OPEN CALL for Project Proposals. Focus: JAPANESE CULTURE

The Plovdiv 2019 Foundation in conjunction with the Japanese nongovernmental organisation EU JAPAN FEST, herewith announces the First Stage of an open call for projects focused on JAPANESE CULTURE. The projects will be carried out as part of the Plovdiv -  European Capital of Culture 2019 programme. The call is an invitation to cultural organisations, independent curators and artists from Bulgaria and abroad. It aims to stimulate and upgrade long-term collaboration between the arts and the public from Japan and Europe.

EU Japan Fest grants its cooperation exclusively to the cities hosting the European Capital of Culture title. The support aims at assisting the development of partnerships between Japanese and European artists.

The current call constitutes the First Stage of Selection, under which the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation will distribute financial and nonfinancial support for projects. The Second Stage of Selection, to be conducted by EU Japan Fest, will include only the applicants short-listed by the Foundation's jury. The Second Stage of Selection will have its own timeframe.


The competition focuses on projects in the fields of:

  • visual arts, actions and performances, exhibitions, dance, theatre, music, literature, photography, cinema, martial arts;
  • artistic interventions in public spaces, installations (including sonic and light), sculpture, objects, screenings;
  • functional and decorative design in urban environments;
  • platforms for exchange of knowledge and skills between people from diverse social groups and segments of the creative sector;
  • projects for inclusion of people that differ in age and social status, as well as variously disadvantaged people;
  • urban and household gardening, environmentally friendly practices and building;
  • gastronomy.

Project proposals must conform to:

  • the goals and programme of the European Capital of Culture. Learn more here;
  • the goals and programme of EU Japan Fest. Learn more here;
  • the requirement that the realisation of the project should involve collaboration with a Japanese partner or a partner of Japanese descent who works outside Japan;
  • the requirement for development and interaction aimed at long-term partnership under the project as well as its long-term influence;
  • the intention towards interaction with the programmes and projects of the other European Capital of Culture cities;
  • the culture, visions and attitudes of the communities that will take part as participants and audiences;
  • the requirement that the applicant and/or the Japanese partner also apply to other international funding and donor organisations, including social and crowd-funding campaigns;
  • the current Bulgarian legislation.

Project proposals will be categorized as follows:

Category 1: NEW PROJECTS

This category includes projects that have not been selected under any of the open calls of the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation and, as of the date of application, are not part of the programme of Plovdiv - European Capital of Culture project.


This category includes all the projects already approved under the Plovdiv - European Capital of Culture programme that want to upgrade their events with a concrete Japanese partnership.


This category features applicants who do not seek financial support from the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation but want to apply for funding to EU Japan Fest and be part of the programme of Plovdiv European Capital of Culture, Focus: Japanese Culture.

The full text of the open call and all the application documents required can be downloaded HERE. The full text and all the documents in Bulgarian Language can be downloaded from here HERE

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For the realisation of their projects, applicants must ensure a self-contribution of no less than 40% of the total budget of their project. The self-contribution may come from, among other sources, donors, sponsors, partial nonfinancial contributions, applications to governmental and private international subsidising programmes and crowd-funding.

The open call for the First Stage will cover expenses for production, project remunerations, leasing of stages and technical equipment and travel expenses, among other things. The call for the First Stage does not cover expenses for the acquisition of long-term tangible and intangible assets, repairs and administrative expenses - for example, renting properties, buying consumables or attending to office upkeep.

The projects that are already part of the Plovdiv - European Capital of Culture programme and are in contractual relations with the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation may not claim financial support under the First Stage of Selection of the current call. However, they may apply for approval to the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation. If approved, they would be entitled to apply for financial support to EU Japan Fest in the Second Stage of Selection. When applying for the Second Stage of Selection the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation funding, should be quoted in the budget table as funding from other sources and not as self-contribution.

The Plovdiv 2019 Foundation reserves the right to reduce the sums of the requested financial support and to select projects for nonfinancial support. Whenever the jury selects a project but decides to reduce the coverage of certain expenses or opts for lending nonfinancial support to the project, the applicant will be required to confirm their wish to take part in the Second Stage of Selection in a period of two weeks after the jury's decision has been publicly announced.

Under this open call, financial support from the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation will be granted as follows: 70% of the sum will be paid in advance, and 30% of the sum will be paid after the project has been finalised and reported. The financial support from EU Japan Fest will be paid total after the project has been finalised and reported. In detail, the terms and obligations under the partnership with the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation will be laid down in a contract between the selected applicant and the Foundation in conformity with Bulgarian legislation and the jury's selection. The contracts for the realisation of the project and funding from the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation will be signed and be applicable after the results of the Second Stage of Selection have been announced (no earlier than the second half of October 2018). Details of the terms and obligations of the partnership as concerns the sum granted by EU Japan Fest will be laid down in letters of confirmation signed by both parties.

An organisation may submit more than one project. Also, more than one partnership on any of the projects is permissible. However, the open call prohibits double funding of an activity within a project.

The total budget of Plovdiv 2019 Foundation for the First Stage of Selection in Category 1 amounts to 100,000  BGN. (The sum excludes funds that have already been paid to projects under Category 2).

Application period for the First Stage: 16 March - 31 May 2018.

Application period for the Second Stage EU Japan Fest: 1 - 30 September 2018

Project realisation: January to December 2019

The Plovdiv 2019 Foundation and EU Japan Fest will not set a maximum amount per project, thereby leaving the jury the discretion to decide the number of projects to be supported, as well as what their type should be. The Foundation and EU Japan Fest will distribute separate budgets in the two stages of application. Within its partnership with EU Japan Fest, the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation reserves the right to produce and initiate cultural content focused on Japanese culture on its own.

