Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 10:52
Countr(y/ies): Lithuania
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Lithuania/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

Throughout the Soviet period, the organisation of cultural life and the implementation of cultural policy objectives were ideologically influenced by the Communist Party which ruled all spheres of state and public life. Cultural administrative processes were guided by the norms imposed by an authoritarian and centralised management structure.

Due to these conditions, strictly centralised management of culture prevented the establishment of democratic forms of cultural self-government, as all decisions were directly subjected to the party nomenclatura. The Soviet cultural policy was based upon stringent lines of command in the administration and was under the ideological control of the Communist Party. Broad networks of libraries, cultural centres and cinemas functioned in the big cities and rural areas and this phenomenon served as an instrument of the View on VilniusParty's political efforts to propagate communist ideology using cultural institutions. A system of privileges enjoyed by selected artists and cultural activists included financial as well as general living advantages. This was used as a means of enticing artists into the ruling circles and imposing an attitude of obedience and subservience.

Lithuanian culture of the Soviet period had certain forms of resistance which expressed its own national cultural identity and artistic freedom through art. There were plays, works of fine arts, books of poetry and prose that eluded ideological control. Moreover, the party ideologists in Moscow regarded Lithuania and other Baltic States to be closer related to the Western European culture and therefore more susceptible to its influence; which allowed it to attain a greater cultural and artistic diversity.

A new phase in the development of national culture policy started with "perestrojka" and the political and social movement for Lithuania's independence Sąjūdis during the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1990, the Lithuanian Cultural Congress took place. It set the guidelines for national cultural development, adopted a number of resolutions that formulated strategic trends for cultural life.

The debates on state cultural policy took on great importance at the time. In the mid 1990s, the discussions on cultural policy issues were related to the creation of Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy - a legal document geared at specifying long-term goals and tasks for the Lithuanian cultural policy as well as cultural development guidelines. Heated debates over cultural policy involved artists, philosophers, politicians, and cultural administrators. Discussions were focused on such issues as cultural democratisation, protection of the national cultural heritage, guaranteeing freedom and diversity of creative activity, cultural self-governance. However, preparation of this document was a complicated and time-consuming process. The Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy were finally adopted by the government in May 2001.

The development of Lithuanian culture in the 1990s faced new problems, such as privatisation of culture institutions, lack of management experience in free market processes, reform of the administrative system, changing status of culture institutions, etc. New culture organisations (NGO's, private sector) appeared during this time.

Lithuania/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram) 

Lithuania/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

Lithuanian cultural policy is shaped and influenced by the central government (the state) and local / municipal authorities. The central government plays the most important role in forming general culture policy guidelines, while local authorities are responsible for culture development in municipalities. The role of regional level authorities (counties - apskritys) in culture policy issues and decision making processes is rather weak.

The Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania plays the main role in framing the legal basis for culture. The Committee of Education, Science, and Culture of the Seimas deals with various cultural development issues, discusses questions of current interest and adopts decisions, it also analyses culture-related legislation. Every year during the Seimas plenary session, the Minister of Culture delivers his / her annual report on the state of Lithuania's culture.

Each Government of the Republic of Lithuania draws up an activity programme outlining its main goals and tasks in the fields of culture, arts, and cultural heritage. A framework for the implementation of measures is laid down in a specific action plan. In mid 2006, the 14th Government of Lithuania concluded an Action Plan for the year 2006 - 2008.

The Ministry of Culture is the centre for cultural policy planning, co-ordination, monitoring, financing and implementation. It has been transformed - and re-transformed - several times during the 1990s, and was separated from the Ministry of Education in 1994. The Ministry is a founder of 13 theatres, 12 museums, 5 concert institutions, 7 libraries and 6 other institutions. There are 7 national culture institutions established by the Ministry of Culture (Lithuanian National Philharmonic, National Drama Theatre, Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, Lithuanian Art Museum, National M.K.Čiurlionis Art Museum, Lithuanian National Museum, M.Mažvydas National Library). The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the financing of these national cultural institutions.

The Ministry of Culture prepares the budget and proposals for new legislation, monitors the financing and management of cultural and art institutions, makes decisions on discretionary financing of arts and culture institutions, cultural programmes, projects and scholarships to artists, annual cultural awards and it collects and disseminates information on artistic and cultural life and the effects of cultural policy measures. In addition, it bears responsibility for heritage, monitoring the functioning of the national cultural institutions. As of 1991, there are numerous expert commissions and cultural bodies at the Ministry, providing advice to the Minister or ministerial departments and divisions (see organigram).

The main cultural bodies accountable to the Seimas are: the State Commission for Cultural Heritage established in 1995 (12 members); and the Council for Protection of Ethnic Culture established in 2000 (21 member). The State Commission for Cultural Heritage plays the role of expert and adviser to the Seimas, the President and the Government of Lithuania, and is responsible for shaping the state cultural heritage protection policy and strategy, for monitoring and control of its implementation. The Council for Protection of Ethnic Culture is a state advisory and expert institution on issues dealing with ethnic culture.

The most prominent cultural body of the Ministry is the Lithuanian Culture and Arts Council. Established in 1991, it was reorganised several times during the 1990s. The functions of the Council are to analyse the processes of cultural development, make proposals on cultural policy measures, provide recommendations to the Ministry on various issues of culture life, legislation, allocate state scholarships for artists, etc. The Council comprises 15 members, elected for two years: 7 members are delegated by the Lithuanian Art Creators' Association, 5 are nominated by the Minister of Culture, and the rest are nominated by the Museums' Association, the Libraries' Council, and the Collegium of Cultural Self-Government.

The Collegium of Cultural Self-Government, established in 1993 and functioning under the Ministry of Culture, provides advice and recommendations to the Minister on cultural policy issues with regard to municipalities and regions, legislation, financial support to cultural activities in regions and municipalities. Its members (13) are administrators and managers responsible for cultural affairs in municipalities and regions and are elected every year at an annual meeting of the Collegium.

There are 60 local governments (municipalities) and 10 higher administrative units, i.e. counties (apskritys) in Lithuania. The counties (apskritys) were re-established in 1994. The local authorities have the right of self-governance granted to them under the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (1992) and the Law on the Amendment of the Law on Local Self-Government (2000). They have a right to establish committees (boards) to deal with cultural policy issues. Each municipality has units or special staff responsible for culture management. Local authorities are elected every four years (the last election was in 2003).

Local authorities are responsible for the financing and maintenance of local cultural institutions and for culture heritage. Counties perform management functions delegated by the state. Some of them have specialists dealing with cultural development within a county (region). However, cultural administration is quite weak at the county level. The sharing of responsibilities between state, counties and municipalities needs to be further developed.

In 2002, the Lithuanian currency Litas (LTL) was related to the euro: 1 euro = LTL 3.45. In May 2004, Lithuania joined the EU.

Lithuania/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

There is no permanent governmental structure for inter-ministerial or inter-governmental co-operation. Inter-ministerial co-operation usually functions, when ad-hoc governmental commissions, committees, working groups, etc. are established. The Ministry of Culture naturally co-operates with other ministries (horizontal ties) in matters relating to copyright, heritage and terrains protection, local self-government, tourism, international cultural co-operation and representation of Lithuanian culture abroad, as well as in the fields of economy, social affairs, education in the arts, media, etc. 

The government Department of National Minorities and Lithuanians Living Abroad forms and implements the government policy on national minorities residing in the territory of the Republic of Lithuania. In implementing that policy, the Department assesses their needs, drafts international treaties on the protection of rights and the integration of persons belonging to national minorities into the society. This Department also implements the government's policy on Lithuanian Diaspora residing abroad.

The role of inter-ministerial co-operation has increased during the process of Lithuania's accession to the EU.

Lithuania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

During the past 5 years, Lithuania's international cultural policy was oriented towards the implementation of bi-lateral or departmental cultural agreements and action plans. 25 intergovernmental and 6 departmental cultural agreements were signed. Focus has been placed on Lithuania's participation in the Council of Europe, the EU cultural programs and in major European culture events (Frankfurt, Göteborg book Fairs, Venice Biennale, Berlin Film Festival etc.). The field of international cultural co-operation has become abundant with opportunities and is being established on various levels between: Lithuanian and foreign authorities (ministries, departments); culture and arts institutions; artists' organisations; non-governmental organisations; foundations; and private cultural bodies.

In 2001, the government passed the Resolution on the Establishment of the Position of Culture Attaché of the Republic of Lithuania. Culture co-operation hence became an important factor in Lithuania's foreign diplomacy. Recently, Lithuania has become concerned about the representation of its culture abroad, and has therefore posted cultural attachés in France, the Russian Federation (Moscow and Kaliningrad), Sweden, Poland, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and the European Commission in Brussels.

Lithuania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

The Ministry of Culture is the main coordinator and financial supporter of international cultural co-operation. The Ministry's budget respectively was (in thous. LTL): 4 181 - in 2003; 4 830 - in 2004; 5 092 - in 2005. The continuous increase can be attributed to Lithuania's participation in major Europen cultural events, the establishment of the Lithuanian Institute, culture attaché activities, etc. A small share of the budget for international cultural co-operation is allocated by other Ministries (e.g., Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education and Science) and Departments (Department of National Minorities and Lithuanians Living Abroad, Culture Heritage Depatment).

In order to sustain representation of Lithuanian culture abroad, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a public institution, the Lithuanian Institute in 2001.  The Institute started its work in May 2002, and is financed by the Ministry of Culture. The establishment of the Lithuanian Institute was strongly supported by Swedish Institute. Its mission is to promote Lithuania's culture, art, science, and education abroad in consideration of the top priorities of the country's foreign policy. On the other hand, several cultural institutions of foreign countries are functioning in Lithuania (e.g. Goethe Institute, British Council, Information Centre of Nordic Countries, Polish, Italian, French Institutes and cultural centres).

