Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 09:53
Countr(y/ies): Bulgaria
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Bulgaria/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the climate for culture was constructed of values and goals towards self-affirmation, harmonisation with European culture, openness to foreign cultural influences, enlightenment and, to some extent, emulation. Cultural institutions were regarded as a means to boost the self-confidence of the nation and assert the values of European culture.

This atmosphere changed when the Communist regime took over in 1948. During 45 years of communist rule, cultural policy was characterised by:

The arts were regarded as a means of education and enlightenment rather than as entertainment and therefore responsibility for the arts and culture was declared as the exclusive domain of the state. Totalitarian cultural institutions were created covering all spheres of cultural life. The social system consistently advocated and practised political and cultural protectionism from the perspective of communist ideology.

The regime change marked the end of any form or participation of private enterprise in the dissemination of cultural values and works of art. For example, a Cinefication and Cinema Industry Act, passed in early 1948, eliminated private enterprise in filmmaking and film import and distribution became a state monopoly. Nationalisation of private printing houses began in 1947 and most were closed down in May 1948. A new Book Printing Act was passed in 1949, which effected changes similar to those in the film industry. The creation of a Committee for Science, Art and Culture in 1948 replacing the former National Culture Chamber was the final move to establish a centralised system of cultural administration, which imposed total control over all spheres of cultural life and de facto turned culture into an instrument to achieve non-cultural - i.e. political, ideological, social and propaganda - objectives of the state.

The creative unions (tvorcheski suyuzi) became a transmitter of the state monopoly on culture and controlled the entire process of creation and dissemination of works of art, virtually eliminating individual expression. Artists, who were closely connected with the state even before the establishment of totalitarian rule, now became wholly dependent on the Communist Party-State and de facto turned into civil servants.

By the early 1950s, the system of state cultural institutions was fully established and running smoothly. Each element of this system was hierarchically subordinated and subject to dual - State and Communist Party - control. The cultural policies pursued at the time were ideologically orthodox, and any form of dissent from the official line was penalised.

It was only after 1956 that the echo of Khrushchev's reforms brought about a certain thaw in the ideological climate, trumpeted by the ruling Bulgarian Communist Party as its "April Policy", which was promptly abandoned after the "Prague Spring" in August 1968. The subsequent period of stagnation was extolled as a period of "flowering socialist art".

In the early 1970s there was a move to introduce the so-called "public-cum-state principle" in the administration of culture, which presupposed the involvement of all governing bodies and a radically extended range of people, in decision-making processes. The Bureau and the Presidium of the Committee for Culture were elected bodies, but their heads and members could not take office without the approval of the National Assembly and the State Council. Public participation in cultural debates soon turned into a ritual designed to provide legitimacy to decisions already taken. The promotion of "the public-cum-state principle" as a democratic achievement of Bulgarian cultural policy proved to be a demagogic propaganda campaign: despite the proclaimed participation of governing bodies in culture, the real decision making took place in the Communist Party.

Nevertheless, Bulgarian artists as a whole had won a significant amount of creative independence by the end of the totalitarian period. State control over creative unions loosened and they became a kind of safe haven for members. Instead of brutally suppressing criticism, the creative unions began granting certain privileges and financial security to a selected few. Under the influence of Soviet perestroika in the mid-1980s, some of the creative unions turned into opposition associations of intellectuals and their 1989 congresses became forums for attacks against the communist system.

Bulgaria's new cultural policy model after 1989

Culture was one of the spheres worst affected by the economic and spiritual crisis during the course of transition. At the same time, the ongoing reforms in society have had a particularly positive impact on culture.

During the transition period, cultural development in Bulgaria was searching for the best way forward. Concepts frequently changed. Few activities of the different levels of government were followed up. There was little coordination between different levels of the administration. Main responsibilities for financing culture were decentralised and then recentralised. The private business sector had little interest in supporting cultural activities.

Over the last few years, things are starting to clear up. New regulations are being implemented which clearly define the responsibilities of the different administrative levels of government. Considerable steps forward are being taken by civil society. The third sector is consolidating and the business sector is starting to show signs that they are willing to adopt a new attitude of partnership.

Bulgaria's new cultural policy model is still developing, but its most important elements are already in place:

Bulgaria/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram)

Bulgaria/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

At the national level, responsibility for the formulation and implementation of cultural policies is shared between the legislature (the National Assembly), and the executive (the Council of Ministers). At the local level, cultural policies are implemented by the bodies of local self-government.

The supreme central executive body with the right to initiate legislation in the sphere of culture and formulate the main principles of national cultural policy is the Ministry of Culture.

The Ministry of Culture is headed by a Minister, Deputy Ministers and a Secretary General. The Office of the Minister includes a Political Cabinet with Protocol Service and Public Relations Service, and an Inspectorate. The Minister is advised mainly by a Collegium and several expert councils representing various arts fields.

The Ministry consists of eleven directorates, nine of which report to the deputy ministers: "Theatre, Variety and Circus Arts", "Music and Dance", "Museums, Galleries and Visual Arts", "Immovable Cultural Monuments' Preservation", "Legal Affairs and Property Management", "Books and Libraries", "Regional Cultural Activities", "Copyright and Neighborhood Rights" and "European Integration and International Co-operation".

The Secretary General is in charge of two directorates responsible for: "Human Resources, Income Policy and Administrative and Business Affairs" and "Strategies and Programmes, Programme Budgeting, Financial Resources Management and Finance and Accounting Services".

With the introduction of the new Structural Regulation of the Ministry of Culture in June 2006, the Council of Ministers transformed the existing national art centres, which had been "hands-on" structures with an autonomous legal status and budget, into Directorates (the National Music and Dance Centre, the National Centre of Museums, Galleries and Visual Arts, the National Book Centre and the National Theatre Centre). The reason given for this transformation was failure to optimise the resource options in previous years. The centres had not been able to raise any significant non-budget (external) funding and budget funds could not be assigned only to independent experts or structures. "It is necessary to more carefully allocate taxpayers' money in the operational legislative regulations, while rendering an account of the reasonable security and financial effectiveness" (Kr. Philipova, former director of the National Theatre Centre and current director of the new Directorate).

The National Film Centre and the National Institute of Monuments of Culture, which is in charge of the protection of cultural landscapes, remain structures with an autonomous legal status and budget.

The activities of the Agency and the Institute are guided by a programme approved by the Minister of Culture, supervised by a deputy minister and implemented by their respective directors.

The lower levels of cultural competencies correspond to the constitutional division of territorial administrative units: districts (oblast) and municipalities (obshtina). The main unit of territorial administration is the municipality (of which there are 262), which is legally autonomous, and has property rights and freedom of association. At the municipal level, cultural competence is exercised in the form of local self-government, including financial control which is distributed among the respective municipal Councils on Culture.

Bulgaria/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

Along with the administrative breakdown of cultural competence, there are inter-departmental commissions' co-ordinating central government activities. Culture is just part of the general competence of these commissions, which have been set up for other fields such as education, foreign policy, youth, tourism, and ecology. There are standing and interim interdepartmental commissions which have consultative capacities and the right to initiate legislation. There is a consultative Council on Cultural Affairs which reports to the President of the Republic.

Since 1997, the National Council for Ethnic and Demographic Issues (NCEDI), within the Council of Ministers, has operated as a state and public body. According to Article 1 of the NCEDA's regulations, the aim of NCEDI is "implementation of consultations and cooperation and coordination between the government structures and non-government organisations, aiming at the formation and realisation of a national policy regarding ethnic and demographic issues and migration". In 2004 the NCEDI was transformed into the National Council for Interethnic Interaction.

Ad-hoc inter-ministerial groups are established in relation to different projects, programmes and national initiatives - e.g. Project Implementation Units (PIU) for EU funded programmes, National Committees, National Councils and working groups.

The National Council on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage was established in 2006. The Council on Cultural Diversity was also established in 2006 and is mainly in charge of integration of minorities. The Inter-ministerial Advisory Group on the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue was established in April 2007.

Bulgaria/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

In recent years, the Republic of Bulgaria's international cultural policy has been characterised by openness, dialogue, and emphasis on integration into international cultural structures and organisations. Bulgaria is open to European and world culture, and encourages the promotion of the top achievements of national culture abroad in various ways. The following are the main priorities of Bulgaria's international cultural policy:

For more information see the official web site of the Ministry of Culture

Up to 1 January 2007 and onwards, Bulgarian international cultural policy has been focused on improving the legal framework and active preparation for full participation in cultural matters at EU level.

Bulgaria has been playing an important role in mainstream political and cultural initiatives of the governments of the SEE countries, in view of its increasing responsibilities as a future EU member in the current regional context.

Bulgaria/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

These agencies have elaborated a long-lasting and fruitful collaboration both with the public and private sector in culture. The cooperation projects vary from traditional forms of artistic exchange (e.g. exhibitions, workshops, performances, touring etc.) to research and cultural policy development.

In Bulgaria the most present ones are: Institut culturel franšais et de cooperation, Goethe Institut, British Council, Cervantes Institut (opened in 2005) and the Swiss Cultural Programme in Bulgaria (Pro Helvetia) withdrew its grants program by the end of 2006, due to the fact that Bulgaria joins the EU in 2007.

This active collaboration at multiple levels brings up the Bulgarian cultural sector closer to the European values and act not only as bilateral but also as multilateral instrument of cultural diplomacy.

While performing its main tasks in cultural diplomacy, the Ministry of Culture works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National UNESCO Commission, foreign representations (e.g. embassies, consulates, cultural institutes) etc.

Bilateral cultural co-operation

In the period 2001 - 2005, Bulgaria concluded 79 bilateral agreements and protocols in the field of cultural cooperation. This number includes cultural cooperation programmes covering specific areas of the cultural sector e.g. cinema production, cultural heritage etc.

Bulgaria has 10 cultural institutes abroad, which were established as a result of bilateral agreements. They are situated in European capital cities: Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, Moscow, Skopje, Warsaw, Vienna (the Haus Wittgenstein) and Paris. Since 1 October 2006, the Academia Bulgaria di Arte e Cultura, "Boris Christoff" (a residency providing master classes to young Bulgarian opera talents in Rome) will be included within the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Rome.

Bulgarian culture was presented in Brussels and other Belgian cities during the four-month festival Europalia - Bulgaria 2002. Participation in Europalia.Europa in Belgium (October 2007-February 2008) is ongoing.

Memorandums and agreements have also been signed for some major events of international scale e.g. large scale exhibitions, residential programmes etc. More detailed information on the international treaties is available in 2.4.3.

Besides the annual state support for international cultural cooperation through the budget of the Ministry of Culture, other instruments are available e.g. the Communication Strategy for the EU Accession of Bulgaria. It was launched in 2002 with the aim to promote the new European image of Bulgaria, where cultural and artistic initiatives have a core role. Through project subsidies allocated by the government, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, public and private organisations could participate in initiatives aimed at promoting Bulgarian culture and civilisation in Europe, at disseminating EU values to the general Bulgarian population.

Bulgaria/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Bulgaria participates in multilateral cultural co-operation in several ways:

Title of international legal instrument

Year of adoption, accession, ratification

Entry into force

Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention - The Hague, 1954

Official Gazette No. 24/07.11.1956


Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1999)

Ratification 14.06.2000


UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)

Accepted on 07.03.1974


UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)

Ratification 15.09.1971


Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)

Official Gazette No. 24/23.09.2003

Not yet in force

The Universal Copyright Convention (1971)

Accession 07.03.1973


Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)

Official Gazette, No. 12, 7.02.2006, Ratification 10.03.2006


UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Official Gazette, No. 97/01.12.2006, Ratification 18.12.2006


European Cultural Convention (1954) 

Accession 09. 09. 1991

09. 09. 1991

European Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (1985)

Official Gazette, No. 13/15.02.1991

Accession 31.01.1991


European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised) -1992

Ratification, Official Gazette, No. 30/1993

Ratification 02.06. 1993

25.05. 1995

European Convention for the Protection of the Audiovisual Heritage and Protocol (2001)

Signature 08.11.2001

Expected entry into force 01.01.2008

European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production (1992)



European Convention on Transfrontier Television (1989)


01. 07. 1999

European Landscape Convention (2000)

Official Gazette, No 94/2004

Ratification 24.11.2004


Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (2005)

Signed on 27. 10. 2005

Not yet in force

In 2005, under the aegis of the Bulgarian President and the Director General of UNESCO and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the initiative for Cultural Corridors in South-East Europe got under way. Launched at a summit held in Varna in 2005, this process had a large regional outreach and resulted in a Strategy for identifying, preserving, using and promoting cultural corridors of South-East Europe in a sustainable manner (Opatija, Croatia, 1 June, 2006).

