Ethnic Culture, Regional Culture and Children and Youth Cultural Education

Pertinent information about Lithuanian regional culture:

Region – an integral part of the state’s territory in which a national regional development policy is implemented and assistance is provided in accordance with the goals of regional development. In Lithuania, counties and municipalities are regarded as regions.

Regional culture – the whole of the environment and the cultural activities carried out therein that is created and fostered by the residents of the region and which reflects the ethnic, linguistic, historical and cultural regional identity and traditions and creates preconditions for the development of cultural and social competences in the regions which meet the needs of modern society.

Article 6(13) of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Local Self-Government establishes that the ‘cultivation of general culture and fostering of ethno-culture of the population (participation in cultural development projects; the establishment, reorganisation, restructuring and/or liquidation of museums, theatres, culture centres and other cultural institutions as well as the supervision of the activities thereof; the establishment, reorganisation and/or restructuring of public municipal libraries as well as supervision of the activities thereof)’ is the independent function of the municipalities.

In the area of regional cultural policy-making, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for the formation of a national policy in the fields of ethnic culture and amateur artistic activities. The strategic objective of the Ministry of Culture in the area of regional cultural policy is to promote access to culture for various groups of society as well as their participation in nurturing cultural traditions and diversity of cultural expression. The Ministry of Culture works in constant collaboration with Lithuanian municipalities in implementing this objective.

In 2003, the first State Programme for the Development of Ethnic Culture was approved by resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. One of the goals of this programme is to activate the development of ethnic culture in the regions and to give residents the opportunity to foster their regional and national traditions and customs. In 2015, the 2015–2018 Action Plan for the Development of Ethnic Culture was approved by order of the Minister of Culture.

Numerous municipalities have approved programmes for the development of ethnic culture and regularly plan their budgets to provide funding for the nurturing, preservation and dissemination of traditional culture.

The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, recognising that the preservation of regional, historical and cultural identity is one of the cornerstones of the European Union’s regional policy and emphasising the importance of fostering the uniqueness of Lithuania’s ethnographic regions, declared 2013 the Year of Dialects and 2015 – the Year of Ethnographic Regions. This decision was aimed to emphasise the historical and cultural importance of dialects and ethnographic regions as well as to form a public opinion in favour of preserving the cultural heritage of dialects and ethnographic regions and accenting their identity. 2017 has been declared the Year of National Costume.

The State Jonas Basanavičius Prize has been established for the most significant work done by Lithuanians living in Lithuania and abroad related to the development, fostering and study of ethnic culture. Since 1992, a total of 35 people have received this prize.

Each year, the Ministry of Culture bestows three prizes for the fostering and dissemination of traditional culture. The objective of the prize is to recognise the contributions individuals have made in in ethnic culture activities as well as to encourage them. Curators and presenters of folk music and customs, heads of folk ensembles and amateur theatres, founders and heads of non-governmental museums, collectors of ethnic cultural material, folk artists, craftspeople and national heritage creators living in Lithuania and abroad can be nominated for the prize. Since 2006, 31 promoters of traditional cultural have been awarded this prize.

In 2011, the 2012-2020 Programme for the Development of Regional Culture was approved, as well as the measures for implementing this programme in 2012-2014. The purpose of the 2012-2020 Programme for the Development of Regional Culture is to establish priority areas of regional cultural development and create conditions for cultural access and dissemination by making the regions more attractive for local communities, investors and tourism. In 2015, the measures for implementing the 2012-2020 Programme for the Development of Regional Culture in 2015–2017 were prepared and approved.

Since the Lithuanian Cultural Employee Development Centre was liquidated in 2012, activities related to the improvement of cultural employee qualifications are now coordinated by the Ministry of Culture, and the Concept of Cultural Employee Training has been drawn up.  

On 1 March 2016, a total of 156 cultural centres with juridical personality were operating in various regions of Lithuania, along with 90 of their branches, 385 cultural centre divisions or territorial subdivisions, and 95 other institutions partly carrying out the functions of cultural centres. These cultural centres are very important in creating conditions for the dissemination of professional and amateur art, the creative expression of the population, and access to cultural services in the regions. The activities of cultural centres in Lithuania are regulated by the Law on Cultural Centres, a new version of which is currently being considered by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania.

To encourage creativity among cultural centres and recognise the best achievements and work of cultural centres, the Ministry of Culture established three Prizes for the Best Cultural Centres of the Year. These prizes are awarded for active, creative and innovative activities over the past five years in fostering ethnic culture and amateur art, creating artistic programmes, expanding educational and recreational activities, meeting the cultural needs of the community and organising the spread of professional art. Since 2006, 40 cultural centres in different categories have received this prize as a form of incentive.

In 2005, the Ministry of Culture established the Prize for Active, Creative Activities at Cultural Centres. The goal of the prize is to encourage professional activities among arts and culture employees at cultural centres and recognise their best achievements and work. Heads of cultural centres and arts and culture employees who work at cultural centres can be nominated for the prize. Since 2005, this prize has been awarded to 11 cultural centre employees.

In order to encourage cultural institutions and creators of culture and evaluate their activities in the field of cultural education for children and youth, the Ministry of Culture has, since 2007, been awarding four prizes per year for the best education projects that were prepared and implemented for children and youth.

In order to continue the idea of the Vilnius - European Capital of Culture project, promote cultural activity and creativity among the regional populations of Lithuania, and develop culture, art, creative initiatives and access to culture, the Ministry of Culture is implementing the Lithuanian Capital of Culture project. With the exception of Vilnius, any Lithuanian town can compete to be selected as the Lithuanian Capital of Culture. The competition is organised every three years. The sequence of funding and implementation of the competition winners’ projects is established for three years by order of the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. Telšiai District Municipality is the 2016 Lithuanian Capital of Culture.

The Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre (, which belongs to the management area of the Ministry of Culture, is entrusted with the organisation and methodical management of ethnic culture and amateur art activities as well as the organisation of song festivals and other significant cultural initiatives.

Last updated: 18-11-2023