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 Not for Profit Legal Entities Act, regulating their incorporation and activities, was adopted in 2000.
The Ministry of Culture promotes partnerships between the governmental and nongovernmental 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.
A Draft Strategy for the Development of Bulgarian Culture 2019 – 2029 was presented in March 2019, which laid down a vertical structure for the cultural sector. Its objectives include the establishment of a long-term policy to support culture as a national priority; ensuring maximum publicity and transparency in the management of cultural processes at national and regional level; and better conditions for the provision of additional public and alternative funds of modernisation on the network of cultural institutes in the country.
The budget for culture in 2019 has been increased by BGN 19 million (EUR 9,71 million) on annual basis to BGN 188 million (EUR 96,12 million). This includes a 10% increase for salaries in cultural institutions and a 20% increase for arts schools funding. Nevertheless, the share of the projected financing in the field of culture in Bulgaria drops from 0.5% of the GDP in 2019 to 0.4% for the period 2020-2021, according to data from the National Strategy for the Development of Culture. This means that the government relies solely on the country’s GDP growth.