Bulgaria joined the EU's Culture 2000 Programme (2000-2004) in 2001. The European Integration Department, at the Ministry of Culture's European Integration and International Cultural Cooperation Directorate, is responsible for disseminating information about the programme as well as consulting potential applications and co-ordinating activities. The Euro-Bulgarian Cultural Centre also provides assistance to applicants wishing to apply for Culture 2000 funding.

As an accession country to the EU, Bulgaria had official access to the programme for 2005-2006. After becoming a full member in January 2007, Bulgaria will take part in the New Communities Programmes and respectively in Culture (2007-2013), Europe for Citizens, Media and Life-Long Learning.

During the period 2001-2006, 74 projects with Bulgarian participation were approved under the Culture 2000 programme (total of annual, multi annual and literary translation projects with Bulgarian leader, co-organizer and associated partner). Out of these there were 21 Bulgarian leaders, 38 co-organisers and 7 associated partners. Ten were multi-annual projects (with Bulgarian leaders or co-organisers altogether).

Bulgaria joined the MEDIA II Programme in 2000, winning grants for two projects. In 2002, the country joined the MEDIA Plus Programme, and in 2004 a National MEDIA Desk was opened as a separate administrative body of the National Film Centre Executive Agency. During the period 2003-2006, 93 projects with Bulgarian participation were approved by the programme, amounting in total to 1 014 120 euro (excl. media training).

Bulgaria joined the MEDIA II Programme in 2000, winning grants for two projects. In 2002, the country joined the MEDIA Plus Programme, and in 2004 a National MEDIA Desk was opened as a separate administrative body of the National Film Centre Executive Agency. During the period 2003-2005, 84 projects with Bulgarian participation were approved by the programme, amounting in total to 1 168 766 euro.

The participation of Bulgarian professionals in training under the Media Training Programme, for the period 2003-2005, was enabled by 21 successful projects, which were granted 24 146 euro and 2 329 BGN (a total of 25 337 euro).

In June 2003, Bulgaria was among the first countries in the region of South-East Europe to join the Regional Programme for Natural and Cultural Heritage in SEE (RPSEE) organised by the Council of Europe and the European Commission (with support from the Culture 2000 programme). By the end of 2004, the 1st Component an "Institutional Capacity Building Plan" was accomplished. Since then, the process under the 2nd Component (Integrated Plan for Rehabilitation Projects) provides opportunities for the establishment of improved political and professional foundations, as an argument for future partnership initiatives, for carrying out reconstruction and conservation works and investment projects. As a result of the RPSEE, an Assessment Report of the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage in Bulgaria was accomplished, and a Priority Intervention List (PIL) of cultural monuments was adopted.

Being a full member of the Francophone Community since 1993, Bulgaria carries out a number of activities in this framework, which are an intrinsic part of multilateral cultural cooperation. As such, the country is regularly, and actively, involved in francophone initiatives on the international scene - in artistic, political and expert formats (including the debates on the drafting and the ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions). Main activities are organised during the annual celebration of 20th March, the International Francophone Day.

The Council of Ministers of Culture in SEE was established in March 2005, in Copenhagen with the aim of contributing to improving the external visibility of the region (inspired by the Nordic Council model). The Charter on the establishment of the Council has been signed by Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, FYROM, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro etc. The Presidency of the Council is arranged on a rotating principle, in alphabetic order. Cultural diversity is considered a defining factor; therefore constructive collaboration in the cultural policy field and the spirit of dialogue are key foundations for further developing South East Europe as an area of political and economic stability. Bulgaria holds the Presidency for the period 1 April 2006 - 31 March 2007 and, as such, it hosted the Second meeting of the Ministers of Culture (Varna, June 2006) where the Opatija Strategy (see above) was approved and an Action Plan for its implementation was adopted.

The Ministry of Culture is responsible for its implementation in cooperation with other relevant bodies (e.g. the Bulgarian National UNESCO Commission).

Bulgaria/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

The Culture Programme of the European Cultural Foundation and the ECUMEST Association operated in Bulgaria from 2001 to 2005. The programme developed a regional pool of experts in cultural policy-making and in research, thus ensuring a long term network and dialogue among the stakeholders in the field.

Initiatives of the private sector in the arts are ongoing within the existing international networks. Although not a part of the official national policy instruments, these exchanges contribute a great extent to the image of Bulgarian contemporary arts abroad. Festivals, workshops, international exchanges in performing arts, media, film, visual arts etc. are run mainly by NGOs and supported by international funding.

Bulgaria/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

Cultural cooperation is incorporated in the existing PHARE-CBC grant schemes with all neighbouring countries (Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Romania). The most successful of these schemes are those in the fields of cultural heritage, traditional arts and crafts, and youth exchange.

Bulgarian individuals and organisations are eligible for the existing international mobility programmes. The US Artslink programme encourages and supports the exchange of artists and cultural managers between the United States and Central Europe, Russia and Eurasia (residencies, projects). Between 2001 and 2006, 8 Bulgarian artists and managers received support for residencies in the United States.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Bulgaria/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

A special policy under the Ministry of Culture is directed towards the Bulgarian diaspora in Serbia (Western Outskirts), Ukraine, Moldova and Kosovo. Donations of books and materials in the Bulgarian language are provided. Theatre performances, exhibitions and other cultural activities are organised.

Large scale international events - such as festivals, competitions and other cultural manifestations - are held in the majority of the big cities in Bulgaria. They are all included in the National Cultural Calendar, published annually by the Ministry of Culture on their website: Most of the cultural events are organised by the local / regional authorities, in close cooperation with NGOs and agencies. The organisers apply for project subsidies to the Ministry of Culture, but the largest part of their budgets comes from local sources (municipalities, districts and private funding). International participation in events is supported and facilitated, to a great extent, by embassies and foreign cultural services.

Bulgaria/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

In the course of Bulgaria's transition to democracy and a market economy, a series of cultural reforms have been conducted in the past ten years, with the following objectives:

Decentralisation, regarded as the top priority at the start of transition, has remained a controversial issue both for cultural circles and the general public. At present, there are three sources of conflict:

The fiscal policy pursued by the national government was a centralised model of budget financing with subsidies equally shared among the existing networks and cultural institutions. In a context of economic crisis and budget restrictions, this meant less and less funds for their core activities and doomed some of the structures to de-professionalisation. In the past few years the Ministry of Culture has started financing the cultural activities of these institutions on a competitive basis, which makes it possible to provide differentiated support to the individual cultural institutions, depending on their contribution to culture and the artistic and economic results of their activities. This new way of financing is based on the transfer of part of the state subsidies for cultural institutions to concrete creative projects on the basis of equal treatment of applicants.

In recent years, joint financing - by the national and municipal budget - of theatres, opera houses and philharmonic orchestras has been a definite achievement. However, due to the permanent financial problems of the municipalities it has been difficult to reach agreements with the Ministry of Culture on their contributions, and municipalities do not always keep their part of the deal. That is why developing local cultural policies and strategies still remains a good intention rather than a fact. Cinema and literature have no state-subsidised structures-state subsidies are rather granted to individual projects on the basis of competitive bidding.

Bulgaria/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

The Protection and Development of Culture Act defines culture as

"the activity associated with the creation, study, dissemination and protection of cultural values, as well as the results of this activity".

This definition applies to culture in the narrow sense and tends to serve cultural institutions, the arts and activities associated with them. Culture in the broader sense, related to humans and human development at large, is an important aspect of the quality of life. In the present period of transition, culture may become a main propellant of democratisation and a mainstay of civil society.

Bulgaria/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

Bulgaria is still at the beginning of the road towards democratisation of culture, but on the whole its national cultural policy objectives overlap with the principles of cultural development observed by the Council of Europe and EU member states:

Bulgaria/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

Bulgaria's national cultural policy priorities include:

EU accession as a major general policy objective poses great challenges to national cultural policy. While leading into all-European cultural processes, Bulgaria's cultural policy must, at the same time, strengthen the place of Bulgarian culture in Europe by preserving its national identity and values. Cultural policy aims to support the creation, protection and dissemination of cultural values, as well as to create an environment which promotes and protects cultural diversity, freedom and creativity.

The Ministry of Culture co-operates with other government institutions in the sphere of education, environment, tourism, sports, etc., as well as with numerous NGOs and community associations to achieve these cultural policy objectives. Balancing the interests of national art centres, local government, NGOs and the different professional cultural associations has been the guiding principle of recent policy.

The Ministry of Culture's current concept of cultural policy formulation and implementation puts special emphasis on the subsidiarity principle, which presupposes shared obligations and responsibilities for the common good among institutions and citizens not only and not simply in their capacity as taxpayers, but through voluntary contribution of part of their time, energy and imagination. In the transition period the idea of subsidiarity helps to create a new type of community rather than chaos, as the state eventually relinquishes its leading role.

Bulgaria/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

The Tables 1 and 2 below provide data on the population breakdown in Bulgaria and derived from the most recent population census (2001).

Table 1:     Population by ethnic group and mother tongue, 2001


By ethnic group

By mother tongue


6 655 000

6 697 000


747 000

763 000

Gypsies (roma)

371 000

328 000


69 000

71 000

Non stated

62 000

45 000


7 929 000

7 929 000

Source:      Population census 2001

Ethnic group: "Community of people, related to each other by origin and language, and close to each other by mode of life and culture";

Mother tongue: "The language which a person speaks best and which is usually used for communication in the family (household)".

Table 2:     Population by religion, 2001


Total number

Christian (East Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant)

6 639 000

Moslem (Sunni and Shiite)

967 000


25 000

Not stated

283 000


15 000


7 929 000

Source:      Population census 2001

Religion: "Membership, determined historically, of a person or his parents and grandparents to a given group with certain religious views".

The Parliament ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Council of Europe) in 1999.

In the course of the National Debate on Bulgarian Cultural Policy, held in 1998, the executive and NGOs stressed their common view of minority culture as an integral part of the national cultural heritage.

Despite its limited budget, the Ministry of Culture offers financial support to projects such as the Roma Cultural and Information Centre, the Roma Musical Theatre, festivals and projects of different cultural groups, etc. A Public Council on Cultural Diversity has been established at the Ministry as an expert consultative body. In 2006, the Department for Cultural Integration, Ministry of Culture organised several regional workshops for government and non-government experts working in the field of culture on issues related to cultural integration of ethnic minorities. These seminars were undertaken in cooperation with the individual municipalities and chitalistas (cultural houses). The programme of each seminar was adapted to the specific needs of the region.

NGOs such as the Open Society Foundation, the Interethnic Initiative for Human Rights, SEGA, and the International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations, provide support for periodicals, media events and live performances of various cultural groups. This support is given on the basis of results from sociological surveys, which have shown that minority cultural groups are increasingly consumers rather than just producers of cultural products. That is one of the reasons why in early 2003, two state cultural institutes were founded in regions with large Turkish communities: the Kadrie Lyatifova Institute in Kurdjali and the Nazim Hikmet Institute in Razgrad. Their mission is to create and stage musical, dance and theatre productions; to preserve elements of Turkish identity such as language, traditions and cultural heritage; and to promote intercultural tolerance and dialogue.

An important development was the creation of a National Council of Ethnic and Demographic Issues (NCEDI) within the Council of Ministers Decree No 449 on the 4.12.1997, which included representatives from various minority cultural groups. In 2004, the NCEDI was transformed into the National Council for Interethnic Interaction. The Council is working on the development of a national policy in consultation with different government agencies and non-governmental organisations. The non-government organisations from the minorities sector are critical of the Council in relation to its limited legal powers - it is only a consultative body, without power to impose sanctions where infringements occur. The integration of cultural minorities has been identified as a national priority along with decentralisation of support for their education. Local level Councils for Ethnic and Demographic Issues have also been established in the different regions and include representatives of the respective local minority cultural communities. (see:

In 2005, the NCEDI granted funding to projects related to minorities in the amount of 143 000 BGN, from which:

An internet portal regarding ethnic minorities was created (, with the support of the Council and with the participation of the "Open Society- Sofia" and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. The objective of the portal is to be a communication forum between the donor organisations and their beneficiaries. The portal is oriented towards NGOs working in the area of minority issues, law enforcement NGOs, government institutions - ministries and regional agencies, district and municipal councils on ethnic and demographic issues, and the media. It provides information about basic documents, which set the framework for the minorities' integration processes, about legislation, about donor programmes, information about minority NGOs, international organisations, media, universities, projects in Bulgaria, and studies of minorities.

The Ministry of Culture, the Nesebar and Varna Municipalities provide support for the annual 3-day "Ethnos Festival". The festival takes place in both municipalities and its main objectives are to present the culture of the various ethnic communities located in these areas and to support their development and preservation. The following actors are involved in the organisation of the festival: the Varna Community Center "Chitalishte Hristo Botev", the United Arts School Nesebar as well as the cultural organisations of the different ethnic communities.


