The freedom of speech and expression in the country is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. This general law guarantees the freedom of both artists and cultural professionals. According to Art. 23 of the Constitution, the state creates the conditions for the free development of science, education and the arts and supports them. Art. 25 states that the freedom of artistic creativity is recognized and guaranteed by law.
At the time being, there is no law to promote the freedom of artists, and there have been no public debates regarding this issue. However, it has been discussed in relation to employment and wages in public and private cultural institutions.
The Bulgarian Association of Employers in the Field of Culture (BAEFC) operates in the sector. Its main objectives are to represent and protect the rights and interests of employers in the field of culture. It represents its members at regional, national, European and international levels. Eight branch committees have been set up at BAEFC in the fields of music and dance, theatre, audiovisual, design, libraries and book publishing, cultural animation, museums, galleries and fine arts, and the multicultural industry. They help in specifying the contractual terms, consultations and communication on branch issues. In addition, they are occupied with proposals for collective agreements and other activities.
In June 2018, a two-year Branch Collective Labour Contract for the Music-Performing Arts was signed by the Ministry of Culture, BAEFC and the unions. With this document, employers are again committed to take into account the specificity of work in the sector. There are also opportunities to receive additional remuneration for the results achieved by applying a system of criteria and indicators, benefits upon termination of the employment contract upon retirement, as well as greater annual leave according to the specifics of the work.
In November 2018, the Branch Collective Labour Contract was signed for employment at libraries. It regulates the employment and the social and social relations of employees at the National Library St. Cyril and Methodius and the regional libraries throughout Bulgaria. The contract was signed by the representatives of the trade unions and the National Library.
In July 2019, a renewed two-year Branch Collective Labour Contract was signed for museums and art galleries. It stipulates that the minimum starting wage in the industry will come into force from 1 January 2020, if there is a financial possibility within the approved budget. Employers are committed to providing higher pay to PhD professionals.
In 2016, an agreement was reached between the Union of Actors in Bulgaria (UAB) and the Bulgarian Association of Employers in the Field of Culture for the growth of both the number of performances and audience, and the performer’s income. The decision followed after it was found that the average wage in the sector is far below Bulgaria’s average wage in general. As a result of the analysis, employers and the UAB decided, first, to prevent redundancies in the sector and, second, to increase their basic wages by at least 12 percent. Apart from this, there are minimum protective thresholds for the actors’ fees for participation in: film productions, including Bulgarian and foreign films, and commercials. These thresholds are consistent with wage increases in the industry, as well as with changes in Bulgaria’s socio-economic conditions.
Artists and cultural professionals in Bulgaria have complete freedom to travel around the world, to participate in joint cultural initiatives (co-productions) abroad and in our country. The Mobility Programme (see chapter 1.4.1) is also provided for this purpose.
There is no official monitoring of artists’ freedom in the country.