Trans-national co-operation in the field of cultural education and training received new impetus following Lithuania's membership in EU in 2004. Higher art schools take part in student exchange programmes (e.g. Socrates, Erasmus, Comenius). A UNESCO Chair for Cultural Management and Cultural Policy was set up in cooperation with the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. A meeting of the European Council of Artists "Artists exploring Europe: Artistic Careers and Higher Art Education in Europe" was organised in Lithuania in 2004 in partnership with the Dutch Federation of Artists' Associations, the Netherlands Association of Professional Universities and Art Schools and the Boekmanstichting. UNESCO's regional meeting of experts on art education "Links between Art and Education" was held in Vilnius in 2005, with the aim to debate issues on national policy in the field of art education, training and re-training of art specialists, a role of creativity in schools and art studios, co-operation among culture institutions and local communities, etc.

With support of the EU Media Desk, the Lithuanian Theatre and Music Academy organised International Media Summer Studios for film producers. Other important cooperation platforms in this field include e.g. Baltic Films, an umbrella organisation which internationally promotes films from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and represents their works at major film festivals and markets.

In order to facilitate cooperation between Lithuanian state museums and others in Europe, the state set up a system of indemnities in 2003.

Lithuania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Lithuanian culture and arts institutions and non-governmental organisations participate in programmes initiated by the Council of Europe, European Union, UNESCO, and other international organisations and foundations. In 2001, Lithuania joined the European Union programme Culture 2000, and the European Cultural Programs Centre has been established as the Lithuanian coordinator for the programme. The Ministry of Culture and the Open Society Fund-Lithuania are founders of the Centre. The British Council and the Swedish Institute provide additional funding to the Centre.

Over the past 3 years, Culture 2000 provided support for 11 Lithuanian projects. More than 30 Lithuanian cultural operators participated as co-partners in various European projects. In 2003, the NGO "Media Desk" was established to coordinate the EU programme "Media Plus" and "Media - Training".

The 30th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage was organised in Vilnius, in 2006. This was seen as recognition by the UNESCO of the country's efforts to improve its cultural heritage policy. The Ministry of Culture is responsible for implementing and monitoring the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. In 2005, Vilnius was chosen as European Capital of Culture for the year 2009 together with Linz (Austria).

Close links are maintained with the other Baltic countries through programmes such as the festivals and symposiums organised by Ars Baltica. In addition to public institutions, some Lithuanian NGO's take part in Ars Baltica projects as well such as the International Contemporary Baltic Dance Festival, Festival of Small Film Forms "Nets", etc. In 2003, the Ministries of Culture of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a programme of cultural co-operation for the years 2003 - 2005. The Ministry of Culture also signed a Protocol for cultural cooperation and interchange with Kaliningrad (Russian Federation) for the period 2003 - 2005.

Lithuanian state institutions, culture and art organisations, NGO's (especially from the regions), permanently promote the projects and ideas of Nordic art and culture in Lithuania aimed at developing Nordic-Lithuanian cultural cooperation. In this context, the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Vilnius plays a key role in co-ordinating and elaborating joint bilateral or multilateral projects. The Nordic Culture Fund supports small and big projects of Nordic-Baltic co-operation within the fields of art, theatre, music and new media.

Lithuania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

Since its Declaration of Independence in 1990, one of the main features of Lithuania's international cultural co-operation policy was directed to the Nordic countries. Nordic-Baltic co-operation in the past years was developed and created positive results in all sectors of art and culture.

In order to stimulate closer cultural co-operation in the Nordic-Baltic area, a Baltic Cultural Centre was established in Stockholm in 1998 by Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Swedish culture ministers. To this end, the Ministers also signed a multilateral agreement. The Centre functioned until 2005 and was the main coordinator and organizer of Swedish-Baltic cultural contacts. Around 70% of Centre's budget for projects' was covered by Swedish Institute.

Cultural heritage co-operation in the Baltic Sea States was initiated in the 1990s by the Ministers of Culture. The result was the creation of a network of institutions and a longer term programme. Co-operation is focused on monitoring and implementing activities in the fields of underwater heritage, costal culture and maritime heritage, building preservation and sustainable historic towns.

The project "Cross-border cooperation in the Baltic countries and North-west Russia" was completed at the end of June 2005. A new project has since emerged. In June 2005, the Steering Committee of the EU Baltic Sea Region Interreg III B Neighbourhood Programme agreed to finance the project "Baltic Euroregional Network" (BEN), with a budget of ca 1.4 million euros. The project was launched in September 2006 and will address social, environmental and economic issues related to tourism, cultural co-operation and heritage protection.

Trans-national co-operation, cultural programmes/networks are a great means to strengthen international ties and they have created many opportunities for Lithuanian artists to find and work together with foreign partners, and to engage in activities independent from the state. For example, the Swedish National Concert Institute (Rikskonserter) and the Lithuanian Music Associations, realised a two year bilateral project "Musical Links: Sweden-Lithuania 2002-2003", which received great reviews from the public and the press.

Lithuania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

The government does not have a special programme to support cross-border intercultural dialogue. However, the issue is included in the Government's Programme and Action Plan as well as in the Regulations and Strategic Plans of the Ministries. In practice, cross-border intercultural co-operation projects, initiated by regional or local authorities, twin cities, neighbouring national communities are considered to be more flexible and dynamic.

Over the last years, there has been an increase in government support for young people engaged in trans-national co-operation. The Ministry of Culture provides travel grants and scholarships for young artists, who participate in international festivals, art exhibitions, performances, workshops, training courses, conferences, artists' residencies, etc. Through competitions, the Ministry supports young artists' projects to be realised in foreign countries. In 2003, the government approved the Young Artists' Support Programme, which aims to facilitate young artists' training, social situation, to promote creativity, integration in country's cultural development and become competitive on the international art market.

One of the best examples was the PIPE project, realised in 2000 by 7 countries (Baltic states, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia) in the framework of Special Action in Favour of the Baltic Sea Region (PHARE and Interreg III B). Among the social and educational aims, the project was focused on strengthening cultural exchange among young people, to maintain and develop local and regional identities and to encourage youth groups to take part in the development of local and regional communities. As a follow-up to this project, the partners created the "Innovation Circle" project which was launched in 2006.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Lithuania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

Lithuanian communities living abroad are registered in 35 countries. They are united in the World Lithuanian Community (WLC), a non-governmental organisation with the centre in Vilnius.

In 2000, the Department of National Minorities and Lithuanians Living Abroad together with the WLC and the Department of Science and Studies under the Ministry of Education and Science established a public institution called the "Overseas Lithuanian Support Centre". The main goal of the Centre is to promote Lithuanian communities living abroad.

In 2004, the government passed the Resolution on Approval of the Maintenance Programme for Lithuanian Communities Abroad 2004-2006. Implementing the Programme, the Department of Science and Studies supports educational, cultural, social activities of Lithuanian communities living abroad. In 2005, the Coordination Council for analyzing and evaluating programmes of Lithuanian communities living abroad was established. Many of Lithuanian communities have developed educational, cultural, social infrastuctures: schools, culture centres, archives, publishing houses, museums, churches, youth organisations, folk festivals, etc.

The number of Lithuanian emigrants substantially increased after joining EU in May 2004: according to press information, about 250 000 Lithuanians moved to EU countries, and it is a rather big percent of the total population of 3.45 million. The largest Lithuanian emigration wave during the last 2-3 years left mainly for Ireland and Great Britain. This is mainly due to the opening of legal work opportunities in Great Britain and Ireland following the EU enlargement process. The number of Lithuania citizens estimated to be living in Britain is as high as 100 000. According to the British employee registration scheme in 2005, Lithuanians constituted 17% of all newly registered EU citizens in Great Britain.

Lithuania/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

The government's 1994 programme underlined that it was important to "complete the model of Lithuanian cultural policy". However, to define the model was complicated and a controversial task at the time. In practice the "model" was understood as a legal document, where cultural policy objectives, guidelines and tasks for particular cultural sectors and cultural development should be indicated.

The ideas of the model were expressed in the Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy (2001). One of the important tasks outlined in the document as required for further cultural development was decentralisation of the cultural administration. This process more or less was the same as in most other post-communist countries, which faced major problems including legal, managerial, financial as well as the lack of experience among administrators to share functions and responsibilities between various managing bodies.

A challenge was posed by the process of decentralisation and the redistribution of financial and managerial responsibilities between different levels of government - state, counties and municipalities. A longer-term objective has been to move all territorially decentralised art and cultural institutions (cultural centres, public libraries, museums etc.) under the jurisdiction and financial control of the municipalities. Several important cultural funds (Culture and Sport Fund, Media Support Foundation) were established in order to endow independent bodies to take decisions on cultural development and funding.

From a legal point of view, decentralisation has been facilitated by the passing of the Law on the Amendment of the Law on Local Self-Government (2000), which grants local self-governments legal and administrative capacities to shape and implement cultural policy in line with their communities' needs. In 2002, the Cultural Development Programme of the Regions was adopted by the government and aims to form the administrative, financial, legal and information basis for the development of regional (counties) culture.

Several important cultural bodies were created (see also 2.1 and 2.2) as part of the decentralisation process. However, they do not correspond to the "arm's-length" classic model. The real impact on cultural and artistic processes of these bodies is still minor, primarily due to the lack of control of financial resources and limited intervention into cultural development. 

