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Bulgaria/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.3 Status and partnerships of public cultural institutions

The national strategy towards decentralisation is vested in the Protection and Development of Culture Act, which has changed the status of cultural institutions in Bulgaria. The Act classifies cultural institutions as "state institutions of national importance" (financed wholly and with priority by the Ministry of Culture budget); "state institutions" (financed by the Ministry of Culture and municipalities); "departmental institutions" (financed wholly or partly by the respective department, when they are institutions of a government department); "municipal institutions" (financed by the municipal budget); "regional cultural institutions" (financed by the respective municipality on whose territory they are located, by municipal contributions and supplementary funds determined on an annual basis by the National Budget Act).

Cultural NGOs come in many varieties and may call themselves alliances, societies, associations, foundations, funds, unions, committees, centres, festivals, academies, Chitalishte, trustees, independent theatres, federations, institutes, etc. Depending on their function, they are classified mainly as operational and community NGOs. A new Not-for-Profit Legal Entities Act, regulating their incorporation and activities, was adopted in 2000.

Today the state's main partners in cultural policy implementation are the municipal departments of culture and the commissions on culture at the municipal councils (the local parliaments). The latter have their own, local cultural calendar; approve and follow their own cultural budgets; support municipal cultural institutions and contribute to the financing of state cultural institutions, as agreed with the Ministry of Culture.

There are many forms of co-operation with NGOs: recruitment of NGO activists and experts to the standing and interim commissions of municipal councils; inviting NGO representatives to share their views on issues of regional and local relevance; assigning specific tasks to NGOs and providing the necessary resources; organising joint events with joint activities and responsibilities, etc.

The Ministry of Culture promotes partnerships between the governmental and non-governmental sectors. Joint financing, activities and projects between the Ministry and NGOs, as well as sponsorship by for-profit NGOs, have become a common practice in many spheres.

A trilateral agreement on partnership in the formulation, updating, and implementation of the national cultural policy was concluded in the beginning of 2002 between the National Assembly's Committee on Culture, the Ministry of Culture and the National Civic Forum of Culture (an association of cultural NGOs).

The interest and desire of private businesses to support the development of culture and arts in Bulgaria is starting to gain speed. According to research carried out in 2000 by the Soros Arts Centre, "Business support for culture and art in Bulgaria", among 100 Bulgarian and foreign companies active in the Bulgarian marketplace, the majority of them (65%) have been providing support in the most wide meaning of organisation and / or events related to arts and culture. The most active are banks and financial institutions, service companies - communications, airlines, etc., distributors of foreign products, followed by industrial companies. Companies are most interested in providing sponsorship to:

  • music - a considerable part of the support goes to popular forms;
  • literature - supporting publications of particular books; and
  • theatre - partnerships with mainly large, powerful companies.

To the list should be added festivals, which attract the interest of a comparatively larger audience as well as number of sponsors. Attention should also be paid to the attitude of many companies which prefer to provide funding for "saving" something of particular national value and / or significant forms of art, events or cultural-historical heritage. The Soros study shows that, in Bulgaria, sponsorship is seldom part of the integrated marketing strategy of the majority of companies. Funds for sponsorship, advertising and donations are allocated from the total budget and a unified approach is applied to them. The perfect scenario would be the establishment of long-term partnerships (as in the case of support for the "Sofia Film Fest" from a bank). Support for such projects is more common as they are apart from the public and market interests.

Chapter published: 20-01-2011

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