Main pageNews


Asta Pakarklytė attends Arts Councils and Culture Agencies meeting in Tartu

7 May 2024
Asta Pakarklytė attends Arts Councils and Culture Agencies meeting in Tartu IFACCA Europe Chapter meeting 2024 in Tartu, Estonia. Photographer: Signe Oidekivi, client: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Estonia 

Chairwoman of the Lithuanian Council for Culture Asta Pakarklytė attended the 23rd International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies (IFACCA) Europe Chapter meeting in Tartu. This year, Tartu holds the title of European Capital of Culture, with its primary artistic concept centred around “Arts of Survival.” Drawing from the cultural landscape of Tartu 2024, the topic chosen for the annual meeting of the Federation members was Cultural Funding Institutions in Times of Exponential Change.  

Surviving global crises and power dynamics  

Delegates from 17 countries (Ireland, England, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Romania, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Ukraine, and Wales), representing 20 different cultural funding organisations, attended the three-day meeting. The event hosts have created a safe and open space to discuss even the most sensitive topics. The meeting adhered to the Chatham House rule, permitting attendees to use the information from the discussion, granted that the speaker remains anonymous.  

“Many leaders from arts councils and cultural foundations said that meetings like this one are like group therapy sessions. Knowing that you’re not alone, feeling empathy and moral encouragement, and gaining fresh insights and viewpoints can be incredibly empowering. When you’re immersed in your local context, issues may appear confined to a certain scale, but once you enter the international dimension, the horizon broadens significantly. For instance, colleagues from Finland and Slovakia cancelled their attendance at the last minute as Finland has to sharply cut its budget for the upcoming year, while Slovakia grapples with pressure from the far-right regarding the Council’s principles because independent decisions of the Council conflict with the ruling party’s aim to consolidate power,” said Asta Pakarklytė. 

The intense discussion delved into two key challenges facing cultural and arts organisations in Europe: Adjusting to change amid global crises as well as power dynamics and instances of abuse of power. Attendees exchanged insights into the contexts and hurdles faced by their respective countries and organisations, deliberating on strategies to navigate through exponential changes like geopolitical challenges, wars, migrations and sanctions fostering a culture of withdrawal, including self-censorship. Other challenges discussed included rising living standards and a possible economic recession, often leading to budget cuts and workforce reductions, societal polarisation, declining trust, and the emergence of artificial intelligence, among others.  

“The main concern is supporting Ukraine’s efforts for victory” 

“This year’s topics were difficult, heavily centred on geopolitical shifts in Europe, highlighting more threats than positive prospects. With prospects like that, stability, sustainability, and maintaining the status quo emerge as the optimal scenarios when it comes to both budgetary stability and operational principles,” says A. Pakarklytė.  

Discussions also delved into the topic of power imbalances and their impact on public perception and trust in governmental institutions. What are the public’s expectations of institutions responsible for cultural policy implementation, how can trust be gained, maintained, or restored, how can the arm’s length principle be upheld amidst the surge of populism and the erosion of democracy in Europe, and how to strike a balance between the cultural sector and policymaking bodies?  

“Ultimately, it’s evident that given the challenges confronting Ukraine, local issues pale in comparison. The losses and traumas in Ukraine are staggering: 50,000 artists have fled, 20% of artists have ceased work due to loss of motivation or physical ability, over 1,800 cultural artefacts have been destroyed or damaged, and the cultural budget has plummeted fourfold. And yet, this only scratches the surface of the most sensitive subjects: the loss of lives and loved ones, and the severe injuries endured. “In this context, the main concern is supporting Ukraine’s efforts for victory.” 

The International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) is the global network of arts councils, ministries of culture and government agencies that advance arts and culture, with member institutions representing over 70 countries with members operating in developed and developing countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific.

« Back