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The good ones

2019 DECEMBER Illustration by Adriana Vala

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There is only one cat shelter in Kaunas, and we visited it! See p. 20. Photo by Arvydas Čiukšys

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Actually, Kaunas Full of Culture never writes about bad people or their bad deeds, unless we dig up some charming historical facts. But December is that time of the year when you want to focus on what warms your heart and motivates you to be active and do things.

Thank you We have had a lot of discussions about this number. What is a benefactor? Is being good an art or a personal trait? Is it enough to send a text message once a year when television reminds us of the opportunity to help others? When changing your wardrobe, is it enough not to dispose of old clothes and give them to people for whom shopping is a luxury? Are you less sincere if you speak of your good deeds out loud, inspiring others but also patting yourself on the back? And can you be considered a benefactor if your name is not carved on a plaque? And are you really a bad person if you don’t donate to anything or help anyone? But if you’re not hurting

anyone and if you fulfil the tasks imposed on you by life, perhaps you still get on the list of the good kids that a bearded guy from Lapland possesses? The magazine will not provide direct answers to these questions that urge you to think in both philosophical and religious categories. But we have found many reasons to interview heroes and heroines, who, during or after work, rescue their own animals or the ones of acquaintances or strangers (as well as themselves). They rescue or simply help – to be happier and at the same time, kinder. Happy Holidays!

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More than two thousand works of art, documents, books, other valuables and two large galleries in Kaunas. These are the essential gifts from Mykolas Žilinskas (1904–1992) to his homeland, which he did not give up even for a second while living comfortably in West Berlin. Also, the return home of Lithuanians in exile, his sisters and their families. It is hard to say which gift is more valuable. After all, what is a painting or a building compared to human life? However, although these gifts are related, the story has been woven out of differently coloured threads. It is a mystery worthy of a book or even a TV show that covers several regimes and more than one border.

The unrecognized gift to Kaunas Kotryna LingienÄ— Photos by Lukas Mykolaitis

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Mykolas Žilinskas – a businessman, an officer, a patron – was one of the most mysterious Lithuanians of the 20th century, as well as one of the wealthiest ex-pats. He, upon learning from Pienocentras guard that NKVD was waiting for him at his flat, fled in his Buick from the Soviet-occupied Kaunas straight to Berlin, where he already had a four-story house. A historian by profession, who worked in national security and in a government office during the years of the First Republic, had already begun collecting art – he wanted to decorate a newly acquired Abromiškės estate and open it to holidaymakers. Unfortunately, he was too late.

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He didn’t make it and in Berlin fell directly into the hands of the Gestapo. Americans later thought that Žilinskas was a communist, and Soviet security assumed that he wasn’t even the same Žilinskas but someone who shared his name and worked in a Lithuanian embassy in Sweden. The KGB’s case on him, which was kept until 1991, later mentioned that he was “hostile to the Soviet authorities and will not cooperate with security.” Irmantė Šarakauskienė, head of the Mykolas Žilinskas’ collection sector of the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art had never met the person who had given this great gift to Kaunas and Lithuania, and yet she speaks of him as if he were a close older relative or a teacher. Carefully, with white gloves on, she is leafing through his Lithuanian passport – yes, the one from independent Lithuania. After somehow extending its validity in London, Žilinskas travelled around Europe as a true Lithuanian and even managed to gain access to Soviet-occupied Lithuania with this passport.

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I. Šarakauskienė assures us that she cannot decide which works from the collection that was transported in dozens of trips (no papers documenting these trips are available) to Kaunas would be her favourite, and there is enough research material for several generations of specialists. The truth is – Žilinskas himself was not an art historian. Not all the donated works turned out to be originals. However, he ordered to indicate on the labels to write what he had purchased. Today, perhaps not all notes would appeal to the patron. You can find out more about it by watching Gražina Sviderskytė’s documentary Smuggling of the Century: The Last Journey (Šimtmečio kontrabanda: Paskutinis reisas) recommended to the photographer and me by I. Šarkauskienė. After watching it, we both pass on the recommendation to you all. At the little bookstore of the gallery, both of us also purchased the vice minister of culture in Soviet Lithuania as well as one of the transporters of Žilinskas’ collection – Vytautas Jakelaitis’ book containing memories about Žilinskas, published in 1994. Žilinskas bought hundreds of artworks while already living in the West – Denmark, France, and West Berlin. There was a rumour circulating about his collection, which decorated all the walls (in several rows) of his four-story building, and people wanted to see it. Vytis (coat of arms of Lithuania) would meet the guests of Žilinskas’ house. In the end, without having any direct heirs, he gifted his collection to Lithuania, rather than any other country. Initially, he offered it instead of ransom – for his sisters to be able to return home. He wrote letters to Justinas Paleckis, the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR. The Soviets seemed to


No point in repeating here what has already been shown and written down. The detective story draws you in because it isn’t finished yet. Until now, it remains unclear who exactly was transporting the pieces across the border. The story is full of symbols – bringing modern Lithuanian furniture to Žilinskas’ house in West Berlin, they took the luxurious antique ones and brought them to Lithuania in a truck during the fall of the Berlin Wall. They barely made it, just like that time when they drove with José de Ribera’s painting, and it coincided with the time when Germans were looking for Maoists, stopping all the suspicious cars. Despite that, they succeeded. Listening to I. Šarkauskienė, G. Sviderskytė’s documentary and leafing through V. Jakelaitis’ monograph, a portrait of an extremely intelligent, educated, meticulous and cautious, wealthy, yet prudent, and courageous and insightful man slowly emerges. Who could have thought, that just after Stalin’s death, a decades-long epopee will commence that both KGB and Žilinskas himself believed to be in control of? Kaunas Picture Gallery opened in 1979, gained a great success with thousands of people flocking to see the art donated by the mysterious philanthropist. After Žilinskas’ visit to the Song Festival and perhaps due to the positive feelings that awakened in him, the rest of his accumulated collection started to flow. Although the shipment of the collection was finalized in independent Lithuania, the opening of M. Žilinskas Art Gallery in the sum-

mer of 1989 could be considered as its joyful finale. The postmodern design by architects Eugenijus Miliūnas, Kęstutis Kisielius, and Saulius Juškys is awaiting its reconstruction. About time! Perhaps a renewed exterior will become a reason to stand in line once again? I. Šarakauskienė recounts the idea of a Russian art expert who, after visiting the gallery several times, noticed that Kaunas residents have not yet discovered this gift, the value of which is difficult to determine. In terms of money, it’s millions, but what if we don’t measure it in cash? Žilinskas also visited the construction site and asked to install everything in the highest quality. Later, already in poor health, he visited the functioning gallery. He did not like attention. Žilinskas lived an ascetic life – he would spend his money on paintings but never on a taxi. After buying an artwork, he could bring it back home on his back. He would also serve food to his guests at home instead of taking them to restaurants. There are not many memorial signs of M. Žilinskas in Kaunas. There are two galleries and a tomb in Petrašiūnai cemetery. There is also an apartment building that used to belong to him on the corner of Gertrūdos and Birštono Streets, next to the historical presidential palace of the Republic of Lithuania. It was a smart investment then, and today it might be a future hotel still under maintenance. You know what? I feel like if the owners of the hotel put an effort in decorating the hotel, in terms of modern solutions as well as art valuables, which would be available to the public to see, Žilinskas would like that. A man, who, when he was a kid, wanted to study so much that he sewed the land with tobacco, sold the harvest and went to Kaunas.

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refuse this trade, and later the sisters returned to Lithuania, perhaps to help communicate with the wealthy ex-pat. But Žilinskas was not only concerned with his sisters. He wanted the Lithuanians to return to Lithuania and believed that a gift of this magnitude would help strengthen nationality.

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On December 29 this year, public enterprise Kauno hospiso namai (Kaunas Hospice Home) will be celebrating its 5th anniversary. Kristina Krasko, director of the home, talks about the years she has spent in the community of the hospice staff, volunteers, and patients, as well as the work that aims at making the last stage of a person’s life more meaningful.

