On 11 December, the Ministry of Culture, together with the organiser of this year’s Latvian Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale - the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art and its principal supporter - the ABLV Charitable Foundation, announced that visitor numbers for “ARMPIT”, the Latvian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Art Biennale, have been impressive. The pavilion has been visited by 200,000 people. In years to come, the national competition will benefit from at least two positive changes: an earlier call for entries and guaranteed co-financing from the ABLV Charitable Foundation.
Minister for Culture Dace Melbārde explained that, “Latvia’s exposition at this year’s Venice Art Biennale has been a great success due to the positive response it has elicited from visitors to the pavilion, addressing a wide audience with its easy to understand message, and among the sector’s professional media, in which the Latvian Pavilion has frequently appeared on the list of recommended pavilions to visit. Participation in the Venice Biennale is of great importance to the artists themselves, for whom it opens up new opportunities, and for Latvia, which enriches the overall European cultural scene with its participation and inspires representatives of other countries to discover Latvian contemporary art. I am delighted that, from the next exposition onwards, the Ministry of Culture will have a permanent partner: the ABLV Charitable Foundation, which will make the work of the Ministry and the participants in the Venice Biennale much easier. Thought has also been given to how we can give Biennale participants as much time as possible to plan the development of the pavilion. Therefore, in future we will announce the national competition at the start of the year; nine months earlier than in previous years.”
The forthcoming changes are highly appreciated by the representative of the artists responsible for this year’s Latvian Pavilion - the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art and its Head Solvita Krese: “We feel that we’ve earned this. Latvia has proved itself in the international world of contemporary art – the pavilion was visited by what was virtually a record number of visitors and we have received serious offers from international collaboration partners. This year’s artists Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis have already been invited to take part in the major Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India and at one of the world’s most famous music and arts festivals, “Coachella” in California, parallel to which we are conducting various other important negotiations.”
In turn, the ABLV Charitable Foundation and the Republic of Latvia’s Ministry of Culture have concluded an agreement providing long-term support to the creators of the Latvian Pavilion exposition at the Venice International Art Biennale. The memorandum of intent regarding this collaboration, which was signed by Minister of Culture Dace Melbārde and the founders and Board Members of the ABLV Charitable Foundation, Ernests Bernis and Oļegs Fiļs, confers co-financing from the Foundation worth a total of EUR 150,000. It is planned that this grant will be used in three equal parts, ensuring Latvia’s participation at three consecutive Venice Biennales until 2021.
“The decision to become the general sponsor of Latvia’s participation in the Venice Biennale is related to the Foundation’s long-standing support for the contemporary art sector. The ABLV Charitable Foundation is also the co-founder of the initiative to build the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art using private funding. It is planned that the newly built museum will open its doors in 2021. The museum’s strategy envisages it playing an important role within the cultural infrastructure network of the Baltic Sea region; therefore it is important that the achievements of Latvian artists resonate internationally,” explains ABLV Charitable Foundation Member of the Board Romans Surnačovs.