abolishing the status of the 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 a 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 a Doctor of Science degree or a Doctor of Arts degree for research activities in an appropriate artform; 6) a teacher in the field of the art who holds the position of professor or associate professor at a higher education institution which prepares professional artists according to art study programmes; or 7) a person who 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 Artists 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 new edition of the programme of 2022 establishes the rules for payments in an emergency or quarantine.
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 just one of its regions).
In 2022, 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 and for the projects of artists organisations is mainly allocated through the Lithuania Council for Culture (see chapter 7.2). The Council awards grants not only to those artists who have a status of art creators, but also to all cultural or artistic creators who are citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, other European Union countries or third countries, if their activity is related to creation or dissemination of Lithuanian culture and art.
In 2021, the Lithuanian Council for Culture commissioned a Study on the Social and Creative Condition of artists. According to the study, there are 6976 artists in Lithuania, of which 52 % are women and 48 % are men. Only 20 % of all artists interviewed said they could make a living purely from creative activities. On average, 35 % of the monthly income of artists comes from creative activities, 37 % is earned from non-creative activities, and 28 % comes from activities partly related to creativity. Responding to questions on the artist's profession and society' s attitude towards it, most of the artists agreed that “artists contribute to the formation of social values” and that it is “important for them to contribute to the development of culture and the arts”. At the same time, they believe that artists are underestimated by society and policymakers in Lithuania. This view is confirmed by the recurring public debates in the media between artists, politicians, and the public about various works of art (see chapter 2.9). These discussions are mainly provoked by patriotic and religious NGOs expressing their negative attitude or dissatisfaction with the way artists treat certain ideas, personalities, or symbols. NGOs are usually supported by populist politicians seeking to use public debate to increase their popularity and visibility. Thus, Lithuanian artists must often defend their professional autonomy and the right to make their own aesthetic and artistic decisions and to tackle the challenges of a narrow understanding of the freedom of expression and low artistic literacy in society.
Last update: May, 2022
In Lithuania, digital cultural policy is mainly implemented in the fields of libraries, museums, and heritage. The beginning of the digitisation process was a project of the Lithuanian Libraries Integral Information System (LIBIS), which started in 1995. The project was implemented by the Martynas Ma˛vydas National Library of Lithuania. 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. In 2015 – 2021, the National Library implemented the LIBIS modernisation project that aimed to transfer the e-services provided by the LIBIS libraries to a centrally managed cloud infrastructure and to develop the ibiblioteka.lt portal by creating new electronic services or modernising existing ones.
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 cultural heritage by providing a digital copy and information on it; promote the actualisation and dissemination of Lithuanian heritage in the context of world cultural diversity; and contribute to the creation of an integrated information space on European cultural heritage.
Since 2005, policy for digitisation of cultural heritage in Lithuania is coordinated by the Ministry of Culture (Memory Institutions Policy Group) together with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation (since September 2018) and the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania. The Council for Digitisation of Lithuania’s Cultural Heritage provides expertise and consultations on issues in digitisation policy making, implementation, monitoring and reviewing.
Digitisation of cultural heritage activities in the national memory institutions is coordinated by the national network of 15 digitisation competence centres: Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania, Lithuanian Central State Archives work at national level; M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Lithuanian Sea Museum, Šiauliai Aušros Museum, and county public libraries work at regional level; Vilnius University Library, Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and the public institution Lithuanian National Radio and Television work on a sectoral level. Since the beginning of 2020, the system of statistics on digitisation of cultural heritage has been in place to consistently monitor and analyse the state and development of digitised and digital resources of cultural heritage and evaluate the impact of measures taken to achieve the strategic goals of the cultural heritage digitisation policy, and to initiate qualitative changes.