„We help others to live“ Julija Račiūnaitė Photos by Lukas Mykolaitis

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Tell us about the work of Kaunas Hospice Home. Kaunas Hospice provides free palliative care to incurable patients and their relatives. We do not have a stationary building yet and today only send help to people’s homes.

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Does the hospice in Vilnius have a building? Indeed, it does. Both Vilnius hospice and hospices all over the world admit patients to the in-patient department as well as visiting them at home. I cannot say that it will be easier for us when we finally get our building. But it will undoubtedly be easier for people who need hospice – they will know where to apply. Many people are even afraid to seek help they think that they have to deal with the difficulties that have befallen them, themselves, they cannot unload the care of their relative to strangers. Although we hope and look forward to having a building, we cannot afford to start working only when it comes into existence. We provide assistance regardless of our lack of roof or means. Today we have a team of 10 employees and volunteers. At first, the patient is visited by a social worker, a doctor and a nurse. After evaluating the specific situation, they decide what individual help we can provide to the patient. The patient is first and foremost served by medical staff to meet the physiological needs of the individual. Only then can we talk about communication, playing checkers, music therapy or therapy assisting dogs. Do you come with animals? Yes, we have qualified canine therapists among our volunteers

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who visit patients with animals, of course, if patients are not afraid of that and request it. If patients do not prefer large animals, we look for smaller ones. When a patient shares his/her inclinations, expresses what he/she wants and dislikes – it’s already life. What is palliative care? It is medical, social, psychological, spiritual, and legal assistance to the patient and their relatives. Palliative care is provided to patients with terminal conditions and helps the person in their final stages of life. Let us not forget that these patients are the most sensitive part of society, and our task is to accompany a person and help him/her to live the rest of their life with dignity. What types of specialists work in hospice? As I said, we have ten employees, all of whom have completed a palliative care course. There are doctors, a nurse, an assistant nurse, a physiotherapist, a volunteer coordinator, and a spiritual assistant. How do volunteers get involved? We have over one hundred volunteers. There are many, but not enough. Our organization has a policy of volunteering up to two hours a week. We hold this position because we want the volunteer to work only when they are ready and can take the time away from other jobs, family or studies. Different specialists volunteer for us; in fact, anyone who applies to hospice can join the team. The coordinator talks to the volunteer and gives him/her to fill out a questionnaire. Each volunteer visit to the patient is coordinated with the coordina-


tor and the rest of the team. We also have a Google group where all volunteers interact, share their results after visiting a patient; they tell everyone who they met, what they did, or what the patient asked for.

If we do not have a specialist, we look for them to ensure that the patient’s needs are met.

The youngest volunteer is ten years old. There is also a woman who volunteers with small children, and our oldest volunteer is eighty-two years old. There have been instances when children choose to volunteer first, and after some time their parents join in. I cannot name the one dominant group that would be most committed to volunteering. When a person realizes that this is what he or she needs, they find us. Each of them chooses where and what they will do during volunteering. Each week, both I and the volunteer co-

ordinator, provide suggestions for activities and volunteers decide what they would like to do. We coordinate visits to patients’ homes in various ways. All of them have different goals; after all, each volunteer visits the patient as a person first and thus brings them something of their own. We do not present ourselves stating our profession or responsibilities – we simply come to the patient’s home as people, to talk and to listen, without imposing on the patient something that he or she does not want. Since it is us who visit the patients and not vice versa, we must respect the rules of their homes and, for example, do not run too much water while washing our hands. It is only with the help of volunteers that we can take such details into account and really get to know the patient. In fact, a patient can sometimes be more open with the visiting volunteer than with his or her family. It’s easier at the hospital – everyone knows the procedure; you just come to the ward and do the necessary procedures. When you come to a person’s house, you have to inquire if your moves and actions are not offensive to them. By the way, the whole community of the hospice meets every month. Meetings are very diverse: sometimes it is a training session with an invited lecturer, sometimes a concert we go to together, it can be a patient outing, their birthday party. Sometimes we even go on pilgrimages. This is how we meet and get to know each other. Otherwise, the volunteers would only get to know the staff but not each other. And since we work in a very sensitive area, we try to maintain a sense of community. Especially since volunteers are often in dis-

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tress, they feel like they didn’t do enough or even say that they have received much more from the patient than they have been able to give to them.

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How do you help volunteers and staff overcome work-related challenges?

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As I mentioned before, we organize monthly meetings and we continuously keep contact over the phone. Seeing extremely difficult situations when long-term patients pass away (although there are cases where we only care for them one day or don’t even make it in time to visit them and only have a chat on the phone) we arrange meetings, invite the volunteer coordinator, a psychologist and talk to those who have been affected by the loss. It becomes especially difficult if a large number of patients leave us in a very short period of time – unfortunately, this is what happened last Christmas. I have worked as a volunteer coordinator, so I knew and know each and every volunteer, and I know that I am responsible for them. It is in our interest to keep the volunteers in the organization, so we care about their training, growth, and rehabilitation. We try to listen to their needs; for example, even after completing the training, the volunteer may feel timid when first performing specific procedures. In this case, the employee goes to the patient with the volunteer, encourages and teaches them.

a volunteer coordinator. In the beginning, I wasn’t really the one who would volunteer, raise a hand and say, “I’m the first one, I will help.” I was one of those sitting in the back of the hall saying, “I will help if you really need me to.” But when I was invited, I immediately agreed. By the way, I always thought that I would get used to going to patients’ houses and seeing difficult situations. But in the end, I simply realized that I am not a robot, and as long as I am a human being, getting used to it is impossible. With time and experience comes only knowing how to handle a given situation but not how to get used to it. I remember my first patient, my first volunteer, as well as the patient’s condition, his diagnosis. I remember standing behind the volunteer’s back and feeling very timid. So today, when I accompany a person to the patient, I have a very good idea of how they feel. I realized that I really see meaning in this activity, I have to help people and I cannot be anywhere else today. Also, having an amazing team here and being with them is a great honor for me. I do not know of a bigger and nobler mission than this – to help a person who cannot be helped by anyone. After all, employees in hospices are not motivated by pay – we survive from sponsors, “the two per cent” tax donations and volunteer work.

How has your journey been to this job as a professional?

What are the kinds of practices or perhaps some hospices abroad that you model your organization on?

Four years ago, I was invited by the founder of the hospice Žanna Jankovskaja to work as

There are many and varied practices. In Russia, hospices have been working since 1907, in the UK

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How do patients find you? Patients come to us after receiving a referral from a family doctor. Most often, relatives turn to us for help – we refer them to the family doctor and sometimes they are referred while at the hospital. Sometimes people hear about us from the media, so I tell people, the articles written about us are not for us but our patients. The key is to get the patient to know that they will be taken care of. After all, we help patients’ relatives as well who also need communication, psychological help, and nursing knowledge. They also need rest, outings, after all, many of them have full-time jobs. One time we had to help a mother who was nursing her child in a coma – we would relieve her to go to work. Hence, we help the whole family.

You also assistance.

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legal

We provide it indirectly. If such help is needed, we help the person to find a specialist and the right kind of help. As in all situations, if we do not have a specialist, we look for them to ensure that the patient’s needs are met. Even when it comes to matters of faith and religion – we are a Christian organization, but if a person belongs to a different faith, we look for the right clergyman. If they are not religious, we never push it or promote it to him/her. How can people support and help Kaunas Hospice Home in addition to volunteering? It is possible to support us. We have published a list of the most needed things on our website. There is always a lack of hygiene products: diapers, comfort pads, cleansers, creams, shampoos, shower caps. There is also a great need for various equipment facilitating movement, physiotherapy: lifts, wheelchairs, climbers. These things are not compensated, and people have to wait in line for years to get them. You can always donate what was left from your late relatives. In fact, there are a variety of ways to do that – you can organize a concert, you can follow us on social media, donate, write and talk about us, create or make something, invite us or visit us yourself. Even the smallest sign of attention is important – it shows that people care about us.

