Festival ConTempo Invites to Dive into Performing Arts: Presents Two Programmes in Kaunas

The international performing arts festival ConTempo returns to Kaunas and Kaunas district and has good news for those who have missed culture – this year it presents two programmes. During the period of 5th – 9th August, the festival will travel to ten different locations in Kaunas city and district, and on 20th – 23th it will invite everyone to the main programme in Kaunas.

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Designers at the COVID-19 doorstep: the pandemic has caused fast and drastic life changes. How to “reboot” the world?

“Integrated design and its solutions create and shape our understanding of how a city and life in a city should look like. Form and content affect everything: economics, politics, culture. And the experience of quarantine, related with endless limitations, has provoked the need for urgent and creative solutions that not only make navigation in cities more convenient, facilitate the daily life of the new reality but also give us the opportunity to feel better,” said the participants of the last week’s discussion on design and its power to change the world.

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Creative scenarios for saving the world – in a virtual “meeting” of the UNESCO Cities of Design

On the 14th of July at a convenient time for all the countries a virtual discussion “The Power of Design in Response to the Global Crisis and Rebooting the World” was broadcast from the “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” office. The participants of the discussion, presenting successful examples of pandemic-inspired creativity, were the representatives of the UNESCO Creative Cities of Design network, which encompasses 40 cities across the world – of course, including Kaunas. While observing the varied and always unexpected experiences it became obvious that design solutions are not only for aesthetic pleasure or just a symbol of luxury and status. They pave the way towards survival, drawing the world closer together and making it more comfortable for everyone.

After the quarantine forced museums, theatres and concert halls to close their doors, the representatives of Kaunas 2022 took it upon themselves to provide entertainment for the people forced to stay at home. The series of videos they provided was called “Culture at Home” and it involved dozens of Lithuanian artists, cultural operators and other people sharing information about the most interesting accessible cultural activities and the inexhaustible treasure trove of virtual or digitised content, and simply giving some advice on how to playfully get through this period. The next step of Kaunas 2022 was an unprecedented festival of “Culture at Home” which featured professional dancers, musicians and vocalists visiting numerous courtyards in Kaunas and Kaunas district and performing to the residents of surrounding houses in surprise concerts. Coincidentally or not, the culmination of this project lead to a distinctly unique celebration of Kaunas’ birthday – a celebration which shall be remembered for a very long time.

The cultural institutions of Kaunas were also determined to creatively utilise their resources during this crisis. The National Kaunas Drama Theatre conducted special virtual playbacks of the soundtracks of plays and discussions with people from the theatre and showed excerpts from historic plays. Due to the limited possibilities of serving their readers, the team of the Kaunas Municipal Vincas Kudirka library “employed” their 3D printer, which provided the frames for the protective shields for doctors, as well as innovative attachments to handles, allowing people to open doors with their elbows and eliminating unnecessary contact.

Turning a disadvantage into an advantage is a reliable way of fighting any crisis. When the citizens of the Belgian city of Kortrijk were instructed to avoid gatherings, work from home, etc., the creative city dwellers created a map of 150 secret spots where it was safe to spend time outside. From the best trees for climbing to the most breathtaking landscapes and former river beds – everybody could suggest their beloved places through a special website, and it looks like the map will live on even after the pandemic is under control. So far it has already been used by 20,000 people.

A retirement home in Geelong, Australia, much like other similar facilities around the world, was under strict quarantine during the pandemic. After all, it has been confirmed that the coronavirus is especially dangerous to the elderly. Still, although health is the most important thing, even the best internet connection and cameras are not a substitute for live communication, which is vital for the inhabitants of the nursing homes who miss their loved ones. So, what could

solve this problem? It did not take people long to find a solution. The establishment had an unused construction container which was transformed by a local construction worker into a meeting room with a glass wall and entrances from both ends. This solution was cheap (there was no need to hire an architect), and… it provided lots of joy to the inhabitants of the nursing home and their loved ones. The container even became a venue for birthday celebrations!

The media has been talking a lot about the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities of Design network as well. Of course, most of the conversation involved the strict quarantine and the coronavirus rather than the creative ideas of the citizens. Still, all of these things are connected. When there was a shortage of beds for the infected, in mere 72 hours an unused exhibition centre was transformed into a comfortable hospital meeting all the safety regulations. The renovated building encompassing 22 square meters became a Noah’s Ark of sorts. During the month of its operation from the 3rd of February to the 8th of March, 1,760 patients were treated there.

The leitmotif of “a new point of view and the mobilisation of minds and resources” pervaded all the ideas presented during the virtual event. Montreal, Canada, decided to help local businesses and institutions adapt to the changes brought on by the quarantine. Special groups of designers and architects (as many as 57 of them) working together and apart were formed to take on requests, e.g. to provide a formerly non-existent outdoor area for a restaurant, or to tackle the issue of chaotic queues. Three groups are selected at random, they prepare initial proposals and the client selects the most convenient one. Simple, right?

