2014 in Review

April 2015

Andris
Padegs
Ģirts
Zeidenbergs

Dear Members and Supporters of TILTS!

Here is a review of our activity in 2014 and a summary of our plans for this year and the next.

As the number of Latvians in our communities outside of Latvia supporting cultural events is shrinking, we have to become more resourceful about raising money to finance our projects. In recent years we have established a close working relationship with the American Latvian Association (ALA), which has been allocating funds for two of our tours each year, at $5000 a tour. TILTS is grateful to ALA, as well as to the Latvian State Culture Capital Fund for their grants, and it gratefully acknowledges the support of the members of the Latvian Foundation who have voted for the projects we submitted. This kind of support will be essential in the future as well. But, in addition, increasingly we will have to look to the state of Latvia for financial support.

After Latvia regained its independence, TILTS supplied its schools and libraries with resources to assist in the cultural recovery. In 1991 TILTS sent to the Culture Capital Foundation a printing press valued at $39,000; in the following fifteen years we provided Latvian schools in Latvia and Siberia computers and other educational materials worth $350,000. And since its inception the TILTS fund for outstanding new talent has awarded over $150,000 in scholarships to worthy young Latvians to study in Western universities. This project is ongoing, and TILTS has helped and is helping Latvia in other ways as well. Now that Latvia is economically and financially in a more stable position, the time has come for Latvia to support Latvians in the diaspora to preserve their Latvian identity so they would not be lost to Latvia.

On May 1, 2014, the day before the start of the annual ALA congress, Latvia's Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma met with representatives of Latvian organizations in the USA to discuss our problems and needs. Andris Padegs presented a review of the history, goals and current activity of TILTS, emphasizing that Latvian cultural events such as concerts and theatrical performances are one of the principal ways to maintain a sense of Latvian identity. In order to continue offering these cultural programs and to make them more widely accessible, financial support from Latvia is essential. A copy of the text of this presentation was given to the Prime Minister along with the other government representatives present.

It was probably a coincidence, but at the end of 2014 the Latvian Ministry of Culture announced grants for song festivals and other cultural activities among Latvians abroad, which were distributed by the World Federation of Latvians (PBLA) and from which TILTS received 6450 euros (approximately $7000) for three proposed tours. Let us hope that such support will continue in coming years.

We wish you a healthy and prosperous 2015! To those who have supported us over the years, we thank you for your trust. To all who value Latvian culture, please support TILTS by becoming members and by attending cultural programs sponsored by TILTS.

Ģirts ZeidenbergsAndris Padegs
ChairpersonExecutive Vice Chairperson
Marcis
Voldiņš

Theatre

A tour of Mara's Theater company performing Mara Ķimele's play Paris-Rīga-Paris, followed by a concert performance entitled Latvian Songs for Latvians, took place between August 22 and September 7, 2014, with performances in eleven cities: Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Lincoln, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Toronto, Boston, Priedaine, New York and Washington, DC Actors Varis Pinķis and Karīna Tatarinova were accompanied by musical director Jēkabs Nīmanis and technical director Mārtiņš Porters.

Actors Varis Pinķis and Karīna Tatarinova

The performance was unusual in the sense that it was about the lives of two prominent Latvian artists from the twentieth century, Rūdolfs and Elvīra Pinnis, with the artists themselves telling their story of their experiences and relationships, living in Paris, Riga and back again in Paris.

The actors established a close rapport with the appreciative audiences. In a few cities some thought that the play was too short, but the concert in the second half made up for that.

Total attendance was about 800 and the reviews were positive. The actors were very professional and showed great warmth and sincerity. Throughout the tour, from coast to coast, the actors heard words of praise such as: "You are something new and different...you are an unexpected surprise...a wonderful performance with a concert of new songs”.

A typical response to the concert in the second half: "Karina sings beautifully with feeling towards the audience; she is charming, she enchanted the audience with her songs."

The actors stressed that they were very cordially received everywhere and wished to especially thank their driver, Janis from Priedaine.

Usually we have to allow for six months to receive the necessary visas and P3 petition approvals. The opportunity to organize this tour came up suddenly and left us only two months' time for completing the formalities. We called upon the Latvian Embassy in Washington, the United States State Department, and the Latvian Ministry of Culture to assist us in this process, and we received the final approval literally at the last minute. The American consul in Riga was so accommodating that he came to the office on August 20 at 7:00 AM to issue the visas so that the actors could catch their plane at 9:00 AM. If the actors had not received their travel papers, TILTS would have incurred a loss of $12,550 for airline tickets, visa fees and other expenses. A more detailed account of the unsettling process of obtaining these visas can be found in Laiks and other Latvian newspapers from last fall.

