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Bulgaria/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture

A three-year joint project was established by the Ministry of Culture and the UNDP programme "Community Development and Participation through the Chitalishte Network" (a follow-up of the 1997-2000 project on "Community Participation and Development in Bulgaria"). It has been supported by the Dutch Government's Matra Programme and USAID. This project was designed to increase the public role of the Chitalishte (community culture clubs) as traditional cultural and educational centres in Bulgaria, and to offer effective models for their modernisation and participation in local community life. Three hundred Chitalishte are permanent partners of the project, and another 600 are involved in a broader range of activities. There are 25 Internet centres in Chitalishte located in smaller population centres, which offer computer literacy courses and help overcome the information inequality among the inhabitants of Bulgaria.

The Ministry of Culture is actively involved in one of the axes of development in the Information Society for All Programme - "building a civil society and democratic thinking through art and culture" - by networking 11 regional, 16 municipal and 40 large Chitalishte libraries. Access to the network will enable interactive communication with Bulgaria's libraries, museums, art galleries and media. Public libraries will thus complement the educational system by helping children and young people acquire basic knowledge and skills of searching for and analysing information. The rich multimedia resources available during after-school activities will help overcome children's unequal opportunities for access to new technologies. Numerous foreign surveys show that children benefit in both academic and social terms from easy access to various information and communication technologies from an early age. Early acquisition of skills of self-learning in libraries will give children a more complete education and additional skills that will enable them to study alone as they grow up.

In 2002, the National Culture Fund held a competition for funding music information sharing, as well as the creation and maintenance of an information database and Web page of Bulgarian music culture and authentic folklore. A link between all NFC funded pages and databases with the web-site of the Euro-Bulgarian Centre was made, in order to facilitate access to information about the Bulgarian music culture.

Since 2002, the National Music and Dance Center has been supporting a series of 6 educational concerts of the "Ensemble for electro-acoustic music - EEM", which presents electronic arrangements of classical works and contemporary electro-acoustic pattern pieces to young people. In the framework of the annual "New Bulgarian Music Festival", a concert with works of Bulgarian composers of electronic-music is included.

A Nationwide programme "Bulgarian libraries - access points to information and communication for all", supported by a USD 15 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, started in 2009. Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria is designed to facilitate access to information, knowledge, communication, e-contents and community services through Bulgaria's public libraries network. The Ministry of Culture is the lead organisation for the programme in partnership with the State Agency for Information Technology and Communications, the Bulgarian Library and Information Association, and the National Association of Municipalities. UNDP will act as the programme implementing agency. The total programme budget is USD 50 million, which includes the foundation grant, an estimated USD 6 million software donation from Microsoft Corp., and a matching contribution of USD 29 million from central and local government agencies. Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria will ensure free information and communications technology (ICT) equipment and Internet use for the public in 900 public libraries in towns and villages across the country, and will strive to additionally mobilise resources for ICT equipment for 700 more libraries. Approximately 3 000 library workers from 1 600+ libraries will be trained in IT skills, provision of modern library services and library management.

Chapter published: 20-01-2011

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