In 2004, a government "Action Plan" was adopted for implementing the "Decade of Roma Inclusion" (2005-2015) and a budget of 37 622 000 euro is expected for the duration of this programme. The Programme "Decade of Roma Inclusion" is an initiative adopted by eight countries in Central and Southeast Europe and supported by the international community. It represents the first cooperative effort to change the lives of Roma in Europe. An action framework for governments, the Decade will monitor progress in accelerating social inclusion and improving the economic and social status of Roma across the region. The international community is supporting the Decade. This includes the Open Society Institute, the World Bank, the European Commission, United Nations Development Program, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Council of Europe, and most importantly, Roma leadership, including international Roma organisations (for further information look for the website

Another important element concerns an amendment to the Media Act, which eliminates the danger of regionalisation of minority culture, i.e. the creation of ethnic regions by means of radio and TV broadcasts as a prelude to ethnic-based territorial differentiation.

The National Framework Programme on Equal Integration of Roma into Bulgarian Society adopted in 1999 is the most important measure concerning minority cultural groups. This programme resulted from an agreement between several dozen Roma organisations and a government representative, and was adopted by a Council of Ministers resolution. The Framework Programme identifies several priorities:

The active participation of the Roma community in elaborating and implementing the Programme is of crucial importance.

In 2005, the Open Society Institute - Sofia continued to support the development of a network of Roma community centres, by strengthening their capacity to organise advocacy campaigns. Ten advocacy campaigns took place under the project, including campaigns for equal access to education, introducing access to health mediators - as one of the social services provided by municipalities, improving housing in Roma neighborhoods, etc.

Bulgaria/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the official language is Bulgarian. The issue of "mother tongues" (the term "minority language" is not used in the Bulgarian Constitution, which regards "mother tongue" as the more relevant term) is addressed in two specific laws. The first concerns radio and TV broadcasting, regulated by the Radio and Television Act [Article 12 (2)], which lists the cases in which programmes may be broadcast in a language other than the official one: 1) when they are aired for educational purposes and 2) when they are designed for Bulgarian citizens whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian. The second addresses the status of "mother tongue" as a subject in Bulgarian schools, regulated by the National Education Act [Article 8 (2)] and the Syllabus and Minimum Comprehensive Education Act [Article 15 (3)]. According to the provisions of the first Act, students whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian are entitled to mother tongue tutoring in municipal schools, with the state providing protection and exercising control; the second Act defines "mother tongue" as a "compulsory optional subject", which means that if students want to study their mother tongue, the municipality or the state is obliged to provide them with this opportunity.

Public debate was mainly focused on the previous Act and was related to the possibilities of municipalities to provide the necessary resources and qualified trainers. Separately, nationalistic oriented citizens and media were disputing the necessity of news broadcasting in Turkish on BNT, but these voices did not get wide public support.

Bulgaria/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

In Bulgaria, the National Council for Co-operation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues (NCCEDI), under the aegis of the Council of Ministers, is the main national level institution which is responsible for coordinating policies related to intercultural dialogue. It facilitates cooperation between state bodies and NGOs of different minority groups and considers policy proposals submitted by other Ministry departments. Following approval by the Council of Ministers, the NCCEDI monitors, analyses and coordinates measures aimed to:

Regional Councils on ethnic and demographic issues are being created within the administrative structures of district governments. They are responsible for implementing nationally approved measures in their relevant district / region, as well as for developing relevant regional strategies and programmes.

The NCCEDI receives annual funding, from the Council of Minister's budget, to support organisations of ethnic minority groups and their activities. The following types of projects are eligible for funding:

In 2004, the National Council adopted the "Strategy for Educational Integration of Children and Students from Ethnic Minority Groups".  This strategy and follow-up action plans were developed by the Ministry of Education and Science for the school years 2004/2005 and 2008/2009. For more specific information on the strategy and the action plan see: and

One of the conclusions reported on in the national strategy is that "the history and culture of minorities are insufficiently presented" in the general school curricula. Activities designed to address this deficiency are outlined in the National Action Plan:

Both the national strategy and action plan were drawn up on the basis of a report conducted by the International Centre for the Study of Minorities and Cultural Interaction, available from:

Culture plays a key role in the National Action Plan on the Roma Inclusion Decade (2005-2015). The main purpose of this action plan is to achieve sustainable and cultural integration of the Roma people in Bulgarian society. The following activities have been envisaged:

The authorities responsible for realising these activities are: the Ministry of Culture, the NCCEDI, the Folklore Institute under the Bulgarian Academy of Science and non-governmental organisations.

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

For more information on the government's National Strategy for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue please see:

Bulgaria/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

In Bulgaria, social cohesion is a priority, in which cultural components have multiple inputs at central and local levels, through various actions and projects implemented by institutions, local authorities and NGOs.

An example of a large campaign was the 2005 European Year of Citizenship through Education, lead by the Ministry of Education but in close collaboration with all the parties concerned (see 8.3.2 for details or visit

There is no consolidated information about the development and implementation of public policies to promote social cohesion at national and regional levels, although multiple actions are taking place. One of the exceptions is the annual conference on artists (painters) with physical disabilities, organised by the municipality of Lovech.

The theatre is seen as a resource which can help disabled children to integrate into society, by giving them skills to overcome isolation, to improve their self-confidence and feelings of self-worth, as well as to provide them with a greater network of social contacts. The non-governmental sector is taking the first steps towards the implementation of different initiatives in this context. The establishment of the Foundation "Avanstage" is one example. Since 2000, it has been involved in the international programme of the Madrid based Institute for Mediterranean Theatre. In 2003, Avanstage carried out a national workshop entitled "The Different Theatre", for disabled children and young people. In 2004, it supported the participation of 7 disabled young people (from Kardjali) in the International Theatre Workshop, held in Montpellier, France. In 2005, two theatre workshops were organised in the sea-side resort of "Albena", for children and youth associated with specialised centres for disabled people, from 15 Bulgarian municipalities. In 2006, an international conference was to be held on issues related to integrating disabled people.

Bulgaria/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

Bulgaria has state- and private-owned radio stations and television networks providing national coverage, as well as numerous private radio and television stations providing local news coverage. Cultural events and issues of international, national and local relevance are covered extensively in their programmes. Both the state-owned and private electronic media have numerous, mainly weekly, programmes for minority cultural groups. For example, the daily Turkish news programme broadcast by the Bulgarian National Television.

According to the regulations of Article 71 of the Radio and Television Act, BNR (Bulgarian National Radio) and BNT (Bulgarian National Television) should provide assistance to the creation and dissemination of national audio and audiovisual productions:

The Radio and Television Fund was created by Article 98 of the Radio and Television Act. The money made available to the Fund is raised by:

Resources collected via the Fund are to be used for the financing of:

There is a lack of transparency of media ownership and capital in the commercial broadcasting sector, with no public register of ownership. The provisions on media ownership in the Law on Radio and Television (1998) - and also the Telecommunications Law (2003) and the Law for the Protection of Competition (1998) - aim to prevent broadcasters from monopolizing or even dominating the market. In practice, however, there are no effective anti-monopoly regulatory mechanisms.

Two articles in the Law on Radio and Television refer to the monopoly prevention:

Article 105 (4) The following shall be ineligible to apply for a license: .... 9. any telecommunications operators placed in a monopoly situation on the market;

Article 108. Upon submission of documents for the granting of licenses under Article 111, the applicants shall declare that they do not hold any interests, shares or rights of any other kind to participation in radio and television operators, in excess of the permissible limit, according to the anti-trust legislation of the Republic of Bulgaria. (The Competition Protection Act defines the concentration of economic activity, and the Commercial Law regulates the procedures for transformation of companies).

Up to now (2006), no measures have been taken to combat concentration in the media sector, even if the issue is being actively discussed between the media experts. One of the discussion panels at a seminar for radio and television activities' regulation, held in June 2004 by the Council for Electronic Media, and with the support of the Council of Europe, was devoted to concentration in the media sector. The circumstances in Bulgaria had developed mainly a vertical system of concentration - the telecommunication operator, in the majority of cases, is an owner both of a television and of a radio channel, of the studio complex, of the broadcasting equipment, of the transmitting cable network - i.e. of the entire chain for media broadcasting.

The seminar concluded that there is a deficit of media concentration regulation and that it is in the public interest that regulation should be a compulsory part of the Radio and Television Act.

There is no available statistical data on the correlation between imported and locally produced programmes in Bulgaria. The Radio and Television Act sets the programming quotas: there must be at least 50% of the total annual programme time for European and Bulgarian programming, excluding newscasts, sports shows, game shows on radio and TV, commercials and the radio and TV market, when that is practically possible.

The NGO Centre for Social Practices has been working for two years on a project called "Voices of Exclusion: Minority Empowerment Through the Media", which includes a series of training seminars for minority communities - Turks, Roma and Muslim Bulgarians - that are conducted in the country's mixed regions. The aim of the project is to empower minorities and facilitate dialogue via media programmes, thereby inserting their agendas into the public debate and sensitising decision-makers. The project provides a one year training programme for students from these groups to become leaders, to put together production teams - and most of all - to learn how to communicate their messages via the media. The goal is to help them to be understood; for their messages to be read, watched and listened to with the hoped effect of generating support for their cause. It is very important that the real voices of the Turks, Roma and Bulgarian Muslims are heard and understood by the others.

The training programme is made up of 300 school hours taught in 11 units (each of them lasting three days). The "Voice Of Exclusion" project is financed by the EuropeAid programme of the EU.

The press is entirely privately owned and provides the widest coverage available on public debates on reforms in the field of culture. Recent issues reported on have included reforms in the theatre, the Protection and Development of Culture Act, the Media Act, production of pirated CDs, cultural heritage protection, etc.

Bulgaria/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

There is no official definition of "cultural industries", but the following formulations are mentioned in the public speeches of the Deputy Minister of culture: "Cultural industries refers to industries producing and distributing cultural goods or services; those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property".

In the past few years, the culture industries in Bulgaria have been increasingly perceived as a sector with an important contribution to local, regional and national development, and an impact on the local labour market.

A Council of Europe funded pilot project on "Cultural Diversity and Cultural Enterprise" was launched in Bulgaria in 2001. This project - implemented in close co-operation with the Euro-Bulgarian Cultural Centre - was designed to analyse Bulgaria's potential in the sphere of culture industries and identify possibilities for their development. Culture industries include traditional industries (radio and television, recording industry, film-making and publishing), as well as cultural activities which are on the boundary between traditional arts and new flexible forms of creativity in the media, advertising and design.

Stage two of this project (carried out in 2002) targeted media and enterprise in this field; developing specific models of funding and, in the longer term, creating an agency for the development of the culture industries.

The development of culture industries at the regional and local level is also a priority in projects under the PHARE Economic and Social Integration Programme (education and establishment of information centres for the Roma population). In the period 2003-2004, 19 regional projects were implemented under PHARE (BG 0102.03) - "Development of Cultural Tourism in Bulgaria" with a total budget of 4 726 000 euro.

The film industry relies on state subsidies and support from foundations, international organisations and sponsors. Most co-productions are with European countries (especially Germany, France and Greece). The Ministry of Culture's National Film Centre Executive Agency is in charge of the allocation of state subsidies on a competitive basis. The Centre's main partner is the Bulgarian National Television, which sets aside part of its budget for Bulgarian film production.

There are several private film distributing companies, three of which - Sunny Films, Alexandra Films and Duga Films - are the Bulgarian partners of the top seven international film distribution companies.

In the period 2001-2004 the Ministry's National Book Centre promoted the publishing of non-commercial Bulgarian and translated literature. The Book Aid Programme (created in 1991) has supported publishers of certain types of literature on a competitive basis: contemporary Bulgarian literature and literary heritage; Bulgarian human studies, reference works and encyclopaedias, and translated human studies literature. The Programme has supported 230 projects with a budget of BGN 412 707. There are partnership programmes with the French, German and British cultural institutes to support the publication of translated literature.

In 1995, the Open Society Institute (Budapest) launched a project supporting the translation of works in human studies and social sciences in Bulgaria. This ongoing project has provided support for the translation and publishing of 124 titles proposed by more than 40 publishing houses.

Bulgaria's major recording companies have licensing contracts with international companies such as Sony, PolyGram, BMG and EMI, and exercise strict control over the copyright of authors, producers and performers.

In 2005, a research project entitled "The Creative Industries in Plovdiv - an Economic Perspective" was carried out with the support of the British Council and its goal was to map the creative industries in the town.

In 2006, a new research project entitled "The Economic Contribution of Copyright-based Industries in Bulgaria" was assigned by the Ministry of Culture to a working group involving university lecturers and experts in collaboration with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation).

This survey is the first comprehensive study of the contribution of copyright and related rights-based industries (copyright-based industries) to the Bulgarian economy and was conducted in the period August 2006 - February 2007.