Even though TILTS received a $5000 grant from ALA, we had to make up a deficit of $5000. The tour was coordinated by Marcis Voldiņš.

Dace
Aperāne

Classical Music

From left: Agita Arista, Elzbieta Brandys, Ona Jonaityte, Ilona Kudiņa (conductor); missing is Laila Saliņa, who participated at the Priedaine and New York concerts

The quartet Dzintara Flauta (Amber Flute) had nine concerts during January-March, 2014, covering Boston, New York, Priedaine, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, the Latvian Embassy in Washington, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Detroit. The first concert was organized by the Latvian Heritage foundation and the New England Baltic Association on January 24 at the church of the Trimdas Congregation; the New York concert was at the Yonkers church as part of the Culture Days events.

The program included compositions by Baltic composers, with an emphasis on the works by Latvians, particularly those living in the USA, such as J. Aldiņš, A. Kuprisa un J. Ķeniņš.

The tour was supported by ALA with an award of $5,000, and TILTS covered the shortage of $800. The tour was organized by Dace Aperāne.

Soprano Inga Šļubovska and pianist Agnese Egliņa offered concerts in October, 2014 in Cleveland, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Both artists are from Latvia with an outstanding musical education and broad recognition – Inga Šļubovska is a Latvian National Opera soloist, and Agnese Egliņa is the recipient of the Latvian Music Grand Prize (2010). This was their first USA concert tour.

Pianist Agnese Egliņa un soprāno Inga Šļubovska

The program consisted of songs and arias from Latvian classical composers, as well as more recent compositions. The concert in Cleveland was part of the 60th anniversary event of the Cleveland Concert Association. This was very appropriate, as TILTS has been cooperating with the association for over 20 years in the selection of performers for its subscription concerts. After the last concert in Washington, the ambassador Andris Razāns and Mrs. Gunta Razāns invited the artists to the embassy.

The event in Cleveland was particularly noteworthy – it had an audience of 145, and the speakers at the anniversary reminisced about their rich musical experiences. On the other hand, only 30 people were present at the New York concert.

Both artists reported on their tour over the Latvian Radio Classical Music station. The concerts were broadly advertised in the press as well as on Facebook, and the Minnesota Latvian Concert Association had arranged for the concert to be announced over Minnesota Public Radio.

The tour was supported by ALA with an award of $5,000, and TILTS had to contribute only $285. The tour was organized by Dace Aperāne.

Laila Robiņa

Exceptional Young Artists Fund

The Exceptional Young Artists Fund, under the leadership of Laila Robiņa and with the help of Baiba Pinne and Anna Ķepe, in 2014 awarded the following:

  • Justīne Kulakova - $700.00 to support her graduate studies at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne, Switzerland.

In its lifetime, the Exceptional Young Artists Fund has awarded a total of over $150,000 to over 30 young artists. The fund makes awards only from contributions donated specifically to this fund. No contributions were received in 2014.

Contributions to the Fund can be made by sending a check, written to “Latvian Cultural Association TILTS, Inc.”, to TILTS, c/o Laila Robins, 241 Central Park West Apt. 14H, New York, NY 10024.

The Music Camp Fund

The immediate objective of this fund is to provide support to the XI International Latvian Young Musicians’ Camp – Master Classes that took place June 30 to July 9, 2014 at the Sigulda School of Arts “Baltais Flīģelis”. Dace Aperāne, with help from Anda Sūna Cook and Gunta Semba, manages the fund. In 2014 the Fund awarded to this camp $7,635.00.

In 2014 the fund received $4,450.00 in contributions:

  • $2,500.00 from the ARC Foudation (Anita Kuprisa and Richard Douglas)
  • $1,500.00 from the Estate of Brigita Greenwood
  • $50.00 from Erica DeBenedictis
  • $400.00 from LEGA

The Fund is grateful to all contributors, but especially to Anita and Douglas for their substantial gift.

Contributions to the Music Camp Fund can be made by sending a check to TILTS’ Treasurer, written to “Latvian Cultural Association TILTS, Inc.”, with a note explaining its purpose.

History Projects Fund

In 2014 one project was operating under the auspices of this fund – “The transfer of Ēvalds Dajevskis paintings to the Liepāja Museum”. The fund supported this project with an award of $1,194.00 – the $1,000.00 previously received from Maruta Lietiņa Ray and $194 from TILTS. The painter’s son Pēteris Dajevskis managed the transfer of paintings, and Andris Padegs supervised the fund.

The transfer of the paintings has been completed – the paintings were shipped in February 2014, and an exhibition was opened on May 28, 2014.

