Without clear rules of the game. Ojārs Rubenis / Article comments on the situation of the theater industry in a pandemic

“The break when cultural institutions came to life was, in fact, very small – such a breath of fresh air, and with it it is over again,” says Ojārs Rubenis in the Latvian Radio program “Kultūras rondo”, who looks at the situation in theater and culture in general. March 2020, not just the current “arcade”. “On the one hand, the Ministry of Culture takes great care that culture can survive at all. I must say that this time with the Minister at the helm – he is fighting like a lion so that we can exist. They are placed in very big jaws because culture is not always in the first place in the overall situation. Unfortunately, this is the case. [..] On the other hand – theaters have always been placed on the shoulders of theater directors, because

culture has never had enough money. It has always been 50% or 48% or 40% funded, the rest to be earned yourself. Now it’s double bad because there’s nothing to earn. ”

However, in his opinion, the situation is quite normal for state theaters, because some basis for survival is provided, just another question – how much can state artists currently earn, who are paid for performances separately from their main work. In any case, it is even more difficult for non-governmental theaters that employ self-employed artists.

According to the chairman of LTDS, the theaters plan their activities during the pandemic by identifying what is to be shown and predicting what will be played by the audience, if, for example, on November 15, the auditorium will open: “Theaters have produced a lot of shows.

They have not been able to play previous performances before the pandemic. They have not been able to play the new performances either, plus the number of spectators has decreased.

It’s a whole system that we have to live with right now. ”

There are theaters that choose to pause and wait to invest in a new product, while others continue to produce in order to present a wide range of offers to the viewer at the first opportunity.

“The leaders have not told the rules of the game, because they do not know they are throwing. I understand them and I don’t get angry, I don’t irritate them. And yet the industry needs to know some rules of the game. [..] Then the heads of the institutions can count on something again. [..] We are in a position of chess moves in which, if that is the case, we will do so, [bet]”If it is, then we will do it,” explains Rubenis.

The planning of various moves has to be used in the organization of the theater award “Players’ Night”. If the “bow down” continues after November 15, the ceremony will be created only as a television program, which will also be broadcast on Latvian Radio. If after November 15, the vaccinated will be able to get together, as now promised, then the “Players’ Night” will take place at the Daile Theater. It should be recalled that the work of theater artists this season is not highlighted in the usual categories, but special awards. The jury will decide in closed session at the end of this week what special prizes will eventually be and who will be nominated for them.

Continuing on the audience that is so much awaited in theaters, the chairman of LTDS estimates that so far only 30% have returned to the halls and admits that the general policy of cultural consumption may change. It is not only a matter of habit, but also a question of prices – they have increased, because cultural institutions cannot do without. He continues:

“If you have to pay 30 euros for a ticket, if you go for two – 60 euros, not to mention the countryside, where you can’t come without 100 euros, I think that cultural consumption can change.”

Rubenis calls the digital forms created as an alternative good, but they are only informative and archiving, and they cannot really replace the impressions that art gives in person. On the other hand, as for the interest of the youngest spectators in visiting the theater, in his opinion, everything depends on the parents of the children. Rubenis emphasizes the importance of social media, which must be able to inform the public perfectly about health, education and culture: “It is not enough just that – news or cultural news. It is a whole program that needs to be developed so that the social media informs and interacts with culture so that it reaches the audience. [..] It is a national program that the Ministry of Culture should think about together with the media. ”

Asked to comment on the current status of Liepāja Theater and the possibilities to receive support, the chairman of LTDS points out that we should rather talk to the director of the theater Herbert Laukštein, which of the options is more financially advantageous for them – to be under two or one subordination:

“I believe that every city that currently has a theater needs to be involved in a huge amount in the direction of this theater or concert organization or any cultural process.

[..] I believe that the primary tasks of Liepāja are to take care of their cultural institutions and to educate the society, neighborhoods and regions of Liepāja. The same is true in Valmiera, Daugavpils, Rēzekne and so on. And in Riga, where “shaking” from cultural institutions… [..]

If Riga does not have its own large, powerful cultural institution – a museum, orchestra or theater, then this city proves that she is not really interested in culture. His truth grows out of what the state gives. ”

Rubenis also invites Latvian entrepreneurs to participate in the preservation, renewal and sponsorship of culture: “I know that quite a lot of people have money. We are very lazy. It also shows the kind of thinking of our people that we donate very, very little of our money to culture as patrons. ”

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