The collected CI economic data for 2003 and 2005 allows for additional specialised analyses of different segments of the copyright-based industries, including in-depth analyses of the most successful and rapidly developing sectors of software, publishing and printing, and film industries. This data is also a good basis for future comparisons on a national and international scale.

Table 3:     Contribution of the copyright-based industries to the GDP in 2005


Total in BGN

Share of total gross output

Share of GDP

Gross output of the core copyright industries

2 498 559 000



Total gross output created in economic activities related to copyright and related rights in Bulgaria

4 155 101 000



Total gross output

92 132 091 000



Added value of the core copyright industries

672 270 000



Added value created in economic activities related to copyright and related rights in Bulgaria

1 204 229 000



Total gross added value

35 220 410 000



Total GDP

42 797 407 000



Source:     "The Economic Contribution of Copyright-based Industries in Bulgaria", 2006.

For the period 2003-2005, the survey identified that the gross value added derived from the current prices index grew by 50% over three years only, which exceeded the growth rates of the economy as a whole (11.5%). If favorable conditions continued and the sector received adequate public support, it might become one of the engines of the Bulgarian economic development in near future.

Employment in the sector of copyright-based industries

In 2005, 104 814 people in Bulgaria were employed in economic activities related to copyright and related rights, almost one in every 20 people employed. 55 861 people worked in the core copyright-based industries only, i.e. more than half of the people employed in the sector.

A fast increase in the number of people employed in copyright-based industries is registered for the period 2003-2005. The growth rate exceeds more than three times the growth of employment in the economy as a whole.

Book publishing and print and Software and databases are the two largest core copyright-based industries - they both contributed 0.51% each to the gross value added in the country in 2005.

The second fastest developing sector is Software and databases - it registers growth of 93%. The third fast developing sector is Architecture which falls into the category of partial copyright-based industries. During the surveyed period, it showed a growth in value added by +81% taking into account the inflation, a growth in gross product by 23% and 16% of growth in employment.

The exported goods and services of the Publishing and printing industry amounted to between euro 5.45 million and euro 6.84 million a year for the period 2003-2005 while the imports grew steadily and the increase for 2005 only was 68%.

It is obvious that the first successes in the fight against intellectual piracy and the strengthening of the legislation in this field have resulted in a triple increase in payments made abroad while the income from rights and licenses in Bulgarian products of intellectual property remains at a constant level.

With the share of value added of the core copyright-based industries in 2003 equal to 1.3% of the GDP, Bulgaria ranks last among the 19 states that have conducted surveys applying this methodology (after Greece and Portugal).

Based on the project results, the following recommendations can be outlined:

For more information on the research project entitled "The Economic Contribution of Copyright-based Industries in Bulgaria".

Bulgaria/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

National statistics record the number of employed persons by branches of the economy. The problem is in the nomenclature of the different branches. For example, individuals working in the cultural sector are included in the employment data of both "Culture and Information" and "Leisure and Sports" (average annual number of employed). It is currently not possible to disaggregate the figures below.

Table 4:     Employment in the cultural sector, 1998-2003


Culture and information

Leisure and sports


Total employed

41 286

11 145

No. employed in the private sector

23 566

6 578


Total employed

40 724

10 737

No. employed in the private Sector

23 546

6 452


Total employed

33 785

11 441

No. employed in the private sector

18 105

6 663



Total employed

28 777

No. employed in the private sector

11 218



Total employed

28 980

No. employed in the private sector

11 141

Source:      Statistical Yearbook, National Statistical Institute.
*                Since the National Statistical Institute has changed its classification for "Culture and 
                 Information" and "Leisure and Sports", there is no data available for 2001.
**               For the period 2002 - 2003 the National Statistical Institute (NSI) submitted not-yet-published 
                 data only on the "Culture" section.

The main issues regarding employment in the cultural sector are low payments / salaries and a declining number of state-subsidised cultural institutions. This has prompted many gifted young people to emigrate in search of better working conditions abroad.

In 2003, the average monthly salary in the cultural sector, according to the information from the NSI, was 231.91 BGN. The average salary in the "education sector" was 261.06 BGN, and 206.09 BGN in the "social services sector".

In 2003, the "Employment in support of the Bulgarian Theatre" programme was introduced as a joint project of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Union of Actors in Bulgaria. This programme provides employment options for persons on longer term contracts which have been made redundant including: actors; theatre-craftsmen; property, stage and lighting workers - all those with a specific experience, knowledge and skills.  These persons can be re-employed by the theatres for a fixed period (one year) and be paid a fixed minimum salary including social insurance. This is a very important programme. During the reform of the Bulgarian theatre sector, the number of the theatres remained the same while the number of jobs / positions were considerably decreased (from 3 400 in 1996 to 1 850 in 2003). These reforms created serious disruptions to the theatres as several positions were merged and qualified staff were let go. In 2004 the Programme provided employment to 240 professionals through a financial contribution of 451 440 BGN. In 2005 the programme included 437 unemployed theatre specialists from all Bulgarian municipalities, with the involvement of both state and municipal theatres.

Bulgaria/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

A three-year joint project was established by the Ministry of Culture and the UNDP programme "Community Development and Participation through the Chitalishte Network" (a follow-up of the 1997-2000 project on "Community Participation and Development in Bulgaria"). It has been supported by the Dutch Government's Matra Programme and USAID. This project was designed to increase the public role of the Chitalishte (community culture clubs) as traditional cultural and educational centres in Bulgaria, and to offer effective models for their modernisation and participation in local community life. Three hundred Chitalishte are permanent partners of the project, and another 600 are involved in a broader range of activities. There are 25 Internet centres in Chitalishte located in smaller population centres, which offer computer literacy courses and help overcome the information inequality among the inhabitants of Bulgaria.

The Ministry of Culture is actively involved in one of the axes of development in the Information Society for All Programme - "building a civil society and democratic thinking through art and culture" - by networking 11 regional, 16 municipal and 40 large Chitalishte libraries. Access to the network will enable interactive communication with Bulgaria's libraries, museums, art galleries and media. Public libraries will thus complement the educational system by helping children and young people acquire basic knowledge and skills of searching for and analysing information. The rich multimedia resources available during after-school activities will help overcome children's unequal opportunities for access to new technologies. Numerous foreign surveys show that children benefit in both academic and social terms from easy access to various information and communication technologies from an early age. Early acquisition of skills of self-learning in libraries will give children a more complete education and additional skills that will enable them to study alone as they grow up.

In 2002, the National Culture Fund held a competition for funding music information sharing, as well as the creation and maintenance of an information database and Web page of Bulgarian music culture and authentic folklore. A link between all NFC funded pages and databases with the web-site of the Euro-Bulgarian Centre was made, in order to facilitate access to information about the Bulgarian music culture.

Since 2002, the National Music and Dance Center has been supporting a series of 6 educational concerts of the "Ensemble for electro-acoustic music - EEM", which presents electronic arrangements of classical works and contemporary electro-accoustic pattern pieces to young people. In the framework of the annual "New Bulgarian Music Festival", a concert with works of Bulgarian composers of electronic-music is included.

Bulgaria/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

The present Monuments of Culture and Museums Act (1969) states two main groups of monuments that are described as movable and immovable. This regulatory differentiation is due to the different modes, procedures and proponents of movable and immovable monuments of cultural protection.

The total number of immovable monuments of culture in 2006 was 39 547.

The movable monuments of culture with the greatest scientific and cultural value are included in a National Museum Stock. The stock register is kept at the "Museums, Galleries and Fine Arts" Directorate of the Ministry of Culture.

State funding sources

The Republican budget, endorsed each year by the Parliament, provides funding in the field of immovable cultural heritage preservation, allocated in line with the following scheme:

1.  Through the budget of the Ministry of Culture

For each financial year, the Ministry of Culture devises a proposal for the benchmarking of the state subsidy funding for specific monuments and specific types of work that the Minister of Culture approves. The following criteria for selection of monuments to be included in the "State Assignment" have priority in the proposal preparation:

2.  Through the budget of the Ministry of Finance, which secures credits for investigation and protection of monuments of culture that are covered by the allotted funding for the site.

3.  Through the budget of the municipalities - subsidy for specialised activities for monuments of culture with local importance.

4.  Through the "Religious Denominations" Directorate with the Council of Ministers.

Regional and local government funding sources

The financing of the local level activities for preservation of architectural and archaeological heritage comes from the following sources:

Annual Target Subsidy from the Ministry of Culture - The Minister of Culture concludes contracts with municipalities for the carrying out of clearly specified activities on certain sites included in the programme prepared in advance. The budget subsidy covers part of the expenditures under that programme (generally between 50% - 80%), and the respective municipality provides the balance.

Municipal budgets adopted every year by the Municipal Councils

Private funding and sponsors include the private owners of monuments, foundations, national and international NGOs, including The Foundation "А. G. Leventis", The World Monument Fund, the Headlеy Trust and The Foundation "Messerschmidt".

Tax relief

The state extends tax relief to the owners and users of immovable monuments of culture as compensation for the specific restrictions on their rights and the specific obligations that they have to assume. Building-monuments of culture are exempt from "tax on buildings" provided that they are not used for economic purposes (in compliance with Article 24 of the Local Taxes and Fees Act).

At present, tax relief and the financial incentives for protection of the cultural and historic heritage are quite limited.

The restoration and conservation market is still in an embryonic state, and there is little, if any competition. The status of the three forms of property (private, state and municipal) has been regulated, but there are no financial incentives or tax relief for their support. Experts are currently working on laws on moveable and immovable monuments of culture which are expected to eliminate the shortcomings of the system of heritage protection, control and funding. In the course of drafting new legislation, a strategy has been designed on the development and functioning of museums as an institution in the Bulgarian cultural landscape, and this strategy requires establishing a national information system; control and evaluation systems; a national cultural heritage register; and the reconsideration of the quality, density and functioning of the existing museum network, and its interconnection with other spheres such as tourism and education.

While expecting the preparation of a new law for cultural heritage, a civil movement for the protection of cultural monuments was set up. The movement insists that: the laws and international conventions, ratified by Bulgaria, should be strictly observed; the monuments database to be updated and a system for free access should be created; the maintenance and control on heritage protection should be decentralised; clear rules and transparent procedures for public control should be determined; individuals who had issued permission for construction works on cultural monuments, or had been free of controls in this area, should be prosecuted.

Public access to heritage

The measures for the accessibility and interpretation of heritage are directly related to its usage as a resource for development and its preservation within the framework of a collective process with a large number of participants-partners. From this point of view, the following topical questions are the subject of public debate: how to educate and raise awareness of the participants in the preservation process; how to facilitate their access to heritage; how to interpret heritage in order to improve the efficiency of its usage without causing risks to its cultural value.

In the last eight years, access to monuments has been encouraged by the European Heritage Days (1999 - "Traditional Architecture", 2000 - "Cultural Routes", 2001 - "Children, Youth and Cultural Heritage", 2002 - "Different Ethnic Communities and Religions - Common Heritage", 2003 - "Cultural Landscapes", 2004 - "Cultural Tourism", 2005 - "South-Еast Europe - Shared Heritage" and 2006 - "Heritage in the Information Society"). The European Heritage Days arouse an increasing interest, involving an increasingly wider range of participants of all age groups. These Days successfully apply the model of partnership among central and local government authorities, state and non-governmental organisations, the public and private sectors, with the participation of the media (regrettably, quite insufficient yet). Traditionally, during the European Heritage Days museums are free, and the monuments which are undergoing conservation are open to the public.

Access to heritage is still insufficiently encouraged and facilitated by tourist information systems: signs, information boards, etc. There are not enough websites and guides for cultural routes and historic settlements. Tourist information regarding privately owned cultural heritage properties is almost nonexistent. The number of specialised projects for tourist visual communication has been steadily increasing of late.

Raising awareness of young people

National policy takes into account the need to raise young people's awareness of the cultural heritage. The curricula generally include information on the monuments of culture, in connection with the subjects of history of fine art, culturology, archeology, journalism and mass communication. Beyond the educational system, different formats for raising awareness of the cultural heritage properties are used: participation in the Council of Europe projects "European heritage class" and "Europe, from one street to the other", in scientific and exploration expeditions to cultural heritage sites, conducting research on different themes related to heritage etc.

Representatives of the central authorities, non-governmental organisations and experts are preparing an open network for the exchange of information and ideas, and for the improvement of the state policy in this respect, in the spirit of Recommendation No R of the Council of Europe regarding Heritage Education.

The bi-lingual (Bulgarian and English) multimedia "Children and the Cultural Heritage of South-Eastern Europe" was made in Bulgaria in 2006. The project, financed by the British Council Bulgaria and implemented by the Cultural Tourism Association in partnership with the University for Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy and the Bulgarian Committee of ICOMOS was a first attempt to present, in a contemporary IT format adapted for children, the cultural heritage of the countries in the region. The product, the "Treasure Quest" game is accessible on-line at the address -

On the occasion of the launching of the site, in Sofia a working meeting-seminar took place entitled "Heritage Pedagogy - Children and the Cultural Heritage of South-Eastern Europe". During the seminar, discussions were held on the possibilities and the prospects for associating young people to the values of heritage by way of the contemporary information technologies.

