According to a survey of Rīga residents implemented by Latvijas fakti, the assessment of cultural life in Riga has slightly deteriorated in recent years. In 2018, 89% of the surveyed viewed cultural life in Riga positively. With each of the following years, satisfaction has declined slightly, reaching 73% of respondents' satisfaction in 2022.
Baiba Mūrniece, director of the Culture Ministry's Department of cultural policy, explained that these results reflect what has happened in society in recent years and how residents' habits have changed.
"If we compare to 2018 when we had the celebration of the country's centenary and the ambitious cultural supply that we have not seen before, then we have witnessed crisis after crisis. If we take into account these crises and all the more Covid limitations, I think the result is still good.
"Other reasons are economic opportunities, physical accessibility. For the Russian-speaking audience, it may be a lack of supply due to the cessation of cultural relations with Russia due to its hostilities in Ukraine. However, there are also certain examples where the supply is so abundant that people are confused and not choose anything at all, "said Mūrniece.
According to the Ministry, the cultural offer changes depending on the interests of the public. Various events are being organized, but the availability of information on them is important.
A high level of satisfaction is when cultural supply is diverse. People have different cultural experiences, so the satisfaction changes from what the supply spectrum is, said the Sociology Professor of the Latvian Academy of Culture, Anda Laķe.
She also stressed that the cultural sector was affected by the constraints of the pandemic: “There can be no high satisfaction if there is no opportunity to visit cultural events. Also now, the economic consequences of the Russian war make many people think about saving money [..].”
According to the results of the survey, the most significant differences in the assessment of cultural life are based on the language of the family. In Latvian-speaking families, 84% of those surveyed are satisfied with cultural life in Rīga, while 9% are not satisfied. Meanwhile, in Russian-speaking families, 63% of those surveyed were satisfied, but 21% were not satisfied.
Professor Laķe explained that this trend has long been observed in cultural consumption studies. In general, the Russian population visits cultural events less. This means that this population in Riga does not find a suitable offer for its cultural needs and interests.
"This means that they do not consume what Riga offers, which is provided by the cultural environment of Latvia. And these are such dangerous signals if we assume that cultural experience is an extremely strong, unity-rooting factor [..] The fact that people who speak Russian in their family do not use the offer that Rīga City gives, makes us think about how these people feel in Rīga and what the potential for cultural consolidation is.
"With the fact that we will make a very concrete cultural offer that will illustrate the values of our national culture, it is all well. But it does not mean that those who cannot stand in solidarity with these values will not seek cultural experience beyond what we offer here," said Laķe.
The professor also stressed that a didactic approach would not produce a result because cultural choices are voluntary. An inclusive dialogue with Russian-speaking cultural consumers should be established in order to integrate them into domestic cultural life.