The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and setting national policy. Within the Ministry, the Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre (LFCC) is the main implementing body that pursues related programmes and coordinates the execution of measures for safeguarding and promoting the elements inscribed on the Representative List. The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Science, as well as the LFCC and the Centre of Gifted Children, within the National M.K. Ciurlionis School of Art, are responsible for safeguarding the tradition of song and dance celebrations at the national level. Regionally, the responsible bodies are municipalities and local cultural and educational organizations. The National Commission of Song and Dance Celebrations supervises the process.
There are no educational institutions established for training in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. However, the following Lithuanian universities offer study programmes related to intangible cultural heritage: Vytautas Magnus University; Klaipeda University; and Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. The LFCC also organizes training courses on the importance of intangible cultural heritage and the development of the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Several institutions gather and hold intangible cultural heritage documentation: the Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre (written, film and photograph archives); the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and the Folk Culture Institute (studies on folk culture, customs, integral research on the life and environment of the communities); the Division of Ethnology of the Institute of Lithuanian History (expressions of twenty-first-century spiritual and material culture). In addition, a database on traditional crafts and craftspeople has been created by the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the certification of traditional products, services, plants and animal breeds. All these archives are accessible to the public and the free use of archival materials for scientific and promotional purposes is protected by law. The digitization of archives is being stepped up in order to increase public access. In addition, the documenting institutions publish archival materials such as books, CDs and other publications.
The Inventory of Lithuanian Intangible Cultural Heritage has not yet been established due to financial and legal constraints; the Ministry of Culture will be responsible for it. The Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre is presently developing the methodology, formulating tasks, organizing training programmes for local administrators etc. The criteria have already been determined, as follows: (1) uniqueness, singularity, sustainability; (2) historic, cultural, social, ethnological etc. values; (3) artistic value; mastery of skills and performance; (4) viability, safeguarding of cultural, economic and social contexts as well as primal function; (5) inherence, local and regional peculiarities, marks of historic and cultural tradition; (6) scope of tradition, realization (number of pieces performed, produced, created, geographic coverage), complexity of phenomenon or element (number of safeguarded integral, syncretic aspects); (7) means of transmission, succession, dissemination; and (8) risk of extinction. The Inventory will include the following: a list of forms, genres, skills and techniques; a list of events (feasts, celebrations, rites, fairs, festivals etc.); a list of spaces of traditional culture; a list of performers, masters and bearers (persons); a list of performers and bearers (groups, communities); and a compendium of archives, depositories, collections, artefacts, objects and publications). Communities and related non-governmental organizations have taken part in developing the methodology for selecting intangible cultural heritage elements and completing the files of the elements concerned. They will also submit proposals for the inscription of intangible cultural heritage elements on the inventory; some 30 files have been completed thus far.
Recognition of, respect for and enhancement of intangible cultural heritage are promoted through various measures. Notably, all the main national events integrate intangible cultural heritage into their programmes and intangible cultural heritage has been widely disseminated through newspaper articles and internet sites. National radio and television has broadcast information and discussions on intangible cultural heritage and directly broadcast the song and dance celebrations.
The formal educational system previously pushed intangible cultural heritage to the peripheries of the curriculum, with the exception of some distinct fragments of verbal folklore, music and crafts. Moreover, many teachers have been trained in formal ‘academic’ arts and find it difficult to value intangible cultural heritage as a subject of teaching. Nowadays, the educational programmes of pre-school and primary schools include folk songs and music as well as basic teaching of traditional crafts. There are also after-school activities, workshops and artistic groups, where skills and knowledge related to intangible cultural heritage are communicated and strengthened. Secondary-school children learn about intangible cultural heritage through non-formal educational programmes and almost 10% of Lithuanian schoolchildren take part. A new Programme of Ethnic Culture in Educational Institutions is being developed to integrate the teaching of intangible cultural heritage into all disciplines. Cultural institutions – cultural centres, museums etc. – arrange training sessions that transmit knowledge and skills from tradition bearers to the younger generation. More than 2,500 educational events and 200 camps take place annually to introduce young people to traditional music and singing. Traditional dancing schools have also been established in Vilnius, Siauliai, Panevezys and Kaunas. A centre of traditional crafts has been founded in Prienai. Tradition bearers take part in the educational programmes of museums, other cultural institutions, youth camps, folk camps, and encounters with communities.
International cooperation focuses on sub-regional cooperation between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, particularly as regards the Baltic song and dance celebrations. All three States Parties periodically arrange meetings to exchange experiences and thus better contribute to the successful organization of the celebrations, as well as to discuss organizational achievements and problems. A series of joint conferences has been organized on various aspects related to the element with the participation of specialists, creators, organizers and administrators. Another regional activity is the joint initiative of the international folklore festival ‘Baltica’ and exchanges of folk groups, performers, craftsmen and specialists.
Lithuania reports here on three elements on the Representative List: Cross-crafting and its symbolism (incorporated in 2008, having previously been proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001); Baltic song and dance celebrations (also incorporated in 2008, together with Estonia and Latvia, after being proclaimed a Masterpiece in 2003); and Sutartines, Lithuanian multipart songs (2010). Cross-crafting is protected by a law for the safeguarding of tangible cross-crafting heritage and safeguarding responsibilities are assigned to the holders of the crosses, i.e. the proprietors of homesteads, parishes and communities. Nevertheless, the continuity of cross-crafting rituals is uncertain because of the changing demographic structure of rural areas. These changes are due to increased secularization and the fact that the role of tradition bearers has been transferred from the larger community to the cross-crafters themselves. About 50 performers’ groups keep the Sutartines tradition alive and youth transmission does seem to be occurring in the context of annual, familial and community festivities. Formal musical education in schools is mostly focused on harmony and homophonic music styles and so does not prepare the pupils to understand or appreciate this polyphonic musical form. However, Sutartines training centres are being prepared in cooperation with the municipalities of Svencionys, Kupiskis and Birzai. The main threats perceived for the Celebrations are: changes in the consciousness of individuals, a movement towards consumerism, and the predominance of modern culture as a result of globalization.