In 2014 the fund received $1,000 from Edgars Bērziņš. The fund is grateful for the contribution, and the funds will be used in accordance with the wishes of the donor.

„Trimda Dimd”

In 2012 TILTS awarded to Māra Pelēce $500 to document the evolution of Latvian popular music in the years of exile. Additional support was provided by ALA, LF and LOAM. A trailer now is ready, and so are some feature videos, such as the one from “Trīs no Pārdaugavas”. They can be viewed at trimdadimd.com.

āra’s submission for funding additional interviews appears in this year’s Latvian Foundation project list.

Support

In 2014 TILTS’ Board awarded a total of $800.00 in financial support, as follows:

  • $200.00 – for the competition of Latvian piano music (Liene Circene) at the Latvian Academy of Music on April 13, 2014. The purpose of the competition was to popularize piano music by Latvian composers from all parts of the world.
  • $350.00 – to ALJA to support the ALJA 2014 congress at Seattle.
  • $250.00 – to Cleveland / Detroit Latvian Associations in support of the concert tour by Reinis Zariņš.

Other Events of 2014

  • Maija Medne and Gunārs Ozols were TILTS delegates to the ALA 2014 congress in Philadelphia.
  • At the end of 2014, 72 people had joined ALA as members of TILTS, including 6 amber, 8 gold and 56 life members.
  • Dace Aperāne, Ārija Kats un Baiba Pinne represented TILTS on the Council of New York Latvian Organizations.
  • The annual TILTS membership meeting took place on April 12, 2014 at the Daugavas Vanagu House in Bronx, NY. A Board meeting preceded and another followed the membership meeting. The membership elected 45 people to the Board. The Board elected the same officers as last year.
  • On November 11, 2014 a total of 145 boxes, with a weight of 2,301 kg, of books and periodicals collected from Latvian homes were shipped by TILTS through the Latvian American Shipping Line to the Latvian National Library in Riga for distribution to schools and libraries. (Andris Padegs).

Information Dissemination Project

In order to help refute the political misinformation emanating from Russia, TILTS has established the “information Dissemination” project. The project will search and distribute to newspapers, TV and radio stations and other mass media in Latvia articles by experienced and respected international authors and analysts on subjects that pertain to Latvia.

Associated with the project will be a fund for which contributions will be solicited to cover the expenses for translation and copyright. Contributions can be made by sending a check to TILTS’ Treasurer, written to “Latvian Cultural Association TILTS, Inc.”, with a note explaining its purpose.

The decision on this project was reached in the TILTS 2015 annual meeting, but because of its immediacy it is covered in this 2014 report.

Early in 2015 ALA awarded $3,000 to TILTS for partial defrayment of the translation and copyright expenses for one year.

This project is a continuation of the work undertaken for the last few years by Ģirts Zeidenbergs, in conjunction with a pool of volunteer readers, supported partially by PBLA, but from now on this work will follow the guidelines set by TILTS. The sources will include:

  • American and European publications and organizations engaged in the analysis of the political situation and the distribution of the information, such as: Stratfor, The Jamestown Foundation, Radio Free Europe, Central European Policy Analysis, Transparency International, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Open Russia (a platform for democracy and civil society activists), etc.
  • Specific individuals, such as: Edward Lucas, Anne Applebaum, Paul Goble (Window on Eurasia), Zbigniew Brzezinski, Professor Norman Davies, Carl Bildt, Toomas Ilvess, Dalia Grybauskaite, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Bernard-Henri Levy, Stephen Harper, etc.
  • Internet web pages such as: www.the-economist.com, www.ft.com, www.theguardian.com, www.bbc.com, 20committee.com, www.independent.co.uk, www.wsj.com, strataforum.org, www.themoscowtimes.com, etc.

When feasible, the articles will be translated into Latvian (and possibly into Russian), and TILTS will attempt to reach agreement with the authors and cover copyright payments for republication of the articles in Latvia, but these agreements will depend on the conditions and demands of the authors, and it is not clear as yet to what extent and how broadly settlements will be possible."

Presentations

  • On May 1, 2014, a day before the ALA congress in Philadelphia, the premier of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma met with the leaders of the diaspora Latvian organizations to discuss their needs and problems. Andris Padegs presented a review of TILTS operations and pointed out the need for financial support from the Latvian government of the diaspora cultural activities (see also the cover letter).
  • The conference “Latvia Outside Latvia”, organized by the PBLA, took place on October, 2014 at the Latvian National Library in Riga. Andris Padegs prepared the lecture “The Latvian Cultural Association TILTS”, which was presented by his daughter Sandra Slokenberga. The lecture is published in the proceedings of the conference.

