The important positive role of NGOs in the transition period has become obvious in the past five years. Recent data shows that there has been an increase of third sector support for cultural projects.
Foundations offer three main forms of support to artists including:
- talent scouting and arranging exhibitions, shows, competitions and other forums for young hopefuls;
- creation and improvement of working and training conditions (facilities, workshops, courses etc.); and
- grants for education or special training abroad.
The Open Society Institute, Future for Bulgaria Foundation, Ss Cyril and Methodius Foundation, the 13 Centuries Bulgaria Fund, and since 2000, the National Culture Fund, together with the EU Phare Programme, granted a total of more than USD 13.6 million for cultural projects between 1996-2004.
The American Foundation in Bulgaria (established in 2004) supports and promotes excellence in Education, Natural Sciences, Arts, Culture, and the Humanities. Its “Arts” programme supports projects of young film makers and visual artists, as well as cultural heritage.
Table 15: NGO contributions to culture 1996-2005 (in USD)
|Open Society Total||4 850 322||3 073 708||1 867 773||–||9 791 803|
|– Culture||–||1 982 129||646 563||–|
|– Media||–||666 111||305 000||–|
|– Libraries||–||625 468||–||–|
|– Women’s Programme||–||–||224 000||–|
|– Roma Programme||–||–||398 000||–|
|Future for Bulgaria||427 530||–||–||–||427 530|
|Phare Programme||1 605 000||–||–||–||1 605 000|
|13 Centuries Bulgaria||49 636||–||–||–||49 636|
|National Culture Fund||236 695||1 457 311||–||1 694 006|
|Total||6 932 488||3 310 403||3 325 084||–||13 567 975|
|Swiss Cultural Programme in Bulgaria (Pro Helvetia)||100 000 CHF||300 000 CHF||530 000 CHF||930 000 CHF|
Obviously, the major sponsor of culture 1996-2004 was the Open Society Foundation. At the same time the Foundation, through its Soros Centre for the Arts, developed specialised programmes (on visual arts, theatre, music, literature, cultural heritage), as well as a comprehensive database through which it provides consulting services to Bulgarian and foreign artists and experts.
According to information provided by the non-governmental organisation “Bulgarian Donor’s Forum” (established in 2003), various donors provided support for projects in the cultural area in the amount of 300 000 BGN for the year 2004. These include the Swiss Cultural Programme Pro Helvetia, the European Cultural Foundation, business companies (ING Bank, Post Bank) and charity business networks (Rotary Club). The majority of these grants were directed towards modern art, followed by support for the exploration and preservation of the cultural and historic heritage.
The number of companies that donate to charity is low, but is growing – from 4% in 2003 to 6% in 2005. A research on the “Bulgarian Donor’s Forum” indicates that 60% of the donations are from international institutions and foundations from USA, Germany, Japan, European Union and about 20% from Bulgarian private companies. Bulgaria receives about 20 million EUR from foreign donor’s capital annually. More recently, there is a noticed reduction of international involvement and an increase in funding coming from the Bulgarian state budget.
The ratio of state subsidies delivered through the state budget (741 326 254 USD) to funds provided by the third sector (13 567 975 USD) for support to cultural projects between 1996 and 2004 is approximately 50:1, i.e. 2% of all funds invested in cultural projects have been granted by NGOs. This ratio is common to most European countries with well developed legislation, established traditions, and a strong business community, where the volume of funds obtained through sponsorship is between 1 and 6%.
In 2007 a culture support programme was launched by the Sofia City Hall. At its first session in the second half of 2007 it awarded 20 projects in 4 categories with an amount of 460 943 BGN (235 680 EUR).