An unexpected offer: let’s go to a play… in the factory yard!

An unexpected offer: let’s go to a play… in the factory yard!

The ability to be integral is today’s value and the stimulus that enables both human and business development. Progressive business therefore fosters openness – it is no longer limited to its direct activities and is constantly looking for ways to contribute to social initiatives. In addition, some initiatives are created within organisations themselves to actively engage with their communities.

In Lithuania, it has become a common practice to resurrect defunct factories or even prisons by organising events, excursions, or art installations. But how do you reconcile a factory in continuous operation with a marathon of events inside?

 Palettes in the morning, theatre in the evening 

The Stumbras factory, which will celebrate its 120th anniversary in three years, had a marathon of events this summer. As many as 4 events took place in one month. First of all, the courtyard of the Stumbras factory was painted in the colours of the exotic music festival “Pasaulis skamba”. The factory courtyard was immersed in a musical journey from Mali to Taiwan.

“It is hard to believe that on the same day, in the same place, there could have been an unloading of goods and a chamber event. Together with the concert organisers, we planned the day to the minute. From 5 am to 12 noon, the factory yard was in normal operation, with products being loaded and special transport running, and from 12 noon to 6 pm, we turned the factory yard into a venue, where people gathered to enjoy “Pasaulis skamba” in the evening,” says Vidmantė Mickevičienė, Head of Visitor Centres at MV GROUP Production, the company that manages the Stumbras, Alita, Anykščių Vynas, and Gubernija factories.

The events at the Stumbras factory did not stop, and Kaunas citizens witnessed another extraordinary event. The aim of the factory was to show Kaunas citizens and visitors that festivals can take place not only outdoors, but also in the industrial courtyard of the factory. The organisers’ aim was to fill the unexpected space for art and the viewer’s everyday life with inspiring, enriching, and magical experiences. Thus, the Stumbras factory courtyard was the setting for a three-day “Industrial Alchemy of Culture”: the cult director Oskaras Koršunovas’s play “The Wedding”, the legendary “The Last Musicians of Bremen” and the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra with maestro Gintaras Rinkevičius at the forefront and the charismatic soloists Česlovas Gabalis, Jeronim Milius, Povilas Meškėla.

“There is no doubt that the city has long needed such a high-quality cultural weekend, where art and industrial space are organically combined. The opportunity to be in the courtyard of a working factory and to observe a new interaction between art and space intrigued the audience as much as the content of the events,” said Benas Jakštas, organiser of the “Industrial Culture Alchemy“.

 Culture in industrial spaces 

 There is another factory in Lithuania that is happy to contribute to the cultural life of the city and is increasingly opening its doors to visitors. The space of the Anykščiai Wine Factory, which is almost 100 years old, has become an integral part of the Purple Evening. 

 “Everyone knows what Anykščiai is. Everyone knows that Anykščiai has been the proud home of the Anykščiai Wine Factory for almost a hundred years. But until 2020, no one knew that culture could live here, in the Anykščiai Wine Factory. In 2020, together with Bardai LT, we started to develop the idea of hosting Purple Evening in the courtyard of the factory and thus began to write a new cultural history of the factory, which has become a revelation for the citizens and visitors alike,” says B. Jakštas. 

 Over the years, the factory yard has hosted two inaugural concerts of the festival: by Linas Adomaitis and Daddy was a Milkman. In 2023, the MV GROUP summer festival was also held here, with more than 600 people attending. According to the event organizers, the Anykščių Vynas factory courtyard not only provides a unique acoustic and visual experience for events but is also a very functional and spacious space. New cultural experiences in industrial facilities are complementary, enriching and invite people to return to Anykščiai.

 “When we receive visitors, many of them are surprised that closed factory spaces and courtyards have so many advantages for concerts, plays, or other artistic performances,” shares V. Mickevičienė. 

 People looking for new experiences

 It’s not just events organized in unusual venues that are attracting interest. More and more people are visiting factories for the experiential programs and education they offer. 

 All the beverage factories managed by MV GROUP Production have visitor centers. Their statistics confirm that the decision to open is an apt one. Comparing this year’s figures with last year, the number of visitors to these centers has increased by 32%. 

 “After the pandemic, people are travelling and looking for new, unseen places with much more enthusiasm. Experiential programs, where visitors can not only see and hear but also touch, smell, and taste, are particularly popular. Visitor centers in factories are happy to welcome visitors and offer guided tours. And if we add all the events that take place here, it is obvious that the MV GROUP Production factories are bustling with life and pulsating with culture,” says Mickevičienė, adding that the open spaces attract not only Lithuanians but also visitors from abroad. 

 Tourists are interested in getting to know the rich history of the factories, the unique production traditions, and the Lithuanian heritage. According to V. Mickevičienė, the Gubernija Visitor Centre is mostly visited by tourists from Germany, while Alita, Anykščių Vynas, and Stumbras are visited by visitors from Poland and Latvia.

Employees see their working environment through different eyes

 Factory spaces filled with music, lights, and people surprise not only visitors but also the employees themselves. According to the event organizers, when we get caught up in our everyday lives, we often don’t notice what we have in our own backyard and how unique it is, so reminding employees of this is essential. Factory spaces are increasingly becoming integrated and adaptable for internal events and celebrations. 

 “The changes that are taking place in factories show our flexibility and creativity. We are open to the most unexpected ideas. As a result, factory courtyards are transformed into spaces not only for work but also for internal celebrations, which surprise the employees themselves every time. With the help of decorations or lights, we bring our existing spaces to life again, which only brings even more joy to our employees. Whether it’s a beer festival in the yard of Gubernija, Midsummer in the yard of Anykščių Vynas, or other events for employees,” says V. Mickevičienė, Visitor Centers Manager at MV GROUP Production.