How Efficient is TILTS?

The charitable organizations of America continually bombard us with requests for contributions. But they do not spend all their money on their charitable work. Some of them spend most of the money they collect on administration and fundraising, paying high salaries to their executives. The charities can be considered efficient if 80%-90% of the funds are spent on the claimed charitable activities, with only 10%-20% on administration and fundraising.

The overview of the finances of TILTS on page 7 gives an idea of the efficiency of our operations. In 2014 TILTS receipts were $45,734; this is the sum that passed through the TILTS bank account. However, some of our cash flow does not show up in the financial summary. In accordance with prior agreements, part of the money that is due TILTS for arranging the tour is paid by the local organizers directly to the performers to cover their travel expense and honorarium. This amount in 2014 was $17,500, yielding a total TILTS 2014 income of $63,234. The administrative and fundraising expenses were $4,421, which is 7.0%. TILTS board members do not receive any compensation for their services.

Events planned for 2015

  • A tour by the popular ethnographic group IĻĢI is planned for late September to early October. It will last a total of two and a half weeks, starting in the Midwest (possibly Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Denver) and ending on the West Coast (possibly LA, SF, Portland, Seattle). Organized by Benita Jaundāldere.
  • A tour by the Latvian alto violinist Anna Dārziņa is planned for late September to early October at six Latvian centers. The tour will be coordinated with the programs of the Concert Associations of Cleveland and Minneapolis, as well as with schedules of the Latvian associations of Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Washington, DC. Mrs. Dārziņa was born and started her studies in Australia. She has performed with famous European orchestras and has given concerts in the USA Canada and Japan. Organized by Dace Aperāne.
  • Laima Jansone, an expert kokle player, and the vocalist Laura Polence will perform at the major Latvian centers in the USA, as well as in Toronto, from early October to mid-November. Some of the concerts may be arranged in the context of the November 18th Independence day celebrations. Both ladies are professional artists and have performed widely in Europe. Laima’s skill with the kokle is unusual; recordings of her performance can be seen on You-Tube. Organized by Maruta Kārkls.
  • A tour with the play Vectēvs (Grandfather) written and performed by Vilis Daudziņš is planned for August. It is a story of Daudziņš’s two grandfathers – one was drafted into the Red Army during WW2 fighting against the Nazis, the other into the Latvian Legion, fighting with the Nazis. It consists of a number of episodes, collected in interviews with veterans by Daudziņš and reflecting actual experiences. For the last five years this has been one of the most popular plays at the Jaunais Rīgas Teātris. TILTS is very fortunate to be able to present the tour. Organized by Marcis Voldiņš.
  • The play Tāda es esmu (This is me) by Zane Daudziņa will accompany Vectēvs. The Daudziņš family, including their two sons, will be on a USA tour, but their time is limited, and the plays will be presented only at a few centers. The play by Zane Daudziņa, written by herself, is about the body of today’s woman – the need to be attractive and sexy, ignoring the attributes of character. The story is humorous and is told in a sincere manner. Organized by Marcis Voldiņš.
  • The author and diplomat Anna Žīgure and journalist Jukka Rislakki will be on a lecture tour in November. Their presentations will include participation at the Independence-day events. Organized by Ģirts Zeidenbergs.

About TILTS

TILTS has been in business for 45 years. Here is some information about TILTS for those who have not been with us from the very beginning.

TILTS History

  • The organization was established in 1969 under the name “Poughkeepsie Latvian Association”. Its goals were to keep alive the Latvian heritage, traditions and values within the local community of people of Latvian extraction, to bridge the Iron Curtain with cultural exchanges, and to work towards the restoration of Latvia’s independence.
  • In 1988 the organization changed its name to “Mid-Hudson Latvian Association, Inc.” to reflect the geographical expansion of its operation.
  • In 1993 the organization changed its name to “Latvian Cultural Association TILTS, Inc.” to reflect the broader scope of its activities as a result of Latvia’s regained independence (“TILTS” in Latvian means “BRIDGE”).

TILTS Former Activities

  • In the 1960s and 1970s the association’s activities were focused on arranging Latvian cultural events in Poughkeepsie and Westchester County and on keeping alive the quest for Latvia’s independence (radio programs, demonstrations, etc.)
  • In the 1980s the association (mostly on a personal level) was one of the first Latvian organizations in the West to recognize the existence of independence-minded Latvians in Latvia and to establish communications with them on subjects of culture.
  • During the period leading to restoration of Latvia’s independence, TILTS actively supported the efforts in Latvia.
  • During its lifetime, TILTS has arranged around 300 Latvian cultural events or tours.

