Preparations to implement the project of Kaunas and Kaunas district as a European Capital of Culture of 2022 started immediately after the title was awarded two years ago. Together with various cultural organisations, artists and creatives, we develop a vast, endless and borderless programme that we call “The Contemporary Capital”. The entire time remaining to 2022, is our common journey from the temporary to contemporary!
We learned. 2018 was dedicated to strengthening the competencies of the cultural sector, activate communities and youth. Last year, a number of Kaunas 2022 programmes were launched and presented in various forms.
We shared happiness. On 20 March 2018, the first celebration of the International Day of Happiness was initiated in Kaunas and Kaunas district: from a public sports practice in Kaunas Railway Station, to an expert discussion „Design for All”. The celebration gathered 65 partners, 2500 participants and 15 thousand Žalgiris fans who generated decibels of happiness in Žalgirio Arena.
We discussed. The first European Capital of Culture Forum invited cities-candidates of the European Capital of Culture from 17 European countries to Žalgirio Arena in Kaunas: the total of 60 leaders of creative areas and 500 participants: cultural professionals, representatives of business and politics.
We gathered people. 30 communities and over 500 participants completed 30 blankets for Europe that were sent to the European capital of culture of 2018, Leeuwarden, and became a part of an impressive installation. In spring, the Celebration of Yards started the Festival of Yards that lasted the entire summer and included 20 communities, 30 events and welcomed 7000 participants.
We listened. 17 speakers from 12 countries delivered their presentations in the largest-in-Europe International Conference of Modernism. Exhibition of optimism architecture and international camp spread the news about Kaunas interwar architecture, putting a lot of effort for it to become the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We surprised. Festival of Unexpectedness and Fluxus-like climbing to Parodos Hill was hosted in order to revive the spirit of Fluxus movement that makes Lithuania famous around the world. There was also an international youth summer camp 100 First Times, during which 100 young people from 26 countries got to know our region.
We expanded our ranks. Youth programme Kaunas Challenge has visited 25 schools, met 2000 school students and already has 80 graduates. A youth initiative, a self-publishing journal MASS, was born within the framework of the project.
We turned back to our history. Memory Office investigated multiethnicity of the city and its district, prepared 30 interviews with residents of Kaunas representing different ethnicities, including Russians, Tatars, Greeks and Georgians. The birthday of the War Museum lions was commemorated as well. Half a thousand of Kaunasians sent their photos captured in from of the lions and they were uploaded to a shared photo album online.
We created the myth of Kaunas. On 2 June 2018, Rytis Zemkauskas spoke to the mythical beast, and it cast its first glance from the river towards the city, also prepared public discussions, presentations and workshops of creative writing.
We were appreciated. At the end of November, the joint team of Kaunas European Capital of Culture 2022 and Kaunas City Municipality presented its first project preparation report for the expert panel gathered by the European Commission, listened to its recommendations and received great support for ideas enfolding in Kaunas and Kaunas district.
We opened new doors. At the very end of the year, thanks to the efforts of Kaunas 2022, the former Small Theatre of Kaunas turned into a new training and meeting place: Tempo Space dedicated to the fans of arts, professionals, youth, volunteers and communities.
We were awarded. In the nomination of „The Most Successful of Tourism” award of 2018, tourism promotion agency Keliauk Lietuvoje (Travel in Lithuania) awarded Kaunas 2022 with a special prize for innovativeness.
We intrigued. According to the data of public opinion polls, 30 per cent of city residents are interested in the project.
We moved towards our goal. Together we have completed one third of the way from the temporary to the contemporary European capital of culture 2022.
About Kaunas European Capital of Culture 2022
Kaunas and Kaunas district were awarded the title of the European Capital of Culture on 29 March 2017, when the programme prepared by the steering group was acknowledged as the best among other city candidates of Lithuania. Late professor Leonidas Donskis also contributed to the development of the programme.
Preparations to implement the project started immediately after the title was awarded. The organisation dedicated the year of 2018 to strengthen the competences of the cultural sector as well as to activate communities and youth. Currently Kaunas 2022, VšĮ employs the team of 25 people and is headed by Dr. Virginija Vitkienė, holder of PhD in Art History and Criticism, and former long-term head of Kaunas Biennial.