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Pakarklytė and Chackevičiūtė attend the Arts Councils meeting in Glasgow

2 February 2024
Pakarklytė and Chackevičiūtė attend the Arts Councils meeting in GlasgowA. Pakarklytė ir A. Chackevičiūtė Glazge

Chair of the Lithuanian Council for Culture Asta Pakarklytė and Chief of the Division of Culture and the Arts Aleksandra Chackevičiūtė attended the Northern European Arts Councils and Cultural Foundations meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. In addition to Lithuania, the meeting saw attendees from 11 countries, namely Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, Estonia and Latvia, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Ireland, as well as the heads of the Nordic Culture Fund and Nordic Culture Point.

Enhancing internationality and cooperation

The Nordic–Baltic format of the Arts Councils Meeting has been in place since 2019, with the first meeting taking place in Vilnius. Even back then, the Head of International Relations at the Arts Council England attended, looking for new platforms for collaboration after Brexit. The 2022 meeting in Oslo saw active involvement of the United Kingdom’s regions, and this time, the Arts Council of Ireland joined the Northern European format.

Chief of the Division of Culture and the Arts Aleksandra Chackevičiūtė says that “the Lithuanian Council for Culture is in constant contact with foreign organisations involved in similar fields of activity. One more meeting of Nordic organisations, this time in Glasgow, further enhanced the relationship between the countries. It is a platform for sharing experiences and practices, addressing important topics and issues, and fostering collaboration. The open communication format is a valuable gift and an opportunity to directly engage in international activities and processes.”

“I am particularly proud to participate in this format as it brings together the strongest and most mature arts councils in Europe. Just think: while Lithuania was under the Soviet Union occupation, under Stalin’s rule, during a period of fierce art propaganda and politicised decisions, the other side of Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland already had arts councils with politicians keeping art-related decisions at “arm’s length.” While Lithuania was facing Brezhnev’s stagnation, the Scandinavian countries were creating arts councils one after the other, adopting the principles of the British archipelago”, says Asta Pakarklytė.

She says “these councils have decades of activity under their belt, decades of trust and continuous partnership. For example, the Nordic Culture Fund, founded in 1966, is based not only on a common funding mechanism but also on ongoing cooperation. It is a network that has been operating consistently for almost 60 years, while the Baltic Culture Fund, based on the same principles, is still in the first stages of its activities and cooperation.”

Šiaurės Europos menų tarybų ir kultūros fondų susitikimas Glazge, Škotijoje.

Changes inspired by the meeting

The roundtable discussions focused on the importance of public investment in artists, the rights and responsibilities of creators, freedom of expression, and security in different countries. The attendees also shared their thoughts on the importance of internationality, cooperation, and enhanced interregional partnerships. The meeting explored the links between art and artificial intelligence, creative practices and human health, and they discussed climate change and the ways for the culture sector to contribute to sustainability. The meeting kept coming back to the discussion on the “arm’s length” principle, with many attendees noting that the distance between the decisions taken by politicians and the decisions taken by the arts community is constantly decreasing.

In addition to the themed sessions, each Council was asked to give a 5-minute presentation on the most significant change that has taken place since the last meeting, which may have even inspired this change. The Chair of the Lithuanian Council for Culture presented the growth of public investment into individual creatives, because it was previously at the meeting of the Northern European Arts Councils that she pointed out that this is Lithuania’s weakest link, with the lowest share of investment. In that time, the monthly individual grant has increased from €600 to €800, and the average duration of the grant has risen to 7.3 months or €5,825 (compared to 5.4 months or €3,221 in 2022). The Council also initiated applications for emerging artist grants. This has of course been achieved by stepping up the share of the funding budget allocated to grants, to 12% or €2.6 million.

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