Speech by Gintaras Sodeika
Vice-minister of Culture of Lithuania

This official speech was given during the seminar "Managing Performing Arts across Europe " held in Vilnius and organised by the Arts Printing House Vilnius in collaboration with the New Theatre Institute of Latvia and Theorem, on 29 May 2003.

Dear organizers, participants, and guest of the meeting,

I would like to use this pleasant duty of opening the first session of the seminar "Conversion of former industrial buildings into performing arts premises" for drawing your attention to two goals of Lithuanian culture policy, which are relevant to our topic, namely, fostering creativity and encouraging the openness of national culture.

As far as creativity is concerned, it must be clear that we are dealing here not only with creativity and innovation within the scope of professional arts but also with the creative, intellectual, and innovative potential of the whole of society. This broadening of meaning is very important because it also explains the fact that culture policy is not for the sake of the culture in itself. It is for the sake of well being of society and its people.

Thinking about openness, in the first instance, we mean the openness for other, foreign cultures, international cultural collaboration. It is evident, though, that there is also need for another "openness", namely, openness for dialogue, interaction, and coordination of cultural policy with other policies. This dialogue and coordination need be realized at all levels of authority - municipalities, national governments and also at the international level.

It is frequently stated, that the Government cannot develop and implement cultural policy effectively without considering cultural aspects of other policies. It is indeed impossible to make full account of culture sector if we ignore cultural elements in, for example, media, advertising, use of modern communication technologies, tourism, environment protection, education. However, traditional clear-cut division of these spheres among different ministries and state institutions sometimes make so-called "horizontal" cooperation difficult.

There is a chance, however, that coordinated implementation of national intersectorial programs, such as, for example, the Program of Development of Information Society, will also help to raise awareness of integrity and universal relevance of culture.

Therefore, it very useful to see the examples of projects in which links between culture and other sectors are clearly realized and used. Conversion of former industrial sites into performing arts premises is a very interesting type of the projects of this kind.

Firstly, these projects give a clear picture of coordinated and effective efforts by state institutions, municipalities and art organizations to contribute to the well being of the community of the city. Secondly, they follow a whole range of different interests: they provide comparatively cheap solution of the problems caused by unused industrial infrastructure, they revive entire city areas making them attractive for business investment and tourism, they integrate these areas into the public life of city community, finally they contribute to the development of arts and culture. These projects do not simply transfer buildings from sphere of industry to some other isolated sphere. They open them for community allowing interplay and interaction of many different spheres of its life.

Moreover, to my believe, one of the most interesting and innovative results of such projects is the unleashing of the creativity and innovative potential of local economic, social and cultural milieu. For it is evident that they are never just conversions or transformations of infrastructure. They are always creative intellectual endeavors. Therefore, they testify and at the same time encourage bold, playful, dynamic, open-minded, and creative characters of local society.

And just as I have said in the beginning, this is exactly one of the aims of national culture policy.

Thus, I wish all of you fruitful meeting, pleasant and useful sharing of experience, and plenty of creative and innovative insights.

Modified on Monday 23 June 2003