The Council for the Safeguarding of Ethnic Culture (hereinafter: ‘the Council’) was established on 21 August 2000 pursuant to the Framework Law on State Safeguarding of Ethnic Culture adopted by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.
The Council is an expert and advisor to the Seimas and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on strategic issues of state safeguarding and policy development of ethnic culture and protection of intangible cultural heritage, helping to ensure the implementation of state safeguarding of ethnic culture embedded in the national legal system of the Republic of Lithuania and to promote the development of ethnic culture. The aim of the Council is to strengthen state safeguarding of ethnic culture, preserve the national self-awareness and ensure the viability of ethnic culture and the equal participation of Lithuania in the cultural life of world nations.
The key functions of the Council are as follows:
1. To assist the Government in the formation and implementation of ethnic culture policy and to coordinate state safeguarding of ethnic culture.
2. To submit conclusions to the Seimas and the Government on strategic issues of state safeguarding and policy of ethnic culture.
3. To provide conclusions and proposals to state institutions on issues of ethnic culture, to evaluate programs for the implementation of ethnic culture safeguarding and strategy and to submit proposals to state institutions regarding the improvement of such programs.
The main strategic activities of the Council as an expert body include the following areas:
1. Development and integration of ethnic culture into the common cultural policy in Lithuania.
2. Ensuring the continuity of the living tradition of national self-awareness and ethnic culture and the protection of intangible cultural heritage, as well as the development of ethnic cultural activities in the communities.
3. Integration of ethno-cultural education into the education system.
4. Strengthening of the team training and ethno-cultural research base (including research on methodology of the protection of intangible cultural heritage).
5. Development of the dissemination of ethnic culture.
6. Integration of ethnic culture into cultural tourism.
7. Continuity and development of traditional crafts.
8. Preservation of the ethnographic regions - Aukštaitija, Dzūkija (Dainava), Suvalkija (Sūduva), Samogitia (Žemaitija) and Minor Lithuania (Mažoji Lietuva).
9. Promotion ethnic culture in foreign Lithuanian communities.
The Council consists of 21 members. They are delegated to the Council by institutions and organizations directly concerned with ethnic culture safeguarding and development. The composition of the Council for a four-year term is approved by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.
Currently the Council is headed by Associate Professor Dr. Dalia Urbanavičienė - ethnomusicologist, winner of the Jonas Basanavičius Prize of the Republic of Lithuania, Chair of the Lithuanian Ethnic Culture Society, Associate Professor of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater and the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, initiator and promoter of draft laws and other legal acts in the field of ethnic culture.
The Council has five divisions: regional councils for the safeguarding of ethnic culture in the ethnographic regions of Lithuania - Aukštaitija, Dzūkija (Dainava), Suvalkija (Sūduva), Samogitia (Žemaitija) and Minor Lithuania (Mažoji Lietuva). Regional councils carry out an expert and advisory role in addressing strategic issues on ethnic culture development and policy in the regions, provide information, conclusions and proposals to the Council, ensure the implementation of decisions taken by the Council, and help to supervise and coordinate activities of the institutions carrying out state safeguarding of ethnic culture in the regions as well as assist municipal institutions in dealing with issues of ethnic culture safeguarding in the regions.