Presentation of STAR Cities' partner Kaunas 2022

What are your organisation objectives and missions ?

Public Institution “Kaunas 2022” is a non-profit public legal entity of limited civil liability. Operational objectives of the Institution:  

  1. implement the cultural programme “Kaunas European Capital of Culture 2022” ;
  2. develop collaboration between Lithuanian and foreign legal and natural persons that carry out projects in the fields of culture, art, informal education and creative industries;
  3. organise and support projects of civic initiatives, community building and promotion of participatory culture;
  4. organise projects related to the professional development, informal education, development of critical thinking, scientific research, publishing, development of youth competences and other education and self-expression in the social and cultural fields;
  5. initiate projects dedicated to entrepreneurship, innovativeness, development of local and international partnerships, and characterised by the ability to contribute to the development of creative industries on local and international levels.

What is your role in STAR Cities ?

Kaunas 2022 will bring an important and interesting case study of underdeveloped riversides in 3 small resort towns of Kaunas District – Kačerginė, Kulautuva and Zapyškis. Lack of riverside infrastructure opens up the opportunities for very wide scale of possible future processes. However, the process is still in the initial phase and therefore the exchanges of good practices are meaningful in this particular moment. On the other hand, Kaunas as a specific case study with the upcoming ECOC program will bring its experience in cultural development and international event. During project lifetime except other common activities Kaunas 2022 will be responsible for one Interregional learning session, coordination of Best Practices Guide, European Conference.

Why have you decided to join STAR Cities and what do you expect from it ?

The riverside in Kaunas and Kaunas District is still in the phase of development. One of the most important tool to rethink the role of the river in the contemporary environment is to share the good experience between different European cities. There are a lot of aspects why partners of the project “STAR Cities” can find the common dialogue in this process of communication. One of them is European history, which contains of leisure and entertainment as well as shipping and other cultural practices.

What are the main stakeholders you are planning to involve in STAR Cities ? What is your organisation‘s relationship with them?

The target audience are members of Kaunas 2022 program We, the people. The program unites hundreds of thousands of Kaunas and Kaunas District people to act together in order to create new public spaces where formerly there were none, feel responsible for our own neighbourhoods, and host events in riversides, squares, parks, courtyards, saunas, garages, and public pools. As a result twenty five community members participated in the 1st local stakeholders meeting from different Kaunas (Žaliakalnis, Šančiai, Vilijampolė, Petrašiūnai, Dainava, Centras ir Senamiestis, Eiguliai etc.) and Kaunas District areas (Kulautuva, Zapyškis, Garliava etc.). After the meeting the interest to the project started to raise. Community members participated very active and proposed future scenarios for the development of the soft activities on rivers: storytelling workshops, rivers as the main topic for the yard festival etc. All the activities of local partners will be marked on the map and published online.

What are your territory goals and challenges related to riverside tourism development? How would you ideally see your region develop over the next few years?

In 2016 Kaunas district was ranked among the best small European regions of the future by FDI Magazine in the category of economic efficiency. Nevertheless, Kaunas being a second city by size is only the fourth Lithuanian city according to investment. Large scale businesses related with tourism sector are not so much concerned with the needs of the local population and therefore are not very socially engaged. There is also a certain lack of cooperation between business and culture people and so while the technology driven sectors are thriving in Kaunas, tourism and culture industries often lack variety and innovation. Therefore, the challenge is to involve the private sector.

Kaunas has 5 passenger piers on the rivers. However, the waterway routes and water tourism is developing very slowly mainly due to lack of business interest and tourism infrastructure. We are negotiating with the tourism departments of Kaunas City and the district Municipalities on possibilities to reopen the water route to Nida (seaside), develop more attractive water routes and provide a bigger offer of such services to tourists.