In the European Parliament building, a dance mat with the motto "Keep up with the Latvians!" opened the cultural section of the Latvian Presidency in the EU. The cultural diplomacy program was started with the goal of using the Presidency as leverage for bringing the name of Latvia to the world.
Selga Laizāne, the head of the cultural program, said that the program is very important for Latvia in comparison with the larger countries. Although it's difficult to come up with raw numbers and statistics only after a half-year's work, she thinks that the results are good.
"I have seen our artists surprise and connect with their audience on an emotional as well as an artistic level. This was shown, for example, by the eight-minute ovations after the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra performed Verdi's Requiem at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées," said Laizāne.
More than 400 events were held around the world, of which about a hundred were held abroad, and most were open to everyone. Artjoms Konohovs, correspondent to the Latvian Radio, said that the program was very broad and included many types of art, but there were problems in finding partners who would help with the publicity.
Anda Buševica, journalist at Latvian Radio, marked the motley and sometimes bold program, but stressed the lack of publicity.
"My friends ask, ironically, 'Well, now does everyone in Europe know where Latvia is?' Of course no one does. Of course these events are muffled by the others. [...] These programs have to be implemented systematically. I think that artists were the ones who gained the most from the program," said Buševica.
Selga Laizāne echoes Buševica's sentiment, saying that, the program should be continued and the state should invest in the presentation of Latvian culture abroad.
The total spending of the cultural program of the presidency was around 4,6 mln euros. It is less than the price of a single armored transport unit, Laizāne remarked.