Bulgaria is following the process of digisation that is taking place across Europe and around the world. In this sense, the cultural sector is also undergoing a digital revolution. The way of creating, distributing, promoting and consuming cultural content is changing. To a large extent, digisation affects the media, the gaming sector, the publishing industry and the music industry.
For a decade, the digitalisation of cultural archives in Bulgaria was carried out without a single strategy, working “piece by piece”. However, in 2018, changes were made to the Cultural Heritage Act, according to which the Minister of Culture or a designated official of the Ministry coordinates, organises and controls the digitisation of cultural heritage.
Within the framework of the Operational Programme “Good Governance”, the project “Digitisation of the archive of real cultural property of global and national importance, construction of a specialised information system, an electronic register and a public portal” is being implemented. The project is worth BGN 2 million (EUR 1.02 mln.). The share of national funding is BGN 300 000 (EUR 153 000) and the remaining BGN 1.7 million (EUR 868 679) are from the European Social Fund. The implementation of the project is managed by the Ministry of Culture in partnership with the National Institute of Real Cultural Heritage.
On the other hand, the issue of digitalisation at the Bulgarian Film Fund stays uncertain and there are no measures or strategies applied on saving or digitising the old Bulgarian film footage; the state has not yet initiated a project related to film heritage. However, in 2018, Minister of Culture Boil Banov expressed hope that such a project would be launched in 2019 with funding from the Norwegian Fund. This becomes more urgent, as the existence of the film archives of the country is threatened by the lack of preservation and storage.
In the context of the digital revolution in Bulgaria, the National Academic Library Information System Foundation (NALIS) was established in 2009, which is actively engaged in the digitisation of the funds of libraries, archives and museums. One of the main tasks of the organisation is to help increase the level of library-information communication between scientific institutions, higher education institutions and large library repositories. The aim is to respond to the growing digital content needs of Bulgarian society and to assist in the implementation of new information service models that meet world standards. Last but not least, the aim is to promote international cooperation in the field. As a result of its activities, NALIS has so far built a comprehensive catalog with free of charge internet access, which allows to find titles from over 3.6 million bibliographic data from the electronic catalogs of 45 Bulgarian libraries with one search, including scientific and public ones. The activities of NALIS are funded by a programme of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and with donations from domestic and foreign various organisations.
There are also regional initiatives to digitise cultural heritage. The State Archives Agency started work on the project “Positive Memories of Old Negatives” under the programme Cultural Heritage, module Preservation and Promotion of Cultural Heritage. It aims the promotion of historical events and facts from Pleven (a town in North Bulgaria) and the region by visualising old negatives. The project is funded by the National Culture Fund and its total value is BGN 9 638 (EUR 4 925). It is implemented in the period July 1st, 2019 until April 30th, 2020.
There are also tools that aim to fund cultural digitisation activities in Bulgaria:
• This year, the Culture Programme of the Municipality of Sofia has set as its priority the “Cultural Heritage of a Changing City”, financing the activities of digitisation of culture – digital culture, communication through technology and the protection of cultural heritage through technology. The budget of the Culture 2020 Programme is nearly BGN 1.5 million (EUR 766 269).
• In order to preserve, develop and promote intangible cultural heritage, the National Culture Fund also prioritises digital forms. The Cultural Heritage Programme, module Preservation and Promoting Cultural Heritage, focuses on improving access to cultural heritage through digital technologies. The total budget of the programme is 180 000 BGN (EUR 91 952). Digital arts and new media forms are also treated within the Debuts programme, which funds debut projects by amateurs or new talents. The total budget of the programme is BGN 300 000 (EUR 153 253).