RIGA – On Dec. 12, Latvian President Andris Berzins met with Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs and other senior officials from the local government to discuss preparations for 2014, when Riga, together with Umea (Sweden), will become European Capital of Culture.
Usakovs thanked Berzins for agreeing to become a patron of this event, which will be very important in terms of cultural life in Riga and the entire country. Mayor outlined that great events and projects in 2014 will attract much more tourists.
President Berzins also welcomed the renovation and restoration of cultural objects, which has already begun. He particularly emphasized the project of renovating and expanding the National Museum of Art. President also asked representatives of Riga City Council about costs related to 2014 events, the number of employees who will be involved in the process, as well as the involvement of various public organizations in preparing for the event. The President praised the work which the City Council has already done and plans to do in terms of involving businesspeople and NGOs, adding that this will allow a very wide range of people in Riga and elsewhere in Latvia to be involved in this project.
The representatives of the City Council said that the overall budget for 2014 event will be around 17 million lats (24 million euros), with most of the money coming from Riga city budget, the national budget, and the budget of Latvian town of Sigulda. Other financing will come from companies. Of decisive importance in this regard will be the next two years, when Riga will have to be turned into a city with cultural values which, in 2014, will symbolize European culture and attract tourists from all around the world.