These reforms and challenges have shaped and still affect the cultural policy model in Lithuania. The system of cultural administration was created along the principles of decentralisation and upon models for co-operation between different policy levels (state - regions - local self-government). In general, the state has a dominant and decisive role in most issues of culture administration, financing and information dissemination. The current overall process of administrative management reform in the government may help to shift the speed of reform in the cultural sector.

Lithuania/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

There is no "national" definition of culture. The term "culture" in Lithuania has a very broad meaning. Traditionally, it covers all fields of artistic expression, creation and presentation (art, architecture, music, performing arts, literature, etc.), as well as cultural heritage, amateur arts, participation in cultural life, products created by or thanks to culture and arts institutions, etc.

In the Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy (2001) Lithuania's culture is defined as an

"expression of the creative powers of an individual and the nation, guarantee of their identity and persistence; it shapes and depicts spiritual values and tangible properties, helps to educate a democratic, free and open society, promotes social and economic development of the state and reinforces its security".

Lithuania/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

In the State's Long-term Development Strategy (2002) the aims of Lithuanian culture policy are "to preserve and promote common European cultural values and national identity, to warrant its prolongation, openness and competitiveness in contemporary Lithuanian, European and the World cultural context".

The Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy (2001) and The Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Culture for the year 2006-2008 set several cultural policy objectives:

These objectives reflect the Council of Europe's cultural objectives, including the promotion of identity, diversity, support to creativity and participation in cultural life.

Cultural identity of Lithuanian culture has played a crucial role in the liberation process and throughout the five decades of Soviet rule. Today it is associated with fostering the use of the national language, state protection of the ethnic culture, national heritage, and support to national minorities living in Lithuania.

Promotion of creativity, i.e. of artists, has also been an important policy issue. In the 1990s, a system of state support for artists (scholarships, grants, awards, etc.) was established along with other forms of financial and social aid. The Culture and Sports Support Fund (established in 1998) is one example. A legal basis was developed to address the status of artists, and the Law on the Status of Art Creator and Art Creators' Organisations (2004) was passed by Seimas in 2004.

Openness of national culture aims to stimulate international cultural cooperation, representation of national culture abroad and culture of other nations in Lithuania.

Participation in cultural life is oriented towards accessibility and creation of conditions for society and communities to take part in various forms of cultural activities.

Lithuania/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

The governments' programme for the year 2001-2004 and 2004-2006 and the Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy (2001) accentuate the following cultural issues:

Most of these priorities indicated in the government's programme and Principles were implemented. However, some issues remain unsolved or continue to require more attention. For example: the National Programme of Culture and its Action Plan remained at the initial stage and were not passed; there have been many debates on the status of artists and difficulties in the preparation of several cultural laws; the formation of the cultural heritage strategy has been faced with legal controversies.

Public debates in 2002 (weekly 7 Meno dienos) renewed many hot items of debate in the field of culture and cultural policy. The Vice-Minister of culture stressed at the time, that the "material facilities of cultural institutions are catastrophic". This statement confirmed the long-term problem of small capital investment in the cultural sector. The debates also revealed a contraposition between the state's culture administration system and independent art institutions and initiatives. They showed that issues on cultural policy should be continually discussed. However, culture is still not important for politicians and remains in periphery during electoral campaigns.

In the 14th government programme for the year 2006-2008, investment in culture and development of cultural democracy are among the state's priorities alongside education, science, public health.

Lithuania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

Since the early 13th century, the Lithuanian State has been multinational, multilingual, multicultural and multireligious. According to the population census of 2001, there are 3 445 000 people living in Lithuania including 115 different nationalities. Lithuanians make 83.4% of total population, living in the country.

Table 1:     Major minority groups of Lithuania, 2001

Population breakdown

% share of total population











Source:      Population census of 2001.

There is no definition of the term "national minority" in Lithuanian law. The State's legislation guarantees that everyone has the right to choose / or not to which national minority he / she belongs. Therefore, the terms "official" or "non-official status" of national minorities is not used in practice.

The main institution moulding and implementing the state's policy for national minorities is the Department of National Minorities and Lithuanians living Abroad under the Government of Lithuania.

Lithuania was the first country of Central and East Europe, which passed the Law on National Minorities (1989, amended in 1991). This law guarantees the right of national minorities to receive state support for fostering of their national culture, access to information and press in their native language and to establish cultural and educational organisations.

The State Language Law (1995) gives national minorities the right to publish information and organise events in their native language alongside the official language (Lithuanian). The Lithuanian state television and radio programmes also broadcast programmes in languages other than Lithuanian and books and newspapers are available in the languages of the national minorities.

The Law of Education (1991, amended in 2003) states that educational institutions must incorporate information on ethnic cultures into their curricula and that national minorities should have access to pre-and post-grade schools funded by the state, including lessons in their own language. According to the data of the Ministry of Education and Science, in the 2003 - 2004 academic year there were 1 816 schools of general education in Lithuania, among them 1 616 in Lithuanian language, 142 in Russian, Polish and Byelorussian educational languages and 59 mixed schools with classes of different educational languages.

In 2000, the Seimas of Lithuania ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities (1995).

In 2002, the Minister of Education and Science passed the resolution Principles of Education of National Minorities, which determined minorities' education linguistic, financing principles.

In 2004, the government approved the Programme of Integration of National Minorities into Society for the years 2005 - 2010. The Programme foresees three objectives:

Several Ministries (Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education and Science), state Departments and the National Radio and TV are involved in the implementation of the Programme.

The state provides financial support for institutions such as the Russian Drama Theatre of Lithuania and the Vilnius Gaon Jewish State Museum of Lithuania as well as for municipalities with a large number of national minorities e.g., in the South-East region of Lithuania (Visaginas) where Polish and Russian minorites dominate.

Cultural issues of national minorities play an important role in their organisations and NGO's activities (285 NGO's of national minorities at the beginning of 2004). Two Yiddish Congresses were organised in Vilnius (2001, 2004), and the club of Lithuanian Jews functions in Vilnius. Song and music festivals of Polish, Byelorussian, and Ukrainian communities are organised. The Government of Lithuania approved in 2000 the Programme of Integration of Gipsies into Lithuanian Society, and the document defined tasks and areas for development of social, educational, and cultural life of a very small community of Gipsies in Lithuania (about 3 000). Following the Programme, the centre of Gipsies was established in 2001.

Lithuania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

According to the State Language Law (1995), Lithuanian is the official language of the country. The Lithuanian Language State Commission is responsible for setting objectives regarding the use of the official language including approving standards. It functions under and is responsible to the Seimas (Parliament). Control over the use of the state language is under the State Language Inspectorate, which functions under the Ministry of Culture. The Law on State Language Inspectorate was passed in 2001.

The other most spoken languages are Russian and Polish.

See also 4.2.1 on regulations pertaining to the use of national minority languages.

Lithuania/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

One of the main objectives outlined in the Principles of Lithuanian Cultural Policy (2001), is to promote the openness of Lithuanian national culture. This is to be achieved through programmes to promote Lithuania's culture abroad as well as those to familiarise the local population with the culture of other nations.

In 2004, the Programme of Integration of National Minorities into Society for the years 2005 - 2010 was approved by the Government. Its goal is to integrate national minorities into Lithuanian social, cultural, economical life, while at the same time, providing support for the preservation of the ethnic identity of minorities and the development of coherent relationships among minorities. Several Ministries are involved in the implementation of the Programme including: the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Department of National Minorities and Lithuanians Living Abroad, National Radio and TV broadcasters.

Regions with a large population of national minorities (e.g. the South-East region of Lithuania, Visaginas municipality) have special cultural programmes and education plans to activate intercultural dialogue among members of the local communities. For example, the National Minorities Cultural Centre of Visaginas City. In this city, there are 38 national minorities; 80% of them speak in Russian. There are several other activities which are supported by the local authority such as programme to promote the cultural traditions of the ethnic communities or non-formal inter-linguistic courses. The aim of these activities is to integrate Visaginas' community into the cultural, social life of the state and to stimulate regional economic development as Visaginas maintains the Ignalina's Nuclear Power Plant. Since 2005, the NGO Young People Association Round Table functions in Visaginas as a centre for various intercultural youth initiatives. This Association recently joined the European programme „All different, all equal".

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

For more information on the government's National Strategy for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue please see:

Lithuania/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

In the Government's Programme (2006-2008), social cohesion is defined as one of the aims of the State's policy: the statement "to reduce social disjuncture" foresees minimising disparities of society and gives priority to investments in the political, economic, social, science and cultural sectors. Equal access to culture and participation in cultural life are emphasised in the Principles of Lithuanian Cultural Policy (2001). The Regional Culture Development Programme (2002) and the State's Support to Young Artists Programme (2003) include measures to promote participation in regional cultural events and actions as well as to facilitate the integration of young artists into art market.

In 2005, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Social Security and Labour published a study which revealed important facts linking the economic and social situation of the population with the role of cultural services. According to study, 41% of respondents believed that cultural education and activities play a key role in preventing the isolation of social risk groups and young people (Cultural Demands of Lithuanian People, 2004. P. 88).

While the State is the main supporter of above mentioned social cohesion programmes and action plans, there are more and more initiatives originating from the private sector. For example, private cultural institutions and NGOs have been involved in the implementation of various social cohesion actions such as the Open Air Museum of the Centre of Europe (Sculpture Park), located in surroundings of Vilnius. The museum organises programmes for disabled people, and recently participated in a Culture 2000 project, Artistic Parks in Nature: the Bridge for Teaching Contemporary Art in Schools, 2005, which involved young people and professional artists from different countries. The project, Užupio Respublika (Republic of Užupis), located in the Old City of Vilnius, was started by a group of young artists in 90s and became one of the main attractive places for art shows, festivals, performances. The Republic is a communitys art and culture centre, has its own gallery, internet site and journal (http://wiki.už, anthem, constitution, president. This innovative idea of an "independent republic with traditions and mythology" strongly fostered the community's participation in cultural actions, understanding of solidarity and common cultural values.

