“Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” Programme Concludes: Key Figures and Future Plans Revealed

Audra, V. Sidabro nuotr.

Having attracted over 2 million visitors in 5 years, “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” can be hailed as a success story. A programme which has delivered nearly 3000 events to guests from all over the world, increased tourism, international media attention, and a huge number of participants – these were some of the major achievements and legacies of the Capital of Culture that were discussed by the Lithuanian Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys, “Kaunas 2022” CEO  Virginija Vitkienė, and the Head of Communications and Marketing Mindaugas Reinikis at the last “Kaunas 2022” press conference held on Monday.

The journey of “Kaunas 2022” from a temporary capital to a contemporary one began back in 2015 with the preparation of the application for the European Capital of Culture competition. In March 2017, it was revealed that Kaunas’s proposed programme had convinced the selection panel of independent experts, and the city was awarded the title of European Capital of Culture, the EU’s most important cultural project, for the year 2022.

“I expected it to be sad when the title-holding year came to an end, but today I feel that many great things are only just beginning, and how they move forward will depend entirely upon us,” said the Republic of Lithuania’s Minister of Culture, Simonas Kairys, in his opening remarks. According to Kairys, 2022 has been an extraordinary year that has changed the rules of the game considerably – the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other challenges have forced the organisers to look at the project differently and to adapt to the current situation.

“I believe the project’s greatest objective was to make everyone realise that we are part of the European cultural scene: that it is important to create opportunities for dialogue and international cooperation, and to be open-minded. [...] This title reminds the rest of the world that we have been a part of Europe for centuries, that even after 50 years of being stuck in a dark and difficult tunnel, today we are back in the European family,” the Minister of Culture said.

M. Plepio nuotr.

Record Numbers of Visitors and Artists Involved

Over the five years of the project’s implementation, according to Virginija Vitkienė, CEO of Kaunas 2022, almost 2 million culture lovers have attended a variety of events – festivals, concerts, exhibitions, performances, contemporary dance performances and other artistic initiatives. Over half of them visited events in 2022.

18,000 artists and creators from all over the world – Europe, Japan, the USA, South Africa, Israel, and elsewhere – contributed to creating the Capital of Culture in Kaunas and Kaunas District. Yet most of the events, 70 percent, were created and implemented by Lithuanian artists. In 2022 alone, Lithuanian and international artists organised 1,370 cultural initiatives open to the public in Kaunas and Kaunas District.

A total of 26 million euros has been earmarked for European Capital of Culture projects, or 13 euros per person over five years. More than 50 donors and partners contributed to the cultural initiatives, with a total value of 2.8 million euros in financial support and services.

M. Plepio nuotr.

From the BBC and The Guardian to National Geographic

The head of the initiative, Virginija Vitkienė, emphasised that the Kaunas 2022 project gained visibility not only in Lithuania, but also worldwide – in 66 countries in total in Europe and beyond, including the US, India, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, South Africa, South Korea, and Singapore. Over 170 foreign journalists visited the city.

National Geographic, a popular science magazine boasting 6 million readers, noted that Kaunas is “finally getting the plaudits it deserves.” The Telegraph reported that “in Kaunas, the Twenties are roaring once more,” while The Guardian listed the Capital of Culture among the 10 best European city breaks with a difference.

Kaunas has also been covered by the BBC, CNN, The Times, Rai, Deitsche Welle, Financial times, Euronews, and other news sites. It is estimated that news about Kaunas 2022 has reached more than 3 billion people worldwide. Foreign media representatives were attracted not only by the ongoing events, but also by street art, the themes related to memory, Kaunas modernist architecture, and the appearances made by world-renowned artists.

According to Mindaugas Reinikis, Head of Communications and Marketing, “Kaunas has now appeared on maps where it has never featured before, but this will probably take a few decades, or even centuries, to be fully grasped and appreciated.”

Nemuno 7, M. Plepio nuotr.

Tourism Boost

International press attention and high-profile artistic events and exhibitions have led to an increase in tourist visits. In 2022, Kaunas accommodated stays from around 258,000 tourists, the majority of whom were from Germany, Italy and neighbouring countries – Poland, Latvia and Estonia. It was pleasing to see that increasingly more people were choosing Kaunas for more than a single-day trip, spending a whole weekend or a few days in the city.

