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Discover Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022 and their story

Meet our friends from Kaunas who have successfully defended their candidacy for the European Capital of Culture and will have their title in 2022. Get to know the city of Kaunas itself, their project and we also interviewed the member of the Kaunas 2022 team Ugnė Marija Andrijauskaitė, who is the coordinator and member of the "Modernism for the Future" program team.

Thank you for pictures Kaunas 2022

Who are you and what is your role in the team?

My name is Ugnė Marija Andrijauskaitė and I am a team member (coordinator) of "Modernism for the Future" Program. The goal of this program is to awaken responsibility for the environment that surrounds us and create an emotional connection with the urban landscape and culture. My responsibilities are the international projects, such as the residency exchange program Modernism for the Future 360/365 where international artist or artist collectives interpret modernist architecture of Kaunas, Brno (Czechia), Kortrjik (Belgium), Lviv (Ukraine) and Tel Aviv (Israel) - the art created in the residencies will be exhibited in Kaunas and the exhibition of MoFu 360/365 will be one of the opening events. Another project that I am working with is the making of a fantasy novel film inspired by Kaunas modernist architecture and the hidden histories associated with the magical city. The film is directed by distinguished Irish visual artist Aideen Barry and created by the people of Kaunas. We are very happy to work with such a talented creator, who was just recently awarded with a prestigious Golden Fleece Award. The global pandemic forced us to change a lot in the production of the film, but we try to keep it as inclusive and engaging as we can in these times of restrictions and uncertainty. This spring is dedicated to the filming process, so I act as a line producer of the film, and this is what currently takes most of my time at ECoC: working with actors, dancers, cinematographers, performers and artists of Kaunas, with the volunteers of Kaunas 2022 and with the beautiful interwar modernists / art deco locations of the temporary capital while turning it into a contemporary piece of visual art.

Team member Ugnė Marija Andrijauskaitė

How ECoC changed or influenced life in Kaunas and the city itself?

I believe that all these preparation years of ECoC had a huge impact to the city life and its people. First of all, it gave a huge "injection" of culture to all the corners of the city: now you can find and enjoy art not only in the central parts of Kaunas, but in the residential neighborhoods as well. Moreover, it inspires people to try out and find your inner artist: creative workshops teach their amateur participants how to work with different techniques, and the making of big art projects usually engages and involves local communities in the process. I see Kaunas being the ECoC as a great school of creativity, where all the residents can learn by participating whether they are developing their creative or cultural management and cultural communication skills. In my opinion, the legacy of ECoC is even more important than the title itself: during the preparation years artists, cultural managers and the communities have so much to learn, and all this accumulated knowledge hopefully will help them to develop new ideas and project in 2023 and afterwards.

Photos: Kaunas 2022

How ECoC changed your life? What have you learnt?

Actually, it was Vilnius ECoC 2009 when I first got an opportunity to work with films! So, I have a personal connection to the title and the opportunities it gives to the nominated cities and their residents. Working at Kaunas 2022 is very dynamic and challenging; I am happy being resourceful and having good do-it-yourself skills that I have acquired during my late teenage and early adult years within the DIY punk community. Being a cultural manager, you have to be able to do a variety of things, from some a-bit-boring paperwork to creative problem-solving tasks, such as my recent adventures of finding big amounts of human hair for an art project. The fun part is that you never know what will happen tomorrow - will it be an interesting request by a resident artist, or a global pandemic. Working in the lockdown and with strict quarantine restrictions helped us to become even more creative, to think completely outside the box, to react quickly to the changing conditions and be better at crisis management. I myself really enjoy working with young people - volunteers, interns, emerging artists. Before joining ECoC team, I worked at university, so at Kaunas 2022 I still have the best opportunities to share my knowledge with others: to help the artists to find funding for their projects, to teach interns how to work with film production and communication, to have amazing experiences with our great volunteers in the creative workshops where we make props for the film. It's such a wonderful feeling to see everyone grow - myself, the team, the volunteers and the city itself!

Photos: Kaunas 2022

What is the European Kaunas Project about?

Kaunas 2022: “From temporary to contemporary”. Contemporary Capital means the City which is open, democratic and relevant to contemporary audiences, engaging and inclusive, creative and innovative. It is a City, which acknowledges its complicated past and its legacy, and moves towards new visions for the future. Becoming a Contemporary City is a meaningful journey, which connects all residents of the City. Together we want to invent what a Contemporary City is.The artistic programme of Kaunas 2022 is visualisation of a journey from the CONFUSION through the CONFLUENCE towards the CONSCIOUSNESS. In CONFUSION projects deal with unsolved issues relating to the City's collective memory (MEMORY OFFICE - Memory platform) and heritage (MODERNISM FOR THE FUTURE- Heritage platform). To deal with weak cross-sectorial cooperation and the brain drain they have CONFLUENCE (DESIGNING HAPPINESS- Public space platform a EMERGING KAUNAS - Youth platform). CONSCIOUSNESS is about focusing on participation, involvement, co-creation, community building and strengthening of civic society (WE, THE PEOPLE - Community platform a WAKE IT, SHAKE IT - cultural networking platform). We are looking forward to seeing it all!

Photos: Kaunas 2022


Explore Kaunas

Lithuania's second largest city - Kaunas - will host the European capital of culture title next year and we would like to tell you more about it. This beautiful Baltic city has a lot to offer for fans of art, architecture and also nature. Close to Kaunas there is the largest dam, which is called the Kaunas Sea due to its vastness. Due to the occupation of Vilnius, Kaunas became the capital of Lithuania between 1919 and 1940. Therefore, the ECoC slogan of the city is Contemporary capital (instead of the current nickname Temporary capital). The city also belongs to the European Heritage Label and is part of the UNESCO Design City Network. In Kaunas, you can study in up to 91 programs in the field of culture and creative industries. Thanks to 35k. students the city is also called the City of Youth, although the University of Lithuania will celebrate its centenary next year. Kaunas is a vibrant and colorful city known for its street art, with probably the only square in the world you can't reach - Georg Maciunas Square, inspired by the FLUXUS movement.

Kaunas in numbers:

1556 cultural heritage objects

13 theatres

7 music schools

12 universities

15 bridges

115 schools a 44257 students

9 music festivals

30 museums

(datas from 2017)

Photos: Kaunas 2022

Find out more about the Kaunas 2022 project -

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