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since around the 1960s. It is rather intimidating to start counting the Polish hospices – each city has them. There is also a very extensive and seriously developed hospice network in America. Volunteering is also a natural activity there, while we are still learning, getting used to it. Sometimes we hear opinions that only those with nothing to do can afford to volunteer. According to the number of the population, three hospices should be operating in Kaunas and instead, we have one without a building. However, we want to grow here in Kaunas, as people who value the quality of human life. We are not helping a person to die but to live a dignified life of quality. We want a person to be able and also want to continue living the life they had before they got sick; after all, nothing is over yet.

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Upon entering the cat shelter in Kaunas, the only one of its kind in the city, you are met with dozens of hopeful pairs of eyes. Most of these eyes belong to four-legged wards of Katino svajonė (Cat’s dream), but the volunteers of the organization also offer a warm welcome to each animal lover. These are the people who devote their personal time and energy to rescuing and caring for cats. We spoke to Laima Buragienė and Daiva Žiurinskienė about the reasons that prompted them to open Katino svajonė, about the various forms of pet assistance and the daily routine of home-seeking cats.

Evenings after work with dozens of cats Justė Vyšniauskaitė Photos by Arvydas Čiukšys

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How did you come up with the idea to set up a cat-only shelter?

present, we have found a home for more than 1500 kittens.

Daiva: There was a huge population of stray cats in Taikos Avenue at the time and after seeing that I realized I had to do something. Then I and Laimutė, who also saw this problem and wanted to solve it, got acquainted on the animal care page online.

How many people now volunteer at the shelter?

Laima: Among these stray cats came the sick ones and baby kittens that needed care and medical treatment. This issue jointly noticed by both of us led to starting our shelter. With the addition of Ilona, one of the founders of the shelter, everything has evolved into an initiative to rescue and care for the cats. The start was really difficult; we did everything with our own money – paid for treatment, sterilization, food for the cats, and only later, after noticing our work, animal lovers started to donate money. When a few more people joined our shelter as volunteers, we decided to build an organization for our work to run more smoothly and efficiently. This is how Katino svajonė – which recently celebrated its seventh birthday – appeared. How has the shelter changed during its seven years of work? Laima: Things were changing very slowly, step by step, the scope of our activities expanded. Today we can take in a lot more cats than we could at the beginning. Also, in the past, our wards would come to us from an environment familiar to us, next to our workplaces or places of residence. Gradually this network has expanded all over Kaunas, and today people from Kaunas districts or even more remote settlements are coming to us for help. From the establishment of the shelter to the

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Laima: There are now fifteen active volunteers, but the same number occasionally visits the shelter to the best of their ability. People find different ways to contribute to our activities. Some make cat beds, others repair scratching posts, yet others bring newspapers, photograph and take care of disseminating information, write articles or spread ads. All forms of volunteering are acceptable to us. How do volunteers discover you or vice versa? What motivates people to devote their personal time to help with the shelter? Daiva: Most of the time, volunteers find us online. Sometimes, however, someone has to face a problem directly and then while solving it, a person joins our cause. It also happens that an animal lover takes a kitten home from our shelter and then returns here to volunteer. Laima: The dedication of our time and energy to this activity is driven by simple humanity. When you see a sick, injured animal walking down the street, you simply cannot pass quietly, ignoring the problem. I believe that people basically have a desire to do something good and unselfish, and that is how work at the shelter is. I think that taking care of a helpless animal is our duty. What human qualities are most helpful when working or caring for animals? Daiva: Medical education is particularly useful because cats often need treatment: we give them


medications, clean their wounds, put in eyedrops. Laima: Of course, it’s important to love animals, but that love has to be intelligent and responsible. When the animal is beyond help, you must follow your mind rather than emotions. When an animal is suffering, sometimes, the only humane thing to do is to help it pass in a painless and dignified way. Daiva: We have this rule – you can’t torture an animal. Pet caregivers and shelter volunteers need to understand and be able to make this decision. In essence, we are in favour of quality animal care. We don’t want to rescue just for the sake of rescue; we want it to be beneficial. There are currently sixty cats in the shelter, and several dozen are still in volunteer’s homes and veterinary clinics. How do animals get along with each other? Do you experience funny situations? Laima: In the shelter, cats share space in a friendly way, but of course, things happen. Cats are divided into several rooms based on their character, age, and health. But of course, everyone gets goofy sometimes. I remember best when one cat scratched a window net, and the next day, she found a home. I guess she was in a hurry to meet her new owners. There is also around a 15-year-old cat Limarija living next to the shelter. It was one of the first residents of Katino svajonė. However, it didn’t like living inside, so it soon found ways to escape. But Limarija never goes far and is still a part of the shelter, only it lives outside. People always think that they will be able to educate young kittens, but there are cats that

decide on their own how they prefer to behave and live – our Limarija is just like that. How does a cat’s daily routine look like in a shelter? Laima: At night, cats sleep, and in the morning, girls come to the shelter to feed the animals, change their water, clean their litter, and beds. In the morning, kittens are visited by volunteers who work evening shifts, have changing schedules, including students or retirees. During the day, kittens live independently, and in the evening, other volunteers come after their day jobs. In what other ways you help stray cats? Daiva: We sterilize a lot of stray cats. We are approached by smaller towns and businesses – the last one being Nemunas, which had seventeen cats on its territory. Laima: Sterilization is an investment into the future because if we do not sterilize stray animals today and each cat brings about four kittens, it will be extremely difficult to save them all. It must be understood that every stray cat will not find a home, and some of them are accustomed to and able to survive outdoors, while fed and cared for by humans. These cats wouldn’t want to find themselves between four walls, but the little ones can’t survive outdoors. Therefore, sterilization is necessary, and during it, cats receive other obligatory veterinary assistance. Daiva: We also share information about missing cats, trying to help the animals find their owners and vice versa.

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Laima: The biggest problem today is the premises or more precisely the fact that they will probably seize to exist next summer. We are located in the garage area, but there are plans to demolish it. The little house we had settled in is not perfect. We have to warm it with electricity, and that is expensive, we bring the water from the nearby garages because we don’t have our own and now the roof also has holes. However, this is the space that allows us to accommodate dozens of kittens, and that’s the most important thing for us. But due to the planned demolition of the building, today we have to look for a new home. We would also like to see more young people joining us. We want to bring up a responsible, trustworthy young generation who can take over our entire management of the

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shelter in the future. Also, the shelter is very lacking in male hands, so we are very much looking forward to male volunteers. What else should be about Katino svajonÄ—?

known

Daiva: I think everyone should imagine what a shelter is like, how it looks, what treatment takes place in it, how animals live. Most people have the wrong impression of animal shelters, thinking that we put the cats to sleep if they do not find a home within a certain period of time. We never do that! Cats live here until they find their real home. Also, people sometimes say they are too sensitive to visit a shelter because they will be very sorry for the animals. We are keen to encourage anyone who has doubts about coming and visiting, as the cats live here surrounded with care, food, beds, and toys, and visitors can lighten the daily routine of the animals.


Daiva: First and foremost, a person should consider whether they can really keep a cat in their home, whether they are not allergic or have small children who may be hurting the animal, or if they have the financial means to do so. If an older person wants to adopt a cat, we ask that they take an older animal because there are instances when cats outlive their owners and return to the shelter. It is also necessary to prepare essential items in advance before bringing the pet to your home – the cat should find food and the litter box.. Laima: For people who want to adopt a cat, we highly recommend that you first come to the shelter a few times, spend some time there, make sure the cat is the right animal for you, and discover the cat that you like most. People who view pet adoption responsibly, visit the shelter two, three or four times. Daiva: This kind of preparation prevents animals from returning to the shelter. One of our cats found a home only after the third try. The first owners returned the cat because they could not get along with it – the cat was the owner at home. The second owners took the animal to Freda, and the next morning we received a request to take the cat back because it would sit on the top of the door and the children were afraid to pass. Finally, a family from Marijampolė visited the shelter, and the naughty cat treated the man of the family as if it had lived with him all his life. From this example, it can be noted that it is very important that the personalities of the cat and the owner match.