Lithuania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

In 1996, the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania was established by the Law on Provision of Information to the Public. At that time, considerable attention was devoted to the issue of monitoring and to the question of how to ensure the compliance of broadcasters and re-broadcasters to the terms and conditions of their licences and to provide for the establishment of fair, objective and transparent rules. A new programme was subsequently developed including new monitoring guidelines. One of the results of this exercise was better and effective co-operation between the Commission and the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics. There was also more transparency in ascertaining whether violations brought upon by the broadcasters were based on objective, well-founded and indisputable arguments. It also became clearer how broadcasters and re-broadcasters complied with the requirements set forth for advertising in television programmes by the Law on Provision of Information to the Public.

In March 2005, a self-regulatory institution, named "Lietuvos Reklamos biuras" (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 safeguarding consumers' interests.

Table 2:     Radio programs, by volume in hours, 2005


Lithuanian national radio

Non-public radio

Original programs

144 550

247 792

Foreign radio programs


16 107

Joint programs



Source:      Statistics Lithuania. Culture, press, sports. 2005

Table 3:     Television programs, by volume in hours, 2005


Lithuanian national television

Non-public television

Original programs

4 936

64 943

Foreign television programs

1 001

40 602

Joint programs


6 516

Source: Statistics Lithuania. Culture, press, sports. 2005

Lithuanian National Radio and Television (Lietuvos Nacionalinis Radijas ir Televizija) is a non-profit public broadcasting company. LRT operates two national television channels and two national radio channels. The Lithuanian Radio and Television Council oversees the operations of LRT according to the Law on Provision of Information to the Public and the Law on Lithuanian Radio and Television (1996). LRT receives about 75 percent of its funding from the Lithuanian government (LTL 38.369 million in 2005). A licensing fee or tax has been proposed as a future source of income for the LRT. Although predominantly government financed, the LRT does sell advertising time and space.

6.8% of the total of the national TV programming time is dedicated to culture and cultural heritage, 28% - information, 12.4% - social life, 3.5% - national minorities and religion. 8.6% of the national Radio programming time is dedicated to culture (data of 2005). In 2003, the LTV2 (second programme) was launched and is dedicated to broadcasting cultural, educational, regional, information programmes. The Lithuanian Radio programme (Klasika - Classics) is designed for culture and art. This Radio programme includes broadcasts in Lithuanian, as well as in the languages of national minorities - Russian, Polish, Jewish, Tatars, Ukrainian, Belarusian, etc.

The Law on Provision of Information to the Public (1996, amended in 2000) sets forth procedures regarding the collection and preparation of public information for publication. It also outlines the rights, duties, and responsibilities of entities preparing and disseminating information (including journalists and institutions) as well as ownership regulations. The law stipulates state support for cultural and educational activities of public information providers such as radio and television broadcasters.

In 2006, the Radio and Television Commission signed an agreement on co-operation with the Institute of Journalism of Vilnius University. Both institutions agreed to take part in activities aimed at acquainting students with legislation regulating the audio-visual sector including its practical application. Training seminars and discussions on the media's mission in society were organised which addressed questions such as the professional role and contribution of journalists to television and radio.

Lithuania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

Over the past 5-7 years, the concept of the cultural industries has been linked to book publishing, press, film production, radio and TV broadcasting and the audio-visual market. Approaches on creative industries emerged following a series of international conferences and the publication of several research studies on the topic. The processes of privatisation and free market formation also influenced the current understanding of creative industries as wide field of culture, art, entertainment, cultural services, etc. Creative industries could be defined as an industry covering both the fields of traditional and modern art and culture from artistic creation to its distribution and commercialisation. According to this definition, creative industries include visual arts, architecture, industrial design, fashion, literature, music, theatre, dance, crafts, photography, cinema, media art, software and computer services, advertising, other fields of production and distribution of art and culture (e.g., galleries, press, publishing, etc.).

The content of the creative industries was discussed at a conference "Creative Industries: A European Opportunity" (2003) and during the forum "European Opportunity: Creative Industries for Regional Development" (2005), both held in Vilnius. The main organizers of the meetings were the European Cultural Programs Centre and the British Council Lithuania. Participants from the Baltic States and the United Kingdom discussed the creative industries as one of the essential components of cultural policy, a factor of economic competitiveness, as an element of economic and social cohesion, as well as its positive impact on national/regional image building. According to research data, the creative industries sector produced 2.0% of Lithuania's GDP in 2002.

The Media Programme Desk supports annual Summer Media Studios, organised by the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre as well as allocates money for training courses and scholarships.

Book publishing

Publication of books (including digital publication) and film production are supported by the state budget through the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education and Science, Culture and Sport Support Fund, Media Support Foundation. Allocations are granted upon recommendations made by related expert commissions.

In 1992, the Ministry of Culture started a book publishing support programme. Priorities for financing included: original fiction, children and humanitarian literature, translations of Lithuanian literature, heritage of literature. In 2005, the state allocated LTL 7.5 million to book publishing, acquisitions for libraries and for activities such as participation in book fairs and book competitions, translations, etc.

Book publishing has been markedly influenced by the privatisation process: in 2001 - 2003, there was only one state-owned publishing house, however, the state had share holdings in two other main houses. In 1998, the NGO Lithuanian Books was founded with the aim to promote and distribute Lithuanian books. The Open Society Fund-Lithuania is the main non-government institution supporting book publishing. Private publishing houses have a right to submit projects for public support. Lithuania was the Guest country of the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2002 and the guest country at the Goteborg Book Fair in 2005.

The output of Lithuanian publishing houses is small: 37 publishing houses (out of a total of 503) produce about 80% of the books published. Only 3 - 4 publishing houses produce more than 100 titles per year (data of 2003-2004). Publishing houses are basically oriented towards the needs of the local market, which is rather small. In 2005, 4 223 book and brochure titles were published in Lithuania, among them 1 304 fiction titles (compared to 2004 - 4 559 and 1 169). About 83.8% are published in Lithuanian, the rest in Polish, Russian, English, etc. 29.7% of books and brochures published in Lithuanian are translations (2005).

New initiatives in the culture industries have been developed through electronic publishing and e-trade in the book market, although these technologies have only become available recently.

Film production

The turning-point in the development of Lithuanian film production was 1992, when the production of independent film studios exceeded state film production twofold. During the period of independence (1990 - 2003) there were about 40 film studios, however only 10 of them are constantly active in the film sector.

Table 4:     Number of state film productions, 2005


Full length

Short length






















Source:      Baltic Films. Facts and figures. 2005.

The state supports film production by financing projects of both state and private film studios which are selected by experts commissioned during specific competitions. However, the state's financial support is not sufficient: LTL 4.464 million (1.283 million euros) were allocated to film production and for subtitles in 2004 and LTL 4.384 million (1.270 million euros) in 2005. The Media Programme Desk provides financing for Lithuanian film development, distribution, training and scholarship, and total sum was 346 400 euros in 2005. Film production is also supported by the Lithuanian Culture and Sport Support Foundation (800 000 LTL in 2005).

Over last fourteen years, over 40 film new production companies emerged. Independent film companies' production output makes up most of the national film production. Producers of Lithuanian films increasingly pursue co-production possibilities with foreign film companies, and the process sped up after joining the EU. According to the research study Lithuanian Cinema in 1990-2004, foreign investment into Lithuanian features equals the funding provided from the state budget. European film support funds are an essential source for national film production.

Due to privatisation, the number of cinemas has dropped drastically (from 209 in 1995 to 55 in 2005). Films produced in Lithuania represent only 1% of the films shown in commercial cinemas. There was only 1 state owned and 6 private film distribution firms in 2002. The Lithuanian Film Studio was privatised in 2003.

Radio / TV Broadcasting

The State supports the national TV and Radio. In 2005, the budget of the national TV and Radio was LTL 38.4 million. The Media Support Foundation (established in 1996) according to the Law on Provision Information to the Public (1996, amended in 2000), is financed by the state and is responsible to the Seimas. In 2004, the Foundation allocated LTL 3.6 million, and in 2005 LTL 3.8 million for book publishing, press, audiovisual, digital, regional TV and Radio broadcasting.

Besides national TV and Radio, there were 47 radio broadcasters and 30 television broadcasters and 55 cable television operators in Lithuania in 2005. Information programmes (news, comments) equal the lion's share of original national and non-public television and radio programmes.

TNS Gallup advertising market research (2005) shows that the real income earned by the media channels is below expectations. It should be noted that the share of television advertising in the general advertising market in Lithuania is the largest in the Baltic States.

Table 5:     Advertising income breakdown according to the media channels, in %, 2005











Outside advertising






Source:      Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania. Report to the Seimas. 2005.

The audio-visual market suffers from the influx of illegal products and their distributors. This sector still is without statistical data and comprehensive research. The Association of the Lithuanian Music Industry, established in 1992, is one of the active institutions fighting against piracy.

Lithuania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

There are no special strategies designed to stimulate employment in the cultural sector.

Training and re-training programmes have been set up for employees working in the cultural sector including courses on culture management and theoretical / practical aspects of culture. These programmes are provided by the Lithuanian Cultural Administrators Training Centre, which functions under the Ministry of Culture. Some of the Centre's programmes are oriented to re-train specialists in the culture sector or to provide additional professional skills.

