Best practice in participatory budgeting from Latvia – Vidzeme Region (EmPaci)

Vidzeme Planning Region continues to strengthen the citizen participation in the region 

In March 2020, Vidzeme Planning Region announced a cultural project competition “Vidzeme culture program” implemented already for the thirteenth year in a row. It aims to promote the balanced development of cultural and art sectors and the preservation of cultural heritage in the country.

During this time, the project competition has proven to be an important financial instrument that promotes and ensures the cultural process in Vidzeme, thus creating and preserving a diverse cultural environment in the region. A great interest of the local community has been seen on the “Vidzeme culture program”. This is evidenced by both the number of project applications submitted each year and the number of participants involved in the implementation of supported projects and visitors of events.

This year, 149 projects have been submitted to the competition and will be distributed funding of 143,000 EUR.

To ensure active public participation in the development and implementation of the “Vidzeme culture program” this year, a citizen survey was conducted to find out the opinion of citizens on cultural priorities that should receive funding. A significant number of people (726) took the opportunity to vote. So far, cultural priorities have been set based on views of industry experts, research, planning documents, as well as 12 years of experience implementing the program. Results of society vote were determinative defining the cultural fields where project initiatives later were submitted to obtain funding.

Continuing the participatory activities within the program, this year the public is also invited to vote on submitted projects. All projects are placed publicly on the website developed specifically for this purpose – Each citizen from the age of 16 can vote for three different projects. More than 12 200 votes have been placed on the website. Planned voting in person was cancelled due to an emergency.

Results of the public vote will be presented to the commission of experts of the program. The decision on the distribution of funding will be made by the State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia following the recommendation prepared by experts.

This pilot activity is a step towards promoting public involvement in the decision-making of state and local government institutions, including the distribution of the budget for various initiatives. Conclusions obtained will be valuable both for the Vidzeme Planning Region, promoting the public participation process, and for local governments to develop the mechanisms of citizen involvement in the decision-making.

Information prepared by:
Ieva Bīviņa
Communication Manager
Vidzeme Planning Region