How many cats personally have?

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Daiva: I have five kittens. We – the volunteers – adopt cats that many visitors of the shelter find unattractive or scary. One of my kittens is cross-eyed; it has six fingers and no tail. Nobody wanted it, but I find it as cute as the other cats. Laima: There are six cats living in my house. They also ended up with me due to various health problems. It is much easier to take care of sick cats at home. Sometimes it happens that you take a cat in temporarily but then it spends half a year there and already sees that space as its real home, and you just don’t want to take that away from it. In what ways can each person contribute to the welfare of stray animals and help the shelter? Laima: People could transport stray cats independently to a veterinary clinic for sterilization. Of course, you will have to pay some money, but it is an investment in the control and welfare of the stray cat population. Feeding stray cats in the winter is also a good idea because during this time they cannot really find food themselves. We especially need people who can take kittens to their homes on a temporary basis. The baby kittens need to be dewormed twice, then vaccinated, and only three weeks after the vaccination quarantine they can come live in the shelter with all the other cats. That is what our volunteers as well as people who stumble upon Katino svajonė accidentally and wish to help do. However, there should be more of these spots for temporary shelter. The shelter can also be supported financially, or people can become volunteers.

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The main mission of the shelter is to find a cat-loving home. Still, getting a pet should be a well-considered and responsible move. What do you need to know before adopting a cat?

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Everyone wants to be listened to and heard, be those thoughts about the daily routine, happy moments or depressive issues. However, in today’s busy world, there is often no one you can talk to about your difficulties. To help change this situation and to give people the opportunity to talk about things that are troubling, upsetting and depressing them, a Women’s Helpline was established 16 years ago. It is a volunteer-based organization that provides free emotional phone support at any time of the day. Conversations are not recorded or registered, thus ensuring the complete anonymity of the caller. The line is staffed by volunteers who have passed specific training, who are ready to listen to the callers and understand them in the hope of helping them get on with their feelings and evaluate their situation from the outside.

“We are the main resource” Justė Vyšniauskaitė Photos by Elijus Kniežauskas

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Over the 16 years of its existence, the Women’s Helpline has undoubtedly changed. The organization was born in Klaipėda in 2003, and later the Kaunas branch was established. Women’s Helpline branch in Vilnius is also operating today. The head of Kaunas’ branch, psychologist Aušrinė Krikščionaitienė remembers that 12 years ago she was inspired to join this project by the ideas of voluntary work and unpaid help for others. “I have always been concerned with the emancipation and self-realization of a woman,” explained the interviewee who had spent about 1000 hours on the phone. Another reason for volunteering is the desire to discover and realize oneself, to do something meaningful or simply good. This incentive was also mentioned by two of my interlocutors: Aušra Stankūnienė, volunteer coordinator for the Women’s Helpline, and Lina, a volunteer. Also, when one of the interlocutors mentioned the idea of women’s ​​ community, the others nodded in agreement.

It is worth noting that volunteering is taken very seriously at this institution, with each person having to complete 100 hours of training before starting to provide emotional help to others. After that, he or she commits to 350 hours of work. However, the commitment to help is not discouraged by these responsibilities. Today, as many as 124 volunteers work in the Women’s Helpline in Kaunas, Klaipėda, and Vilnius. The structure of the courses and the highlighted moments are also interesting. Whoever is interested must first go through a screening process to determine whether the candidate is suitable for the job. Of course, the most crucial criterion is the desire to help another person, but it also requires empathy and the emotional stability of the individual. The selection is followed by theoretical and practical courses that focus on the volunteer, their problems, the ability to talk about issues and solve them. “Above all, a volunteer must be willing and

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able to take care of themselves. Only knowing how to deal with our own difficulties without hiding them from ourselves can we help others,” Aušrinė explained. According to the psychologist, one of the most essential qualities of a volunteer is the ability to establish a human connection with the interlocutor while experiencing strong emotions, as this is what heals the most. This work provides a spectrum of positive and negative emotions. Volunteer coordinator Aušra told us that sometimes, you must bring the personally moving stories home and live with them for a while; however, the organization strives to create the best possible conditions for the bad feelings not to disturb the lives of volunteers. After their shift, volunteers always discuss it personally with their supporting staff. It encourages them to talk about their emotional experiences and difficulties experienced during work. “In this way, we can reflect on ourselves and find out why a particular call or situation caused certain feelings,” Aušra explained. After all, a conversation is what allows women, who are seeking help, to put their thoughts in order and feel better; therefore the same conversation, listening, and support is also beneficial to the volunteers. Moderation is also important in this line of work – people usually have phone duty four times a month. Lina, a volunteer, admitted that she would like to work more often but remembering what she had heard from the teachers during the course, she added, “We are the main resource, so it’s important not to overburden yourself and evaluate your emotional state.” The work done by the Women’s Helpline can be calculated and

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evaluated based on the number of calls and letters received and answered, the years of operation or the number of volunteers but the qualitative measure is of utmost importance here. “By volunteering, I learned that just doing good deeds is not enough; they must be done well. It was wonderful for me to discover what a huge tuned mechanism works in our organization to ensure that the help provided is of the highest quality and that the volunteers feel well, not too tired, continuing to improve and be happy,” Aušra said. When asked what they consider to be a success in their work, the interviewers said that they are mostly motivated by knowing that their efforts are useful and the simplest and most enriching thing that gives meaning to work is hearing a thank-you. However, as Aušra noticed, this helpline is for women in crisis, so volunteers really don’t expect to hear a “thank you” after each conversation. “You are glad when you simply feel how the person on the other end of the line relaxes, calms down and starts reflecting on their feelings. Of course, in most cases, serious problems cannot be solved during one conversation, but such small steps to a better state are very useful,” the head of the Women’s Helpline defined success. “I believe that the fact the person calls you is already a success, looking for help indicates a willingness to solve your problems, and that is a step that requires strength,” Lina, a volunteer, added. So, what help exactly can you expect from calling Women’s Helpline? After hearing this question, psychologist Aušrinė first emphasized that volunteers here provide emotional support by actively listening to the caller. In this line of work,


The main activity of Women’s Helpline is emotional support in the form of a conversation, email or chat over the internet. However, Women’s Helpline of Kaunas also carries out other activities such as seminars, creative writing workshops, psychologist consultations, and organizes a program of assistance to victims of violence. Quite recently, in October, a new joint initiative between Women’s Helpline of Kaunas and M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum was born. At the Kaunas Picture Gallery’s exhibition Atminties popierius, volunteers of Women’s Helpline invited the townspeople to create a collective origami installation. The interviewees said that the idea was born out of a wish to combine art with social initiative. In search of forms of cooperation with the museum, the concept of the exhibition came into being – a joint

installation of little figures created using the origami technique. “During the meeting, they decided that the main idea of ​​ the initiative should be a commonality. We wanted to involve more women in this project, not only volunteers, with an emphasis on teamwork towards a common goal. The little human figures were made because they sort of symbolize human connection and emotion. And we chose origami because the technique is simple and can be mastered by children, parents, and grandparents,” Aušra explained the idea behind the project. The presentation of the results is scheduled for December 12, and later (if the winter weather and other paper-unfriendly conditions won’t interfere) the installation will travel through different locations, spreading the message of the Women’s Helpline, volunteering, and communality. I was not surprised by the fact that Women’s Helpline is mainly staffed with female employees, but I still had one last question in my mind: what can you do if you are a man and want to help? Aušrinė assured that while in Kaunas all volunteers are women, in Klaipėda phone support is provided by men. The interlocutors also agreed that men should support, encourage and respect women, not try to deprive them of their favourite activities and interfere with their self-realization. Of course, the same rules apply to women when it comes to men. Equality, mutual respect, and positive intentions are crucial. My interviewees wholeheartedly believe that every human being wants to do good deeds because that is the nature of each of us

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only listening is not enough; you must be able to delve deeper into the problem being described and try to understand it. This active listening method also often allows the woman seeking help to understand better and change her situation. “Sometimes after the conversation, a caller says I advised her really well, although in reality, volunteers usually just listen, allowing the caller to put her thoughts in order. I believe that the strongest decision is the one that the person makes herself,” Lina agreed with Aušrinė. All interviewers agreed that this work helped them develop their ability to listen and understand the other person. “Talking to different women and analyzing their problems, I realized that each person is an expert on their life. This knowledge helps me choose my path with confidence,” Aušra said.

