In Bulgaria, social cohesion is a priority, in which cultural components have multiple inputs at central and local levels, through various actions and projects implemented by institutions, local authorities and NGOs.
There is no consolidated information about the development and implementation of public policies to promote social cohesion at national and regional levels, although multiple actions are taking place.
In general, the non-governmental sector is most committed to using cultural practices to create an environment for social change in Bulgaria.
The Red House Centre for Culture and Debate, for example, has its own social program, focused at the most vulnerable groups in Bulgarian society: children who are deprived of parental care, the homeless, the elderly in institutions, the mentally ill, the marginalised by origin, ethnicity or lack of official status. One of the successful endeavours in this direction is the Pavilion 19 project, which is working with local and migrant communities at the Women’s Market in Sofia, a place where the representatives of these communities are concentrated. The activities are related to art, culture and psycho-social support –theatre, cinema, drawing, music, psychodrama and psycho-social support.
The theme of creativity among children is also presented within the framework of the scientific and practical forum Creative Education – Pedagogical Practices Inspired by the Ideas of Sir Ken Robinson and Dr. Maria Montessori, organised by the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski in 2018. The main topics of the forum included supporting early childhood and school creativity and creating a supportive environment through creativity.
At a local level, the Sunny Paths Foundation implements the project The Art of Tolerance – A Shield Against Aggression and Hate Speech in Adolescents, which is financially supported by the Sofia Municipality and the Programme “Europe” 2019. Within the project’s framework, cultural events are taking place that aim to avoid aggression, extremism and xenophobia through creativity and talent.
Since 2012, the GLAS Foundation has been organising Sofia Pride Arts – a festival for contemporary LGBTI art within Sofia Pride. Its main goal is to show the diversity and achievements of the LGBTI community, both globally and locally.
Theatre is used as a tool for the socialisation of minority groups. An example is the activity of the Tzvete Theatre, which has realised different projects for:
• the development of personality potential and value building in the adolescent value system;
• creating conditions for successful introduction into the social life of young people from these communities; and
• breaking public stereotypes towards “others”.
Since 1994, the Tzvete Theatre has completed fifteen projects in this field.
Fine Acts is a global social engagement platform exploring the intersection between human rights, the arts and technology. Its idea is to raise awareness for issues such as domestic violence through arts, and also contribute to concrete solutions. Within the Fine Acts Labs Sofia format, the organisation connects artists from different disciplines with other human rights professionals and activists. For a period of time, and using each one of their skills, they have to come up with a solution together and to create an artistic product. As a result, artworks that undermine stereotypes and change the status quo have been created.