Artist Liz Pugh: “Art helps create the desired version of the world“

“I thought – great, I will be quarantined in Kaunas and I will finally be able to follow a diet. Instead, I order a new dish of Lithuanian cuisine every day“, laughs British creative producer Liz Pugh, co-founder of the organisation “Walk the Plank“. The artist, together with an international team, brings together other artists and residents for the upcoming Fluxus festival in Kaunas, organised by “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022“.

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Community Fluxus Festival 2020 – Will we climb or not climb the Parodos hill?

Last year the beginning of autumn was marked by a strange, interesting, noisy and colourful phenomenon, namely, climbing the Parodos hill at midnight. It soaked up many townspeople, and surprised city guests with Kaunas citizens’ ability to act fluxish: regardless of age, status or profession as well as allow to be flown down the stream.

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Kaunas district is celebrating the final of the “Kaunas 2022” project „Contemporary Elderships“ for more than a month

Participants of the “Kaunas and Kaunas District – European Capital of Culture 2022” project “Contemporary Elderships” celebrate the culmination of the second season. From community-created installations leading to the open museum of ceramics and clay in Rokai to the ecology festival in Lapės: from August to September, elderships of Kaunas district will reveal the unique identity of each of them, uniting communities and attracting guests of Kaunas district.

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Performing arts festival “ConTempo” announces the programme: from opera in the hangar to an engaging modern circus

Fans of performing arts can mark their calendars on 18–23 August. The organisers of the international festival “ConTempo” prepared a 6-day programme with 28 events in Kaunas and Kaunas district. This year’s performing arts experience is not just for those who will go to the events purposefully. Some of the performances will merge into the daily life of the city and surprise everyone in unexpected places.

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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