2014 Finances

Do You Have a Will?

A number of years ago a doctor, member of the TILTS Board, suddenly died. He did not have any relatives, and he did not have a last will and testament. All his personal belongings, including his library of Latvian books, were discarded as garbage, and his house and bank accounts became the property of New York State.

In his lifetime he had supported Latvian interests and had contributed to Latvian organizations, but by not having a last will and testament he failed to make a financial contribution that could have been his most significant.

If you do not have relatives, make sure you have a last will and testament, and consider leaving some of your property to some organization that works to advance Latvian national and cultural interests.

Special Thanks

TILTS is thankful to everybody for supporting its work with membership dues, gifts, and testamentary bequests or for personally participating in one of TILTS projects.

This year TILTS feels particularly honored because of the trust Edgars Berziņš of Philadelphia has shown in TILTS work by contributing $1,000, along with his annual dues. Thank you, Edgar, for this substantial gift and for the high appraisal of TILTS work.

Juris
Baidiņš

Membership

In the past we have planned most of our cultural events so that they would pay for themselves. This, however, has become impossible, as the size of our audiences keeps shrinking and the expenses for artists from Latvia keep rising. We also need contributions for our projects associated with support of education and other cultural activities. We have not increased membership dues so that the amount of the dues would not be an obstacle for those with limited resources

Please help us carry out our programs and become a member of TILTS! Donations for TILTS membership start at $15.00. Make the check payable to “Latvian Cultural Association TILTS, Inc.” and forward

  • in the USA to: Treasurer Juris Baidins 104 Windon Drive, Wilmington, DE 19803
  • in Canada (in Canadian dollars) to: Ivars Timbers, 1921 Poppy Lane Pickering, ONT L1V 2T4.

In the USA, donations to TILTS are tax-deductible. No TILTS Board member receives any compensation for any of her or his services.

In 2013 TILTS received a total of $13,815 from 376 members, $5,640 in the form of the $15 annual dues and $8,175 in overpayments enclosed with the membership slip.

With Gratitude, the Board of the Latvian Cultural Association TILTS

On April 12, 2014 45 persons were elected to TILTS Board: 37 USA, 8 Latvia, and 2 Canada
Mārtiņš AndersonsDace Štauvere AperāneGundars Aperāns
Juris BaidiņšValdis BašēnsPauls Berkolds
Edgars BērziņšValdis BērziņšJānis Cigusis
Anda CookEdgars DāleInts Dzelzgalvis
Rolfs EkmanisAstrīda JansoneAmanda Jātniece
Benita JaundāldereLīga JēkabsoneMaruta Kārklis
Lauma Upelniece KatisĀrija KatsAnna Ķepe
Brigita KlaussMatīss KukainisAnita Liepiņa
Maija MedneJānis MelgalvisIlmārs Mežs
Andris PadegsIlze PētersoneBaiba Pinne
Gunta PlostnieksZinta PoneInāra Reinis
Andris RitumsLaila Michelsone RobiņaGunta Puzule Semba
Anita ShredersLaimonis SiliņšRuta Krūze Strobele
Jānis StudentsIvars TimbersNormunds Vīksne
Marcis VoldiņšĢirts ZeidenbergsAstra Pētersone Zemzare

The Size of the Board

The Board elected in 2014 had 45 members instead of the 105 TILTS previously had. The historically large Board offered TILTS a pool of volunteers: even if all Board members did not have specific assignments, we had a pool of interested and qualified people in different parts of the world whom we could ask to help with TILTS work when the need arose.

The difficulty with the large Board was getting a quorum at Board meeting. Now some of the former Board members have become the so-called “Board assistants”, who have agreed to be available for a TILTS assignment when needed.

Thank you all for serving on the Board, and we hope that you will stay connected with TILTS!

Thank you!

  • Pēters Vecrumba is our Webmaster – he designs the graphics for the TILTS web page www.tilts.org and updates its contents. Thank you, Pēters!
  • Thanks to all who have helped in the past and are helping now in mailing our annual report.
  • Thanks to the TILTS Audit Committee, which helps our treasurers Juris Baidiņš and Jānis Melgalvis take care of TILTS' books:
    • Pēteris Āns
    • Kaspars Krēsliņš
    • Laris Krēsliņš


This review, prepared by Andris Padegs, has been translated into English by Valdis Bašēns and Andris Padegs. The PDF version of the annual report is available here.

Site contents Copyright © 2017 Latvian Cultural Association TILTS (“Latviešu kultūras biedrība TILTS”). TILTS is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations to TILTS are tax-deductible in the USA.
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