Lithuania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

In 2000, the Government of Lithuania approved the Programme of Lithuanian language in information society for the year 2000-2006. The objectives of the programme are automatic translation, identification of Lithuanian language, installation of programmes with the Lithuanian language data.

In 2001, the government adopted the National Concept for the Development of Information Society and a strategic plan for its implementation. New technologies became a key-issue in culture policy by the end of the 1990s and the development of the information society is a strategic cultural objective outlined in the Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy 2001. One of the main aims is to create an integrated communication network and several databases for the cultural sector, starting with libraries, museums and cultural heritage.

In 1997, the Lithuanian Libraries Integral Information System (LIBIS) was launched. The main aim of the Programme is to create national databases of bibliographies and to design library catalogues. The LIBIS program has been introduced in the National Library, 5 regional, 46 (of 60) municipal libraries, 1 (of 16) university library and in 7 special libraries (data of 2003). The total financing of this programme is LTL 20.73 million. In 2002, the government approved the Libraries renovation and modernisation programme for the year 2003 - 2013.

The Draft of the Museums Renovation Programme foresees the production of computerised catalogues for national collections and archives. New technologies are being used to digitally preserve oral cultural heritage and find application in arts education.

An on-line network to distribute information on the arts and artists is being set up by the Lithuanian Institute. The Media Support Foundation allocates financing for Internet projects.

Lithuania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

The protection of cultural heritage is one of the priority areas and remains one of the pillars of the state's cultural policy. Its importance was emphasised in the government programmes of 1991 and 1994 and all subsequent governments have declared the protection and preservation of the national cultural heritage to be a fundamental goal. In 1996, the Law on the Basic National Security of Lithuania defined cultural heritage as a national security object.

Cultural heritage policy comprises a number of interrelated elements: cultural heritage protection, accounting, research, promotion, administration and, legislation. The Principles of Lithuanian Cultural Policy (2001) indicate the government's intention to create a long-term programme for cultural values preservation.

The management of cultural heritage protection, activities and structures remain subjects for debate. During the last years, these public debates have led to the development of new administrative methods in the field of cultural heritage and have identified several legal issues which need to be addressed. For example, the results of the 2002 Lithuanian Culture Congress led to the setting up of a public commission to inspect the state of the old town in Vilnius and to present ideas for its preservation.

Heritage (monument) protection is a permanent focal point in the Lithuanian media. Several public "resolutions" and "appeals" have been highly concerned with the state of heritage monuments, especially of old towns, buildings and protected terrains. Municipalities demanded that the state pay more attention to the protection of cultural property in their areas. The Law on the Protection of Immovable Culture Heritage (2004) was an important document, which delegated more heritage protection functions to local authorities. In recent times, the municipalities have started to decline the services of experienced heritage specialists to assist them in their tasks.

One of the painful problems in heritage sector during the last decade was training and educating cultural heritage decision makers and managers. The role of authorities grew with the inclusion of historic towns, terrains, natural sites in specific categories of protection on e.g. the List of World Heritage. Competence, legislation and planning norms assumed exclusive importance in decision making. Significant results in the education of decision makers, officials and managers in the field of cultural heritage protection were achieved due to allocations made from the World Heritage Fund to support training activities. As a result of this activity, the NGO Academy of Cultural Heritage was established in 1998. The Academy organizes a series of national level meetings of professors and practitioners in the Baltic States in order to explore existing programs in heritage conservation. There are a handful of NGOs whose main activity is the protection of monuments and the provision of restoration and conservation services.

Lithuanian cultural and natural heritage on the UNESCO List of World Heritage are: Old City of Vilnius (1994), Curonian Peninsula (Kuršių Nerija, 2000), Archaeological terrain of Kernavė (2004), and Struvė's geodesic bend (2005). Lithuanian cross-making (2001) and the tradition of Song Festivals (together with Latvia and Estonia, 2003) are also included on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The main challenges still facing the heritage sector are insufficient funding for the protection of monuments and very small private capital investments. The state's budget for heritage (monuments) protection was LTL 24.7 million in 2005.

During the last year new forms of cooperation between heritage institutions and other sectors (tourism agencies, schools, local communities, business centres, etc.) emerged. Cultural tourism project "Panemuniu ziedai" (Blossom of Panemune) was established by Tauragė county to develop cultural and leisure programmes beside historical monuments located along the river Nemunas.

The network of Lithuanian museums comprises national, state, counties, municipal, departmental and private museums. The total number of registered museums was 105 in 2005. The Ministry of Culture is the founder of 14 museums: 3 national and 11 state museums (2005). National museums have a separate budget line in the National budget and are financed directly by the Ministry of Finance. Local museums are founded and financed by municipalities.

In 2001, the Ministry of Culture set up 4 special work groups to draft the Programme of Museums' Modernisation, including the renovation of museums, modernisation of exhibitions and security systems, and accumulation of collections. However, the draft document is not yet completed.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Lithuania

Lithuania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

There are no special state policies or programmes to promote women's participation in cultural life or to improve their access to cultural labour markets. However, it is evident that women hold leading positions in culture departments within towns and municipalities, in culture and arts establishments, including national, non-governmental cultural and arts organisations, artistic groups and the like. In 2001, for the first time in Lithuania's history, a woman was appointed the Minister of Culture.

Lithuania/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

The status of the Lithuanian national radio and television (LRT) has been a key-issue in public political debates during the last years. LRT is a non-profit public broadcasting company. It operates one national television channel and two national radio channels and receives about 90% of its funding from the state budget and the remainder from income generated by commercial advertising.

The public debates have been focused on transforming the legal status of the LRT so that it could operate on the basis of funding received via licensing fees and taxes levied on the purchase of television sets. The content of commercial TV programmes has become an important element in the debates. According to a member of the Radio and Television Commission, professor of the Music Academy, "the paradox is that Lithuania has ratified the CE Convention on Transfrontier Television. This Convention is binding on all state and private television stations. The Convention states that programmes must preserve human dignity and fundamental human rights. However, laws of Lithuania establishing civil or criminal responsibility for propagation of violence, pornography, prostitution or sexual violence in the mass media are ineffective" (see: Radio and Television in Lithuania, 2003).

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

Several articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (1992) are related to culture.

Article 42: Culture, science, research and teaching shall be unrestricted. The state shall support culture and science, and shall ensure protection of monuments of Lithuania's history and art as well as of other cultural monuments and treasures. The law shall safeguard and protect the spiritual and material interests of authors relating to scientific, technical, cultural, and artistic work.

Article 45: Ethnic communities of citizens shall independently manage the affairs of their ethnic culture, education, charity, and mutual assistance. Ethnic communities shall be provided support by the state.

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

Competence in the cultural sector is defined by legislation. The state's (Ministry of Culture, other ministries) functions, role, activities and responsibility are defined by the Law of Government (1994) and the Regulation of the Ministry of Culture (2002).

The Law of Governance of County (2001) prescribes the functions of county governor administration, delegated by the state: to establish, reorganize or liquidate county's cultural institutions, and to control the implementation of state cultural policy in the regions. In practice the role and function of the governor's administration are rather narrow due a small number of regional institutions and insufficient financing.

The culture sector, as defined in the Law of Local Self-government (2000) has a "limited autonomous" status, i.e. not all municipal actions in culture (e.g. liquidation of important culture institutions) may be carried out independently, and the state (Ministry of Culture) has a right to interfere. Central Government institutions play a key role in culture heritage protection at national, regional and municipal levels.

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

The following two funds are responsible for allocating public money for culture: Media Support Foundation (established by the former Law on Public Information, 1996 and responsible to Seimas), and the Culture and Sport Support Fund (established by the Law on Culture and Sport Support Fund, 1998). Both are financed from the state budget. Financing priorities are defined in the Regulations of the Funds. One of the major priorities of the Media Support Foundation is dissemination of regional and ethnic culture, development of cultural awareness of society, unique cultural aspects of national communities, etc. The Culture and Sport Support Fund's financing priorities are dissemination of Lithuanian culture, participation of Lithuanian artists in international projects, translation and dissemination of Lithuanian literature, support to young artists' projects. The Funds are governed by boards and expert commissions.

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

Those working in the culture sector fall under the same social security or unemployment schemes as the rest of the population.

Additional support for artists is granted by the state:

The Law on the Status of Art Creator and Art Creators' Organisations (2004) defines social guarantees and financial obligations of the state to support artists and their organisations. The Law on Theatres and Concert Institutions (2004) provides legal provisions for social security coverage of personnel working in these institutions.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws

The Law on Charity and Support (2000, amended in 2004) addresses charities and their support to the development of programmes in science, culture and education, as well as programmes for the protection and restoration of cultural monuments. It has legalised the establishment of non-profit funding organisations. However, according to this law, VAT exemptions are applied only to government (state, municipalities) institutions.

The Law on Population Income Tax (2002) set a 15% royalty tax and gave the residents of Lithuanian the right to transfer up to 2% of income-tax to legal recipients of support.

VAT on goods and services is 18%. According to the Law on Value Added Tax (2002) a reduced rate of VAT 5% tax is applied to books, newspapers, magazines production, attendance at culture performances, services provided by artists, etc. VAT is not payed by culture services provided they are non-profit legal organisations.

The Law on Public Institutions (1996) provides a possibility for private cultural institutions to receive the legal status of non-profit organisations. Currently, NGOs operate in a variety of cultural, arts, artistic education, and cultural heritage fields.

