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Independent art with public funds

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In March in Burgas will be announced the first 2015 session of the Fund for Co-financing Cultural Projects of Burgas Municipality.

Evidence of the possibility of interaction between civil society and local authorities

Over the past year, 13 of its artistic and curatorial projects have been approved under its Rules of Procedure in various fields of art, but all following the important condition – to be organized by local orga- nizations or artists and to take place on the territory of the municipality. The existence of the rules itself was driven by the independent creative sector, it was recognized by the administration and developed by a working group with representatives of both countries – a good proof of the possibility of interaction between civil society and local authorities. Of course, in many Bulgarian cities, a similar method of public funding is already in place, somewhere it is linked to the long-term cultural strategy of the municipality, elsewhere its impact and benefits are measured at local level.

But why is it important to finance independent art with public funds?

Several years ago, Bulgaria’s first study on the impact and contribution to GDP of creative and cultural industries, cultural tourism and cultural heritage took place. Although based on passive statistics for the country and “live” indicators mainly for the capital, this study proved and started the conversation about the real impact of culture on the economy of our country and the vast field of opportunities that the sector provides.

There is a serious outflow of human capital from the cities, which, as if concentric circles, is becoming more and more tangible with the departure from the capital. Often because of this and the lack of alternative funding (or funding) alternatives, the cultural environment in many cities moves on autopilot and fails to unleash its potential.

Only a year after the operation of the Independent Projects Support Fund in Bourgas, there is already an increase in partnerships between the non-governmental sector and local government, recognizing the potential for new jobs (currently only on the project level, but it infuses human resources into the city) , the search for ways through culture and creativity to increase the prestige of the municipality and respectively the development of cultural tourism.

The processes are slow, but this is mainly due to the low financial amount of the Fund

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The Fund is calculated from the rest of the total budget for culture by deducting the costs of the cultural calendar of the municipality and not the real need of the environment. But in a city almost devoid of opportunities for external financing of culture, such a public fund is fundamental to the future development of the cultural and creative industries at the local level. On the other hand, the attraction of national experts as a jury in the Fund helps to raise the level of realized projects and transfer know-how to cultural management as a whole.

The important thing in this process is the constant desire for development by all the parties involved, which is not, however, seen as a trend. Work is yet to be done to attract external support and raise the skills of its managers in order to create a truly sustainable model that could successfully multiply in other cities. And why not apply to Chitalishte, Education, Sports and Ecology?

Margretta Kostadinova

Greet is ambassador of MOVE.BG for Burgas

She is a member of the management board of Hamamogika Association and one of the founders of the network “Look!” (The publications of “Look! Bourgas” and “Look! Varna”). In 2013, as part of a civil council, it develops the legal framework of the Fund for the Support of Independent Cultural Projects at the Culture Department of the Municipality of Burgas together with an expert group of the local administration. As a member of the Association “Hamamologica” participated in the development of the concept of the Bourgas candidacy for the European Capital of Culture in 2019, as well as part of the projects in the program of the winning city – Plovdiv. He is involved in cultural management and cultural policies, with an interest in modern art.