Projects in this strand deal with unsolved issues relating to our city’s collective memory and heritage.

Modernism for future

The importance of building up citizens’ emotional attachment to the city and its heritage.

Kaunas’ status as a temporary capital city (1919–1940) provoked a huge construction boom: government institutions, museums, educational institutions, business offices, hotels, industrial territories, housing, etc. were built. More than 6,000 buildings from this period survived until today. However, many of these places are unloved and in very poor condition, or even abandoned. What can we do to change this situation?

We believe that in order to raise the value of our heritage, we need to build up citizens’ emotional attachment to it. We must create emotional shock and look for new stories and ways to do so. Therefore in 2017 20th century heritage interpretation and education center “Modernism For The Future”will be established and will take up this responsibility.

Memory office

Our city has an impressive history, both, in local and in the European context. However, when it comes to details and facts, we self-diagnose a common amnesia about our history, especially non-Lithuanian residents’ part of it. Citizens barely know where to look for heritage and don’t realize that the city had flourished thanks to various ethnic groups and European cultures that through the centuries have contributed to its vitality.

We aim to initiate a “Memory Office” platform, which will help awaken the multicultural consciousness of our city, where Jewish, Russian, Polish, German, and Lithuanian cultures and players re-appear to become the inspiration behind a common story.


We feel the lack of collaborative spirit and practices, a unifying narrative and happiness in our city. As a result, young people leave the city and we need to find better ways to connect with them and encourage them to stay. In order to do that we need to challenge weak cross-sectoral cooperation and insufficient links between culture, education, business, and social sectors.

Designing happiness

Happy city and its people

Yes, we know, designing happiness might seem to be a quite naïve aspiration. But we have some serious reasons to do it.

  • First of all, Kaunas officially strives to become a home for happy people as stated in the Strategic Development Plan of Kaunas city Municipality until 2022 and this can’t be ignored.
  • Secondly, in 2015 Kaunas was accepted into the UNESCO Creative City Network as a Design City, so design is our power and magic we can’t escape from. It is our future.
  • Thirdly, we are not afraid to be naïve. Being naïve is okay because you can always start over.  Hope is on our side. Challenge too.

How do you design happiness? Or at least, how should design for happiness look like? Or how do you build something to make one happy? These are our driving questions. The first step in tackling them is to understand what happiness and design mean. Very often, what people think will make them happy is, in fact, not what actually makes them happy.

METHODS: Pop-up buildings, public spaces designed for happiness, space and placemaking, public events, workshops and competitions, awards, training, knowledge and know-how transfer, urban renewal actions, exhibitions in public spaces, research, brainstorming, design thinking, performative design, collaborative place making strategies, participatory urban development strategizing, and commissioned artworks.

Emerging Kaunas

The empowered young generation that is rooted in the city

Europe’s and Kaunas’ best future lies within young people who can create a prosperous and equitable society. Our role is to support young people and foster their capacity to imagine and create a city where they want to live, work and raise a family.

We dedicate a significant part of the programme “Kaunas 2022” to the young generation. More than 2,000 young participants from all over Europe will enrich the “Contemporary Capital” programme in 2021–2022 led by at least 100 young people. “Emerging Kaunas” is our long-term strategy to empower the young generation and by involving them in Kaunas 2022 programme we hope to create a city in which they would want to stay.

METHODS: Capacity building programme, creative entrepreneurship laboratories, internships in local and European cultural institutions and ECoC agencies, international youth summer camps, cultural programming and producing.


Projects in this strand are focused on participation, involvement, co-creation, community building and strengthening of civil society. Kaunas feels the absence of community activism and lack of belief that the individual matters. Low tolerance rate pushes alternative communities and groups to feel like strangers in the city.

We, the people

it’s all about empowering communities to celebrate their culture through collaboration and co-creation

Culture is an important part of our common identity and history and includes each and every citizen. We believe that there is a significant – and so far unlocked – potential to unleash unique forms of creativity in places where nobody would expect them. Though, other parts of the programme unite hundreds or even thousands of local, European and international artists, composers, musicians, actors and writers, “We, The People” unites hundreds of thousands of Kaunasians to act together in order to create new public spaces where formerly there were none, feel responsible for our own neighbourhoods, and host events in squares, parks, courtyards, saunas, garages, and public pools. “We, The People” will also be a platform for alternative culture, and various Kaunasian, Lithuanian, and European subcultures.