M. Plepio nuotr.

From New Cultural Spaces to Festivals Turned into Traditions

A number of popular festivals and events have become an integral part of the city and its surrounding district. The International Day of Happiness, Kaunas Literature Week, and the Fluxus Festival, which has now become a tradition, will continue to attract visitors and residents of the city. Culture to the Courtyards, Citytelling Festival and the international performing arts festival ConTempo will keep on bringing music and performances to Kaunas’s neighbourhoods. Design enthusiasts will remain warmly-welcomed participants at the MAGENTA Landscape Design Festival. The European Capital of Culture Forum and the much-loved Contemporary City Festival AUDRA will also carry on. And in Kaunas District, the community project “Contemporary Neighbourhoods” will continue to take place.

The CulturEukraine co-working space, launched in 2022, will continue to run its activities in the city, as well as the Kaunas Central Post Office, which has now been transformed into an exhibition venue and event space. The Kaunas Airport, which was renamed as the Kaunas Fluxus Airport, and the sculpture of the Mythical Beast of Kaunas, beloved by children, will serve as reminders of this historic year. Over 1,000 artworks, sculptures and publications created in recent years are going to be exhibited in various art institutions across Kaunas and Kaunas District.

A Path of Emerald, the route touring public art objects, featuring 50 works by Lithuanian and international artists, will remain in operation in Kaunas District, as well as the dredger-boat “Nemuno 7,” located in Zapyškis, now turned into a space of art and culture.

M. Plepio nuotr.

The Capital of Culture Bids Farewell with 2022 Kisses

The most important component of “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022,” as Virginija Vitkienė, the Head of “Kaunas 2022,” points out, is the people who have contributed to this project: artists, representatives of the cultural scene, communities, volunteers, and partners, transforming Kaunas into one big European stage.

As Kaunas passes on the title of Capital of Culture to three other European cities, it bids a symbolic farewell by sending 2022 kisses to Lithuania, Europe and the rest of the world. From the very beginning in 2017, photographer Remis Ščerbauskas has been seeking to capture snapshots of the participants of the Capital of Culture events, community members, artists, Kaunesians and the city’s visitors, volunteers, the project’s implementation team, and all those who have often stayed away from the limelight. All these people had been pouring their energy into taking the city’s culture to a new level in the run-up to the title-holding year.

“Each European Capital of Culture is unique and exceptional. Still, it is gratifying to receive positive comments, for example, suggesting that Kaunas has made the European Capital of Culture project fashionable once again. You will certainly be hearing more from us in the future.” The press conference ended on a high note.

 


November events in Kaunas. What not to miss?

„Sutarties“ repeticija, G. Jovaišos nuotr.

The last month of autumn in “Kaunas - The European Capital of Culture 2022” is marked by special experiences. New exhibitions, music and theatre premieres await in the city, while the final events of the month will invite you to immerse yourselves into a grand closing program “The Contract”. “Kaunas 2022” shares recommendations on what to see and what not to miss as the year of the European Capital of Culture draws to a close.

The triennial of Ukrainian contemporary art “Ukraine! Unmuted”

Already on November 4th, “Kaunas - the European Capital of Culture 2022”  welcomes the 5th triennial of Ukrainian contemporary art “Ukrainian Cross-Section 2022. UKRAINE! UNMUTED”.  The triennial will present an exhibition, a performance, public discussions and a book of essays. All the events attempt to disclose what Ukrainian art was and what it is now, letting the art speak for itself. This year, the main exhibition of the triennial will present 17 artworks by Ukrainian artists from Dnipro, Kherson, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa and Donetsk. The exposition will invite visitors to discover video works, installations and objects, paintings, graphics, and photography works.

When: Until December 4

Where: Kaunas Central Post Office

More information is available here.

“Protecting Layer”, aut. Konstiantyn Zorkin“Carrying the Light”. Symphony dedicated to Chiune Sugihara

As a Japanese consul in Lithuania during World War II, Sugihara rose above the terror of the Nazi regime by risking his life and career in saving 6.000 Jews who were fleeing Europe. On November 5th, this story will be remembered in the language of music by Kaunas State Choir, Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, cello virtuoso Kristina Reiko Cooper and conductor Konstantinas Orbelianas, who will present a special musical programme “Carrying the Light”.

When: November 5
Where: Kaunas State Philharmonic
Tickets are available here.