Digitised cultural heritage of cultural and scientific significance is available through several portals. E-paveldas is a virtual digital cultural heritage information system based on a database of digitised objects, which currently contains about 3 million pages of digitised objects (archive files, manuscripts, books, posters, paintings, graphics, photographs, and digitised images of other objects). LIMIS is the Lithuanian Integral Museum Information System. The Lithuanian Museums' Centre for Information, Digitisation and LIMIS is a specialised department of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art. Its purpose is to ensure that information on the cultural heritage accumulated in Lithuanian museums is integrated into the common digital space of the Lithuanian and European cultural heritage. The portal www.limis.lt became available for users in 2012. In 2022, the LIMIS system had 1.150.600 digital items, of which 680.337 were publicly available. E-Kinas is the virtual archive of Lithuanian documentary heritage. Its aim is to create conditions for the preservation and dissemination of the film heritage accumulated in the Lithuanian Central State Archives. On the initiative of the Lithuanian Film Centre, a total of 39 copies of fictional films of significance to Lithuanian film history and 6 documentary films stored in foreign repositories and archives have already been acquired. They have been transferred for permanent storage to the Lithuanian Central State Archives. Film heritage is also available on the website sinematika.lt that offers digitalized and restored documentary films and video art works. EAIS is the Electronic Archive Information System. The system was developed in response to the constantly increasing amount of information stored in documents, registers and information systems, the cost of storing so-called “paper” documents and the need for a unified information search system of the National Document Fund (NDF). The LRT Mediateka is an audiovisual collection of Lithuanian National Radio and Television. Mediateka is open to the public since 2008. Videos and films converted into digital media are free of charge.
In 2008, 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 2020, Europeana encompassed 227.286 digital objects provided by Lithuanian institutions. In 2020–2022, due to the quarantine restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, many Lithuanian cultural and arts organisations developed digital content and created virtual tours and expositions, data bases, digital archives, mobile applications and exhibitions. This was paid in financed in part by the special programme of Lithuanian Council for Culture initiated in 2020 and aimed at the adaptation of cultural products and services to the digital environment. The budget of the programme was 10 million EUR that were allocated to 512 projects. Links to their results together with other digital initiatives are available on the website of the Ministry of Culture.
Last update: May, 2022
The national intercultural dialogue in Lithuania is mainly understood as a dialogue 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), and 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 Southeast Lithuania, in Vilnius, Klaipėda, Visaginas, and other cities and towns of Lithuania.
The main initiator of national intercultural dialogue 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 National Minorities in Society while Preserving Their Identity Programme. The programme funds three categories of project proposals: 1) the Dissemination of National Minorities' Culture; 2) the Dissemination of National Minorities' Culture and Cultural Cooperation in Southeast Lithuania; 3) the Promotion of Intercultural Dialogue and the Dissemination of National Minorities’ Culture in the Mass Media.
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 in 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 onto the Board; if the national community’s population is between 10 thousand and 100 thousand – 2 representatives; and smaller, up to 10 thousand population, national communities have one Board member.
National communities living in Lithuania develop cooperation and dialogue 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, cultural 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 dialogue 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 – the Baltic Countries Market Focus Programme at the 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. In 2021, the Lithuanian Culture Institute organised the Lithuanian culture season in Bavaria Without Distance: Lithuanian Culture in Bavaria 2021. The cultural season held a varied programme of music, literature, visual arts, and performances by the most prominent Lithuanian artists and performers.
Last update: May, 2022
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 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 less than 25 per cent.
In 2022, 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 a 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 the 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’ populations. According to the data of the Education Management Information System, in 2021 there were 102 schools of general education in Lithuania with one or several national minority/foreign languages of instruction. Of those, 46 schools have Polish as the language of instruction, 27 schools have Russian language of instruction, and 29 schools have other languages of instruction. A total of 31502 children attended these schools, which is 9,6 % of the total number of Lithuanian schoolchildren.
National minorities' schools can work in Lithuania also as Saturday or Sunday schools. Their concept is defined, and activity regulated by the Concept of the school of national minorities on Saturdays and Sundays. This form of education is used in areas where national minorities make up only a small group. According to the data of the Department of National Minorities, in 2020, 46 Saturday/Sunday schools of national minorities were working in Lithuania. 4 were established by Armenians, 3 by Belarusians, 1 by Estonians, 1 by Greeks, 1 by Karaits, 2 by Latvians, 14 by Poles, 1 by Romanians, 4 by Russians, 5 by Tatars, 4 by Ukrainians, 1 by Uzbeks, 4 by Germans, and 3 by Jews residing in Lithuania. These schools were attended by 900 children.