Wake it, Shake it

Building a collaborative network of partnerships

Kaunas has a large network of galleries, theatres, libraries, archives, and universities. In fact, the largest number of museums and libraries in the country are located in Kaunas. Our cultural infrastructure is made up of 13 theatres, 17 cultural centers, more than 30 libraries, the State Philharmonic orchestra and a variety of international festivals and events (from contemporary art to cinema, from jazz to design) taking place in the city and its districts.


Unfortunately, most cultural institutions in the city are closed, centralized and the number of visitors is rather low. A series of initiatives, new projects and experimental models in the programme “Wake It, Shake It” will be introduced in order to shake up the existing cultural landscape. We’ll encourage our cultural institutions, municipal and public organizations, together with residents of Kaunas and its districts to create a collaborative network of partnerships, to improve the quality of their services and work as a networked civil society and empower its residents and visitors.

The mythical beast of Kaunas

“The Mythical Beast” is an interdisciplinary project which will create a unifying narrative for Kaunas. The creation of the Beast and its story will involve citizens of all ages and will include spectacular events for local people and city visitors from all around the world.

The Beast will be presented in different media and art forms, such as a novel, children’s comic book, movie, performing arts website, public art, ice and gardening sculptures, art installations seen in the Nemunas and the Neris river beds, etc. Moreover, traces of the Beast will be visible throughout the city. Some of them might be seen with the naked eye, some will only be made visible and audible with the help of augmented reality and digital audio functions of smart phones: groans and roars could be heard in trees and behind bushes, huge foot-prints will appear at impossible heights on the fortress’ walls, discarded skin scales will be hanging from traffic lights and someone will seem to have chewed off a piece of an art installation shaped as a huge lollipop.

Tempo academy of culture

The Academy is a workshop-based training and networking programme, which provides training to the local cultural sector, community activists, youth and volunteers, professionals from communication, fundraising, audience development, marketing, and management fields. The training and partnership programme will run from 2017 until 2023. Each year the Academy will hold three thematic sessions hosted in different cultural venues in Kaunas and its districts.

Faculty for culture professionals

The target audience for this faculty consist of culture professionals and festival organizers in Kaunas, working independently, or employed by the local cultural organizations, and who have a significant experience in creating high-quality artistic content through their broad networks of European and global partnerships. The programme will invite participants to become involved through an open call, providing participation priority to the local partners of “Kaunas 2022” programme, thus aiming for maximum capacity in programming further events and delivering a successful programme together.

Methods: Seminars, summer sessions, project development workshops, audience research, strategic planning, common marketing, programme and communication planning, interacting.

Faculty for community culture activism

The Tempo Academy of Culture will hold annual courses on community arts that will be hosted by the Faculty of Arts at Vytautas Magnus University and train up to 80 creative activists of different ages, professions, and cultural backgrounds.

Methods: Co-working and co-creation, cross-sectoral networking, socially engaged art practices, community activism, site and context-specific research, local community empowerment, etc.

Youth training faculty / Kaunas challenge

The programme is designed for young people aged 15 to 19 and is the first programme of the “Tempo Academy” that has been already launched. It proposes an innovative cultural entrepreneurship-training programme led by carefully selected mentors. “Kaunas Challenge” aims to build creative and project development skills of the participants, linking them to the international practice possibilities in other ECoC cities. The participants will apply acquired skills by starting their own initiatives for “Kaunas 2022” programme.

Methods: Workshops and training sessions, internships in local organizations, group case studies, youth summer camps, consultancy sessions with mentors, international student exchanges with other ECoC cities, voluntary activities, project development and implementation in groups.

Volunteer and welcoming faculty

The Tempo Academy will also serve as “Kaunas 2022” volunteer training and management center, which will carry out special training for volunteer managers, attract new volunteers to the programme and assign them to voluntary tasks. It will provide seminars to education specialists and volunteer managers of local cultural organizations on the inclusion of groups with different physical and intellectual disabilities and overcoming barriers of participation. The center will offer Kaunas 2022 volunteers special exchange trips to other European Capitals of Culture and will also welcome volunteers from other cities. The programme will host special training for the hospitality sector, local citizens, airport, airline, train, public transport, taxi and other transport companies’ staff on welcoming the arriving guests.