art 2001/1


Laws and the Dispersion of Contemporary Art

Participants of the discussion: deputy minister of culture Ina Marčiulionytė, advisor to the Government Chancellery, doctor of art research Nijolė Tumėnienė, chairman of the Lithuanian Artists’ Union Vaclovas Krutinis, director of the Contemporary Art Information Centre Lolita Jablonskienė, doctor of social sciences Elona Lubytė. The discussion was moderated by the program coordinator of the UNESCO Chair of Culture Management and Culture Politics Ieva Kuizinienė.

Ieva Kuizinienė. The theme of this discussion is the law regulating the dispersion of contemporary art and the status of artists and artworks. It is obvious that the lack of a legal basis inhibits the normal process of contemporary art. Several reasons can be mentioned. Firstly, the smallness of the country’s population (and the small number of tourists) hinders the formation of the local art market. Secondly, there is a lack of free money on the market. Thirdly, there are no philanthropic traditions in Lithuania. Finally, there is a lack of educational informational programs encouraging the support of contemporary culture and defining its legal and social status and material value.
Elona Lubytė. This problem is related with both the guidelines of the culture policy, and the status of an artist. The fact that the state has not defined the value parameters of an artwork influences the development of the market, which is slow and closed. This results in a paradox – contemporary artworks do not have any value.
Vaclovas Krutinis. In my opinion, the existing law could work more efficiently if it changed the order of payment of taxes to the greater advantage of sponsors. The law or its amendments should state that both a real or juridical person has a right to assign a certain amount of money for sponsorship, and this amount should not be subject to any taxes. In this way the sponsor could feel material profit.
Elona Lubytė. A closer link between the giver and the receiver of support should be established. A possible form of communication could be a council of sponsors popular in the liberal Western environment, which offers businessmen an opportunity not only to give support, but also to participate in the activity and administration of culture institutions, i.e. to share their experience and connections, which is often more effective than a one-time financial support.
Ieva Kuizinienė. It is obvious that many companies associate sponsorship with the formation of their positive image. Therefore they find it very important to support only those fields of activity that are on the top list of priorities and help them form this image. On the other hand, institutions looking for support are often not prepared to raise funds professionally.
Nijolė Tumėnienė. Culture is not a strategic priority of the state. However, economists and politicians do not seem to be aware of this problem. If the Parliament adopted the draft of guidelines for the culture policy, it would help us establish priorities at least inside the field of culture.
Ina Marčiulionytė. The aim of these guidelines is to have a generalized document of culture policy that would not contain fragmentary references for one or two years. The general direction should be clear. It should be followed by a concrete document, a plan of practical actions for six years, corresponding to the planing cycles of the government.
Ieva Kuizinienė. So that culture could earn money by itself, certain commercial structures are necessary – art fairs, auctions, strong galleries etc. Until they come into existence, culture will not earn money, and artists will never have them.
Lolita Jablonskienė. Commerce must exist on the market. State support for commerce is detrimental. However, institutions engaged in commerce, e.g. art galleries, also organize non-commercial events, which can be supported by the state.
Nijolė Tumėnienė. During the discussion of the guidelines for the Lithuanian cultural policy in the government, several ministers spoke for the redundancy of the status of an artist. Though the status of an art creator has already been legitimized by the law of art creators and their organizations, it does not provide for any privileges and state responsibilities for artists suggested by international recommendations.
Vaclovas Krutinis. Certain results have been achieved in developing the legal basis for the status of an artist. It is necessary to achieve that a certain amount of taxes paid by art creators would be assigned for their social guarantees.
Ieva Kuizinienė. Obviously, without the initiative of artists, art scholars and related institutions the situation is not likely to change. However, as long as culture stays on the margins of the state’s interests, and legislative committees do not have time to consult those who administer those laws, it is not worth while expecting great changes. The most important factor that is going to determine the fate of different fields of culture are the guidelines for the state cultural policy, in the context of which laws should be adopted.