VILNIUS - Rolandas Kvietkauskas has been appointed director of Vilnius Capital of Culture 2009 (VECC) after former director Elona Bajoriniene was relieved from her post by VECC's two parent organizations, the Ministry of Culture and the Vilnius Municipal government.
Kvietkauskas told The Baltic Times that the times ahead would be tough, but that he plans to continue to develop culture in the city (See interview page 14).
Bajoriniene was removed from her post after a communication meltdown between VECC and its parent organizations.
"It was a matter of trust from the ministry of culture because the manager of the VECC began to act against the ministry of culture and there was no dialogue between the two companies. It couldn't be like this 's she didn't realize that the situation was pretty hard and she was declaring that the capital of culture won't happen," Viktorija Vaitiekute, advisor to the Minister for Culture and member of the VECC board, told The Baltic Times.
"We didn't fire her, but it was a mutual agreement 's we both understood that we couldn't work together."
"We are concerned that the public has no bad opinion of the director because the media were only focused on the problems, not on the event, and this had to stop," Vaitiekute said.
VECC press officer Albertas Barauskas confirmed to TBT the reasons for her removal.
"It's the decision of our owners 's it's hard to explain why this happened. The main reason [according to the parent organizations] was to improve the management of the program. The culture minister said publicly that he doesn't see any possibility to work with Bajoriniene," he said.
Kvietkauskas faces the challenge of bringing the event back from the brink of disaster.
"He is interested in saving the program, but there are going to be some changes in the program. This financial situation will force changes 's it will not be as big as planned 's as to whether the company needs to be as big as now and what needs to happen for the company to do better work," Barauskas said.
Bajoriniene is pessimistic, however, about the future of the project without her at the helm.
"It's a totally new person who knows nothing about the culture capital. I know him and he doesn't work in this field and he isn't responsible for these things. [A director] requires a lot of knowledge in many fields 's all different fields. Of course I wish success to everyone, but my personal opinion is that Vilnius has already lost its Capital of Culture. It should not be called this and the entire picture shows that it is not," she told The Baltic Times.
She said the project was doomed and that she is partly happy to be gone.
"In fact as a person I am quite happy to return to normal life, but as a citizen I feel shame and sorrow for my state because it has made an easy hand with lots of international promises, but ones that they can't keep. This has become very obvious," she said.
"I have no regrets 's it was an unbelievable experience, but the personal price for me was very high. I wouldn't have acted differently; mistakes were made on all levels including the lack of experience of politicians and of us. One of the basic mistakes was that the institution wasn't the right type of institution 's we didn't have the right tools to work and we became the prisoners of political games," she said.
The VECC board, however, still holds hope for the future.
"We hope that the Capital of Culture will finally work in a normal way 's there were problems with the pricing of events and the parliament was interested in this. All the events that were planned 's we hope that they will happen with the same quality," Vaitiekute said.