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At the intersection of Imanuelis Kantas and Nemunas Streets, a building of unusual shape has been standing for almost ninety years. It may not be shown to tourists as often as some other buildings of the First Republic, but every Kaunas resident knows it. And while the monumental forms leave an impression, its meaning doesn’t lie in the representation. And only a few would disagree that this building is one of the most important for the city: for all those decades it has served as the main Fire Station of Kaunas.

Palace on duty Paulius Tautvydas Laurinaitis Photos by the author

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Let us remember a few pages of history since the emergence of the building. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Kaunas had a disastrous shortage of usable space, and the municipality had almost no vacant land in the city centre. Therefore, no surprise that from the very beginning, the building was assigned a number of other noble missions. The Pedagogical Museum, which at that time had very important educational functions, was located here, as well as the town’s reading room and library, providing the less well-off with access to all the latest press and a quite modest at the time book collection. Fourteen premises of the building housed the city’s pawnshop, which allowed the poor of Kaunas to receive necessary small loans. Today, all of the building belongs to firefighters. When in August of the 1930s the firefighters first entered the new premises, the building met the latest requirements of that time. And how do saviours of the city live in it today? We knocked on their door to find out. Džiuginta Vaitkevičienė, the spokeswoman for Kaunas County Fire and Rescue Board (FRB) and Robertas Šaginas, a firefighter and rescuer, told us about the present situation and showed us around the building. Although Kaunas FRB owns six fire stations in Kaunas city with the same amount of fire brigades, the old palace remains the headquarters, where next to the 1st brigade the board itself is located. After the recent structural reform, it can be said that the responsibilities of the building itself have increased. Today, Kaunas FRB coordinates not only Kaunas County but also Marijampolė and Jurbarkaas areas. In the past, the building also housed a general dispatch centre. The fire brigade itself is made up of a shift commander and three fire crews - four shifts alternate every four days. K AU N A S F U L L O F CU LT U R E

As was always the case, the first floor of the building is intended for firefighter technology. Two tanker trucks, a ladder, and spare vehicles are on standby; there is also a bus commonly used to change shifts at large fires. Interestingly, with equipment having changed so much over the years, all vehicles still fit in here. We couldn’t help but ask Robertas if the old, unautomated garage door doesn’t make it difficult to leave. Apparently, no. while the others are getting ready, the on-duty firefighter opens the door. He mans a small radio station set up near the vehicles. When he gets a signal about an accident through it, a sound alarm and scoreboards in each room are activated, indicating the number of cars needed. When firefighters rush to the vehicles, they find their work clothes positioned there in such a way that they could put them on as quickly as possible. Sometimes, depending on the distance to the fire or the degree of danger of the situation, time is saved by dressing in the car. From the garage, you can access the highest part of the building - the fire hose drying tower. The first thing firefighters do after returning from the operation is putting up fire hoses and making sure the vehicles, equipment, and clothes are ready for the new mission. The firefighter classroom is located next to the garage. Daily activities are held there, during which strategic plans are discussed: each potential type of fire has a specific prevention scenario. Since the palace was built, much of the second floor has been dedicated to the lives of firefighters: as with most fire stations, the fireman’s pole for fast descent connects that space with the garage. Interestingly, for the sake of rest, each car crew sleeps in separate rooms - this ensures no distractions occur in those cases when some crews are not required to go.


Palace for Firefighters in the 1930s. Archive of Kaunas City Museum

How do firefighters spend their free time? In addition to the lounge room for a more relaxed free time, the palace has a billiard table, table tennis, a small gym, sauna and basketball boards in the courtyard. The fire station also retains its educational function: school children are introduced to both the work being done there and preventive fire education. The centre of it is an exhibit hall where history is presented. It also holds impressive exhibits from the fires that range from dirty filters of extractor hoods that caught fire to self-made heating stoves. Just as we were visiting the firefighters, another of the few remaining build-

ings of the time, which had retained their original function - the Central Post Office - has closed its doors. Therefore, one of the most important questions for us was how the rescuers feel in the old fire station, a cultural heritage object, built almost a century ago. And yet, both of our interlocutors said the building was still perfectly suited to serve the city and its suburbs without a need for major improvements. And indeed, looking around we get the impression that the building is loved and maintained, especially given that publications about the country’s relatively modest fire-prevention budget continue to appear in the press.

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“Volunteers are the smile of this project”

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“We want to say a massive thanks to our wonderful volunteers,” we hear at the end of almost every major music, film, performing arts or sports event. You will often meet the same people in different festivals controlling the traffic, accompanying you to your place or distributing booklets. For some, especially in the summer, this is definitely a lifestyle. Already now, the ever-expanding programs of Kaunas 2022, constantly inviting to various events, cannot do without the help of volunteers. You could say that the smooth pyramid of volunteering is yet another program that comes together with the others. The pyramid is “programmed” by Marija Pulokaitė, who recently joined the Kaunas 2022 collective. We caught her in Laisvės alėja in a hurry to take a bus to Tartu – she was reading a report on Kaunas affairs in the Estonian city, which, in 2024, will become European Capital of Culture. “And also, about volunteering,” Marija added laughing.

Kotryna Lingienė Photos by Arvydas Čiukšys

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I spent a lot of time between Klaipėda and Vilnius when studying and doing internships in England and Singapore. At the time, guided by maximalism, I was least expecting that I would ever successfully land and feel perfectly comfortable in a small city – Kaunas. I think for me, just like for any person who is more social, the most important thing was to find a job where I could realize my experience by implementing ambitious ideas and a friendly community, which would be easy to integrate into. When welcoming me, Kaunas handed me both of these things. Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 is one of the most ambitious projects in Europe. That means working with a team of professionals on impressive and meaningful projects that we hope will have a lasting impact. In fact, if it wasn’t for this project, I doubt I would have been so enthusiastic about my decision to move. And speaking of the Kaunas community that I became a part of, I get the impression that they sincerely appreciate new acquaintances and relationships, cooperation, and very openly and deep down in their hearts want for their city to be appreciated. Maybe that’s why they are so welcoming. How did volunteering come into your life?

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You come from Klaipėda, but you have spent a long time in Vilnius. How did Kaunas welcome you?

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As a student, I volunteered at different music or art festivals, but I learned most about it in Vilnius. Here, after going through a great project management school at

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advertising agencies for a few years, but not finding enough meaning in this work, I graduated with a Masters in Cultural Management and became a producer of art projects and events at the Loftas Art Factory. It already had a large community of volunteers that I invited to help with each event. I would prepare a to-do list and a schedule for them, which they would implement with the help of a volunteer coordinator. It was not necessary for me to interact directly with the volunteers, but I wanted to get to know and connect with the people who are helping with the event. This personal connection would pay off doubly – it motivated the volunteers to contribute even more sincerely. Later, for the biggest events, I tried to choose a trusted assistant or trainee, to whom I would give more responsible tasks. These people would really take an event to the next level helping with the “must do’s” and letting the producer move forward with “nice to have’s” development. In exchange for help, I have always tried to provide advice, support and create a good atmosphere for personal development. Working with volunteers and trainees at Loftas, I realized that motivating people was the most important thing, and they were most excited about the personal connection to the organization, the opportunity for improvement, and the development of the volunteer community. I put the aforementioned experiences and advice from other European Capitals of Culture into a system that is now called the Kaunas 2022 Volunteer Program Strategy or Guidelines. What are some examples of other European Capitals of Culture that you find most valuable?