An innovative way of celebrating when doing so is not allowed is to do it online. In May Helsinki relocated their traditional celebration from the “real” Senate Square in the city centre to the virtual reality, where the area and surrounding historic buildings were recreated. The celebration featured a performance by a popular musical band and the number of participants enjoying the show reached a million – much more than it would have in reality.

The video of the virtual discussion “The Power of Design in Response to the Global Crisis and Rebooting the World” can be found on the Kaunas 2022 social media platforms. Perhaps after looking into the creative and usually inexpensive but nevertheless effective solutions you will get some ideas of your own?

Kaunas assessed by the European Commission to become the European Capital of Culture 2022. The only question is: “Are residents of Kaunas optimistic enough?”

“Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” has already submitted the second report to the European Commission’s expert panel on how the city and the district are prepared to accept the title of ECoC in 2022. According to Virginija Vitkienė, the CEO of “Kaunas 2022”, although the quarantine has already ended, the pandemic that changed the world has also brought changes in European cities preparing for their year of ECoC. Representatives of Kaunas say that two scenarios are being prepared for 2022 – A and B – however, both are optimistic.

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“Rebooting" the World: A UNESCO Creative Cities Debate on the Role of Design

The UNESCO Creative Cities of Design network, which unites 40 cities around the globe, is organizing an open virtual discussion on "The power of design in response to the global crisis and rebooting the world". In a discussion broadcasted from Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022 office, on July 14th, cities will share current issues and COVID-19 inspired emergency design practices and experiences that inspire people around the world.

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STAR Cities share ways to engage locals in river tourism

STAR Cities is a project of the Interreg Europe – a programme aimed to help the European region to prepare and execute their regional policy, in this case – development of river tourism.

Recently the Interreg Europe launched a webinar, where the 3 of STAR Cities partners – Hamburg (Germany), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Val-de-Marne (France) – share their good practices on the theme "How to engage locals and communities in river tourism development ?".

“Every year we launch an open call for all communities in Kaunas and Kaunas district. This allows us to discover more and more new and active formal and non-formal communities, thus promoting a participatory culture. We encourage communities to address local challenges creatively and based on Fluxus principals, using artists and their creative ideas. We noticed that every year we get more and more initiatives organized by the riverbanks. It shows that rivers are becoming the focus of some communities,” – Curator of Community Programme “We, the People” at “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” Greta Klimavičiūtė-Minkštimienė says.

You can have a look at the webinar and learn about the STAR Cities’ good practices on locals and communities engagement here.


Photo by A. Aleksandravičius

Anne Boysen: “We can’t afford to let the artists starve”

Based in Austin, Texas, Anne Boysen is a futurist and trend scout with ten years experience in the field. Boysen’s work includes consulting for Fortune 500 companies in market forecasting, brand strategy and product development. The next generation is the focus of much of her research and analysis, opening new doors for her clients as they evaluate strategies. In the Virtual European Capital of Culture Forum 2020, Anne joined a debate about retooling in the post-pandemic future. In our talk, we discuss Anne’s experience and insights into the world of art and culture.

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European Capital of Culture Forum 2020: insights, thoughts & gaze into the future

The European Capital of Culture Forum 2020 is one of the major annual events of Kaunas 2022, aimed at creating a space for a discussion for the cultural, business and academic community. This year 20-22 May moved to the virtual space the Forum invited cultural experts and leaders from all around the world for a discussion about the challenges culture is facing during a pandemic time.

Forum revealed, that both culture and communion can and do exist without borders and boundaries: director of OECD Venice Office Pier Luigi Sacco, futurist, trend scout Anne Boysen, head of outreach and governance at Bruegel Giuseppe Porcaro and other well-known representatives of the cultural world participated in the discussions; sessions were viewed more than 61 thousand times, people from Japan, Israel, Portugal, Georgia and other countries joined the Forum.

Take a look at Forum's highlits: thoughts of Forum's participants on challenges, culture reorentation and arising possibilities during the pandemic.

We invite everyone who joined Forum's discussions to fill in an evaluation form here.


G. Nausėda about Kaunas becoming the European Capital of Culture: it is an important mission that will capture the attention of European communities

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

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The European Capital of Culture Forum 2020 – insights from prominent cultural experts and futuristic scenarios for the future of culture

The European Capital of Culture Forum organised by Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 and encouraging discussions on the importance of culture is coming back for the third time on 20–22 May with discussions in the virtual space bringing together well-known cultural representatives and dealing with a wide geography of ideas from around the world. For the three days of the Forum, all culture professionals and fans will be invited to take part in five debates covering a wide range of topics: from the role of culture that has emerged during the crisis and funding mechanisms for culture, to the futuristic scenarios for the future of culture.

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