A scope and budget review
For the five years since Plovdiv’s election to be Bulgaria’s first European Capital of Culture (ECC), the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation, the municipal organisation that has prepared and is running the project, has put together and coordinated more 20 open calls – procedures directed at cultural operators, organisations, institutions and individual artists from Plovdiv, Bulgaria and abroad, inviting them to join the initiative. Institutional and individual applicants filed more than 1,700 proposals, 430 of which met the programme’s criteria and concepts and were given the go-ahead.
Under these open calls the foundation has allocated 10 million levs for projects. Cultural content funding raised by partner organisations totals 18 million levs.
In recent years the number and scope of open calls, as well as the size of the distributed budgets, have enabled the Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019 project to become the largest-ever body of research in Bulgaria’s cultural sector, an instrument for building capacity, opening possibilities and honing skills. Some 90 organisations from Plovdiv, 150 from across the country and 45 foreign ones have been taking part as primary partners in the preparation of the ECC project; these numbers do not include the individual partnerships these parties use to realise their own projects. Nearly half the contracts the foundation has entered into are with Plovdiv-based cultural organisations and artists. Overall, a total of 4,589 artists and individual performers are involved.
The open calls funding accounts for half of the ECC budget for the period since 2014, with the other half spent on Plovdiv 2019-produced events, communication activities and upkeep. This includes also the expense for the SKLAD space in Tobacco City, which hosts a significant portion of the events in 2019. The main part of the budget for the initiative comes from the Municipality of Plovdiv; private sponsorships for the foundation add up to about 1.7 million levs in direct funding, services and products.
Under its own projects, and thanks to the active partnership of the EUNIC network, the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation has raised a total of 1.2 million levs in funding outside its budget. This amount came from international cultural organisations and as funding awarded under the Creative Europe framework programme through Bulgarian-based cultural institutes of European countries. This includes the large-scale exhibitions “Listen to Us. Artistic Intelligence” and “Travelling the World. Art from Germany,” the Day of Europe lights festival, the Spectacle School of 2017, Goethe-Institut’s Building Together project, projects realised in partnership from Japan, the “ABCs of Polish Design” exhibition, the Adata residence programme, and other projects and initiatives.
An additional funding is the amount of 3 million levs from the Melina Mercouri Prize, awarded to Plovdiv 2019 for its hard work on producing the ECOC. The amount will be handed down as heritage to be allocated for cultural content in Plovdiv in the years to come and as help for sustaining the effect of the large-scale project.