In recent years, the national movement "Bulgarian Heritage" organises the initiative "Preserve the Bulgarian Heritage" with the participation of students and pupils from all over the country who work on national archaeological sites guided by archaeologists. This initiative is implemented under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Policy on digitisation

After the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union, a comprehensive and long term policy for the development of the information society in Bulgaria and for digitisation in the field of cultural heritage was set.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Bulgaria

Bulgaria/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

Gender equality and culture is mainly on the agenda of NGOs. For example, the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation is an independent NGO promoting social justice, gender equality and human rights through research, education, legislative changes and advocacy. The Open Society Foundation has a special Gender Programme which provided a total USD 255 584 in support of various projects in 1999-2001. Some NGOs deal specifically with the equal integration of women from the minority cultural communities - especially Roma women - into the mainstream life of Bulgarian society.

Bulgaria/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

The Red House Centre for Culture and Debate, and various partners, organises on a regular basis debates and discussions on different cultural policy issues (national strategy for culture, culture in Bulgarian foreign policy, public financing of culture, and Bulgarian culture in the EU etc.).

In connection with the Europalia Bulgaria 2002 Festival in Brussels, the Red House Centre for Culture and Debate and the team that organised the festival held a round table on "Europalia - How the State Builds Its Images before the World".

Family of NGO's for Art and Culture ( is an informal forum of Bulgarian art and cultural organisations, carrying out awareness-raising and advocacy campaigns. Its main goal is to promote the role of civil organisations as an active partner in the development of cultural policies at local and national level. In 2006, it initiated a civic advocacy campaign to encourage municipal funds for culture.

The Map of the Cultural Sector in Bulgaria ( is an online directory of cultural organisations in Bulgaria, presenting thematic activities and featuring multiple mapping visualisations and research-based case-studies; it aims to showcase innovative managerial practices. Its English section aims to promote cultural cooperation.

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

Texts from the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, which directly refer to the cultural field, are the following:

Article 3. Bulgarian shall be the official language of the Republic.

Article 13

(1)   The practicing of any religion shall be free.

(2)   The religious institutions shall be separate from the state.

Article 18

(1) The state shall enjoy exclusive ownership rights over the nether of the earth; the coastal beaches; the national thoroughfares, as well as over waters, forests and parks of national importance, and the natural and archaeological reserves established by law.

Article 23

The state shall establish conditions conductive to the free development of science, education and the arts, and shall assist that development. It shall organise the conservation of all national monuments of history and culture.

Article 36

(1)   The study and use of the Bulgarian language shall be a right and an obligation of every Bulgarian citizen.

(2)   Citizens whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian shall have the right to study their own language alongside the compulsory study of the Bulgarian language.

Article 39

(1)   Everyone shall be entitled to express an opinion or to publicise it through words, written or oral, sound or image, or in any other way.

(2)   This right shall not be used to the detriment of the rights and reputation of others, or for the incitement of a forcible change of the constitutionally established order, the perpetration of a crime, or the incitement of enmity or violence against anyone.

Article 40

(1)   The press and the other mass information media shall be free and not be subjected to censorship.

(2)   An injunction on, or a confiscation of printed matter or another information medium shall be allowed only through an act of the judicial authorities in the case of an encroachment on public decency or incitement of a forcible change of the constitutionally established order, the perpetration of a crime, or the incitement of violence against anyone. An injunction suspension shall lose force if not followed by a confiscation within 24 hours.

Article 54

(1)   Everyone shall have the right to avail himself of the national and universal human cultural values and to develop his own culture in accordance with his ethnic self-identification, which shall be recognised and guaranteed by the law.

(2)   Artistic, scientific and technological creativity shall be recognised and guaranteed by the law.

(3)   The state shall protect all inventors' rights, copyrights and related rights.

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

The institutional and statutory forms of organised action in the sphere of culture include: state cultural organisations; municipal cultural organisations; private culture organisations and mixed cultural organisations. The so-called cultural institutions within the meaning of the Protection and Development of Culture Act, which are state or municipal cultural organisations, are largest in number. Cultural institutions are authorised to determine their own tasks and conduct subsidiary activities, including business. They are publicly financed legal entities and are wholly or partly financed by the Ministry of Culture, and by municipal budgets on the basis of contracts on co-funding of activities in the sphere of culture concluded between the Ministry of Culture and municipalities.

The so-called regional cultural institutions constitute a specific case: they are incorporated, transformed and dismantled by the Council of Ministers on the motion of the Minister of Culture, after a co-ordinated decision with the Regional Governor of the Municipal Council on whose territory they are located. Regional cultural institutions are financed by contributions from the municipal budget on whose territory they are located, target state subsidies, and contributions from the neighbouring municipalities to which they provide services.

Municipal cultural institutions are legal entities with an autonomous budget, which are incorporated, transformed and terminated by a decision of the Municipal Council, in co-ordination with the Minister of Culture. They are financed by the municipal budget.

Private cultural institutions are incorporated, transformed and dissolved upon request by natural persons and / or private legal entities according to the provisions of the Commercial Code, the Persons and Family Act, or the Not-for-Profit Legal Entities Act in force since the beginning of 2001. Private cultural institutions, as well as NGOs, are treated equally with all other institutions and natural persons when competing or bidding for projects and programmes in the sphere of culture, cultural heritage and the arts.

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

In the Republic of Bulgaria, the municipality is the main administrative territorial unit, of local self-government. The Municipal Council is the main authority. Representatives are elected from their respective constituencies for a period of 4 years.

At the end of 2002, first regulatory steps were taken to normalise the financial decentralisation of public services, to be carried out by the municipalities including cultural activities. The main aim was to increase local income and a maximum level of local autonomy as well as to define the character and content of municipal services.

Upon Decree of the Council of Ministers (No.░16/2003), all public services were divided into two groups:

2003 was the first year that this division of labour was realised and is seen as a serious step forward to strengthen local self-government and to overcome problems of the individual municipalities.

In 2006, the Bulgarian government developed the Decentralisation Strategy and the Programme for Implementation of the Decentralisation Strategy 2006-2009 - an important document aimed at raising the efficiency and quality of services delivered to the citizens (see also

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

Social security for artists is regulated by the Labour Code and the Ordinance on Social Security of Persons who Practice a Liberal Profession and of the Bulgarian Citizens Working Abroad (2000). Under these laws, artists practising a liberal profession are treated equally with those who have registered companies as sole traders or partners in commercial corporations under the Commercial Code. In all three cases, artists have two options to pay:

Artists (just like all other employees) who have signed a contract of employment (e.g. an artist employed by an advertising agency) are subject to compulsory social security contributions at the rate of 37% of their gross income to be paid by the employer (2% to be paid by the employee). Another contribution is made to the Occupational Training and Unemployment Fund. The rate is 4% (3% to be paid by the employer and 1% to be paid by the employee).

Taking into consideration the unique nature of the work performed by artists, an amendment was made to the Transitional and Final Provisions of the Protection and Development of Culture Act which now entitles artists who have worked for at least 4 of the past 12 months (without entering into an employment relationship in artistic associations) to obtain unemployment benefits.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws

To encourage private persons and companies to sponsor the development of the arts and culture, a tax deduction is provided to resident and non-resident natural persons and legal entities. This amounts to up to 10% for donations for cultural purposes, as well as for conservation and restoration of historical and cultural monuments, or for grants. The rate of tax deduction was increased from 5% to 10% under amendments to the Corporate Income Tax Act adopted at the beginning of 2002.

There is a unified rate of VAT of 20% for everything in Bulgaria - including cultural goods and services. According to a draft Bill on VAT, under preparation by the Ministry of Finance, the levy of VAT on the tickets for concerts and performances may be cancelled as of 2005. The same bill envisages a VAT exemption on activities carried out by the Bulgarian National Radio, Bulgarian National Television and Bulgarian News Agency and for which these institutions receive a subsidy from the state.

There is a debate going on in the National Assembly on a bill proposing some tax concessions which would support Bulgarian culture. 

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

See 5.1.4.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, passed in 1993, protects a maximum range of copyright and neighbouring rights. In 1995, the Parliament ratified the Rome Convention and the Geneva Convention.

On 25 July 2002, the 39th National Assembly passed an Act to amend the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, which brings Bulgarian legislation in line with its commitments to its international agreements with the World Intellectual Property Organisation and with the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Articles in Bulgaria's Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act supplement and adjust the legal framework to include provisions on the fair use of works in the new Internet environment and the introduction of new technologies. The purpose is to adjust copyright protection to the new environment and harmonise certain aspects related to regulations on the right to reproduce and distribute works via the Internet.

Legal protection is also provided to database producers. Producers are granted special rights on the original selection or arrangement of the database for a period of 15 years. Special attention is also paid to organisations for collective copyright management. They have been assigned an increasing role in guaranteeing the observance and protection of copyright and neighbouring rights. Under Article 26 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, royalties on recording for personal use are payable to the organisations representing the different categories of copyright holders under the Act. Such organisations are also authorised to represent members in disputes of civil law.

According to the Ordinance Establishing a Procedure and Terms for the Allocation of Funds from Fines Collected under Article 97 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2002, 50% of the money collected are transferred to the bank account of the Culture National Fund, and the remaining 50% to the Ministry of Culture budget. They are to be used for copyright protection.

By the end of 2005, some very important legislative acts, in the protection of the rights on intellectual property, were initiated by the Ministry of Culture and passed by the Parliament.

The Act to Amend and Supplement the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act was adopted. Thus, the regulation of two new directives of the European Union was incorporated into Bulgarian legislation, namely:

The legislative changes also regulate, and in much more detail, the procedures for the legal administrative powers of those authorities within the Ministry of Culture, which are responsible for monitoring compliance in this field. The new legislation also increases the fines which are applicable for any violations.

Finally, the bill envisages some amendments to the international and private law regulations, related to Bulgaria's forthcoming membership of the EU, which will be become effective when the EU Accession Treaty will come into force.

In September 2005, the Act on Administrative Control on the Production and Trading of Optical Disks, Matrixes and other Storage Media Containing Copies or Objectives of the Copy and Neighbouring Rights was introduced. The law envisages clear and accurately written orders and conditions for obtaining the respective registration or licensing permission, as well as a very detailed mechanism for control, prevention and sanctions, which guarantees conformity with the law, both in execution, by the state bodies, of activities for the administration of these regimes, and in implementation of the regulated business activates.

The project "Establishment of a national network for cooperation and exchange of information related to the protection of rights on intellectual and industrial property" was realised under the PHARE Programme. The Project's main objective is to create an informational system for the exchange of data needed for execution of control, in the observance of the rights related to intellectual property.

Case law regarding copyright and neighbouring rights is in the process of being established within the Bulgarian Courts.

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

A Law on the Protection of Personal Information (Official Gazette No.░1/2002) regularises the protection of physical persons in the processing of personal data, as well as concerning access to these data. The objective of the law is to guarantee the inviolability of person and personal life, as well as to protect physical persons from illegal processing of personal data and to regulate access to such data. Under the provisions of this law, "personal data" is defined as "information about the physical person, which reveals his physical, mental, psychological, marital, economic, cultural or civil identity".

Bulgaria/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

See 4.2.2.

Bulgaria/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

Table 5:     Overview of cultural legislation in Bulgaria

Title of Act

Year of adoption

Amended and supplemented

1.  Protection and Development of Culture Act


Official Gazette No. 50/01.06.1999

Official Gazette No. 1/2000;

Official Gazette No. 34/2001

2.  Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act


Official Gazette No. 56/29.06.1993

Official Gazette No. 63/1994;

Official Gazette No. 10/1998;

Official Gazette No. 28/2000;

Official Gazette No.107/2000;

Official Gazette No. 77/2002

Official Gazette

No.105/ 2005

Official Gazette

No.30/ 2006

3.  National Chitalishte Act


Official Gazette No. 89/22.10. 1996

Official Gazette No. 95/1997;

Official Gazette No. 90/1999

4.  Compulsory Deposit of Copies of Printed and Other Works Act


Official Gazette No. 108/29.12.2000


5.  Act to Amend the Radio and Television Act


Official Gazette No. 138/1998

Official Gazette No. 60/1999

Official Gazette No. 81/1999

6. Film Industry Act


Official Gazette No. 105/2003


7.  Act on Administrative Control on the Production and Trading in Optical Disks, Matrixes and other Storage Media, Containing Copies or Objects of the Copy and Neighboring Rights

Official Gazette

No. 74 /2005



8.  Maecenas Law

Official Gazette No. 103/2005

Official Gazette
No. 30/2006


In progress

1.  Bill to Amend the Protection and Development of Culture Act

Currently being drafted

2.  Monuments of Culture Bill

Considered and in the process of being adopted by the Council of Ministers

3.  Bill to Amend the National Chitalishte Act

Considered and in the process of being adopted by the Council of Ministers

4. Theatre Bill

Currently being drafted


The Law on Maecenas, adopted in 2005, provides new opportunities for the funding of culture in Bulgaria. Under the provisions of this law, the state supports and encourages the Maecenas with tax relief, determined in special legislation- the Corporate Income Tax Act and the Personal Income Tax Act. Under the terms and provisions of the Law, the tax base is reduced to 15% in cases of grants. An annual state award was established in order to stimulate this process, which will be administered by the Minister of Culture.