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

See 5.3.2.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

The Law on Authors and Related Rights was adopted in 1999. It defines the system of protection and monitoring of authors and neighbouring rights and the responsibilities of respective institutions. In 1998, Lithuania ratified the Rome Convention on the protection of performers, phonogram producers and broadcasting organisations.

State policy in the field of copyright and related rights is implemented by the Ministry of Culture, which co-ordinates protection of the above rights in line with its competence.

The Law on Authors and Related Rights complies with the requirements of international law and ensures such protection of performers and producers of phonograms as are in effect in other European states. In 2000, the government approved the Copyright and Related Rights Protection Strategy covering a variety of measures of administration of those rights, financing, and co-operation between state institutions.

Copyright of Lithuanian and foreign authors is administered by the agency Lithuanian Author's Copyright Protection Association (LATGA-A) founded in 1991.

The Convention on the Protection of Phonogram Producers against Illegal Copying of their Phonograms was ratified by Lithuania in 1999. In 1999, the Association of Rights Related to Copyright (AGATA) was established with a view to administer the related rights of performers and producers of phonograms.

The most problematic area remains the fight against producers and distributors of illegal or pirate video and audio productions. According to the results of research carried out in 2001, 52% of respondents admitted to buying illegal CD productions.

Lithuania ratified the Bern Convention in 1996, the Rome Convention in 1998, and the Geneva Convention in 1999. It is a member of WIPO.

The sale of blank audio and videotapes remains tax-free. 

On 12 October 2006, the Lithuanian Parliament adopted amendments to the Act on Copyright and Related Rights which entered into force on 31 October 2006. These amendments are crucially important for Lithuania's audiovisual sector and are particularly required for the regulation of copyright and related rights in the presentation of the audiovisual works via new media services, e.g. mobile phones, internet, etc.. There have been some instances in Lithuania, where an entire programme or a part of it was broadcast on the Internet in exchange for payment without the consent of, or agreement with, the broadcaster. The act was amended with the aim of harmonising its provisions with EU requirements, namely the Directive 2001/84/EC on resale rights and Directive 2004/48/EC on enforcement of intellectual property rights.

The amended provisions of the act provide that the authors, the co-authors of audiovisual works as well as the performers retain the irrevocable right of remuneration for the rental of their audiovisual works, phonograms or copies thereof. The remuneration is to be paid by natural or legal persons to whom the right to rent audiovisual works, phonograms or their copies has been transferred or granted. Usually this right is secured through the work of collective societies.

The new amendments lay down the rules for the distribution of recordings of broadcasts after the first sale or other kinds of transfer of the ownership rights of the broadcast recordings. The new provisions of the Law foresees that the exclusive right to distribute recordings of broadcasts or their copies is exhausted in the territory of the European Economic Area in respect of those recordings or copies, which are sold by the broadcaster or its successor in title, or under the authorisation of any of these, and which are lawfully released into circulation in the territory of the European Economic Area.

Amendments were also made in Chapter VI of the law regarding the enforcement of copyright, related rights and sui generis rights. The amended provisions explicitly provide that not only the owners of these rights, but also the holders of exclusive licences and collective administration institutions, are entitled to bring a claim before the court in order to protect their rights.

Previously, the law foresaw an exhaustive list of actions, which were regarded as an infringement of the author's rights, related rights and sui generis rights. In the amended version of the law this is changed to a general clause under which all these actions are considered as constituting an infringement.

The law was also supplemented with a new provision regarding an author's non-property rights to computer programmes and electronic data. The provision provides that the above mentioned rights may not be used in such a way as to unreasonably constrain a holder's property rights to computer programmes and data, including the right to adapt, change and distribute these works.

For the purpose of protecting the author's interests, the Law provides that any action by a person, holding the author's economic rights, shall not violate the author's dignity and reputation.

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

Data are protected by the Law on Authors and Related Rights (1999). Copyright on computer and database authors and their assignees are administered by the copyright agency INFOBALT, founded in 1997. However, database protection is not sufficient.

Lithuania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

Under the State Language Law (1995), audiovisual programmes and films shown to the general public must be translated (dubbed) into Lithuanian or have Lithuanian subtitles. The Lithuanian state television and radio broadcasts programmes in other languages with translations into Lithuanian.

Commercial radio stations operating in Lithuania e.g. Polish and Russian Radio broadcasters, may provide programmes in languages other than Lithuanian (see also 4.2.3; 4.2.4; and 4.2.5).

Lithuania/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

Since the 1990s, the process of drawing up and adopting laws and other legal acts has often been rather complicated and hasty due to changing economic conditions, privatisation processes, incompatibility of legal acts (in fields other than culture), unduly prolonged consideration of draft laws, etc.

Despite these challenges, Lithuania's cultural legal framework is fairly well developed and operative for the time being. It currently regulates culture management, financing sources, the activities of culture and arts institutions, artists' organisations and sector specific fields.

The laws and regulations can be classified according to the following categories:

The state has developed a system of cultural institutions and provides guidelines for their registration, management and financing, and regulates their relations with independent public non-profit organisations. For instance, the Law on Budget Institutions enables the Ministry of Culture to influence the formation of a network of cultural institutions maintained from the state budget and provides the ministry with the power to re-organise and / or liquidate such institutions.

The Ministry of Culture, acting in accordance with the Law on Budget Composition (new version, 2000), and also taking into consideration the priorities established by the government, drafts a budget for culture and defines its strategic plans and activities.

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

There are no special laws or regulations for the visual or applied arts in Lithuania.

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

The new Law on Theatres and Concert Institutions (2004) provides legal provisions for social security coverage of personnel working in these institutions, state financing of these institutions as well as employment conditions. Labour contracts are to be negotiated between the creative personnel of the theatres and external concert organisations.

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

Since the restoration of independence in 1990, cultural heritage and its protection has been regarded as the most important priority of cultural policy in the programmes of all levels of government. The primary concern has been the development of a legal basis for the protection of monuments. During the 1990s, a number of laws and other legal acts were adopted which regulate a vast number of cultural heritage institutions and frame the administration for the preservation of monuments.

General heritage policy laws include:

The Law on the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage (2004) was amended in order to harmonise its commitments under the UNIDROIT Convention. The Law on the Protection of Immovable Culture Heritage (2004) includes several important changes in the administration of national heritage and requires more cooperation among government institutions. The Minister of Culture, responsible for the heritage sector, is to delegate more heritage protection functions to local authorities. The content of the law corresponds to regulations and other legal acts of the EU.

Operations and procedures: Regulation on State's indemnity for temporally imported cultural goods to Lithuania (2003).

In 2000 - 2001 the monument protection policy underwent a revision resulting in a framework for the reorganisation of the cultural heritage protection system. Objectives and tasks of an Integrated Heritage Protection Policy were drafted, and a Long Term Work Programme of Cultural Properties Protection was drawn up.

Museums: the Law on Museums (2003) defines the system of museums, their classification, stocktaking and other activities. The Museums Council was established in 2003 in accordance with the new law and acts as an advisory board to the Ministry on all issues related to museums.

Folk and ethnic traditions: the Law on the Principles of the State Protection of Ethnic Culture (1999) and the Seimas Resolution on Validation of the Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture and Regulations thereof (1999).

Archives: the Law on Documents and Archives (new edition, 2004).

Lithuania ratified the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1997), the UNESCO Convention on Prohibition Measures of Illegal Import and Export of Cultural Properties and Transfer of Property Rights (in 1998), the European Convention on the Protection of Architectural Heritage, and the European Convention on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage (both in 1999).

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

The Law on Libraries was passed in 1995. A new edition of the law was passed in 2004, and determines libraries' administration, system of libraries in the country, structure and protection of funding to purchase books.

The state provides financing for book publishing through the Ministry of Culture, the Culture and Sport Support Fund and the Media Support Foundation (see 4.2.5).

Public lending rights were adopted by a government resolution passed in 2002. The state budget allocation to reimburse authors for the public use of published books was LTL 400 000 in 2004 and 2005.

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

In 2001, Lithuania became a member of the Architects' Council of Europe (ACE) and began the process of organising its activities in compliance with European legislation on architecture and building policy. The Law on Building (new wording 2004) foresees the certification of architects and the establishment of an Architects Chamber. The Ministry of Environment is in charge of drafting new certification regulations for architects. The draft Law on Architects' Chamber is under consideration in the Seimas (Parliament). The Architects Chamber will be responsible for coordinating architects activities, their certification, supervising a code of ethics, technology, architect service issues, etc.  The Law on Authors and Related Rights (1999) defines architect authors rights on the creation of building projects, models, graphics, design, etc.

In 2001 the Law on Protected Terrains was adopted. It defines the establishment, administration and control of protected areas. Among other (natural, landscape) objects, it defines the terms to preserve cultural heritage monuments located in protected areas such as the 5 national and 30 regional parks in Lithuania. According to the Law on the Protection of Immovable Culture Heritage (2004), a new division on protected areas and heritage was established in the Ministry of Culture.

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

The Cinema Law was adopted by the Parliament (Seimas) in 2002 and sets forth the principles for managing the film system in Lithuania, film production and financing, regulating the activities of cinemas, protecting film heritage, disseminating cinema-related information to the public, and other issues. The law also provided for the establishment of the Film Council which acts as an advisory board to the Ministry of Culture and is responsible for evaluating film projects receiving state support, and for providing advice on film policy, production and distribution in Lithuania.

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

The Cinema Law (2002) stipulates that "national film production" should reflect key aspects of the Lithuanian culture, identity, and traditions. According to the Law, the Film Register was established in order to register films produced in Lithuania, and imported and shown in Lithuania. The Film Council (9 members) functions at the Ministry as an advisory board in the film production sector.

