While visiting Kaunas on Friday, President Gitanas Nausėda met with the team of the Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 programme.

Speaking about his visit in Kaunas, G. Nausėda highlighted that he would like to get acquainted with the European Capital of Culture programme: “It is a really important mission that will also capture the attention of European communities. We will try to get the leaders of the European Union and other countries to come and see. I believe that Kaunas deserves this status as Kaunas has something to exhibit both in terms of architecture and culture.” The leader of the country discussed the issues of financing the project and the necessary infrastructure as well as the contribution to Lithuanian and European culture with the programme promoters.

Nausėda: culture has incredible resilience and strength to survive

According to the press release by the Office of the President, the project Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 is not a one–year event; it is a preparation phase and events already taking place since 2017, which fill the exceptional places of the city with culture. “The President praised the team’s dedication to creating a lasting impact on the cultural sphere, strengthening community and spreading ideas of European diversity. During the visit, the issues of further financial security of the project and the lack of infrastructure were also highlighted. The President wished the Kaunas 2022 team great ambitions to make their project the most visible in Europe and promised to contribute to its international dissemination,” the press release by the Office of the President reads.

The leader of the country was also interested in the cultural affairs of Kaunas city and was pleased that Kaunas was setting a good example by allocating almost one million euros annually to its heritage management programme. On the other hand, he showed surprise how the Kaunas Central Post Office continues to collapse and this year the rain flooded M. Žilinskas gallery, which has been waiting for a repair for a long time, in a city that claims to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nausėda also visited the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, square of Vytautas Magnus War Museum, Laisvės Alėja (Liberty Boulevard). When speaking of culture, G. Nausėda stated that culture has incredible resilience and strength to survive even during the greatest hardships. “During the quarantine, culture continued its work on the Internet and in the yards of the blocks of flats, further delighting our sometimes frightening reality. Museums, libraries, theatres were the first to be forced to close, however, as soon as the opportunity arises, they are waiting for visitors again.

Let us hear this invitation, give life to our culture and support it with our attention. Funding is needed not only for budgetary cultural institutions but also especially for the non–governmental cultural sector, which is suffering huge losses due to its inability to carry out its activities at its fullest,” said the leader of the country.

Vitkienė: The President understands the benefits of the project not only for Kaunas but also for Lithuania as a whole

Head of Kaunas 2022 programme Virginija Vitkienė says that meeting with G. Nausėda was useful as the head of the country was not only introduced the Kaunas 2022 programme but also it was agreed on cooperation.

“The main purpose of the President’s visit to Kaunas was to meet the team of Kaunas, the future European Capital of Culture. G. Nausėda was interested in all events of the programme. The President has agreed to be our patron in terms of cultural diplomacy and has promised to help with the grand events of 2022 by inviting high-ranking politicians from other countries, representatives of the European Parliament and others. We invited the President to patronise one of the section of the programme, namely, Remembrance. It is closely linked to our international programme.
G. Nausėda and D. Nausėdienė were interested in a community engagement programme. The Mayor of Kaunas, Visvaldas Matijošaitis, also attended the meeting and expressed confidence in Kaunas 2022. The Mayor identified our people as competent and strategically working,” added V. Vitkienė. According to V. Vitkienė, G. Nausėda said that he will talk about Kaunas, which will become the European Capital of Culture, in international meetings from next year as well as he will invite to the grand events of 2022 to be held in the city and district. “The President understands the benefits of this project not only for Kaunas but also for Lithuania as a whole,” said V. Vitkienė. During the implementation of the project, it is planned to organise about fifty mass international events in Kaunas in 2022, in total the programme intends around 400 events in five years.

Author: 15min.lt journalist Jurgita Lieponė

Photo by The Office of the President/Robertas Dačkus