Exhibition „Working Class Heroes“

Freedom, power, money, and human rights – these are the universal themes explored by the first Work Museum in Luxembourg (MUAR/ Musée van der Aarbecht). In a rather contemporary way, the exhibition “Working Class Heroes” presents three working-class heroes Jean-Pierre Bausch (1891–1935), Léon Weirich (1878–1942) and Jean Schortgen (1880–1918). Personal stories of the people who created Luxembourg, a small country in the middle of Europe, raise relevant questions anew: who created your country, who represents your rights today, and how far have we progressed in the field of labour law?

When: Until 2023 February 23
Where: Kaunas Picture Gallery
More information is available here.

 

G. Jovaišos nuotr.

International symposium “The Idea of Europe”

The recent decades' geopolitical, international, cultural, and mental changes make it a pressing issue to ask again, what do we mean when we say ‘Europe’? European and world intellectuals, scientists, artists, and politicians will meet at the two-day event to answer this question. The presidents of Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Latvia, and Estonia will participate in the symposium. The symposium is under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda.

When: November 25-26

Where: Vytautas Magnus University

More information is available here.

The Assembly Kaunas

Performance the “Assembly Kaunas” is a joint creative project of the Kaunas National Drama Theatre and the documentary theatre Porte Parole (Canada). By using theatrical means, the project aims at creating a democratic dialogue on topics that greatly divide our society. During the creative process of the performance, the creative team invited 4 strangers with different ideological views to a dinner in which they discussed the topics greatly polarising our society. In the performance, you will see the re-enacted discussion: the actors will play real people, who have participated; their language will be authentic and not edited. The Assembly Kaunas is an aspiration to restore our faith in the possibility of change.

When: November 25, 27

Where: National Kaunas Drama Theatre

Tickets are available here

Yoko Ono’s retrospective exhibition “The Learning Garden of Freedom”

The Learning Garden of Freedom is a retrospective exhibition of Yoko Ono’s work organised in collaboration with Studio One in New York, founded by the artist herself, the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, and the Kaunas Picture Gallery in Kaunas. The exhibition presents an overview of Yoko Ono’s works, including various creative periods and practices ranging from conceptual art and experimental films to spatial installations, objects, and performance art.

When: Until 4 December

Where: Kaunas Picture Gallery

More information is available here.

Yoko Ono paroda, L. Žemgulio nuotr.

OSTRALE contemporary art exhibition. „Streams upstream“

The OSTRALE Biennale in Dresden is one of the largest contemporary art exhibitions in Germany, organized in non-traditional spaces, initially designed for purposes other than art. “Streams upstream” is the final OUT of OSTRALE event, completing the series of European cultural cooperation project “Flowing connections”. This is an exhibition about globality and all the nowness, unfulfillments and subtexts of this multi-layered phenomenon.

When: Until November 13

Where: Kaunas Central Post Office

More information is available here.

“Kaunas 2022” closing program “The Contract”

The journey of “Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022”, which has given more than 1,500 events and initiatives, is slowly coming to an end. At the end of autumn, the organizers are inviting you to the last adventure - the 4-day long year-closing program “The Contract’. November 24-27 Kaunas and Kaunas district will invite you to a free concert of the “Ten Walls”, numerous events, exhibitions, and the grand closing performance in the “Žalgiris” arena.

When: November 24-27

Where: Various places in Kaunas and Kaunas District

More information is available here.

„Sutarties“ repeticija, G. Jovaišos nuotr.

World premieres and art in non-traditional spaces: the most important October events in Kaunas

Iš tamsos, G. Jovaišos nuotr.

Although the year of the European Capital of Culture in Kaunas is slowly coming to an end, October offers many more inspiring experiences waiting for culture enthusiasts. From design events and exhibitions of world-famous artists to music premieres: “Kaunas 2022” is pleased to share some recommendations on what to see and what not to miss in the autumnal city.  

“Woven Art: 20th Century European and American Carpets of the Avant-Garde”

“An exhibition that reveals the spirit of the 20th century through the interwoven synergy of different types of art” - this is how the exhibition “Woven Art: 20th Century European and American Carpets of the Avant-Garde” could be described. The exhibition presents various carpets and collectable furniture created by the world's most prominent artists.

When: 1–14 October
Where: Kaunas Artists’ House

More information is available here.

Austinis menas, E. Kinaičio nuotr.