The state supports film production through competitions. According to the Film Law, income generated through the showing of commercial films must be channelled to support the production and showing of national films.

In 1999, the Seimas ratified the European Convention on Joint Film Production.

According to the Law on Value Added Tax (1993; amended in 2002), publishing, printing and the circulation of newspapers, magazines and books were given a VAT exemption from the regular 18% until the end of 2002. Since the beginning of 2003, new VAT rate of 5% tax is applied to books, newspapers, magazines production, attendance at culture performances, services provided by artists, etc. This development has increased publishing, printing and circulation costs.

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

In addition to national TV and Radio, there are 47 radio, 30 TV broadcasters and 55 cable television operators in Lithuania in 2005. The main source of income for independent radio and TV stations is advertising revenues. The Law on Advertising (2000), the Law on Provision Information to the Public (1996, amended in 2000), and the Convention "Television without Borders" (Lithuania ratified the Convention in 2000) set out the guidelines on the use of advertising in television and radio programmes, cinemas and video-studios.

The state and independent radio and TV stations are regulated by the Law on Provision of Information to the Public. According to this law, radio and televisions broadcasting companies (except the National Radio and National Television) are subject to the licensing requirements of the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania (RTCL). Licenses are granted by the Commission through a competition. Priority is given to broadcasters which pledge to provide original cultural, informative and educational programmes. Broadcasters are placed under restriction concerning programmes deemed erotic and / or violent. However, the situation in licensing of broadcasters is not satisfactory.

The difficulties in broadcasting are related to controversial legal articles. An existing system to ensure the priorities of public service broadcasting against commercial broadcasting is insufficient in Lithuania. The following statement by foreign experts on the broadcasting situation provides a good summary: "Lithuanian legal framework is not explicit on how this priority [of public service broadcasters] is given and how the necessary frequencies are assigned" (see: Radio and Television in Lithuania. 2003, p. 78).

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

The main legal document dealing with self-employed artists is the Law on the Status of Art Creator and Art Creators' Organisations (2004). It regulates provisions to obtain the professional status of "art creator", his / her social security, state's support to art creators and their organisations. 

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Lithuania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

The Law on Cultural Centres (2004) defines the establishment, reorganisation, financing, management and dismantling of cultural centres. There are three categories of culture centres: state, municipal and others (private, confessional community centres, agriculture company centres, etc.). According to the law, different categories of culture centres were adopted. The state is in charge of planning the strategy for cultural centres, to finance their main initiatives, to draft legal acts and to take responsibility for assessing the qualifications of personnel working in the cultural centres.

Lithuania/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

The % share of the Ministry of Culture's expenditure (including heritage protection and national institutions) in the overall state budget remains rather high - 1.7%- 2% during the last years. The share of culture financing in the National budget (the state's budget plus the aggregated budgets of the Municipalities) was 3% in 2004.

Financing for arts education, maintenance of higher art schools, supplementary art training is provided by the Ministry of Education and Science.

The decrease in cultural expenditure (1999-2001) was related to the recession and worsened social conditions following the Russian economic and financial crisis. The influences on the fluctuation of cultural expenditure are annual capital investments, establishing of new programmes and changes in the network of cultural institutions. 

The cultural expenditure of 10 counties (regions) is very low. Since 2003, counties' governor administrations receive financing for cultural activities in the regions (LTL 1.0 million per year). Additional financing for regions and cultural development programmes of the regions is included into the budget of the Ministry of Culture, Culture and Sports Support Fund and the Media Support Foundation.

The lion's share of both the central government and local self-governments budgets goes to the maintenance of cultural institutions: libraries, cultural centres, theatres and museums. The share of the central government in financing these institutions (libraries, museums, theatres and concert organisations) is rather high. The budget of national cultural institutions (7) amounts to 28.7%-29.7% of the budget, allocated to the cultural sector under the Ministry of Culture in the year 2004-2005. Municipalities spent about 48.2% of their total cultural budgets on cultural centres (2004).

Lithuania/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

In 2004, cultural expenditure per capita in relation to GDP was LTL 118.2 (ca. 34.2 euros). Total cultural expenditure in relation to GDP was 0.7% in 2004 (LTL 3.45 = 1 euro).

Lithuania/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

Table 6:     Public cultural expenditure*: by level of government, in million LTL, 2002-2004

Level of government





% of total


% of total


% of total





























Source:      the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Finance, 2005.
*                 excluding archives, National Radio and TV.

Lithuania/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

Table 7:     State cultural expenditure: sector breakdown, in thousand LTL, 2005

Field / Domain / Sub-domain

Direct expenditure

(to other levels of government)


% of total

Cultural Goods





Cultural Heritage





Historical Monuments

23 049

24 735

47 784



14 588

22 055

36 643








27 930

13 765

41 695







Visual Arts

1 091


1 091


Performing Arts







15 516

16 316


Theatre and Musical Theatre

40 070

25 705

65 775



8 806


8 806







Books and Press






4 279


4 279







Audio, Audiovisual and Multimedia






4 264


4 264


Radio / TV*
















1 720


1 720


Cultural relations abroad

5 092


5 092



19 124


19 124


Educational Activities





Not allocable by domain

6 322


6 710



157 835

102 164

259 999


Source:      Ministry of Culture, 2005.
*                 financing of archives and National Radio and TV are not included into the State's budget for culture.

Lithuania/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

The government's culture programme of 1991 had already indicated the willingness of the Ministry of Culture and other bodies of the central government to give up direct interference in the cultural sector. Cultural institutions were to be granted more autonomy, responsibilities were to be delegated to various levels of decision-making; opinions and proposals of art councils and other expert bodies were to be observed.

The central government and the Ministry of Culture have been trying to steer financing into a new direction by favouring new programmes (e.g. support for regional culture, festivals, ethnic programmes, young artists' projects, etc.) and enhancing third sector participation. Establishing the Culture and Sport Support Fund, Media Support Foundation allowed the state to transfer responsibilities to independent boards of the Funds. Privatisation of the Lithuanian Film Studio in 2003 transferred film manufacturing responsibilities to private sector.

Lithuania/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

There are 7 national institutions in Lithuania: the National Martynas Mažvydas Library, Lithuanian National Museum, Lithuanian Art Museum, National M.K.Čiurlionis Art Museum, National Opera and Ballet Theatre, Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, and Lithuanian National Philharmonic.

The founder of these entities is the Ministry of Culture, while funds are provided from the budget of the Ministry of Finance. The budget of national cultural institutions amounts to 28.7%-29.7% of the total budget allocated to the cultural sector under the Ministry of Culture in the year 2004-2005. National institutions play a key role in promoting and fostering professional arts in Lithuania and abroad, by collecting and preserving cultural properties and providing methodological assistance to "lower-rank" state and municipal institutions.

If seen from the totality of priorities outlined in the government's cultural policy, the reality is that the role of the Ministry of Culture has been to manage national institutions.

Lithuania/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

During the last 4-5 years there has been an increasing importance placed on the activities of independent or non-governmental cultural and arts organisations including theatre and modern dance groups, cinema, audio and video record studios, museums, galleries, heritage protection organisations, etc. For example, theatre directors Eimuntas Nekrošius and Oskaras Koršunovas, of renown throughout Europe, are directors of independent theatres.

Financing of the third sector (non-governmental institutions) comes from a variety of sources. State funding is generally allocated upon expert evaluation of candidate projects or programmes submitted for competition. These are usually launched in co-operation with foreign partners.

However, there is no elaborated audit and monitoring system within the third sector. In some cases, the state acts as a co-founder / establisher. Not all NGOs can be seen as promising and innovative, and their number has decreased in recent years. On the other hand, the potential development of an NGO will depend on its partners and co-operation of the state, private and independent institutions. For example, in 2002, the NGO "Art Publishing House" was established by the Vilnius municipality, the Open Society Fund, the Theatre and Cinema Information and Education Centre and the Lithuanian dance centre. It began with several very ambitious international dance, film, theatre, and other projects.

Partnership between state / regional / municipal cultural institutions and the private sector still needs to be encouraged. There has been a rather slow increase in the number of private sector cultural organisations mainly due to constraints of legal acts and procedures. On the other hand, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of privately established museums and galleries (e.g. Open Air Sculpture Museum "Europos centras" close to Vilnius; exhibition of Former Soviet Monuments in Grūtas park). The private sector is more developed in the entertainment industry.

Lithuania/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

Some of the most important challenges to be addressed in the future are devising additional special measures for artists, creating overall better conditions for creativity, improving the dissemination of arts productions, and establishing legal norms and social security for artists.

The state accounts for the lion's share in financing of artists and their organisations. Indirectly, artists are supported through tax exemptions to their organisations, for creative activities and on works of art. Support from private sponsors and the third sector has not succeeded in providing sufficient additional income. The Lithuanian arts market is rather limited and underdeveloped, and there is an imbalance between the quantity of arts productions on the market and society's buying power. The economic and social position of the artist, especially of freelance professionals, has naturally deteriorated.

Lithuania/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

Financing of artists' activities is provided mainly by the Ministry of Culture, Culture and Sport Support Fund, Media Support Foundation and the Media Programme Desk. The Ministry supports artistic projects (festivals, performances, exhibitions, international cooperation, playwrights, etc.; LTL 1.6 million in 2005), activities of artists associations (LTL 1.0 million), provides scholarships, covers the rents of artists, finances the annual National Culture and Art Awards as well as the Programme of State Support to Young Artists.

