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Vilnius’s Lukiškės Prison to be turned into venue

Lukiškės Prison, an early 20th-century former prison in central Vilnius, will be turned into a versatile entertainment and arts venue under new plans drawn up by the Lithuanian government.

Turto Bankas, a state-owned property company, is inviting private businesses to register their interest in a project to convert the prison complex, which is located next to the Seimas Palace, home to the Lithuanian parliament, into a “multifunctional centre of art, culture, and education”.

Lukiškės Prison, which closed in 2019, is currently leased to an events business and recently served as a shooting location for series four of Netflix’s Stranger Things. Before its closure, it housed around 1,000 inmates (as of 2007) and employed 250 prison guards.

Its six buildings – which also include a hospital, administration buildings and the St Nicholas Orthodox Church – now offer a total area of 2ha (5ac) for events and other public activities; for example, 2019’s ‘alternative Christmas’ event at the prison, which featured art and light installations throughout its courtyards.

Its six buildings offer a total area of two hectares for public events

The regeneration project will involve upgrading a part of the complex for cultural and commercial purposes, according to the city, with the other half focusing on its heritage as a prison, as well as modern “multicultural Lithuanian society”.

According to Turto Bankas, the regeneration project, in addition to entertainment leisure facilities, could include “non-conventional accommodation facilities, a food quarter, co-working spaces, a museum [and] workshops, leisure and entertainment spots” – though it notes that as a protected building, the amount of transformation possible would be limited.

Interested parties, it adds, should be committed to “maintaining the commercial-educational balance” in the revamped venue.


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City of Vilnius releases ‘socially distanced’ Xmas LP

In partnership with the city of Vilnius, a group of Lithuanian electronic music producers have released Re-Xmas, a ‘socially distanced’ Christmas album commemorating the “extraordinary” 2020 festive season.

As a video on the Re-Xmas project website explains, the album features reworkings of traditional Christmas songs, including ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Silent Night and ‘O Christmas Tree’ (‘O Tannenbaum‘), by top local talent.

The ‘social distancing’ element sees the composers adding two equal intervals of pause – symbolising two metres’ distance – after each note from the song’s main melody.

Contributors include dark-techno DJ Alex Krell, ambient producer Fume and experimental electronic duo Lakeside Culture, with the album’s release supported by Lithuanian DJ collection Antidote Community.

The project also incorporates an audiovisual installation near Kablys, the Vilnius electronic music mecca, while the album will be played as album of the week on the national radio station LRT Opus.

Listen to the full Re-Xmas album on SoundCloud here.

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