Yoko Ono’s retrospective exhibition “The Learning Garden of Freedom”

The Learning Garden of Freedom is a retrospective exhibition of Yoko Ono’s work organized in collaboration with Studio One in New York, founded by the artist herself, the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, and the Kaunas Picture Gallery in Kaunas. The exhibition presents an overview of Yoko Ono’s works, including various creative periods and practices ranging from conceptual art and experimental films to spatial installations, objects, and performance art.

When: Until 4 December
Where: Kaunas Picture Gallery, K. Donelaičio St. 16
More information is available here.

Yoko Ono paroda, L. Žemgulio nuotr.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert 

Kaunas State Philharmonic Orchestra and Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 present an exclusive international project created with the famous Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and piano virtuoso Simon Trpčeski. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, celebrating its 76th birthday this year, is at the forefront of musical life in the United Kingdom (UK), with a mission to enrich the lives of its audiences with the perfect and immersive experience of orchestral music. In the programme: Sergei Prokofiev, Ludwig van Beethoven and Jean Sibelius.

When: 12 October

Where: Kaunas Žalgiris arena

Tickets are available here.

CityTelling Festival. “The Dybbuk”

The CityTelling Festival, aiming to remind the multi-ethnic memory of Kaunas and its surroundings continues and invites to one more premiere. On October 14-15 at the Kaunas cinema centre “Romuva”, the audience will experience a mystical and mysterious event – the musical performance “The Dybbuk”. The performance created by the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra and a group of Israeli actors will combine the fields of music, cinema, and theatre and will tell a love story inspired by Jewish folklore.

When: 14-15 October
Where: Romuva cinema
Tickets are available here.

Forum of International Design Networks

This year, Kaunas can be proud not only of the title of the European Capital of Culture but also of the fact that it is gradually becoming a real centre of the design. This October, for the first time in the country ‘s history, the most important world design organizations will meet in one city. The forum will be attended by such global design networks as the UNESCO Cities of Design Network, ICoD (International Council of Design), BEDA (Bureau of European Design Associations), and EIDD (Design for All Europe). The programme will feature several conferences, workshops, and meetings. 

When: 14 October
Where: Žalgiris arena amphitheatre
More information is available here.

Dizaino renginiai, M. Plepio nuotr.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Requiem”

On October 31st at Žalgiris arena, Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and Kaunas – European Capital of Culture will host a Requiem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of the most famous contemporary composers and winner of the prestigious Grammy Award for music. Together with the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, the audience will see many well-known performers, including tenor Edgaras Montvidas, soloist Kseniya Bakhritdinova-Kravchuk, and the Kaunas State Choir. 

When: 31 October
Where: Žalgiris arena
Tickets are available here.

OSTRALE contemporary art exhibition. „Streams upstream“

The OSTRALE Biennale in Dresden is one of the largest contemporary art exhibitions in Germany, organized in non-traditional spaces, initially designed for purposes other than art. “Streams upstream” is the final OUT of OSTRALE event, completing the series of European cultural cooperation project “Flowing connections”. This is an exhibition about globality and all the nowness, unfulfillments and subtexts of this multi-layered phenomenon. 

When: 5 October– 13 November

Where: Kaunas Central Post Office

More information is available here.

Interactive exhibition “Out of Darkness”

Artist Jenny Kagan, daughter of Juozapas Kagan and Margarita Štromaitė from Kaunas, grew up in the United Kingdom, surrounded by stories of pre-war and wartime Lithuania. In the exhibition Out of Darkness, she brings the extraordinary story of her parents’ survival in Kaunas during the Holocaust to life. The exhibition’s setting, including images, music, video projections, and other elements, immerses the viewers in a narrative that is both personal and universal.

When: until 30 October
Where: Gimnazijos St. 4
Tickets are available here.

Iš tamsos, G. Jovaišos nuotr.

The autumn of culture continues

October events and exhibitions are designed for everyone's taste. A pleasant surprise awaits lovers of porcelain art at the Kaunas Central Post Office - the Exhibition of International Bone China symposium, “the Porcelain City”. Theatre lovers will surely find it interesting to see the performance “Dorian” directed by one of the most famous contemporary theatre figures, artist Robert Wilson. Moreover, the cultural boat “Nemuno7” will complete the series of exhibitions “Fluid Bodies” with authentic interpretations of the theme of ecology. The full Kaunas 2022 programme is available at www.kaunas2022.eu or on the mobile app.

G. Jovaišos nuotr.