New head asks official cultural role to be assigned to Latvian Institute

Since July 1, there has been a change of leadership at the Latvian Institute, a government agency designed to publicize the country overseas. Career diplomat Vita Timermane-Moora is taking over and now says it the time could be ripe to give an official cultural role to the institution. 

"Interestingly enough, culture is not mentioned in the tenets prescribing the functions of the Latvian Institute. And maybe it's a rather illusory thing, as institutes like these usually have to do with culture, like is the case with the Goethe-Institut, the British Council, or the Institut Français," she said appearing on Latvian Radio 3.

"Meanwhile the Latvian Institute was established in 1998 as per the example of Sweden, with the goal of improving the country's image," said Timermane-Moora.

"But that was the last century. A lot has changed throughout the decades," she said. "For example, the Swedish Institute has grown to 140 employees, whereas there are four official posts at the Latvian Institute."

"Culture is exactly the area towards which the institute has tended to gravitate, but there has been no mandate for us to do that. Maybe this is the right time to grant a cultural mandate to the Latvian Institute, as culture is our greatest product, for which we're known across the world," she said.

"Of course, I am not neglecting everything else, but culture is just that area in which we have progressed and developed ourselves. Maybe it's just the right moment to use the fact that culture is our flag-bearer, whether it concerns music or design or contemporary art. Our new president Egils Levits, in his address, said that first of all there's education and culture, and everything else, such as the economy, only follows, as any aspect of these is part of the economy," said the new head of the Latvian Institute.

Meanwhile, probed about the most pressing upcoming tasks, Timermane-Moora focused on the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, slated for August 23. 

She said a video about the event is coming up and that there are scheduled visits of foreign journalists. Another thing the institute is busy with right now is finding suitable professionals. "The fewer people we have, the more they have to be vivid 'individual orchestras'," she said.

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