Eligible for applying are:

  • Bulgarian and/or foreign juridical persons. Bulgarian juridical persons must be registered under the Charities Act or the Commercial Act. Foreign juridical persons must present a document that states their registration and current legal status as per the legislation of the countries in which they were registered;
  • Bulgarian and/or foreign individuals legal audit age, artisans and free professions, registered in the BULSTAT registry or an analogous registry in the home country;
  • Cooperatives registered under the Cooperatives Act;
  • Citizens' associations registered under the Obligations and Contracts Act.

Ineligible Applicants are and Legal entities may not apply if they:

  • Are undergoing an insolvency procedure;
  • Are in liquidation;
  • Have outstanding debts to the state or the Plovdiv Municipality and these debts have been ascertained in a decision by a competent authority or obligations to social security authorities unless a competent authority has allowed payment according to an instalment scheme or a delay in paying these obligations;
  • Have been convicted of property or economic crimes, unless they have subsequently been exonerated;
  • Are in employment with the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation or are members of any of its managing bodies;
  • Meeting the above requirements can be proved by submitting a declaration. This declaration will be a constituent part of the application set.

The following documents must be submitted for consideration under the First Stage of Selection:

  • A completed application form in Bulgarian and English (template-based)*;
  • A completed budgeting table in Bulgarian and English (template-based)*;
  • A certificate of the current legal status of the applicant organisation (for juridical persons) or a copy of the personal ID (for individuals). Additionally, a copy must be presented of a document certifying the BULSTAT registration (or an analogous registry in the home country);
  • A declaration of the applicant (template-based).*;
  • A declaration certifying the veracity of the presented information and authorship (template-based).*;
  • Letters declaring partnerships, if such exist, with other organisations;
  • Graphic and video materials, if such exist, that present the project and the applicant - for example, visuals, sketches and photos.

The *-marked documents are required. Incomplete application sets will not be considered. The application form and the budgeting table must be submitted in both Bulgarian and English Languages. (The forms are available in both languages in the corresponding language section of the website and machine-translated content is acceptable.)

Technical requirements for the First Stage of Selection:

  • All documents must be sent by email as a document, respectively, table files as per set templates. Scanned copies of the documents that require applicant signatures must be attached separately;
  • The email Subject line must read: Focus: Japanese Culture: <.....> The email body must contain the name of the applicant organisation and the name of the project;
  • The entire application set file must not exceed 10MB. For larger files, applications are to be sent via a file-sharing platform;
  • Allowed file formats are .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .pdf and .odt. Additional audio-visual materials may be sent as .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .mov, .avi, .mp3, .mp4, or .wav files;
  • If an applicant has multiple project applications, each must be submitted separately;
  • Application sets must be submitted via email at;
  • Deadline for applying: 5 PM on 31 May 2018;
  • The entire correspondence within the Second Stage of Selection will be conducted in English, including descriptive and budget tables, forms and reports.

Jury members in the First Stage of Selection:

  • Dr Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva, Artistic Director, „Plovdiv 2019“ Foundation
  • Viktor Yankov, Deputy Director International Relations, „Plovdiv 2019“ Foundation
  • Gina Kafedzhian, Projects and Events Manager, „Plovdiv 2019“ Foundation
  • Alexandra Dimitrova, International Operations Expert, „Plovdiv 2019“ Foundation
  • Saori Hakoda, Project Manager, EU Japan Fest

About EU Japan Fest

EU Japan Fest is a nongovernmental organisation that supports the cooperation between Japanese and European artists and the public by subsidising research and project-based initiatives. The organisation, established in 1992, is dedicated to working with the European Capital of Culture initiative by supporting the active presentation of Japanese artists and art managers in Europe and assists European experts and artists for work visits and project presentation in Japan. Throughout its existence, the EU Japan Fest has supported and taken part in the programmes of more than 40 European Capitals of Culture in 30 countries, which makes it the only organisation in the world to have cooperated with every European Capital of Culture since the initiative originated.

EU Japan Fest's key activities are directed towards:

  • Preserving traditional culture and aim for its upgrading and expansion;
  • Supporting youth activities;
  • Encouraging the sustainability and self-sufficiency of creative communities and individual artists;
  • Stimulating and encouraging avant-garde creative approaches;
  • Supporting the development of international networks in the field of culture and art.

Japanese business in support of Japanese and European artists:

“Business can work daily at full capacity, and in 10 years it may find itself having achieved astounding economic and production results. And when this moment comes and society is left with no poets, musicians, philosophers, artists, young artists full of energy and courage, what would the meaning have been of all the investments over these 10 years?”

This is EU Japan Fest's moto, which unites a network of donor organisations which, in a selection process, support, partially or entirely, art projects submitted under the commission-announced open calls. The calls' deadlines and criteria follow strict rules and are announced in advance. Annual reports are open to public scrutiny.

Support will be given to projects that:

  • Suggest a long-term cooperation with artists from Japan and/or Japanese descent and have been coordinated with the foundation that manages the European Capital of Culture project;
  • Have guaranteed shares of self-participation and partner support;
  • Meet the specification requirements and procedure as laid down by EU Japan Fest.

Support will be refused to projects:

  • Whose field of activity does not suggest long-term development and sustainability of the activity and cooperation.
  • That do not guarantee collaboration between the city hosting the European Capital of Culture and the project participants.
  • That envisage no contribution and sustained intervention in the cultural and social development of the city hosting the European Capital of Culture.

Learn more about how to apply for support for research trips and projects under the Second Stage of Selection of the current open call HERE.



General partners

EU Japan Fest

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