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2006 | 5 | 77-92

Article title

THE CULTURE FOUNDATION AND ITS ACTIVITIES DURING THE FIRST INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC OF LATVIA (1920-1940) (Kulturas fonda aktivitates telotajas makslas nozare (1920-1940)

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Financial support is one criterion which helps to assess the true attitude of the state towards cultural heritage and creative processes. During the first period of Latvia's independence, the Culture Foundation (Kulturas fonds) established at the Ministry of Education on 18 November 1920, played an important part in this respect. Incoming money was spent to support science, education, cultural workers and institutions, for premiums and stipends, educative foreign travels and popularization of science and art. The article aims to browse the main functions, guidelines and priorities with particular regard to supporting fine arts. During the early period cultural processes in the countryside were in the focus of attention: community halls were arranged or built anew, a wide net of libraries was established in numerous towns. To foster creative processes, the Culture Foundation granted travel stipends and supported studies abroad. Creative travels stimulated assimilation of Western European cultural experience and development of Latvian art in general. Culture Foundation Premiums in different branches of art - painting, sculpture (monumental and stand sculpture), graphics, stage design and applied arts - were signs of recognition on the national level. Such artists as Gederts Eliass, Ludolfs Liberts, Janis Kuga, Niklavs Strunke, Ansis Girulis, Vihelms Purvitis, Janis Roberts Tillbergs, Karlis Zale, Eduards Kalnins and Teodors Zalkalns had received these premiums two or three times. Considering the premium winners from the distance of time, different kinds of art had been praised in respect to both quality and social significance, ranging from artworks - signs and symbols of their time - to mediocre or even poor works. After the coup d'etat realized by Karlis Ulmanis on 15 May 1934, the role of culture changed, becoming a representative voice of the state. During this period, administrative structures of institutions also tended towards authoritarianism. The Ministry of Education that supervised the Culture Foundation took the lead of organizing cultural life, choosing such priorities as financial support for huge buildings and monuments.


  • Ginta Gerharde-Upeniece, Latvian National Museum of Art, Krisjana Valdemara iela 10, Riga LV-1010, Latvia


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