The National Culture Fund (NCF) was established by the Protection and Development of Culture Act and began operating in November 2000. Its main goal is to support the development of culture in accordance with national cultural policies outlined in the state programmes for the corresponding period and spelled out in the Protection and Development of Culture Act.
The governing body of the NCF is a Management Board whose chairman is the Minister of Culture. Members of the Board are distinguished cultural figures, representatives of unions of artists and a representative from each of the municipalities, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Finance.
Funding for creative projects is allocated on the basis of open tenders / competitions which are prepared and approved by the Management Board. Priority areas for support are formulated at the beginning of each year. All cultural organisations can participate in these competitions, including non-profit organisations and individuals. The applicants submit their documentation according to a specific application procedure. The applications are examined and evaluated by commissions of experts from different sectors. The Management Board discusses the decisions made by the commissions of experts and reaches a final decision for funding winning projects. The competition results are announced on the website of the Euro-Bulgarian Cultural Centre: https://www.ngobg.info/en/organizations/630-eurobulgarian-cultural-centre.html, and the winners are informed by personal letters.
The new priorities of NCF foresee its development as an independent organisation, which takes part in the formulation of Bulgarian cultural policy. In order to achieve this goal, the NCF has outlined the following activities which it plans to undertake:
- formation of an environment and preparation of a normative order for the creation of a national cultural strategy. This includes efforts to implement mechanisms and procedures outlined in the Protection and Development of Culture Act, aimed at widening its scope of activities and securing the economic and institutional structure of the Fund;
- participation of NCF in projects, informational and expert programmes of analysis of the Cultural Department;
- participation in the programmes of the European Union in order to ensure the financial support required to realise reforms in the area of culture; and
- elaborate mechanisms to attract additional resources from donations and from partnerships with other institutions.
In 2003, a programme for international cultural exchange and mobility was launched. Within this programme, the NCF distributes yearly around 43 000 BGN (22 000 EUR), dedicated to travel expenses of artists and managers on a competition basis.
Since 2003, the NCF attempts at increasing its resources and activities through new partnerships with different types of organisations. The NCF, together with the Soros Centre for Cultural Policies and the Swiss Cultural Programme in Bulgaria organised and held a joint competition to support new projects proposed by the young and youngest generation artists in the whole spectrum of contemporary arts, including training. The goal of the competition was to encourage the development of new trends in the field of contemporary art and culture, to stimulate the production of a variety of cultural products, and to contribute to their “popularisation” and international exchange. The Fund extended its activities over the next years and in achieved in 2007 the highest amount of funds raised for additional support activities, research and surveys, international collaboration and networking etc. Comparing to the year 2006, its total budget for activities doubled.
In 2009, the National Culture Fund budget was 1 228 491 BGN – from state subsidies, endowments etc. and was used for supporting different projects within NFC directions of priority as follows:
Table 14: State subsidy and endowments used for supporting different projects within NFC, 2009
|Cultural Contacts Programme “Mobility”||183 118 BGN|
|“Critique Literature” Programme||91 240 BGN|
|“Scholarships” Programme||22 500 BGN|
|“Authentic Folklore” Programme||38 996 BGN|
|“Debuts” Programme||50 000 BGN|
|“Translations” Programme”||29 990 BGN|
|“Short-length films” Programme||54 037 BGN|
|Other||84 890 BGN|
|Donations for fixed purposes||572 800 BGN|
|Information and strategic initiatives of NFC||35 000 BGN|
|Total for projects||554 771 BGN|
|Administrative costs||100 920 BGN|
|TOTAL||1 228 491 BGN|
Source: National Culture Fund, 2009.
The State Prize “Paisii Hilendarski”wasestablished by Article 19 of Protection and Development of Culture Act. Since 2000, it has been awarded on a yearly basis to one eminent Bulgarian artist (author or performer) whose work is of importance, or related to Bulgarian history and tradition. The Prize is given by the Prime Minister based on proposals put forward by the Minister of Culture (who in turn receives proposals from all state authorities and non-government cultural organisations).
Since 2003, the Ministry of Culture awards the yearly prize “Golden Age” in honour of the 24th May – a Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slavic writing. The Prize – honorary decoration and a sum of 3 000 BGN – is given by the Minister of Culture for contributions to the development and popularisation of Bulgarian culture. In 2003, the Prize was awarded to 30 Bulgarian artists from all areas of culture. They are nominated by the artists unions and national art centres.
Indirect state support for artists and creativity is provided via various laws with provisions recognising the specificity of creative work: employment relations, social protection in case of unemployment, income tax, donations for cultural activities, social insurance, etc. Notably, all those laws are currently being revised for the purpose of harmonisation with the acquis communitaire.