Lithuania/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships

In 2001, the government approved a new procedure for awarding grants to creators of art and culture. There are four types of grants: for strategic cultural and arts projects; individual grants; support to educational activities and to memorials. The amounts of the grants are determined by the Minister of Culture and quotas are set by the Lithuanian Council of Culture and Arts. In 2005, the Ministry's budget for scholarships and rent for artists was LTL 4.9 million.

In 2003, the government approved the Programme of State Support to Young Artists. It defines the means which state, local authorities, public organisations provide support to young artists' activities and projects: debuts, internships, master classes, etc. The total budget for the Programme was LTL 500 000 in 2006.

The state provides financing for annual National Culture and Art Awards, and supports the distribution of the award winners' work (9 annual awards; LTL 1.23 million in 2005).

An artists' support programme has been elaborated at the national level and this programme had a budget of LTL 8.98 million in 2005.

Lithuania/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

The Lithuanian Art Creators Association is composed of 11 artists' unions (2002), which have about 6 000 members in total. The state finances various activities of the Association, providing money for specific art programmes / projects, which are submitted by the Association to the Ministry of Culture. LTL 1.0 million was allocated to the Association in 2005.

Lithuania/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

In the mid 1990s, attendance at theatres, cinemas, concerts, libraries, and museums went down significantly. By the end of the decade figures started to rise again as most of the institutions had managed to adapt to the free market and competition and their management and marketing techniques had improved.

Attendance (visitors, spectators, readership) ratios depend on a variety of factors: quality of services, ticket prices, financial capacity of the population, their cultural interests, leisure time priorities, specifics of the event itself (theatre performance, concert, exhibition, etc.), and the image of the institution. Surveys which monitor the participation of national minority groups in multi-cultural festivals have not yet been developed.

Table 8:     Attendance rates in selected cultural institutions, 2005


Number of institutions

Visitors, spectators, readers (in thousands)



1 188 800

Drama theatres*


385 000

Opera and ballet theatre


137 300

Music theatres


117 000

Concert organisations


118 200



2 580 000


1 396

777 000

Source:      Statistics Lithuania. Culture, Press and Sports. 2005.
*                 State-funded theatres only.
**              Libraries under the Ministry of Culture.

Cinema attendance during the last years decreased. The various reasons for this decrease are: rising ticket prices, reach of the audiovisual sector, decline of interest in film production, management failings. This decrease is evident in other sectors as well: theatre, museums, and libraries.

Table 9:     Cinema attendance, 2003-2005


Total admissions

Average number of
admissions per resident


1 396 300



1 538 100



1 189 000


Source:      Statistics Lithuania. Culture, Press and Sports, 2005.

An issue of Sociological Review was prepared in 2003-2004 on Population Cultural Demands in Lithuania, identifying festivals, concerts and art fairs as the most popular cultural events. It concluded that attendance at cultural institutions has a direct link to the educational level and age of visitors: young people and people with higher education are more active in culture, especially museum visitors. The Review also underlined the need to provide more cultural services accessible to those living in rural areas.

Lithuania/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

The Ministry of Culture provides support for regional or municipal cultural projects and professional art performances outside the bigger cultural centres as well as those initiatives of ethnic cultural groups. Another programme of the Ministry supports activities of independent organisations (NGOs, associations, etc.). Such programmes help to increase the cultural activities of municipalities and NGOs and to extend presentations of professional art performances beyond the bigger cultural centres.

There are a variety of measures to promote the public use of cultural services. Museums, theatres, concert organisations and other cultural establishments provide cultural services at special rates (ticket prices, season-tickets, open-door days for school children, etc.). Local, regional, or republican-level events, competitions, and festivals also promote participation in (amateur) cultural life, especially in rural areas.

Lithuania/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

Lithuania has a rather well developed system of arts education consisting of several levels: supplementary artistic education, secondary art schools, professional colleges and higher art schools (academies). There are municipal and private arts schools and studios for fine arts, music, performance and dance.

The main schools for higher arts education are the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy, Klaipėda University (Faculty of Arts), Šiauliai University (Faculty of Arts). These institutions provide bachelors and MA programmes. In Spring 2006, 491 student graduated from Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts (332 from the bachelor and 159 from the MA programmes), and 300 from the Music and Theatre Academy (161 from the bachelor and 139 from the MA programmes).

After Lithuania joined the European Union, spheres of life were challenged by the question how to become a competitive European country in the field of arts and how to better artists' integration into a common European art and job market. Above mentioned higher art institutions started to develop links with foreign partners and participate in student exchange programmes (Socrates / Erasmus). However, the number of Lithuanian students and professors, participating in these programs, is not very high.

The Bologna Declaration, which Lithuania signed in 1999, became an important document for Lithuanian arts and culture education. Several conferences were organised in order to clarify the declaration's goals and stimulate rapid changes in training programms. Lithuanian universities and art academies were one of the first in Eastern Europe, to introduce bachelors and MA qualifications, however public financing for these training programmes, use of new technologies in teaching processes and the availability of technical equipment still remain insufficient. The statements made in the Bologna Declaration are not yet included in Lithuania's education legislation. The diploma supplement has not yet been introduced in higher art schools. Following the adoption of the Bologna Declaration, Lithuanian higher art schools joined several international networks in order to promote competitiveness of arts and links with the state's economy and business sector. For example, the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts became a member of Nordic-Baltic Design School network. The Scandinavian and Baltic countries initiated the project Design Innovations and Economics in the Countries of the Baltic Region. The aim of the project is to help to create design products that would be commercially viable in the domestic and international market and that which would contribute to the establishment of new employment positions.  

Due to the growing role of arts and culture management during the 1990s, they were included into the curricula of several higher education institutions. UNESCO supported the establishment of the Chair for Cultural Management and Cultural Policy at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts in 1999. The Chair was the first educational institution in Lithuania and the Baltic Region to develop a specialised postgraduate programme (MA) in cultural management and cultural policy based on international standards. 26 students from the MA programme graduated in 2005.

The Chair is a partner of the "Synaxis Baltica" network, established in 2002, whose mission is to encourage cultural management training and exchange in the Baltic Sea Region.

Lithuania/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Lithuania/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

Amateur arts associations have traditionally played an important role in the cultural life of Lithuania. Amateur arts account for a significant share of the activity of the cultural centres. Data shows that voluntary participation in amateur activities (numbers of groups, participants, events, etc.) has fluctuated, mainly due to economic and social reasons, and administrative reforms in the regions and municipalities. Access to culture for the rural population remains restricted due to low household incomes.

Expanded international links in the field of amateur artistic activity have become more prominent. Lithuania hosts a variety of international amateur art events: theatres (e.g., festival of the Northern Europe Amateur Theatre Alliance, NEATA, 2000; Baltic and North States Song festivals, festivals "Baltica"), orchestras, choirs, dance, folklore, etc. World Lithuanian Song Festivals, organised every four years, play an important role in the development of amateur art in the country (the last one was held in 2003).

The Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre, which functions under the Ministry of Culture, is the main state institution responsible for amateur art activity in the country.

Lithuania/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

In 2001, there were 947 cultural centres located in urban and rural territories with 59 100 participants organised in various groups of art amateurs. Due to a legal reform of the status of cultural centres, introduced by the Law on Cultural Centres (2004), the number of registered cultural centres decreased to 141 with 460 branch institutions in 2004. The number of amateur art groups was 1 881 in 2005.

During the last year the activities of local rural communities was rather significant. Some multidisciplinary cultural centres were established, combining visual arts, performance, entertainment, education, media and the youth sectors. There are several rural art galleries, established by local communities (e.g., Panevėžys district), which combine visual and performance art activities. Local communities are taking the initiative to establish intercultural centres.

Lithuania/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

Annual Report on Culture by the Minister of Culture. 2003.

Council of Europe: Cultural Policy in Lithuania. National Report. European Programme of National Cultural Policy Reviews. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1977. 

Ministry of Culture of Lithuania: Strategic plan for the year 2006-2008.

Ministry of Culture of Lithuania: The State of Lithuanian Culture 2000.
(Annual Report of the Minister of Culture)

The Government's Program for the year 2006 - 2008.

The Principles for Lithuanian Cultural Policy. 2001.

Lithuania/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Cultural policy making bodies

The Government of the Republic of Lithuania

Ministry of Culture

Lithuanian Culture and Art Council

The Council of Patronage of Ethnic Culture

Professional associations

Association of Lithuanian Museums

Lithuanian Association of Artists

Lithuanian Association of Cinema Distributors

Lithuanian libraries

Grant-giving bodies

Ministry of Culture

Culture and Sport Support Fund

Media Support Foundation

Lithuanian Culture and Art Council

Open Society Fund Lithuania

Lithuanian Institute

Media Programme Desk

Cultural research and statistics

Ministry of Culture

Lithuanian Central State Archive

Culture, Philosophy and Arts Research Institute

Lithuanian Institute of Philosophy and Sociology

Open Society Fund Lithuania. Public Policy Projects: Culture Foundations in the Baltics.

Open Society Fund Lithuania. Public Policy Projects: Funding Theatre and Concert Organisations. Analysis and Reform.

Open Society Fund Lithuania. Public Policy Projects: Survey of Budget Expenditures for Culture in Lithuania. (in Lithuanian)

Radio and Television in Lithuania

Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania (see: portal "News")

Statistics Lithuania: Culture, Press and Sports: 2005. Vilnius, 2006.

Culture / arts portals

European Cultural Programme Centre

Media programme Desk

Lithuanian culture and art institutions

Lithuanian Publishers

Open Society Fund Lithuania

Lithuanian Film Centre


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008