Inese Kalniņa

Since 2012, there is a movement of Culture Ambassadors in Latvia that was initiated by the British Council’s project “Intercultural Navigators”.  

Every year people from different age groups and communities in Latvia participate in the events of Latvian Culture Ambassadors community. Since 2017, the British Council Latvia has been co-operating with association “Co-operation platform”, which implements not only activities to promote Latvian Culture Ambassadors community, but also promotes intercultural dialogue and strives to unite the ethnically diverse Latvian society through events. 

Currently, there are more than 200 trained and qualified Culture Ambassadors in Latvia, who promote interaction between different ethnic groups through various events. In order to strengthen the capacity of the Culture Ambassadors, since 2018 “Co-operation platform”, together with the British Council, has been hosting both Culture Ambassadors camp and various trainings educating the ambassadors. Participants of the camp have opportunity not only to acquire new knowledge, but also to get to know leaders of other cultural communities, establish co-operation for future projects. Participants of the camp admit that involvement in the camp enhances tolerance, understanding, and comprehension about minorities of Latvia. 

During the camp, participants of Latvian Culture Ambassadors camp develop projects to be carried out over the next year, for instance, in 2018 participants of the camp, in co-operation with partners, developed eight different projects, most of which have been carried out in early 2019. There are projects that continue finding support from local authorities, for example, exhibition “Promotion of Old-believer’s traditions”, which continues to travel from Preiļi to other regions of Latvia. Thanks to the responsiveness of the Culture Ambassadors, competition “Folk Song MEMES” took place, which has now become Kr. Barons’ museum training programme and is implemented in Latvia’s schools. It is interesting that this project has also been derived and now not only Latvian, but also minority youth, such as Estonian, Ukrainian and Russian, will make folk-song memes. 

On 11 August 2018 the first Latvian Culture Ambassadors Festival was organised in Jelgava, where 14 artistic groups from different regions of Latvia participated, gathering more than 200 participants – Latvians, Poles, Russians, Cossacks, Buryats, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and others. 17 Culture Ambassadors and their groups took part in the organisational process of the Festival. It was a unique opportunity for Ambassadors to get to know each other and to establish new co-operation that has already resulted in several events. The first Latvian Culture Ambassadors Forum will be held in the autumn of 2019.

 In spring 2019, “Co-operation platform” together with “Spriditis School” and with the support of the British Council, invited minority children to the “National Costumes in Latvia” classes, to look for the similar and the different in the culture and traditions of Latvians and other nationalities living in Latvia. The classes were popular, thus they will be organised also in 2019/2020 visiting several schools in Latvia. 

In August 2019, a youth camp in Kurzeme will take place, with 40 young people from all over Latvia participating in it. Over four days, young people will work shoulder-to-shoulder, promoting tolerance and intercultural dialogue between different ethnic groups.