Last update: May, 2022
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 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: theRadio and Television Commission of Lithuania and theOffice 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 the internet for the users in the territory of Lithuania. The Commission also 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 Commission consists of 11 members: 2 members are appointed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, three members (one of them from the opposition political groups) are appointed by the Seimas on the recommendation of the Committee on Culture, three members are appointed by the Lithuanian Association of Artists, one member – by the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference, one member – by the Lithuanian Journalists’ Union, and one member – by the Society of Lithuanian Journalists. The members of the Commission are appointed to serve for a period of four years and may not serve for more than two terms in succession. The chairman and deputy chairman of the Commission are appointed by the Seimas.
The Ministry of Culture monitors 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 the Ministry of any changes to the data. 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 the 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 the exertion of 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: Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT). LRT is a public body belonging to the State by the right of ownership. The Law on Lithuanian National Radio and Televisionregulates the procedure of establishing, managing, operating, reorganising and liquidating 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. Programming diversity is declared as one of the main aims of LRT that is realised through 7 media channels. Two of them – television LRT Plus and radio LRT Klasika deliver specialised content dedicated to culture. LRT’s annual budget depends directly on the taxes collected in the year before the last. The State allocates 1% of personal income tax and 1.3% of excise duties collected. LRT is not allowed to air commercial advertising. This funding model, where the LRT’s budget is automatically calculated as a fixed share of the taxes collected by the State, has been in place since 2015 and was introduced as a guarantee of independence from government institutions as well as commercial revenues and economic lobbying. The highest governing LRT body is the LRT Council. It is formed for a term of 6 years and consists of 12 members, public, scientific, and cultural figures. The Council forms the strategy of the LRT programming and LRT website, supervises the implementation of the LRT’s mission, approves the annual income and spending by LRT administration, as well as deals with the other issues within the Council capacity as envisaged by LRT by-laws.
According to the data of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, in 2022, there were 42 radio broadcasters in Lithuania that broadcasted 55 radio programmes. 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 commercial 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).
In 2020, the greatest variety of radio programmes was in the largest cities of Lithuania: in Vilnius 31 programmes, in Kaunas 25, in Klaipėda 24, in Šiauliai 22, and in Panevėžys 19. The four most popular national radio programmes account for 58 % of the total listening time.
According to the data of Lithuanian Statistics, in 2020, the share of domestic (original) radio programmes of the public broadcaster amounted to 92.6 % of the total volume and is by 2.5 – 3.0 % smaller than in the last 5 years. The share of domestic (original) radio programmes of private radio companies amounted to 91 % and is smaller by 5 % than in the last 5 years (see Table 2). The main content of radio programmes was entertainment (69.7 %), while educational programmes made up the smallest share (1.0 %). Cultural programmes made up 5.2% of the total content (see Table 3).
Table 2: Volume of radio programmes, in hours, in 2016–2020
|State broadcasting company||Total||27 944||27 883||27 888||27 845||28 439|
|Original programmes||26 362||26 280||26 280||26 280||26 352|
|Coproduction programmes||1 460||1 481||1 486||1 433||1 965|
|Private companies||Total||262 325||253 571||220 896||239 579||260 729|
|Original programmes||252 640||245 616||212 282||231 485||237 195|
|Foreign programmes||9 685||7 955||8 614||8 094||23 5pm 34|
Table 3: Structure of original radio programmes, in hours, in 2016–2020
|Total||279 002||100||271 896||100||238 562||100||257765||100||263547||100|
|Information programmes||30 116||10.8||25 603||9.4||25 857||10.8||26840||10.4||26281||10.0|
|Educational programmes||2 959||1.1||2 157||0.8||3 001||1.3||3350||1.3||2515||1.0|
|Culture programmes||10 245||3.7||8 873||3.3||10 429||4.4||12168||4.7||13782||5.2|
|Religious programmes||5 558||2.0||4 397||1.6||4 439||1.9||4517||1.8||4606||1.7|
|Advertising||14 307||5.1||33 953||12.5||11 898||5.0||16920||6.6||24078||9.1|
|Entertainment programmes||201 910||72.4||184 461||67.8||174 330||73.1||187287||72.7||183722||69.7|
|Not classified||13 907||5.0||12 452||4.6||8 608||3.6||6683||2.6||8563||3.2|
According to the data of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, in 2020, there were 29 TV broadcasting companies in Lithuania. 12 of them were also engaged in re-broadcasting programmes. 46 companies were engaged in rebroadcasting, 5 of them also take part in programme dissemination on the internet. There were 2 companies that broadcasted online only. Most of these organisations are private commercial organisations, except the Lithuanian public broadcaster and 4 public local broadcasting institutions. The Lithuanian public broadcasting company LRT broadcasts 3 TV programmes: “LRT televizija”, “LRT Lituanica”, and “LRT Plius”. The last one is dedicated to cultural content.