Everyone has their own expectations, and they must be respected and fulfilled.

I followed two – in my opinion – strongest and closest examples to us – the UK City of Culture Hull in England, Aarhus in Denmark, Wroclaw in Poland and Novi Sad in Serbia. It was most valuable to look at the totality of these urban systems, i.e. such factors as the scale of the program the structure of the team, the identity which is being created, the volunteers’ position in the project, their responsibilities, their motivational system and so on. This helped to set certain qualitative indicators and boundaries and became the basis for ideas on how to apply everything to Kaunas and make it even better. The current system is created based on the volunteer’s “journey” through the different stages of volunteering, from learning about volunteering to giving thanks for the contribution, and consists of measures to encourage progress from one stage to the next. This program will be operational from next year and hopefully will become a safe and motivating environment for everyone to try themselves in volunteering as they contribute to the growth of their city.

It is often thought that volunteering is for the young and energetic. And how is it really? After all, one of the goals of Kaunas 2022 is to open the city to as many social groups as possible. Yes, this is indeed a stereotype that we will try to change within the framework of our program. When I saw the numbers of the Hull city volunteer program, I was surprised at how many older people were involved in volunteering. Aarhus has been successful in engaging people with disabilities in volunteering. So, we promise to follow the best examples. Cultural volunteering is often a springboard to work at that specific festival or institution. Is it true? This is without a doubt the best way to build trust and show what you are capable of not only to the organization you want to work for but also to others who will receive its recommendation. Another stereotype is that people volunteer at cultural events, especially festivals, to get a free ticket, therefore, because they seek to gain. What is your experience and insights on the subject? I personally remember how hard it was to get 60 Litas for a festival when I was in high school, and that was a major incentive for me to get involved in volunteering, but that didn’t mean I was doing worse than those who joined because they were looking for like-minded people. I think it doesn’t matter what is the reason behind the volunteer’s involvement in activities – be it networking, experience or access

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And the fourth thing is – cultural institutions need volunteers to save money. Myth or truth? In pragmatic terms, projects like Kaunas 2022 would simply be unable to afford so much help and would have to abandon many of the important positions taken by volunteers. But you should see the enthusiasm coming out of each questionnaire filled by a volunteer when they answer the question “why did you decide to volunteer?” These people want to contribute to the well-being and promotion of their city, engage in meaningful activities, discover new hobbies, improve themselves, expand their circle of acquaintances. They realize that there is a lot of tangible value in volunteering. So as long as there is a mutual exchange of values, there is no point in talking about funds. Volunteers are the smile, warm welcome, energy, and support of this project. We want them to feel an important part of this project, to be proud of their role and that it would be visible to the guests of Kaunas 2022 events and the city in general. Kaunas 2022 has many different programs. Will volunteering be different in them? We gather volunteers for general assistance at all program events or projects. The content of the Fluxus Festival will be very different from that of the Festival of Stories or the European Capital of Culture Forum,

but in this way, the volunteers will get acquainted with many different topics, diverse audiences and will be able to discover new interests. Those who are exclusively interested in a particular program can contribute as trainees. Activities within these programs will vary. The Memory Office program will be inviting you to search for people’s stories, the Modernism for the Future program will focus on the stories of buildings, the Rising Kaunas will focus on youth engagement, the All as One program is going to be on community mobilization, etc. Which program is most interesting to you as a newly baked Kaunas resident? I hope my colleagues can forgive me – I will be tactless and single one out. I am personally very interested in Modernism for the Future program because I have always been a fan of architecture, and when I came to Kaunas, I also became a fan of Art Deco. When wandering into a street I haven’t previously been on, I still get overwhelmed by the unimaginable value Kaunas has, and then I am overflown with a desire to help as many people in the world as possible to learn about it and establish a closer relationship with it. That is the purpose of this program. Tell me what volunteering can provide a person with.

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to the event. Everyone has their own expectations, and they must be respected and fulfilled. Only in the event of exchange can loyalty, trust, and a lasting relationship be established between the organization and the volunteer.

Very often, we hear the saying “think outside the box” or “think differently.” I think it is hard to do so without knowing the possibilities behind that “box.” Volunteering is the best way to learn about things that are not a part of your daily routine. It is a safe way to leave your comfort zone and try yourself out in new roles.

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Calendar STAGE Wednesday, 12 11, 6 pm

Tuesday, 12 17, 7 pm

Dance performance “Kaunas ZOO”

VMU Great Hall, S. Daukanto g. 28

Performance “Ghetto“

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National Kaunas drama theatre, Laisvės al. 71

Photo by Donatas Stankevičius

“Ghetto”, a performance directed by Gintaras Varnas and based on a play by Joshua Sobol, was the highlight of the theatre’s 99th season. The play focuses on the experiences of the Jews of the Vilna Ghetto during Nazi occupation in World War II, as well as the story of the Jewish theatre inside the ghetto. Theatre became the source of strength and resistance. It’s a story about a collective fight for survival, both physical and spiritual. Varnas added a lot of documentary material to the work of Sobol. You’re now able to see it subtitled in English.

More events pilnas.kaunas.lt

Pet-friendly events

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Kaunas’ theatre of contemporary dance “Aura” invites you to a performance of dance and live music, which analyzes the topics of beauty, fashion cults, the aim of luxury and demonstrates the vanity which living with “masks” brings forth. Saturday, 12 21, 6 pm

Dance performance “(g) round zero: duel of ages” Kaunas city chamber theatre, Kęstučio g. 74A


December “Rocky”, “Terminator”, “Baywatch”, “Mortal Kombat”, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, “Backstreet Boys” and “All4one” – these and many other films, characters, musicians and actors are a source of inspiration for Marius Paplauskas, Marius Pinigis and Andrius Stakelė (“Nuepiko”). Therefore, “(g) round zero” is not just a union of three different dancers. It is also a tribute to their childhood and heroes of the time. It’s a tribute to their freedom and courage to keep their fantasy alive.

MUSIC Saturday, 12 07, 5 pm

Concert “Beethoven Anniversary Year starts in Kaunas” Kaunas state philharmonic, L. Sapiegos g. 5

Thursday, 12 26, 6 pm

Opera “Macbeth”

Kaunas state musical theatre, Laisvės al. 91 Tickets “Macbeth” is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi, with an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and additions by Andrea Maffei, based on William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. It’s the first time the opera is staged in Kaunas. Monday, 12 30, 6 pm

In 2020 the world will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of composer Ludwig van Beethoven. However, Kaunas is starting the celebration of this anniversary already. Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra together with Jorge Nava, the winner of the international piano music festival “Kaunas Piano Fest”, and conductor Adrija Čepaite have decided to dedicate this concert to the memory of the outstanding composer.

Opera “Traviata”

Kaunas state musical theatre, Laisvės al. 91 Tickets It’s the fourth version of Giuseppe Verdi’s festive work in the Kaunas theatre. It was first shown just before we celebrated 2000. In fact, Traviata was the performance to start the history of Lithuanian professional opera in the first place. It was back in 1920.

More events pilnas.kaunas.lt

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Calendar Saturday, 12 07, 6 pm

Tom Waits birthday party „Invitation To The Blues“

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“Parakas”, Corner of L. Ivinskio and Prancūzų street

Thursday, 12 12, 7 pm

Live. Arma Agharta and “FreeFS” “Jazz Academy”, Baltų pr. 34

In the first part of the concert, Armantas Gečiauskas will surprise you with a unique sound of electronic instruments and objects. Later on, Kęstutis Sova, Tadas Petkevičius-Grajauskas and Arnas Mikalkėnas will create a stunning soundscape of saxophone, guitar, and drums. Thursday, 12 12, 8 pm

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Bar ”Godo”, Laisvės al. 89 Photo by Anton Corbijn.

