Visiting Experts Programme
‘It is essential for Lithuanian artists to have the opportunity to present their works to foreign experts, curators, and critics. This is why, alongside the “export” of their works, we also organize the “import” of experts, who come for an intensive and concentrated presentation of Lithuanian culture during their visit. They leave with much more than just pleasant memories of their stay: they become broadly acquainted with Lithuanian artists and the panorama of their work’, according to Aušrinė Žilinskienė, Director of the Lithuanian Culture Institute. Forty-six cultural professionals visited Lithuania in 2014. These visits resulted in more than twenty concrete projects and publications with Lithuanian cultural themes. Among these are projects such as a presentation of Lithuanian visual arts at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC and the Print Center in Philadelphia, PA; a presentation of Lithuanian contemporary dance at the Tramway Contemporary Arts Centre in Glasgow, UK; a presentation of Lithuanian musicians at the St Magnus Festival in Scotland; and Lithuanian photography exhibitions at galleries in Greifsvald, Hamburg, and Zingst in Germany.
Cultural experts in more than forty areas visited Lithuania to brief a select audience of representatives from the cultural sector on opportunities to receive EU financing for art and culture. Speakers included Jennifer Harris, a textile expert from Manchester; Lewis Biggs, an expert in modern art from Great Britain; and Professor Jorge Cerveira Pinto from Portugal. Also in attendance were writer and contemporary art curator Rózsa Zita Farkas as well as Russian theatre critic Aleksei Kiseliov, who wrote glowing reviews of Oskaras Koršunovas’s play Jelizaveta Bam in the Russian press. At the invitation of the Lithuanian Culture Institute and Rita Valiukonytė, cultural attaché of the Republic of Lithuanian in the United Kingdom, eleven British experts in the publishing sector also visited, including legendary publisher Christopher MacLehose, the founder of MacLehose Press.
In May, nine representatives of the Austrian and German publishing sector travelled to Lithuania. They were accompanied by literary translators Cornelius Hell, Saskia Drude-Koeth, and Markus Roduner as well as the director of the Leipzig Book Fair, Oliver Zille, and the fair’s project manager, Mariella Bremer. Their visit was organized by the Lithuanian Culture Institute and by Lithuania’s cultural attaché in Germany in order to assist Lithuania in its preparation as the guest of honour of the 2017 Leipzig Book Fair.
Swedish and Finnish design experts took part in the 10th annual Design Week held in Lithuania in May. Working with the organizers of Design Week — the Lithuanian Design Forum — and the cultural attaches of the Republic of Lithuania in Sweden and Finland, the visits of several guests were arranged in collaboration with the Lithuanian Culture Institute Robin Edman, director of Sweden’s industrial design fund, vice-president of The Bureau of European Design Associations, member of the commission for the Red Dot Design Award and the Electrolux Design Lab Competition; Ewa Kumlin, director of Europe’s oldest design organization, Svensk Forum, and editor of Form magazine; Kristina Noor-Ilander, manager of international projects for Design Forum Finland; and Stefan Nilsson, Swedish design expert and owner of Designgalleriet in Stockholm.
In autumn 2015, Sarah Perks and Francis McKee, two experts in interdisciplinary art, came to Vilnius for an investigative visit. These British curators were accompanied by Rita Valiukonytė, the cultural attaché of the Republic of Lithuania in the United Kingdom. Also, by joint invitation with the Contemporary Art Centre, the Italian curator Luca Lo Pinta visited Lithuania from 4 to 6 September. Five Polish journalists working for news agencies, daily newspaper, magazines, and radio stations in Warsaw and Krakow visited Lithuania from 17 to 20 September. Their visit was organized working together with the Lithuanian Cultural Season, an event held in Krakow last autumn, which was coordinated by the Polish Cultural Institute, the cultural attaché of the Lithuanian Republic in Poland, Rasa Rimickaitė, and several other partners.
At the end of September, several important guests came to Vilnius to see the Lithuanian programme of the Sirenos International Theatre Festival: Agnès Troly, head of programming for the prestigious Avignon Theatre Festival; Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, artitsic director of the Passages International Theatre Festival; Serge Noyelle, director of the NoNo Theatre in Marseilles; and Polish theatre critic Lukasz Drewniak, who discussed the Lithuania theatre season in Warsaw. Their visit was organized by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the IVA international performing arts agency, and by Vida Gražienė, cultural attaché of the Republic of Lithuania in France.
From 1 to 4 October, in conjunction with the Kaunas Biennial, art historian and founder of the Biennial Foundation Marieke van Hal visited Lithuania. She was accompanied by director Răzvan Ion and curator Eugen Rădescu, the co-founders of the Bucharest Biennial. These Romanian curators came to Lithuania to take in the Kaunas Biennial and to become acquainted with Lithuanian interdisciplinary artists.