According to the data of Statistics Lithuania, in 2020, the share of domestic (original) television programmes of public broadcasting amounted to 86% of the total volume, which is 4 % more than in 2019 and 2018 (see Table 4). The share of domestic (original) TV programmes of private television broadcasting companies was 67.8% and it is 3.8% more than in 2019, however, the total volume of hours is 35% less than in 2019. The content of TV programmes was entertainment (38%), while educational and religious programmes made up the smallest share (0.5% and 0.4 %). Cultural programmes made up 7.2% of total content (see Table 5).
Table 4: Volume of television programmes, in hours, in 2016–2020
|State broadcasting company||Total||27 681||30 447||31 824||31703||30530|
|Original programmes||23 514||26 280||26 280||26 280||26 352|
|Foreign programmes||4 167||4 167||5 544||5 423||4 178|
|Private companies||Total||119 837||168 220||194 305||223112||146891|
|Original programmes||70 440||136 891||136 891||14 2891||99 629|
|Foreign programmes||33 90 7||21 079||56 752||73 776||46 868|
|Coproduction programmes||15 490||10 250||662||6 445||394|
Table 5: Structure of original television programmes, in hours, in 2016–2020
|Total||93 954||100||163 171||100||158 939||100||169 171||100||125 981||100|
|Information programmes||17 339||18.5||23 345||14.3||28 258||17.8||34 562||20.4||25 930||20.6|
|Culture programmes||11 675||12.4||11 101||6.8||14 869||9.4||14 575||8.6||9 011||7.2|
|Advertising||13 679||14.6||33 040||20.2||13 239||8.3||13 829||8.2||19 201||15.2|
|Entertainment programmes||31 091||33.1||69 577||42.6||67 055||42.2||64 233||38.0||47 819||38.0|
|Not classified||18 910||20.1||24 948||15.3||34 409||21.6||41 150||24.3||22 966||18.2|
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 2019, the Foundation funded 152 projects of national and regional broadcasters and Internet media and allocated to them 1 025 070 EUR (see chapter 3.5.3 for more about support for media).
According to the authors of the Lithuania Report of the Media Pluralism Monitor 2021, Lithuania scores low risk in Fundamental Protection (28%), medium risk in Political Independence (34%) and Social Inclusiveness (43%), and high risk in Market Plurality (70%) area. Some of the persisting issues are political and business influence, lack of media ownership transparency, continuing audience fragmentation and social and political polarisation, declining overall institutional trust, and rising societal uncertainty and scepticism.
Last update: May, 2022
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 the population spoke one foreign language, 29 per cent spoke two languages, 6.6 per cent spoke three languages, and 1.3 per cent spoke four and more languages. The biggest share of the population spoke Russian (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 a 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 the State Language (1995) regulates the use of the state language in the 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, the 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 that 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 the unofficial communication of the population and the language of events of religious communities as well as persons belonging to ethnic communities.
The policy of the 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, the President of the Republic and the Government, proposals on language policy and implementation of the Law on State Language and 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 the 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 activity.