Tom Waits’ voice was described by music critic Daniel Durchholz as “sounding like it was soaked in a barrel of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.” On the 7th of December, the blues icon turns 70, which is why “Parakas” is inviting you to celebrate together, by remembering Waits’ well and not so well known songs as well as his characters in films. Illustration by Inga Uzkalnė

More events pilnas.kaunas.lt

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Algis Fediajevas describes his music as acoustic psychedelics. Now the musician is releasing his third album “No Trace on Ice.” This album continues the shamanic musical


December odyssey heard in Algis’ earlier recordings, but, according to the music author himself, all ideas are much more fully realized in the new release. “No Trace on Ice” was recorded in No Recording Studio in England with the help of a renowned sound engineer John Hannon. Quite often Algis creates and presents his music armed with only an acoustic guitar and his voice, however in the new album the musician experiments with a bunch of other instruments. Friday, 12 13, 7 pm

A concert “The Art of Metal” Kaunas Artists’ House, V. Putvinskio g. 56

largest clarinet family instrument, still rarely seen on the Lithuanian stage, will show its capabilities in the hands of the artist Artūras Kažimėkas, through the most famous compositions by foreign composers Yann Robin and John McCowen as well as through experimental pieces by Lithuanian composers. Friday, 12 13, 11 pm

“Digital Tsunami: Gustav Goodstuff” Club “Lizdas”, Nepriklausomybės a. 12

There is a place which connects Kaunas with the night-scene of other cities in Europe and all around the world. That place is called “Lizdas”. After a tour through North and South America, Ernest Sadau is returning to the club where he will meet up with Roman Sputnik and NKS. That’s not all, the club’s old-timers will be joined by a night guardian from Rotterdam Gustav Goodstuff. Saturday, 12 21, 5 pm

A concert “The Secret of Christmas” Kaunas state philharmonic, L. Sapiegos g. 5 Photo by “Synaesthesis”

Vilnius city modern music ensemble “Synaesthesis” presents “The Art of Metal”, a project dedicated to the art born through the metal body of a double bass clarinet. The

“The Secret of Christmas” is an exciting musical journey that will feature the songs of the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. On this journey, the jazz icon will be accompanied by Kaunas Big Band and an owner of a

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Calendar velvet timbre Sofia Rubina-Hunter. Sofia is a talented Estonian singer, who has released three studio albums featuring different music genres – house, jazz-folk, and funk. Saturday, 12 21, 7 pm

Christmas carols “The miracle of Bethlehem”

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VMU Great Hall, S. Daukanto g. 28

For the second year in a row, “Awakening Orchestra” invites you to a Christmas carols concert. The carols will be performed by Danas Berlinskas, Gabrielė Gvazdikaitė, Rugilė Daujotaitė, Tadas Daujotas, Raimonda Narsejeva, Simona Mikaliūnienė, Karolina Mint, Kaunas Christian chamber choir “The Great News” (art director Nerijus Šatinskas) and musicians of “Awakening Orchestra”

on their detective hats and solve a mystery. What will they look for? You will only find out when you arrive at this mysterious, thrilling, exciting and very Christmassy concert. Kaunas wind orchestra “Ąžuolynas” will be leading you on this journey through the adventure trails of Christmas. Thursday, 12 26, 5 pm

A concert “Christmas for everyone”

St. Michael the Archangel’s (Garrison) church, Nepriklausomybės a. 14

Thursday, 12 26, 2 pm

Family afternoon “Christmas Music from the Screens” Kaunas culture centre, Kęstučio g. 1

Once again the Christmas sledges are running through the mountains, forests, and seas. Christmas bells, hilarious storytellers and a bunch of familiar heroes are approaching us. Well-known characters from cartoons and cinema will be stopping by the Kaunas culture centre. Together with them, the audience members will have to put

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Photo from the archives of “Ąžuolynas” orchestra

Same as every year Kaunas wind orchestra “Ąžuolynas” invites you to a musical Christmas evening. This time the orchestra will take you on a trip around the world. You will hear English, American, Ukrainian, Flemish, Spanish, German and Lithuanian pieces. The orchestra will perform not only joyful melodies but also compositions of a pioneer of Lithuanian music Juozas Naujalis, whose 150th anniversary we have been celebrating this year.


December Friday, 12 27, 6 pm

Tuesday, 12 31, 5 pm

Kaunas culture centre, Kęstučio g. 1

Kaunas culture centre, Kęstučio g. 1

In this concert, Jurgis Brūzga and Kaunas Big Band will be performing the most memorable Christmas songs and melodies. Cheerful and romantic, jazzy and childish tunes together with the refreshing aroma of fir as well as ornate garlands, homemade cakes, and the dearest people around will create the perfect Christmas mood.

Kaunas Big Band and singer Povilas Meškėla invite you to say goodbye to 2019 and meet the new year with the songs of Lithuanian Frank Sinatra, Stasys Povilaitis. Each song is a separate story, deeply intertwined with our lives, perhaps reminding us of a memorable date, enjoyable company, or just a lovely event where Stasys Povilaitis played the first fiddle.

Tuesday, 12 31, 4 pm

Tuesday, 12 31, 7 pm

Kaunas state philharmonic, L. Sapiegos g. 5

VMU Great Hall, S. Daukanto g. 28

Kaunas state philharmonic invites you to celebrate the upcoming New Year’s Eve at a gala concert with the city’s favourite ensembles – Kaunas State Choir, Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Constantine Orbelian. Talented and charming Lithuanian soloists will create the festive mood – soprano Vida Miknevičiūtė and bass-baritone Kostas Smoriginas, as well as guests – soprano Veronika Dzhioeva and Sergey Stepanyan from Armenia. The program will feature the most beautiful classical pieces for orchestra, choir, and soloists.

On the New Year’s Eve VMU Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Vytautas Lukočius, as well as soloists Zbignevas Levickis (violin) and Laimonas Salijus (accordion) will perform a festive concert “Seasons”. In the concert, you will hear the masterpieces of classical music including “Four Seasons” by Italian Baroque master Antonio Vivaldi and “Four Seasons in Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzolla.

A concert “Christmas on the wave”

New Year’s Eve gala concert

New Year’s Eve concert “Švieski man vėl!”

New Year’s Eve concert “Seasons”

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2019 DECEMBER

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Calendar EXHIBITIONS 11 21 – 02 09

“Playground Gallery: Meeting The Laureates”

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Kaunas picture gallery, K. Donelaičio g. 16

One of the most versatile Lithuanian artists, the National Culture and Art Prize laureate Kęstutis Grigaliūnas is presenting his new exhibition, with its main objective to engage visitors (especially children and youth) in learning experiences to enhance their curiosity and interests in visual art. Interactive works of the exhibition encourage viewers to start an

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intriguing creative play, where everyone, despite their age or interests, is invited to touch the artworks, create their original compositions and in this way to become active participants of contemporary art. The theme of the exhibition revolves around prominent Lithuanian visual artists – laureates of most prestigious award in Lithuania – National Culture and Art Prize, such as Valentinas Antanavičius, Robertas Antinis, Eugenijus Cukermanas, Stasys Eidrigevičius, Jonas Gasiūnas, Sigitas Geda, Adomas Jacovskis, Gintaras Makarevičius, Mindaugas Navakas, Romualdas Požerskis, Petras Repšys, Šarūnas Sauka, Paulius and Svajonė Stanikas, Algirdas Steponavičius, Ričardas Povilas Vaitiekūnas, Vladas Vildžiūnas, Mikalojus Povilas Vilutis. The show aims to represent their particular works that are appropriated, reflected and recreated in the objects of K. Grigaliūnas.

