New CultMin slams 100th statehood anniversary celebration plan

Liana Ruokytė – Jonsson

The parliament's Committee on Culture and Culture Minister-designate Liana Ruokytė Jonsson on Wednesday criticized the outgoing government's plan for marking the 100th anniversary of Lithuania's statehood.

Ramūnas Karbauskis, head of the committee, says that the plan lacks a vision and a goal of involving the entire population in the in the festivities and Ruokytė Jonsson thinks that including the construction of a stadium or reconstruction of a square in the plan is a bad idea.

"Something scraped together and put down on paper. A million inhabitants. If our goal is to involve only a million, then this is something terrible. We must involve every single one," Karbauskis, who is chairman of the Peasant and Green Union, the party that triumphed in last month's parliamentary elections, said after the plan was presented during the committee's meeting.

"When I thought about the 100th anniversary program, I though about massive concerts all over Lithuania," he said.

The plan, worked out by a special task force, sets the goal of involving a million people in the celebrations.

Speaking about a large-scale Song Festival planned for 2018, Karbauskis said that he was surprised to see that the festival would take place only in Vilnius, rather than "in every single village".

The culture minister-designate criticized plans to include infrastructure projects into the anniversary program.

"In my opinion, it is a deeply flawed idea to stick infrastructure projects to the celebration of historical dates," said Ruokytė Jonsson, underlining that the program should be made up of the so-called "soft" projects involving culture, art and education.

"Roads, squares, houses, buildings, stadiums should be separated from this segment," she said.

The program includes the reconstruction of the capital's Lukiškės Square and of the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace, the construction of a multi-functional complex (a stadium) and the renovation of the House of the Signatories, a building in Vilnius where the Act of Independence of Lithuania was signed on Feb. 16, 1918.

Plans to participate in the book fairs of Leipzig and London were also frowned upon, with the minister-designate describing this as spending money on events that do not have much value.

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