In 2018, the Seimas approved the State Language Policy Guidelines 2018–2022. The guidelines are mostly concerned with factors that exert a negative impact on the current condition of the State language, such as competition between the Lithuanian language and other languages in the spheres of public life; inefficient linguistic education in 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 needs of society; insufficient response of the institutions related to the teaching of the state language to intensified emigration, immigration and remigration processes and the increased need for teaching (learning) the Lithuanian language.
In 2019, the State Language Commission approved the Strengthening Programme of Lithuanian Language Prestige. The aim of the programme is to strengthen the prestige of the Lithuanian language in Lithuania and among Lithuanian-speaking emigrants and to 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 13 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”. Article 7 of the Lithuanian Law on the State Language provides that personal names of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania in official documents (e.g. ID documents, passports) shall have the forms prescribed by laws, i.e. have to be written in the Lithuanian alphabet. The 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 for the national minority group representatives willing to name their children in accordance with their culture, tradition or language. It also poses a difficulty for Lithuanian women when 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. Furthermore, 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.
Discussions on the original spelling of non-Lithuanian names in documents have been taking place for decades. Politicians of the Polish community in Lithuania and their supporters in Poland have long been asking to be allowed to use Polish letters in the last names of Polish speakers, an issue that has been emerging in 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. In January of 2022, the Parliament adopted the Law on the writing of personal names and surnames in documents. The Law has allowed Lithuanian citizens to use the letters "q", "x" and "w", which do not exist in the Lithuanian alphabet, if they assume the surnames of their non-Lithuanian spouses. This will also apply if the surname of the parent is spelled in non-Lithuanian characters, as well as if the parents, grandparents or ancestors had or have the citizenship of another country and their first and last names were spelled in non-Lithuanian characters. The original spelling of names in Latin-based characters without diacritical marks will also be allowed if a Lithuanian citizen acquired their first and last names in a foreign country and the names are spelled in these characters in the source document.
Last update: May, 2022
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, or an instruction to discriminate against persons directly or indirectly 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 that 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 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 top posts; and to improve the 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, the Lithuanian cultural sector employs more women than men, but women earn 10–12% less than men.
Table 6: Number of employees (in persons) and their average earnings (annual gross, EUR) in art, entertainment and the leisure organisation sector in 2016–2020
|Number of employees (in persons) working in art, entertainment and leisure organisations sector||Females||17 200||17 400||15 700||14 300||13 900|
|Males||7 800||7 500||8 700||7 300||6 600|
|Average earnings of women and men working in art, entertainment and leisure organisations sector||Females||7 228||7 862||8 430||11 935||13 062|
|Males||8 434||8 858||9 913||14 035||14 583|
Women and men are not evenly represented in top positions of national and state cultural organisations. In 2022, women headed 29 of 63 national and state cultural institutions (museums, theatres, libraries, commission, councils etc.). Considering that twice as many women as men work in the cultural sector, this distribution of leadership positions indicates unequal career opportunities for men and women.
Also, women are underrepresented in the pursuit of the National Award for Culture and the Arts. This award is the most prestigious award in Lithuania and artists receive it 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 award far less often than men. Since 1989, women accounted for only 20% of all creators who received the National Award. In 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2002, 2012 and 2013, the national award in the fields of culture and arts were granted to men exceptionally. Only three times, in 2008, 2017 and 2019, more women than men received this award. In 2021, unions and associations of artists and other cultural organisations nominated 30 candidates for the National Prize – 9 women and 21 men. The award was granted to 2 women and 4 men. According to the survey Population participation in culture and satisfaction with cultural services (2020) commissioned by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, women and men are unevenly active in cultural and artistic activities: 41% men and 49% women participated in cultural activities. Significantly fewer men than women use libraries (30% and 47%), are interested in visual arts and architecture (46% and 57%).