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

There is no special law on visual and / or applied arts in Bulgaria.


Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

A Theatre Bill is currently being prepared which would recognise the multiple forms of theatre making up the theatre network in Bulgaria. Under this proposed Bill, equal treatment is to be given to all theatrical organisations when competing for project funding.  It also outlines the shared rights and responsibilities of the state and local authorities in development of theatrical activities in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

The legislative framework of the "cultural and historical heritage" sector is defined by two main normative documents. The state cultural policy's main principles are fixed in the Protection and Development of Culture Act, which is a common normative act for the entire field of culture. The Law of Cultural Monuments and Museums regularises the legal relations in the sector. Unfortunately it is one of the most outdated regulations (since 1969) among the operative laws in the country.

The draft of a Law to amend and supplement this act is aimed at introducing the Council of Europe's Regulation No░3911/92 regarding the export of cultural valuables. In the draft, a new chapter has been created on the "Export and temporary export of movable cultural monuments". The rules for granting export permission are defined as such: while the export of movable cultural monuments which are of national value is not allowed, except temporarily, with the permission of the Minister of Culture and in a thoroughly limited number of cases. The reproduction of cultural monuments in copies is regulated, and the definition of "exact copies" and "copies for educational, representative or commercial use" is given. At the same time, moves to establish the Inspectorate for cultural heritage were made to bring the new regulations into practice. It is envisaged that the Inspectorate will build a united information system for the management of cultural monuments together with the Ministry of Interior and the Customs Agency.

Cultural heritage laws are currently being drafted. They are expected to provide concessions to private owners of monuments or buildings on condition that the status of the respective item is preserved.  At present, all forms of public and private ownership in the sphere of cultural heritage are possible. State property may be managed by local and municipal structures, as well as by individual legal entities.

A new Bill on Cultural Monuments and Museums of Culture is currently in the process of being adopted by the Council of Ministers.

The regulation of an integrated digital information system in the field of country governance is provided for by Decree No. 36 of 14 February 2001 of the Council of Ministers.

In the field of cultural heritage preservation, although no comprehensive programme exists for establishing interactive information awareness, there are certain developments both in the legislation and in the sphere of practice, namely:

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

In 2000, a new law was adopted regarding the obligatory depositing of copies of printed and other works. The objective of the law is to ensure the collection and preservation of copies of: printed works, works circulated / disseminated by sound recordings, cine-film or electronic format stored by physical and juridical persons, dissertations and research works qualifying for academic recognition. These can be works protected within the country and / or produced by Bulgarian citizens abroad. Orders, medals, badges and plaques, coins and bank-notes, post stamps designed for usage in the country are also included in the law. It also regulates the preservation of complete collections of works as part of the national cultural heritage, ensuring public access to compulsory copies, as well as preparation, publishing, and dissemination of bibliographic information.

The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act defines public lending as "distribution of a work, which means the sale, exchange, donation, rental or lending, import and export, as well as the offer for sale or rental of any originals and copies of the work".

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

Matters related to the preservation of the architectural heritage are addressed in the Law for Organisation of the Territory and the Law of Cultural Monuments and Museums. According to expert opinion, there are some inconsistencies between the provisions in these two laws. The Law of Cultural Monuments and Museums indicates which state bodies are authorised to implement the management and supervision, investigation and protection of cultural monuments. However, the division between their competences causes some problems in practice, for example, one immovable cultural monument comprises of great number of movable ones, which may be under the responsibility of a different administrative body. In the majority of cases, the main problems are linked to insufficient funding. However, the law does not envisage any stimuli, or relief for the private owners of immovable cultural monuments. At the same time, it imposes upon them the duty of maintaining the monument in good condition, assuring access to it and a number of other responsibilities. Directly connected with the issue about funding is also the question about ownership of different cultural monuments. State property receives the majority, while little is left for others. At the same time, there is a lack of specialised state bodies based in the regions, which impedes badly needed site management. This creates some problems towards the decentralisation of cultural heritage management and does not allow for effective usage and potential of local authorities.

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

The main change in the film sector over the past ten years concerns the model of public financing. Funds are now granted to individual film projects, and not to production structures. This provides more equal chances for emerging independent producers who have to compete with the previously monolithic production studios. The main objective is to develop a film industry that is capable of gaining its own share of the domestic market, to gradually meet all-European criteria and to integrate into the European structures and markets for audio-visual products.

The Film Industry Act (2003) regulates the distribution, promotion and exhibition of films throughout the Republic of Bulgaria and defines state support for the film industry, thus creating conditions for its development.

State policy priorities fixed in the Film Industry Act (2003) are:

The National Film Centre is an Executive Agency being established as an administrative unit of the Minister of Culture. It is a legal body which is funded by the state budget and revenues collected from its own activities. The Agency:

Consultative and expert bodies are being established for the Agency as follows:

The State Budget Act provides an annual subsidy to the Agency, the yearly amount of which should not be less than the total of the average budget for the previous year, including: 5 feature films, 10 full-length documentaries and 120 minutes animation, as well as membership fees to international organisations, funds and programmes, and funds to maintain the Agency.

The State Budget Act also stipulates that financial support for the production of Bulgarian films must not be less than 30% of the average budget from the previous year for different types of films and must not exceed 80% of the budget for new projects. 

Financial support for participation in European co-productions can be given up to a maximum of 10% of the production costs, in cases when foreign co-producers have ensured financing for the entire film.

The National Film Council proposes a quota each year to support new Bulgarian films, amounting to no more than 10 percent of the total support for film production.

The Act provides detailed conditions on the state support given to the exhibition and distribution of Bulgarian films and films which have been co-produced with other European countries, or countries with which the Republic of Bulgaria has signed agreements.

The Act also regulates the licensing of film producers and cinemas.

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

See information on the Film Industry Act 2003 in 5.3.6.

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

The Radio and Television Act sets the following programming quotas: at least 50% of the total annual programme time for European and Bulgarian programming, excluding newscasts, sports shows, game shows on radio and TV, commercials and the radio and TV market, when that is practically possible. Bulgarian National Television must allocate at least 10% of the National Budget subsidies and Radio and Television Fund subsidies for the production of Bulgarian TV films.

Blank tape levies are regulated by Article 26 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act. According to Article 26 (1), "any author of a work recorded on audio- or video-recording media, any performer [...], as well as any producer of any such phonogrammes, shall have the right to a compensatory royalty..." Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 identify the payers, recipients and rates of royalties due under Paragraph 1.

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

Artists pay taxes under the Personal Income Tax Act, which allows them to deduct 50% of their expenses from taxable income received for the creation of works of art, science and culture, folk arts and crafts, and copyright royalties. Furthermore, taking into account the specificity of creative work, the legislation provides an opportunity for income averaging derived from creative work undertaken in the course of more than one year (e.g. the writing of a book), but not exceeding four years. Artists thus avoid the progressive annual income tax.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Bulgaria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

Information is currently not available.

Bulgaria/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

After a long period of steady decline in public cultural expenditure, which fell to a post-1989 record low in 1996 and 1997 (which also saw a record low GDP and GDP share of cultural expenditure), there was an upward trend starting in 1998. Cultural expenditure did not, however, increase in real terms, and remained below the 1990 level even in 2002. Nevertheless, the relative growth and structural reorientation of support for creative projects has been of paramount importance. There was an increase in cultural expenditure as a percentage of Bulgaria's consolidated budget for the first time in 1998, when it almost recovered to the 1990 level of 1.84%.

The GDP percentage of cultural expenditure is a more significant indicator. Unfortunately, the 1990 level (1.09% of GDP) has not been reached yet, but this is only logical given the currency board arrangement and severe restrictions in the entire sphere of public financing.

Nevertheless, the GDP percentage of cultural expenditure has been tending to grow, albeit hesitantly. 1998 and 1999 this growth was significant - from 0.44% in 1996 to 0.78% in 1999, or by around 73%. Regrettably, in the past seven years - from 2000 to 2006 - the GDP percentage of cultural expenditure has stabilised at around 0.7%.

In the past ten years, direct cultural expenditure has remained below 1-1.2% of the total expenditure of municipalities, due to their low budget revenues. Municipalities claim that this is because they are not free to allocate local taxes and fees themselves, and that chronic under-funding dooms them to default on their obligations.

The expenditure of households for cultural goods and services are being calculated by the national statistics under the grouping of "Leisure time, cultural recreation and education" and cannot be separated. In the beginning of 2004, the National Statistical Institute carried out a study of household budgets in 2003. The results which are related to culture are given in the table below:

Table 6:  Household expenditure for leisure time, cultural recreation and education, in BGN, 1999-2006










Average per household









Average per person









Structure - % of all expenditures









Source:      National Statistical Institute, 2006.

An example of positive change and of "good practice" in cultural policy is the "Culture" Programme set up by Sofia City municipality. The Programme will support projects that will be selected by public tender with clearly stated priorities, criteria and evaluation mechanisms. This is a sign of significant change in the municipal authorities' attitude towards the financing of culture because it opens up the possibility for support not only of traditional cultural institutions (as at present), but also for authors and groups which do not belong to these organisations. The non-government sector in the cultural sphere, which is more flexible and creative, should at last get the chance to develop its potential more adequately. Before the start of the programme, the nongovernmental cultural institutions did not have any source of public funding. Therefore, the cultural sector regards this initiative as a serious investment, despite the modest annual budget of BGN 1 000 000 allocated to the programme for 2005 and 2006.

Bulgaria/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

The figures in the table below are calculated on the basis of annual NSI data, on the size of the population based on births and deaths, and data from the last census conducted in March 2001.

Table 7:     Public cultural expenditure per capita, in USD, 1995-2005


Expenditure per capita

% of GDP





































Source:      The only figures available for 2000 and 2001 are quoted by B. Tomova in "Financing of the Arts:
                 Between the State and the Market," Economic Report on Culture Technological Park Project,
                 Sofia, 2001 (in Bulgarian).

Bulgaria/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

Table 8:     Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, in BGN, 2005 (budget figures)

Level of government


% share of total

State (federal)

198 889 553


Regional (provincial, Lńnder)



Local (municipal)

104 800 000



303 689 553


Source:   Ministry of Finance, National Budget Act; Ministry of Culture, Financial Department.
Note:       Figures presented in Table 8 include all expenditures of the Ministry of Culture (subsidy from the state
               budget plus income from own resources) and state subsidies for the BNR, BNT, archives.

Expenditures on the central level are allocated to: cultural institutions, the Ministry of Culture, Bulgarian National Radio, Bulgarian National Television, territorial sections of the General Archive Directorate, the Council of Ministers, investment expenditures for social projects and programmes of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and a subsidy for the Museum of Education from the Ministry of Education and Science.

Table 9:     Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, in '000 BGN, 1998-2005 (budget figures)

Level of government










72 810.1


113 838.3


103 250


99 300


120 114


172 136


181 712


198 889.6












Municipal / local

49 935.8


58 041.4


500 31.3


51 600



53 000


46 947


104 800


Extra budgetary allocation

29 051.3


6 891.1









151 804.4

178 770.8

153 281.3

196 300

211 100

225 136

228 659

303 689.6

Source:      Ministry of Finance, National Budget Act (adopted on an annual basis)

As indicated in the Table above, considerable changes in the public expenditures for culture can not be expected, even if the amounts are nominally increasing, they still remain at a constant percent of the GDP. After 1999, expenditures for culture per capita remained relatively stable.A significant change, in the proportion distributed between central and local level budgets, was noticed in 2005. It is too early to say if this will turn into a lasting trend, nevertheless it is evidence of efforts by the executive power to implement real decentralisation in the culture financing system.

