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State Support for Artists in Inter-War Lithuania

by Giedrė Jankevičiūtė

What was the life of artists in inter-war Lithuania? Could a free-lance artist maintain himself by his work? Did artists receive support from the government?
State commissions appeared in the 1930’s: new public buildings, office interiors were designed, competitions of monument design were held, Lithuania took part in the world exhibitions in Paris and New York. The War Museum acted as an art patron and gave commissions to a group of academist painters.
Since the first years of the existence of pre-war independent Lithuania, the state performed the function of an art patron. In 1919 the State Archaeological Committee was established. Its task was to collect, preserve and explore the historical heritage, to found museums of archaeology and history, and to coordinate monument protection, research and museum activities. In 1919–22 the laws of state support for studies abroad were adopted. Artists were entitled to support for the studies of crafts and applied art. Almost each year the Ministry of Education assigned funds to buy works for the collection of the Čiurlionis Gallery.
However, artists found the amount of state support insufficient and accused the state of its lack of attention to art and artists. It was extremely difficult to draw up a consistent long-term program of art policy on account of constant changes of governments. For a long time the government did not have a separate structure responsible for the coordination of art institutions, official art events and the dispersion of art in the country and abroad.

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