Last update: May, 2022
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 Disabled People under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. The Action plan for the social integration of people with disabilities in 2021–2023, approved by the Government in 2020, includes several objectives 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, promotion of publications for people who cannot read a normal printed text, 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. Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and Council for Culture are responsible for implementing a number of measures to achieve these objectives. The cultural and artistic creation of people with disabilities is organised and coordinated by their associations. The Lithuanian Union of People with Disabilities unites 20 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 involving people with disabilities in creative activities), “The Young Film Creators” (creative project that aims to engage in dialogue young people with disabilities and without them), “Creation of Social Interactions and Dissemination in Regions”, “Special Creation of Music and Education in Regions”, theatre festival “Begasas”, “Newly reborn cultural heritage - accessible to all” etc. Funding for these projects is provided by the Lithuanian Council for Culture, European Regional Development Fund, and international foundations. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture does not have any policy measures designated for people with disabilities.
Last update: May, 2022
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 that there is a positive correlation between 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 (2020) commissioned by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, the inhabitants of villages and small towns (up to 3 000 residents) are less involved in cultural activities compared to residents of the three major cities (42 % and 48 % respectively). Residents of small towns and villages visit cultural heritage sites, participate in books and press related activities less often. As the main reason not to participate in cultural activities, small towns residents indicate the difficulty in travelling to the locations where cultural activities take place, the high price, and poor health.
In 2018, in order to improve the accessibility of culture in the 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 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 from the Lithuanian Council for Culture, who does not have voting rights. Each Regional Council forms its own funding priorities reflecting the situation of local cultural communities, infrastructure and potential. 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 involve local communities, creators and municipalities in decision-making processes. In 2019, the Lithuanian Council for Culture organised the first contest for funding according to the Even Cultural Development Programme. 487 regional projects were granted 2 981 780 EUR. In 2020, funding of 2 887 016 EUR was granted to 615 projects. However, the funding mechanism of the programme was criticised by the Lithuanian Art Creators' Association because of uneven competing conditions for private and municipal cultural organisations as the latter have guaranteed annual funding from municipal budgets and get the bigger share of finance in this contest as well. The Association proposed to separate the funding of NGO projects from the funding of municipal organisations' projects, arguing that separating this funding would create the conditions for the continued and sustainable operation of the NGO sector.
Last update: May, 2022
In Lithuania, the idea of a 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 that was initiated in 2018. In 2022, the Council for Culture is going to allocate 250 000 EUR for this programme.
Since 2017, the Lithuanian Council for Culture has been implementing the funding programme “Art for Human Wellbeing”, that aims to promote access to culture and the arts for groups experiencing social and cultural exclusion and that make a positive impact on the personal well-being and health of the individual. The programme funds projects ensuring the accessibility of professional arts and culture for groups who have limited or no access to culture for objective reasons (e.g. health); projects ensuring cooperation with all categories of health and social care institutions and making professional art and culture accessible to users and services providers of these institutions; creative projects addressing issues of personal well-being or health determined by social and cultural exclusion. Up to 2022, the Council has allocated about half a million euros to the programme.
Last update: May, 2022
According to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Index, in 2021 Lithuania’s SDG Index score was 76.7 and it ranked 31st out of 165 countries, and last (8th out of 8) among the countries in the Northern European region. Lithuania has so far achieved the positive indicators set for the 15th goal (Life on land) only. The biggest challenges are related to the achievement of the 13th, 2nd, 9th, 10th, and 12th goals.
Figure 3. Lithuanian SDG trends in 2021
Taking this into account, the National Development Plan of Lithuania for 2021-2030 declares sustainable development as a horizontal priority and sets the target for Lithuania to be in the top 20 countries in the Sustainable Development Index by 2030. The Plan also sets ten strategic goals to be achieved over the next 10 years that are linked to UN Sustainable Development Goals: 1) to progress the sustainable development of the economy based on scientific knowledge, advanced technologies and innovations and to increase the country's international competitiveness; 2) to increase the social well-being and inclusion of the population, to strengthen health and to improve the demographic situation in Lithuania; 3) to increase the inclusion and effectiveness of education in order to meet the needs of the individual and society; 4) to strengthen national and civic identity, increase the spread of culture and the creativity of society; 5) to improve transport, energy and digital internal and external connectivity; 6) to ensure good quality of the environment and sustainability of the use of natural resources, protect biological diversity, mitigate the impact of Lithuania on climate change and increase resilience to its impact; 7) to develop the territory of Lithuania in a sustainable and balanced manner and reduce regional exclusion; 8) to increase the efficiency of the legal system and public administration; 9) to strengthen global Lithuania's influence and relations with the diaspora; and 10) to strengthen national security. The National Development Plan for 2021 – 2030 also encompasses objectives of each goal and their achievements indicators.