Bulgaria/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

Table 10:   State cultural expenditure: by sector, in BGN, 2006 (budget figures)

Field / Domain / Sub-domain

Direct expenditure

Transfers to institutions

(to other levels of government)


% of total

Cultural Goods

10 404 000

4 500 000


14 904 000


Cultural Heritage

7 832 000





Historical Monuments

1 351 000





Museums and Galleries

6 481 000

100 000






4 400 000


4 400 000



2 572 000






45 796 000



45 796 000


Visual Arts (including design)






Performing Arts

45 796 000



45 796 000



22 986 000



22 986 000


Theatre and Musical Theatre

22 810 000



22 810 000









9 411 000

110 300 000


119 711 000


Books and Press

2 553 000



2 553 000



2 553 000



2 553 000








Audio, Audiovisual and Multimedia







6 858 000



6 858 000




38 100 000


38 100 000




72 200 000


72 200 000



26 043 000

11 200 000

95 400 000

132 643 000




10 600 000

95 400 000

106 000 000








Cultural Relations Abroad

94 000

600 000


694 000



10 659 000



10 659 000


Educational Activities

14 527 000



14 527 000


Not allocable by domain

763 000



763 000



91 654 000*

126 000 000

95 400 000

313 054 000


Source:      Ministry of Finance, National Budget Act 2003; Ministry of Culture, Financial Department.
*                This figure includes 73 312 000 BGN budget subsidy, plus 14 842 000 BGN from the revenue of the 
                 Ministry of Culture.

Bulgaria/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

As a result of the dominance of the state, public cultural institutions have retained their leading role and main responsibility for the development of culture in Bulgaria for years. At the same time, by steadily cutting annual public spending on culture, the state gradually relinquished its former "total" responsibility for culture, thus jeopardising the very survival of some cultural institutions. In the past few years, the state has given priority to the re-allocation of public responsibilities to the local level, however, without changing the status of public cultural institutions.

Given the absence of a specific statutory framework and clear agenda of cultural reform, private enterprise aimed at divestment and establishment of non-governmental for-profit (and partly non-profit) organisations has been haphazard and confined to certain spheres of culture only, foremost the media and cultural industries, where a free market model of cultural products and services was partly established.

As regards the NGO sector, support for culture came foremost from outside sources or partners - mainly from the Open Society Foundation and various European Union programmes, such as Raphael, Ariane and Kaleidoscope, as well as donations from numerous foreign funds and foundations, as well as from expatriate Bulgarians.

Today there are new actors in cultural policies who have diversified the notion of who is responsible for the development of contemporary Bulgarian culture and who are changing the hierarchy of public responsibilities in this area.

Bulgaria/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

The national strategy towards decentralisation is vested in the Protection and Development of Culture Act, which has changed the status of cultural institutions in Bulgaria. The act classifies cultural institutions as "state institutions of national importance" (financed wholly and with priority by the Ministry of Culture budget); "state institutions" (financed by the Ministry of Culture and municipalities); "departmental institutions" (financed wholly or partly by the respective department, when they are institutions of a government department); "municipal institutions" (financed by the municipal budget); "regional cultural institutions" (financed by the respective municipality on whose territory they are located, by municipal contributions and supplementary funds determined on an annual basis by the National Budget Act).

Cultural NGOs come in many varieties and may call themselves alliances, societies, associations, foundations, funds, unions, committees, centres, festivals, academies, Chitalishte, trustees, independent theatres, federations, institutes, etc. Depending on their function, they are classified mainly as operational and community NGOs. A new Not-for-Profit Legal Entities Act, regulating their incorporation and activities, was adopted in 2000.

Bulgaria/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

Today the state's main partners in cultural policy implementation are the municipal departments of culture and the commissions on culture at the municipal councils (the local parliaments). The latter have their own, local cultural calendar; approve and follow their own cultural budgets; support municipal cultural institutions and contribute to the financing of state cultural institutions, as agreed with the Ministry of Culture.

There are many forms of co-operation with NGOs: recruitment of NGO activists and experts to the standing and interim commissions of municipal councils; inviting NGO representatives to share their views on issues of regional and local relevance; assigning specific tasks to NGOs and providing the necessary resources; organising joint events with joint activities and responsibilities, etc.

The Ministry of Culture promotes partnerships between the governmental and non-governmental sectors. Joint financing, activities and projects between the Ministry and NGOs, as well as sponsorship by for-profit NGOs, have become a common practice in many spheres.

A trilateral agreement on partnership in the formulation, updating, and implementation of the national cultural policy was concluded in the beginning of 2002 between the National Assembly's Committee on Culture, the Ministry of Culture and the National Civic Forum of Culture (an association of cultural NGOs).

The interest and desire of private businesses to support the development of culture and arts in Bulgaria is starting to gain speed. According to research carried out in 2000 by the Soros Arts Centre, "Business support for culture and art in Bulgaria", among 100 Bulgarian and foreign companies active in the Bulgarian marketplace, the majority of them (65%) have been providing support in the most wide meaning of organisation and / or events related to arts and culture. The most active are banks and financial institutions, service companies - communications, airlines, etc., distributors of foreign products, followed by industrial companies. Companies are most interested in providing sponsorship to:

To the list should be added festivals, which attract the interest of a comparatively larger audience as well as number of sponsors. Attention should also be paid to the attitude of many companies which prefer to provide funding for "saving" something of particular national value and / or significant forms of art, events or cultural-historical heritage. The Soros study shows that, in Bulgaria, sponsorship is seldom part of the integrated marketing strategy of the majority of companies. Funds for sponsorship, advertising and donations are allocated from the total budget and a unified approach is applied to them. The perfect scenario would be the establishment of long-term partnerships (as in the case of support for the "Sofia Film Fest" from a bank). Support for such projects is more common as they are apart from the public and market interests.

Bulgaria/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

See chapter 8.1.1.

Bulgaria/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

The National Culture Fund (NCF) was established by the Protection and Development of Culture Act and began operating in November 2000. Its main goal is to support the development of culture in accordance with national cultural policies outlined in the state programmes for the corresponding period and spelled out in the Protection and Development of Culture Act.

The governing body of the NCF is a Management Board whose chairman is the Minister of Culture. Members of the Board are distinguished cultural figures, representatives of unions of artists and a representative from each of the municipalities, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Finance.

Funding for creative projects is allocated on the basis of open tenders / competitions which are prepared and approved by the Management Board. Priority areas for support are formulated at the beginning of each year. All cultural organisations can participate in these competitions, including non-profit organisations and individuals. The applicants submit their documentation according to a specific application procedure. The applications are examined and evaluated by commissions of experts from different sectors. The Management Board discusses the decisions made by the commissions of experts and reaches a final decision for funding winning projects. The competition results are announced on the website of the Euro-Bulgarian Cultural Centre:, and the winners are informed by personal letters.

The new priorities of NCF foresee its development as an independent organisation, which takes part in the formulation of Bulgarian cultural policy. In order to achieve this goal, the NCF has outlined the following activities which it plans to undertake:

In 2003, a programme for international cultural exchange and mobility was launched. Within this programme, the NCF distributes yearly around 43 000 BGN (22 000 euro), dedicated to travel expenses of artists and managers on a competition basis.

During 2003, the NCF studied the opportunity to increase its resources through new partnerships with different types of organisations. The NCF, together with the Soros Centre for Cultural Policies and the Swiss Cultural Programme in Bulgaria organised and held a joint competition to support new projects proposed by the young and youngest generation artists in the whole spectrum of contemporary arts, including training. The goal of the competition was to encourage the development of new trends in the field of contemporary art and culture, to stimulate the production of a variety of cultural products, and to contribute to their "popularisation" and international exchange.

The State Prize "Paisii Hilendarski" was established by Article 19 of Protection and Development of Culture Act. Since 2000, it has been awarded on a yearly basis to one eminent Bulgarian artist (author or performer) whose work is of importance, or related to Bulgarian history and tradition. The Prize is given by the Prime Minister based on proposals put forward by the Minister of Culture (who in turn receives proposals from all state authorities and non-government cultural organisations).

Since 2003, the Ministry of Culture awards the yearly prize "Golden Age" in honour of the 24th May - a Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slavic writing. The Prize - honorary decoration and a sum of 3 000 BGN - is given by the Minister of Culture for contributions to the development and popularisation of Bulgarian culture. In 2003, the Prize was awarded to 30 Bulgarian artists from all areas of culture. They are nominated by the artists unions and national art centres.

Indirect state support for artists and creativity is provided via various laws with provisions recognising the specificity of creative work: employment relations, social protection in case of unemployment, income tax, donations for cultural activities, social insurance, etc. Notably, all those laws are currently being revised for the purpose of harmonisation with the acquis communitaire.

Bulgaria/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships

The important positive role of NGOs in the transition period has become obvious in the past five years. Recent data shows that there has been an increase of third sector support for cultural projects.

Foundations offer three main forms of support to artists including:

The Open Society Institute, Future for Bulgaria Foundation, Ss Cyril and Methodius Foundation, the 13 Centuries Bulgaria Fund, and since 2000, the National Culture Fund, together with the EU Phare Programme, granted a total of more than USD 13.6 million for cultural projects between 1996-2004.

Table 11:   NGO contributions to culture 1996-2005 (in USD)







Open Society




Women's Program

Roma Program


-of which Soros Centre for the Arts







4 850 322

-2 412 628


1 982 129

666 111

625 468



3 073 708

-1 311 157


646 563

305 000


224 000

398 000

1 867 773

-194 210















9 791 803

(-3 917 995)

Future for Bulgaria

427 530




427 530

Phare Programme

1 605 000




1 605 000

13 Centuries Bulgaria

49 636




49 636

National Culture Fund


236 695

1 457 311


1 694 006


6 932 488

3 310 403

3 325 084


13 567 975

Swiss Cultural Programme in Bulgaria (Pro Helvetia)


100 000 CHF

300 000 CHF

530 000 CHF

930 000 CHF

Obviously, the major sponsor of culture 1996-2004 was the Open Society Foundation. At the same time the Foundation, through its Soros Centre for the Arts, developed specialised programmes (on visual arts, theatre, music, literature, cultural heritage), as well as a comprehensive database through which it provides consulting services to Bulgarian and foreign artists and experts.

According to information provided by the non-governmental organisation "Bulgarian Donor's Forum" (established in 2003), various donors provided support for projects in the cultural area in the amount of 300 000 BGN for the year 2004. These include the Swiss Cultural Programme Pro Helvetia, the European Cultural Foundation, business companies (ING Bank, Post Bank) and charity business networks (Rotary Club). The majority of these grants were directed towards modern art, followed by support for the exploration and preservation of the cultural and historic heritage.

The number of companies that donate to charity is low, but is growing - from 4% in 2003 to 6% in 2005. A research on the "Bulgarian Donor's Forum" indicates that 60% of the donations are from international institutions and foundations from USA, Germany, Japan, European Union and about 20% from Bulgarian private companies. Bulgaria receives about 20 million euro from foreign donor's capital annually. More recently, there is a noticed reduction of international involvement and an increase in funding coming from the Bulgarian state budget.

The ratio of state subsidies delivered through the state budget (741 326 254 USD) to funds provided by the third sector (13 567 975 USD) for support to cultural projects between 1996 and 2004 is approximately 50:1, i.e. 2% of all funds invested in cultural projects have been granted by NGOs. This ratio is common to most European countries with well developed legislation, established traditions, and a strong business community, where the volume of funds obtained through sponsorship is between 1 and 6%.

Bulgaria/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

Professional associations are currently lobbying the Parliament for favourable social and labour legislation for their respective professions, as well as for passage of specific legislation facilitating the emergence of a market for works of art.

Artists association maintain social funds offering members lump-sum aid or monthly supplements to recipients of pensions below the poverty threshold. Members of professional associations are entitled to discounts on goods and services from association-owned shops, enterprises or recreation facilities.

Some associations negotiate threshold rates of payment for certain professions with potential employers. Only a few associations have a special fund for creative support which pays part of the cost of creative activity and handles marketing.

Bulgaria/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

A sociological survey on "Public Opinion on Cultural Life, the Status of Artists and Cultural Reform" conducted in 1997 found that an insignificant proportion of Bulgaria's population (from 0.3% to 6% depending on the particular art form) participate in the traditional forms of cultural life several times a month. If we add the proportion of those who attend an art event once every few months, we will get a relatively stable group of about 10% to 15% of the population with comparatively active rates of participation in cultural life. Those who never go to the cinema, theatre, opera, concert or art exhibition comprise between 70% and 88% (depending on the particular art form) of the population. The majority (56% of the population) own 100 to 500 books, 6% to 7% are active book collectors, and 74% could not quote the name of the author or title of the last book they bought.

During the last 10 years, the number of young readers in Bulgaria increased by 15%, according to analysis of reading habits carried out in November 2004 by the sociological agency "ASSA-M" and commissioned by the Association "Bulgarian Books" and the National Book Centre under the Ministry of Culture. This study also indicated that 41% of the public do not read and had not purchased a book in the previous three months. Of the reading public, only 41% purchased books from bookshops and the remainder had received their books from friends.

