Monday, December 22, 2008

Brinkmanship or a real danger?

Here the Baltic Times reports that following the proposed budget cuts in the state's austerity budget responding to the economic crisis, the Vilnius Capital of Culture may, er, not happen.

This is the new government under Mr Kubilius, the conservative prime minister, who I have seen in at least one concert (before his temporary corruption-related downfall), and maybe even in two, in the nearly 8 years I have lived in Vilnius. The proposed cut is 50% of the year of culture funding (total state funding was supposed to be 40 million LTL or about 11.7m Euros, not exactly major stuff).

It seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face; I don't want to repeat the figure, which I have repeated ad nauseam, about the economic impact of the Edinburgh Festival on the economy of that city - where it brings in many times what is spent in subsidies. If the year of culture crashes, it will be such an embarassment! Surely it is an investment into the future popularity of Vilnius and Lithuania as a tourism destination, and goodness knows when the chance will come round again.

But maybe people are playing political games. Let's hope so. The organisers of the Heifetz violin competition to take place between 9 and 15 January must be having hysterics at the moment.