Minister of Culture Boil Banov presented a report on the implementation of the priorities of the Ministry of Culture for 2019 at the meeting of the Council of Ministers today, December 27th.
Archaeological and field surveys of over a hundred sites on the territory of the whole country were financed with nearly BGN 5 million, with the funds aimed at both ongoing and new surveys, the Minister of Culture said. According to him, conservation and restoration are the major challenges facing the sector, but the funds for this have doubled – with BGN half a million. “The Council of Ministers also provides a lot of funding for archaeology. Funds are also provided by the municipalities. Hundreds of sites are being unveiled,” the Minister noted, as part of the exhibits go to museums, but a large number remain on site and need conservation and restoration.
Within the funding under the budgetary programme: “Preservation of immovable cultural heritage” 84 contracts worth BGN 3,535,980 were concluded, of which funds were financed over 120 archaeological sites, according to the Minister-s report. In the field of conservation and restoration of immovable cultural property, 31 contracts were concluded with a total value of BGN 1,435,980.4. Among the funded landmarks are: Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Madara Rider, Rila Monastery, Sboryanovo Historical and Archaeological Reserve, Pliska National Historical and Archaeological Reserve, the Prehistoric Salt-Production and Urban Centre of Provadia – Solnitsata, etc. Under the Programme “Preservation and presentation of movable cultural heritage and visual arts”, 59 projects amounting to BGN 459,473.14 were funded on a competitive basis this year.
The budget for culture for 2020 is increased by BGN 22,654,300, the Minister said, with the funds increasing each year. BGN 500,000 more is available for projects in the National Culture Fund. The projected funds for film production are also increased by BGN 1.5 million.
Minister Boil Banov also reported a 30% increase in attendance of cultural institutions. “The trend is to have more viewers and more revenues every year. As people have more money to go to the theatre, it means the state is moving forward”, Minister Banov commented. Concerning the performing arts, actions are being taken to establish a new methodology that is under discussion with all stakeholders. Over the past year, nearly 150 creative projects in the field of music and dance were financed for over BGN 1.2 million. The funds in support of festivals, events, celebrations and amateur arts are nearly BGN 1 million.
Nearly BGN 2 million was provided by the Ministry of Culture for books and replenishment of library funds in the country, and over 853 libraries were supplied with new editions. “This means more readers and more interest in books and reading, which also results in the support of publishers, as they can now afford to publish not only market titles but also those of high artistic and scientific value,” the Minister of Culture noted. He also noted that in the past year special attention was paid to the publication of new literature by Bulgarian authors, for which 60 publishers were supported with BGN 100,000. Bulgarian books were also presented at international fairs, for which BGN 64,000 were provided, and by joining the Traduki project Bulgarian authors and publishers have more opportunities to participate in European projects.
During the year, 55 projects of community centres, libraries, municipalities and organisations in the field of culture were supported for the organisation of events in the different regions of the country, totalling BGN 275,000, with encouraging the development of local cultural institutes and expanding access to culture for all people carried out in partnership with a number of national organisations and representatives of the non-governmental sector. An increase in the maintenance standard for a subsidised position in community centres and libraries is ensured and new subsidised positions are opened.
At the same time, the Ministry of Culture funded the renovation of a number of buildings and update of equipment, collections and repositories of cultural institutes such as schools, theatres, operas, museums, as well as the material base of two of the schools of arts and culture of the Ministry of Culture – located in Varna and Kotel. Funds over BGN 5 million are provided from the budget of the Ministry of Culture for the renovation and equipment modernisation activities of the St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library, State Puppet Theatre of Plovdiv, Aleko Konstantinov State Theatre of Satire in Sofia, Dimitar Dobrovich National Art School in Sliven, Drama Theatre of Targovishte, Prof. Ivan Vulpe Concert Hall in Burgas, State Puppet Theatre in Sliven, Theatre and Music Centre in Kardzhali, State Puppet Theatre in Stara Zagora, National Educational Cultural Complex in Gorna Banya. A renovation project of the Bulgarian Cultural Institute at Wittgenstein House in Vienna, Austria, is ongoing. The Minister drew special attention to the idea of expanding the National Library, which in the past year was supported with BGN 2 million.
Regarding the international activities of the Ministry of Culture, there was an intensification of cooperation with world museums and international cultural institutes, and lasting relationships and agreements were established with centres such as the Louvre and Pompidou in France, the Hermitage, the Tretyakov Gallery and the State Historical Museum in Russia, the Getty Museum in the United States, etc. Contacts and exchanges of experience with the UNESCO Member States were deepened. A number of meetings were held with Ministers of Culture from the EU Member States and upcoming joint events were planned. New cultural treaties were signed with a number of countries. International activities were carried out with regard to the trafficking of cultural property and the prevention of theft, illicit excavations and illegal import, export and transfer of ownership of movable cultural property, as well as the promotion of their return and restitution.
In connection with the implementation of the priorities for the promotion of Bulgarian art and culture worldwide, in 2019 a national participation in the Venice Art Biennale was successfully realised. A Draft Statute for National Participation of the country in the Venice Architecture Biennale was also developed, which is planned to be in 2022.
Regarding legislative changes, amendments were designed and introduced to a number of laws also relevant to the cultural sector, including: Cultural Heritage Act, Copyright and Related Rights Act, Culture Protection and Development Act and the Law on Administrative Regulation of Production and Trade in Optical Discs, Plates and Other Media Containing Data Subject to Copyright and Related Rights. At the beginning of 2019, active work began on the preparation of changes to the Film Industry Act and for this purpose two working groups were set up at the Ministry of Culture with a broad representation of both interested ministries and representatives of the film society. On the one hand, the efforts of the working groups were focused on the development of urgent changes to the regulatory framework, as well as on the introduction of a new State Aid Scheme for film production.
Working groups were also set up to consider changes to the National Cultural Centres Act, the Public Libraries Act, the Cultural Heritage Act, etc.
In 2019, after a broad public discussion with representatives of all fields of culture and arts, a Strategy for Development of Bulgarian Culture for a 10-year period was prepared.