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”. This goal is linked to the 4th, 8th, 10th, and 11th SDG of the UN and entails 7 objectives: 4.1. encourage the population to participate in cultural activities and contribute to the development of culture; 4.2. improve the creation conditions in Lithuania and increase the dissemination of Lithuanian culture abroad; 4.3. promote the integration of national minorities; 4.4. aim to increase the highest achievements of Lithuanian sport; 4.5. strengthen the relevance of historical memory in society; 4.6. revive the cultural and national heritage of public significance and increase its usage for the needs of society; and 4.7. increase the relevance of the Lithuanian language in the context of globalization and technology.
In 2021, the National Audit Office of Lithuania prepared a report on Lithuania’s preparedness to implement sustainable development goals. The report has indicated some important aspects of SDG implementation that have to be improved. First, there is a lack of an effective inter-institutional coordination mechanism that results in insufficient coordination of the implementation of the SDGs, both between state institutions (horizontal coordination) and with municipalities and other institutions (vertical coordination). Also, there is no national coordination on publicising the SDGs, and no publicity plan to ensure targeted public communication involving state institutions and other stakeholders. According to surveys (2019), only 24% of Lithuanians have heard of the SDGs or are well aware of them. In three years, the proportion of the population who know what it is or who has heard of it has grown by 4% (from 20% in 2016 to 24% in 2019). Secondly, Lithuania has no effective mechanism to monitor data and assess progress towards SDG. Shortcomings in the localisation of indicators and data collection make it difficult to adequately monitor progress in the implementation of the targets and to react to possible negative trends in indicators in a timely manner.
Despite these shortcomings of sustainable development policy on the governmental level, the NGO sector is aware of SDG and participates actively in various sustainable development activities. According to the Voluntary national review on the implementation of the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development in Lithuaniaprepared by an inter-institutional workgroup in 2018, non-governmental organisations of Lithuania or a partner country implement the greater part of Lithuania’s development cooperation projects: in 2017 only 22% of all projects were implemented by the public sector, and the rest were realised by NGOs and businesses. Cultural NGO are mostly involved in the activities designed to introduce the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to the Lithuanian public. They organised documentary film festivals, photography exhibitions, interactive events, ‘brain fights’ and discussions, disseminate information on television and radio shows and social media, and look for innovative, attractive and accessible forms to present the information.
Last update: May, 2022
In Lithuania, 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, e.g. the establishment of new or demolishing of old public monuments, debates have been ongoing for decades and even reach the courts.
The first wide public debates on art in public spaces 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 the 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 demanding the elimination of the sculpture as soon as possible, as it is a blot on the landscape, while others 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. Some 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 communist 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, the 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 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 recognition of the fights for freedom”.
Until 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 public. The public joined the discussion actively and voiced very different opinions. The Lithuanian Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees, some historians, and 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 the 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 NGOs 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 NGOs 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 patriotic NGOs started an active promotion of the idea that the “classical” monument of Vytis should be erected in Lukiškės Square (Vytis is an old Lithuanian symbol and figure on the Coat of arms of Lithuania that depicts an armour-clad knight on 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 Art 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 that criticized the aesthetic value of the sculpture selected by NGOs.
In 2017, the Ministry of Culture together with the Contemporary Arts Centre announced the third competition for the monument in Lukiškės Square. The artists submitted 32 monument projects. The commission selected 5 of them and proposed a public 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 voted for 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 NGOs 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 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 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 artists and academics 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 art in public spaces.
The draft law had not been considered in the Parliament that year, but it was remembered again and passed in 2020. The 3rd article of this law states: The monument Vytis depicting the symbol of the state together with the memorial to the victims of the freedom of Lithuania is the main focus of the representative square of the Lithuanian state.