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"It's really important, to bring young families to a regional small city and artists attract each other."

The Anykščiai Art Incubator - Art Studio is a place that brings art and business together. It is a place where one can visit artists at their studios and learn about the creative process, browse through the art shop, participate in educational programmes, attend concerts, exhibits and movie screenings, enjoy interactive entertainment, or rent a hall for an event.

The hub’s history

Anykščiai is a small town in Lithuania's northeast, about 100 kilometres from the biggest cities and house of 1.000 citizens. Anykščiai was always a small cultural city, with big importance for Lithuania, since many national writers come from here. The direction of Anykščiai was always cultural tourism and it was decided that it would be good to have an incubator for artists. The incubator was established in 2008 and started to prepare applications for European fundings to get the building.

We wish that artists not only create art but also know how to sell it.

Since all art schools were abandoned, it was decided to make an art incubator for artists. At the beginning, they were thinking about a woodworking incubator. Then they decided that, since it's a small town, we won't get so many people from one kind of art. That's why I decided to make it cross-sectoral. We have dynamic textile, woodworking, and photography studios and equipment. The building was built in 2014 and we have been active ever since. We currently have 18 tenants, artists, non artists and even small businesses. We are totally full right now. We rent studios and equipment to whomever needs some. We try to help our residents grow. We rent the spaces for up to five years until they get well known. After five years, they have to move and find their own studios. Next year is going to be our 10 year anniversary!

Why did you choose to base your hub in this area?

Anykščiai is well known for its artists, writers, comics and woodwork workers. I think there was also the idea to save an art school that became abandoned and it was one of the reasons why this building was made an incubator. It made quite a big impact in the town, because at first there were not so many activities in the different fields of art. Now, in the town there are maybe 60 different fields of education, not only at the incubator, but we also have a cultural centre and a library art centre. There are a lot of cultural organisations for such a small city. The focus of the incubator is on alternative performers and not so much on popular artists. We help small artists develop, grow and build their own audience in the city. We will also bring some artists from other cities to perform in our incubator. We organise educational events for our artists and residents. We had some guest speakers from different cities and gave some lectures for them, for example about how to build a business, develop their branding, and marketing. We wish that artists not only create art but also know how to sell it.

We organise events, like jazz concerts in summer. Each year we have a different creative industry theme for the festival. We had themes on wool, glass, textile, metal, paper and graphics. This year will be a festival about concrete and everything is about this industry. In the exhibition there will be some educational classes, concerts, lectures for citizens and artists and different activities. We also organised a Christmas fair for our artists.

Through our incubator, our town has been well known to artists across our country.

Our name is Anykščiai Art Incubator, so if you talk about our incubator, you represent our town every time. In 2008, when incubators started to arise, there were only nine incubators in Lithuania at that moment and only two were in small cities. Anykščiai got strategic funding from the Cultural Council. It's a big deal for us, it's important. We are the only incubator from a small town actually who got such funding from the Cultural Council. I think that means we are doing a good job! We won strategic funding two times in three years.

How do you envision the future?

Our goal for the long term is to have accommodation for artists, maybe some small houses near the incubator, where we could host artists from different countries. We could offer them accommodation, studio equipment and they could stay for a month or two. We are already doing some steps to make it real, but it's not a fast process.

Anykščiai is a resort town with beautiful nature and you cannot build anywhere you want. Regarding the funding it's very important for us to get money from several sources. A small part comes from Anykščiai municipality but it's really small, the biggest part comes from international projects. We already had four or five projects interacting with colleagues from Lithuania and Latvia, our neighbours. We also got funding from the Lithuanian Cultural Council Strategic Funding and from our activities. We have studios, we run calls for conferences and concerts, we have a souvenir shop where we sell our artists' work. For us, these international projects are very important. Maybe two or three years ago, our director asked me to start work with the international networks. Apart from European Creative Hubs Network, we are members of Trans Europe Halles network and UB global. Our Creative Industry festival is always in September. Our Christmas fair happens at the beginning of December and we are also part of the design week. At the moment, we are preparing some projects for Creative Europe and two projects with Latvia.

Spotlight Practice: Creative Industries Festival

Our creative industries festival is quite a unique idea. Each year it's a different festival about a different industry. This is something more hubs could replicate in order to promote different kinds of art. In our festival we have approximately 300 participants every year. The majority of our residents come to live in Anykščiai with their families. That's really important, to bring young families to a regional small city and artists attract each other.

Irmantas Rimkus, Project Manager of Anykščiai Art Incubator - Art Studio. Irmantas organises each year a festival dedicated to a different art industry and introduces it to the local community.