The bidding process
Plovdiv was nominated for European Capital of Culture 2019 with a decision of the 13-member international jury on the 5th of September 2014. The city won the title after a national competition with Sofia, Varna and Veliko Tarnovo.
The "Together" concept, which is in the basis of the of the application of Plovdiv, has been evaluated as a significantly important aspect of the development of the cultural and social life in the city.
It is outlined as an example of a successful combination of the historical heritage of the city and the challenges and problems of modern life, with a vision for future development. Highly appreciated in the concept "Together" was also the ambitious task of uniting through culture, people of different generations, ethnicities, and religions in Plovdiv and the South Central region.
On the 19th of May 2015, the Council of Ministers of the European Union officially approved the decision of the 5th of September 2014 and designated Plovdiv as European Capital of Culture 2019.
The decision of Plovdiv to apply for the title European Capital of Culture was born in 2010 when a group of artists and experts gathered around the cause. Among them were some of the people who had worked for the implementation of the European Cultural Month in Plovdiv in 1999. The initial idea came from the Art Today Association, amongst whom were the first two members of the initiative committee which started the whole process - Jakob Racek – resident of the Robert Bosch Foundation in Plovdiv and Emil Mirazchiev - Chairman of the Art Today Association. Mariana Cholakova - Honorary Consul of Germany in Plovdiv, Desislava Shishmanova - Director of Bulgarian National Television - Plovdiv, Viktor Boychev - Director of State Puppet Theater – Plovdiv, also joined the committee. After the signing of the Memorandum of support Anastas Badev - former Deputy Mayor of Culture in Plovdiv, Penka Kalinkova - journalist and theatre critic, Lybozar Fratev - businessman and chair of the Tourist Board in Plovdiv, Yohan Devletyan - head of the Cultural Department in Plovdiv Municipality were also invited to join the committee. The Memorandum of support is available in the Documents section in our website.
The initiative was supported by the local government and on the 27th of September 2011, the Municipal Foundation "Plovdiv 2019" was established with the aim of organising and implementing the ECoC project. At first, the Foundation's team was composed of five people, a little less than the number of the members of the first Board of Directors.
The process of preparing the application was an exciting period, filled with numerous meetings, conversations, and consultations with local and international organizations, institutions, cultural communities, and individuals. More than 35 creative teams applied with ideas in the first stage that shaped the conceptual framework of the programme. Some of them were embedded in the drafts of the bid book. The second stage was dedicated to the interaction with the artistic environment of Plovdiv and the inclusion of European partnerships. In March, April and May 2015, dozens of meetings were held with representatives of various organizations and citizens who were actively involved in building the programme.
The people who were part of the two teams presenting the Plovdiv 2019 programme in front of the International Jury were: Ivan Totev, Genika Baycheva, Galya Stoyanova, Stefka Tsaneva, Martha Bozhikova, Radostina Georgieva, Manol Peykov, Ognian Isaev, Valeriy Kyorlinsky, Radost Ivanova, Plamen Panov, Laska Nenova, Georgi Stoev, Ljubo Georgiev. All of them played a crucial and significant role in contributing to the development of the project either as part of the management and the team of the Foundation or as representatives of partner organizations.
The preparation for the European Capital of Culture Plovdiv 2019 has been an important phase in the development of the city in gradually building a new cultural self-awareness among its citizens and communities. This is a process that has provoked and changed stimulated and strengthened Plovdiv and the region artistically and culturally, has urged urban reconstruction, social integration, and business and tourism both nationally and on an international level.
Plovdiv won the title European Capital of Culture because of its balanced and well-presented programme, its realistic budget and due to:
- The objective vision of the challenges facing the city
- The number of projects dedicated to schools and young people, including capacity-building and public development projects
- Strong engagement and involvement of the city's social, economic and cultural interconnections and environment
- The Cyrillic and Roma projects, which are part of the criteria for presenting the common markers of European cultures and their diversity
- Supporting the development of the creative industries and the cultural sector at local, regional and a national level