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December 11 28 – 01 19

Contemporary Slovak glass and ceramic design exhibition “More is More II” M. Žilinskas art gallery, Nepriklausomybės a. 12

The ambition of the exhibition “More is More II” is above all to introduce to the public the most interesting and the most ambitious realizations within the glass and ceramic design that have emerged in Slovakia in recent years. The selection of design works presents the creations of authors belonging to the youngest and middle generation alongside those of students from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Studio of Glass and Studio of Ceramics. Displayed design works do not strictly comply with the traditional understating of design as an object of utility. The utility is, in fact, only one of its characteristics – its visual, symbolic and emotional quality is equally important. These design objects were at the same time mostly made as original solitaires or as part of small author’s collections.

CINEMA Tuesday, 12 03, 7 pm

Film “Solaris”

“Forum Cinemas Kaunas”, Karaliaus Mindaugo pr. 50

“Solaris” (Russian: Солярис, tr. Solyaris) is a 1972 Soviet science fiction art film based on Stanisław Lem’s novel of the same name published in 1961. The film was co-written and directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and stars the Lithuanian actor Donatas Banionis and Natalya Bondarchuk. The electronic music score was performed by Eduard Artemyev; a composition by J.S. Bach is also employed. It’ll be screened in cinemas one night only.

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2019 DECEMBER

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Calendar Saturday, 12 07, 4 pm

Sunday, 12 08, 4:30 pm

Kaunas Cinema Centre “Romuva”, Kęstučio g. 62

Kaunas cinema centre “Romuva”, Kęstučio g. 62

Film “State Funeral“

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Film “Kusama: Infinity”

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Photo by “Žalgiris”.

The 2018 American biographical documentary film covers the life and art of Japanese painter Yayoi Kusama, now one of the best-selling painters in the world, who earned her recognition despite sexism, racism, and a stigma of mental illness. In Japanese English with Lithuanian subtitles.

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Unique, mostly unseen before, archive footage from March 1953, presents the funeral of Joseph Stalin as the culmination of the dictator’s personality cult. The news of Stalin’s death on March 5, 1953, shocked the entire Soviet Union. The burial ceremony was attended by tens of thousands of mourners. We observe every stage of the funeral spectacle, described by Pravda newspaper as “the Great Farewell”, and receive an unprecedented access to the dramatic and absurd experience of life and death under Stalin’s reign. nThe film by Sergei Loznitsa addresses the issue of Stalin’s personality cult as a form of terror-induced delusion. It gives an insight into the nature of the regime and its legacy, still haunting the contemporary world.


December 12 27 – 30

Comedy Club

Kaunas cinema centre “Romuva”, Kęstučio g. 62

OTHER EVENTS 12 01 – 01 06

Cosmic Christmas town Kaunas town hall square, Rotušės aikštė

Freeze-frame from “Tulips, Love, Honor and a Bike”

Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, “Romuva” will adorn itself with little red lights and screen uplifting comedies. For the third season, on December 27-30, the cinema centre is inviting you to spend the holidays in a cosy Christmas party. The repertoire of Comedy Club this year includes as many as eight exclusive films. Heroes of those films will find themselves in a variety of comic situations, some very relatable, and some utterly unexpected. This year’s program pays special attention to French cinema, which will warm everyone’s heart with witty, romantic, and inventive comedies.

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This year’s winter celebrations in Kaunas are taking a unique, unexpected, and colourful shape. Kaunas city is inviting you to immerse yourself in a Christmassy Cosmos. Out of this Earth experiences and long-lasting impressions are waiting ahead. This year, Kaunas town hall square will be adorned with more than just a Christmas tree. Instead, everyone is invited on a free journey to a mysterious planet. A planet where fairy tales are real, smiles are everlasting and the holiday mood never fades. Every day in the Cosmic Christmas town you will find classes, workshops, books, theatre, and music. The New Year’s Eve celebration “Cosmic New Year in Kaunas” with Lithuanian dance music performers will take place on the 31st. Saturday, 12 07, 12 pm

“Žaisloteka” birthday party and an opening of “Books’ Christmas” Kaunas Vincas Kudirka public library Z. Kuzmickis branch, Raseinių g. 26

2019 DECEMBER

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Calendar 12 07 – 12 08

Event “Christmas Pop Up”

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M. Žilinskas art gallery, Nepriklausomybės a. 12

One of its kind in Lithuania, the toys and games library “Žaisloteka” is celebrating its first birthday. On this occasion, yet another new project “Books’ Christmas” will be presented. On the celebration day, “Žaisloteka” will present a bunch of activities including Santa’s mail and hot cacao in the backyard as well as surprises, fun meetings, educations, games, and a fancy opening of “Books’ Christmas” with a children’s writer Tomas Dirgėla inside the library. Because it’s a birthday celebration, the library suggests bringing a present: take with you toys or board games, which you would like to exchange, or books you could donate to the “Books’ Christmas”.

Organizers of the event will gather over 50 of the most interesting, topical and powerful Lithuanian design names under the roof of M. Žilinskas art gallery. You will have the opportunity to meet contemporary fashion, jewellery, interior, haberdashery, cosmetics, and food manufacturers and creators, see and try out the latest season’s collections and products. Sunday, 12 08, 5 pm

LKL. Kaunas “Žalgiris” – Vilnius “Rytas” Žalgirio arena, Karaliaus Mindaugo pr. 50

12 07 – 12 08

Event “Culturally before Christmas” Kaunas picture gallery and cafe “Kultūra” K. Donelaičio g. 16

This two-day event will invite you to learn how to draw, weave wreaths, pack gifts, listen to music and socialize, socialize, socialize. You can find a detailed program of this gathering on Facebook.

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Photo by “Žalgiris”.

The classic Lithuanian basketball derby returns to Žalgirio arena. A presentation here is unnecessary, but the match itself is a must-see.


December Saturday, 12 14

Event “Friends Christmas Market”, 12 pm Pub “Vingiu dubingiu”, A. Mickevičiaus g. 35

Wednesday, 12 18, 7 pm

Kaunas Artists’ House and “Other cinema” present: Christmas pre-party Kaunas Artists’ House, V. Putvinskio g. 56

Photo by Mantas Vizbaras.

For the third time in a row “Friends Christmas Market” is coming back to “Vingiu Dubingiu” pub to represent the creative gift ideas of the local manufacturers. It will be held on the 14th of December in the pub’s backyard under a cosy tent with warming drinks, hot food, festive music, and plenty of socialization opportunities.

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Freeze-frame from “Dial Code Santa Claus”.

Kaunas Artists’ House invites you to celebrate Christmas in advance and commemorate a two-year friendship with a film screening project “Other Cinema”. Hot drinks and a movie about killer Santa Claus “Dial Code Santa Claus” (directed by René Manzor, 1989). What could be better and cosier?! By the way, it is claimed that the cult classic “Home Alone” took a lot of inspiration from this film.

2019 DECEMBER

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“The easiest way to become good in front of the society is to act as it pleases.“ Saulius Gricius (1963 06 27 – 1991 05 19) Founder and leader of Lithuanian ecology movement

KAUNAS FULL OF CULTURE Monthly magazine about personalities and events in Kaunas (free of charge)

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Laisvės alėja 59, third floor

Editorial office:

Authors: Artūras Bulota, Arvydas Čiukšys, Austėja Banytė, Bernadeta Buzaitė, Eglė Šertvyčūtė, Elijus Kniežauskas, Emilija Visockaitė, Julija Račiūnaitė, Justė Vyšniauskaitė, Kamilė Kaminskaitė, Kotryna Lingienė, Kęstutis Lingys, Lukas Mykolaitis, Paulius Tautvydas Laurinaitis.

Patrons:

KAUNO MIESTO SAVIVALDYBĖ

RUN 100010COPIES. TIRAŽAS 000 EGZ.

K AU N A S F U L L O F CU LT U R E

ISSN 2424-4465

Leidžia: Publisher:

2019 2017Nr. Nr.12 2 (52) (18)

Profile for Kaunas Pilnas Kultūros

KAUNAS FULL OF CULTURE DECEMBER 2019  

KAUNAS FULL OF CULTURE DECEMBER 2019  

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