Photo by I. Navickaitė
Surrounded by special aura, appreciated by numerous generations of Kaunas citizens and counting its 46th year, the Kaunas Artists’ House (KAH) is experiencing the period of huge changes and welcomes its visitors rather revived. “We remained the only institution of this kind in Lithuania because we managed to quickly reorganize and renew our auditoriums, as well as the content, communication and identity. We have determined new long-term activities, we have discovered our place and relevance, so now, when the transformation stage is over, we are trying to get an identifiable image that we will nourish and grow,” says Rūta Stepanovaitė, the director of the KAH.
Hundreds of Events, Thousands of Visitors
Not long ago, both Vilnius and Klaipėda could boast of artists’ houses, but today KAH is the only institution of this kind in Lithuania that has retained its name and location.
“Just as any other institution working for many years, at some point we must decide: whether we will be able to adapt to today’s conditions, whether the content we are working with is relevant to the public. I would dare to say that the Kaunas Artists’ House handled this challenge very well: during the last couple of years, there have been huge changes and transformations within the organization, after which we radically renewed ourselves in every sense,” says Rūta Stepanovaitė.
The head of this in Kaunas cultural map well-established institution emphasizes, that even though the KAH is on the path to transformation, it cherishes its exceptional past and the legend that surrounds it.
Over the past year alone, 270 events were held at the KAH – concerts, exhibitions, discussions, film and dance reviews, performances, educational programs, creative workshops. All of them are aimed at different age groups and meet the various needs of different audiences.
To ensure that visitors do not get lost in that abundance of options, the house is trying to form the cycles of events while maintaining the integrity of the program. In this way, the KAH not only seeks to grow its audience, but also to offer a regular quality content.
“A lot of fresh ideas come from the members of our renewed team. These are young professionals of their field. At present, the team consists of thirteen employees who attracted more than 17,000 visitors to the Kaunas Artists’ House in the past year.”
New Identity and New Formats
The KAH re-launched not only its program of events. This year, a new visual identity was presented, inspired by the interwar period stylistics, which is relevant to the KAH due to the exclusive premises of the institution – a modernist villa built in 1930.
Another direction of the renewed KAH is the artists’ residences.
“Generally speaking, the residence is a platform where artists, arriving at the KAH, can perform their artistic activities. It is possible to reside from a week to almost a month. By giving the opportunity to various artists to create and openly present their work to local communities, we pay a lot of attention to the extent to which local creators will also be involved – the director of the KAH tells us about the new format of the artistic activity. – We have opened the residential platform at the beginning of this year. Until then, we tried this with several projects: for example, with the international residence “Centras” (the Centre); from late autumn, we have a guest
residence “The Six-Chairs Books”, a contemporary art and theory bookstore in the former KAH’s make-up room which offers the selection of niche publications and organizes readings of those publications.”
Since this January, the house has been working with the first residents of the KAH artists program who represent some very different practices – both performative and visual arts. “We have a lot of artists’ duets in this year’s programme plans. Often one of the duet is a Lithuanian artist, the other is a foreign colleague with whom the artistic project is being developed.
The creation of artists’ residences for us is an opportunity to expand our presence abroad, become visible and well-known, to be recognized in the future not only in the local but also in the international context. It’s nice that visiting artists are very different, they have some methods that they are working on and share them with our local professionals and with the audience which comes to see their work,” says R. Stepanovaitė talking about the relevance of the residential platform.
According to the head of the institution, this year there will be several artists representing performative arts – contemporary dance performers, choreographers, performance artists, as well as representatives of visual arts working with photography and other media. In the summer, a traveling bus will arrive in the KAH’s yard and present its program.
All the Information about the Kaunas Cultural Activities in One Place
Another new direction of the KAH is the creation of a cultural information centre whose mission is to spread cultural information in the city, nationally and internationally.
“We can say that by taking this step we expand the span of our activities. We will take care not only of what is happening in the KAH, but also in the whole city. Our information centre will collect and provide information exclusively about culture,” the head of the KAH shares the news.
The platform will be accessible not only online but also be present in physical form: on the first floor of the KAH we will soon open an information centre which will welcome all who want to get detailed information about the arts and culture events taking place in Kaunas.
“We are delighted to start the activity of the infocentre: to inform people about what is happening in the cultural field of Kaunas, what is worth seeing. Later, we also plan an additional event program that focuses on educational activities, creative workshops, community creative activities. We intend to contribute to the decentralization of culture – to spread cultural information purposefully to Kaunas districts – we are planning to do this at the end of this year or at the beginning of the next year”, – R. Stepanovaitė speaks about the ambitious goals of Kaunas cultural information centre.
Information of the Business Department of VšĮ “Kaunas IN”.