In February 2005 the National Centre for Research on Public Opinion carried out a study on "Cultural attitudes and consumption of cultural products in Bulgaria". The study is representative at national level and it was carried out by the method of semi-standardised interviews. This is the first integral analysis for 15 years which is devoted to national cultural preferences and values, to the frequency, motivation and restraints in the demand for cultural products and services, as well as the role of education in this process. The study demonstrated that the main national leisure pursuit is watching TV - 57.4% of those interviewed. The next preferences are book reading (8%), listening to music (6%), and in this respect young people under 30 years of age are the leading group. Only 1.4% of the population visits the theatre, movies, opera, ballet, or exhibitions on a regular basis.

At the same time, 10.4% expressed an interest in visiting the theatre, concerts, opera, ballet and exhibitions - i.e. the difference between the real and the potential audience is 1:10. The main reasons given by interviewees for not pursuing leisure activities of personal interest to them were financial restrictions - 42%, lack of free time - 16%, and tiredness at the end of the day - 14%. However, when interviewees were asked for the reasons for not attending cultural events, the financial restraints are rated only in third place (14%) i.e. the price of the tickets is not the most important barrier. The reluctance to visit arts events is formed at an earlier stage and is defined by arguments such as "people from my social environment don't visit these places" - 32%, followed by "I feel unprepared for this type of cultural entertainment" - 17%. Therefore, the leading factor in low participation rates is more related to socio-cultural factors, such as family, friends, and the environment.

The role of education at a young age is a determining factor for development of the future consumer-connoisseur. When analyzing the data from this study, the researcher Biljana Tomova draws the following conclusion: "The observed reduction in demand for cultural products and services over a period longer than a decade and the more and more restricted access of households to various forms of cultural entertainment is nowadays moving on to a completely new stage - one generation is lost for Bulgarian culture."

There are no surveys monitoring the participation of national minority groups or immigrant groups in cultural life.

Cultural participation in its traditional forms is obviously declining. There are two main reasons for this: economic hardship and a massive swing towards newer and more individualised forms of dissemination of culture: TV, video, cable, satellite. This distinct trend is associated with substantial changes not only in the frequency, but also in the forms, standards, and criteria of cultural participation.

Table 12:   Cultural participation 1998 - 2006

Field / Year









Number of theatres









28 700

30 500

30 277



30 105



12 600

12 500

10 465



10 776


Visits to theatres

1 900 000

1 600 000




1 475 323



Number of cinemas

-in towns

-in villages




















Number of screenings

-in towns

-in villages


100 074

99 633



84 314

84 080



103 876

103 488




136 422

136 145




157 247

157 154



-in towns

-in villages

3 204 000

3 189 000

15 000

1 923 000

1 909 000

14 000

1 860 484


3 530 595

3 508 000

2 595


2 580 000

2 578 000

2 000

Ticket sales (million BGN)


10 730.0


8 000


7 327



13 680



9 312

Libraries and Chitalishte*

Field / Year








Number of libraries

-Library stock ('000 items)


7 483


97 536

78 571

7 283


96 701

77 756

7 091


95 737

76 615



34 677

18 644



35 143

18 902

4 552***


86 582

68 531



34 966

18 562

Average loans per reader























Number of Chitalishte

-in towns

-in villages

3 125



2 611

3 056



2 546

2 933



2 485

3 000




2 838



2 299


Members (in '000)

-in towns

-in villages
















Museums and galleries









(in '000)

5 646

5 053

3 938

3 554.5


3 925.2


-of which to art galleries

1 685

1 503






Film production

Field / Year






Number of film produced






Of which for television






Full-length films






Short- and medium-length films






Television stations








206 698

177 760

395 369

498 091

599 135

Radio stations








354 664

392 055

493 376

525 511

591 834

Source:      Statistical Reference book 1999, 2001-2003, 2005, 2006; National Statistical Institute, Bulgaria 2006.
*                Culture clubs.
**               From 2002 to 2004 and in 2006, the NSI covered libraries only stocking more than 200 000 items.
***              Libraries stocking more than 2 000 items.
Note:          From 2002, the NSI will update data on theatres, cinemas and chitalishte on a five-year basis.

Table 13 and 14 provide data on rates of participation in those areas of cultural life which do not receive notable public subsidies, mainly the fields of book publishing and other printed media.

Table 13:   Published books and brochures, 1998-2006


Titles - Number

Circulation -  thousands

Average circulation per book - thousands


4 863

11 873.9



5 027

9 363.2



4 984

6 567.1



6 018

5 616.2



5 511

4 483.5



6 432

4 286.1



6 029

3 917.1



6 562

4 137.6


Source:      National Statistical Institute, "Bulgaria 2006", Sofia, 2006,

Table 14:   Published newspapers, magazines and bulletins, 1998-2006



Magazines and bulletins

Title - copies

Yearly printing

Titles - copies

Yearly printing

Thousand copies

Per capita - copies

Thousand copies

Per capita - copies



428 430.3



14 121.3




442 570.5



19 149.6




375 244.2



16 999.4




358 423.6



15 184.0




297 687.7



17 034.3




310 500.0



19 500.0




297 687.7



13 665.2




325 733.1



22 158.9



Bulgaria/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

There is no explicit policy or reference in government documents on culture linking participation in cultural life to the broader issues of civic participation, citizenship, civil society development / cohesion.

Special programmes or policy initiatives to promote participation in cultural life are implemented mainly by the Ministry of Culture through the national art centres. The latter subsidise cultural programmes and creative projects promoting participation in cultural life. The Ministry provides consistent, albeit limited financial support to educational concerts, festivals, competitions, and amateur arts. Some cultural institutions - theatres, opera houses, orchestras - offer discounts or free shows for pensioners, students, and children.

Since 2000, the National Book Centre has started granting active readers (pupils and students) book vouchers - in total worth BGN 10 000 (approximately USD 6 000) - twice a year, during the spring and autumn book fairs in Sofia. An individual active reader could receive 10-50 USD per year.

The programme of the National Book Centre, entitled "In aid of Libraries", was launched in 2004. Most of the 7 thousand libraries in Bulgaria had not purchased any books in the previous ten years because of the highly limited state subsidy. The programme enables libraries to select the books they would like to acquire, but covers only half of the cost necessary for their purchase - the other half they should source themselves.

Bulgaria/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

The responsibility for arts education is shared between two ministries - the Ministry of Culture, which is responsible for specialised arts secondary schools, and the Ministry of Science and Education, which is responsible for the schools of general education and their programmes in different arts sectors, as well as for higher level arts education.

Two types of arts education programmes are offered in Bulgaria: comprehensive arts education, which covers arts courses from grades 1 to 12 in all schools, and specialised arts education. The main orientation of comprehensive arts education programmes throughout the past several decades was towards the classical forms of arts. A contemporary concept of education in the arts and culture may begin to include avant-garde arts, cultural heritage, design, culture of the urban environment, photography and, audio-visual arts in the overall curriculum. To a great extent, this concept has been enacted. There is an introductory course on contemporary art forms provided in the compulsory programmes of fine arts and music for 8 and 9 grades in the secondary general education schools.

Specialised arts education offers continuous training in the arts at high-school (grades 8 to 12) and university levels. Students from specialised arts schools and university students of music and fine arts are studying web-design and computer technologies.

In Bulgaria, special attention is paid to children who are gifted in the areas of science, art and sports. Once-off financial aid, in the amount of three times the national minimum wage, is granted to children who receive first, second or third place in competitions, Olympiads or contests, in the area of arts, science and sports, at municipality, national or international level. Incentives for gifted children are also granted in the form of monthly scholarships, in the amount equal to 50% of the minimum salary for the country. This grant may be applied for by a child, parent (guardian), school director or social worker. Candidates are evaluated by expert commissions, and the funds for this programme are provided by the budget of the interested ministries for the relevant calendar year. For 2005, the Ministry of Culture provided approximately 200 000 BGN for 151 scholarships to gifted children (106 musicians and 45 artists) and for 28 one-off grants (11 musicians and 17 artists). In 2006, 154 scholarships were provided.

As a country involved in the building of the common European space for higher education, Bulgaria, from the very beginning of the Bologna process, supports and fulfils all the decisions adopted at the strategic progress levels. The objectives of the Bologna Process, and the resolutions resulting from the Ministers' meetings in Prague, Berlin and Bergen, are incorporated into national legislation. The autonomous high schools incorporate the directions of the European common policy in their organisation and in the substance of their activities (e.g. the stage structure and the bi-cycle educational model have been implemented). In addition, the functional structure of the systems for internal and external quality evaluation is established; effective schemes for students' and lecturers' mobility have been implemented; the common European instruments for the provision of free competitiveness and maximum utilisation of academic students' development has been adopted - i.e. the system for accumulation and transfer of credits and the European diploma supplement.

Bulgaria/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

Efforts to set up intercultural education programmes in the system of secondary schools are the prerogative of each individual educational institution. In 2005, the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) set up a specialised department entitled "Intellectual Development and Cultural Integration" under the Secondary Education Directorate. This new Department, which has three sectors - "Cultural Integration", "Religion" and "Talents" - is directly involved in facilitating the integration of ethnic minorities in Bulgaria. The MES has also set up a Consultancy Council on the education of ethnic minorities, as a state-public body for consultation, cooperation and coordination between MES, NCEDI (National Council on Ethnic and Demographic Issues within the Council of Ministers), other ministries and institutions and NGOs, working in the field of education. The objective of the Council is to support the formation and implementation of a national policy related to the integration of pupils from ethnic communities in Bulgaria, as well as the development of strategies and specific measures for educational policy in this regard. Difficulties arising for children from minority groups are addressed by the Bulgarian National Programme for Child Protection, designed by the Department for "Intellectual Development and Cultural Integration".

The Ministry of Education and Science is organizing training courses for academic personnel covering information about Roma history and culture, problem solving and management of the class.

The creation of dictionaries, grammar books and training materials on the history and culture of minorities in Bulgaria commenced with the active support of NGOs and lecturers in the field of minorities' history and culture. The Inter-ethnic Initiative for Human Rights Foundation has prepared materials for pupils, from first up to eleventh grade, in the form of 11 addendums to the text books in language, literature, history and music, with information about the Roma history and culture, as well as 5 methodical instruction manuals for the teachers in the respective subjects. The publications were endorsed by the Ministry of Education and Science and have become regularly used training manuals. The Foundation has trained teachers from 35 schools, to work with these manuals, and has implemented a pilot project for their approbation in schools where Bulgarian and Roma children study.

The Human Rights Foundation has also initiated the creation of an educational programme for intercultural understanding, entitled the "Development of Intercultural Experience", intended for work with younger pupils. It is a training programme to promote understanding through shared children's experience, through intercultural dialogue in the class and through defense of mutual rights. It is intended for work in classes and groups, regardless of their ethnic composition and it is easy adaptable to different ethno-cultural environments.

The Balkan Foundation, Diversity, publishes trainee manuals for studying the Roma language, as well as pedagogic manuals to assist the teachers who work in the Bulgarian language, but who also teach children from Roma and Turkish ethnic communities.  Diversity is also organizing annual international seminars on ethno-linguistics, directed mainly to explore the linguistic problems of the Roma and Turkish children when studying the Bulgarian language. 

The Public Council on Cultural Diversity, within the Ministry of Culture, has been operating since 2002. International student exchanges are being organised in art schools, which are under the management of the Ministry of Culture, e.g. since 1989, an exchange programme has been organised between the students from the National School of Fine Arts "Ilia Petrov", in Sofia, and the students of art and design from the City College, in Bath, England. Participants on the programme have meetings in Bulgaria and England, have become acquainted with the local cultures and traditions and, in parallel, are working on common projects. Results from their creative activities are being shown in exhibitions organised in the town of Bath and at the British Council in Sofia.

Regional Councils on Ethnic and Demographic issues are functioning under the regional administrations (28 in number) and are working on programmes approved by these authorities. The Councils involve experts from the regional administrations, mayors of municipalities, representatives of the territorial units of the central executives, and public minorities' organisations working in the respective regions. Such experts are nominated in almost half of the 263 Bulgarian municipalities.

Citizenship Education

The year 2005 was proclaimed by the Council of Europe as The European Year of Citizenship through Education. The Bulgarian government was one of the initiators and most active participants of this programme. Representatives of key institutions and NGOs were involved in the implementation of the National Programme for the "Year", and the leader in the process was the Ministry of Education and Science. 

The European Year of Citizenship through Education took place in the context of the 50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention. For more information see: One of the main questions addressed was: How can education on democracy contribute to solving societal problems and promote social cohesion?

Examples of actions undertaken within the elaborated National Programme on the "Year of Citizenship" are:

During the Year, a special Education Pack was developed for training teachers and introducing the topics about citizenship education throughout schools in Bulgaria.

Special training, workshops and summer academies took place, in 2005, focusing on tolerance and intercultural communication.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Bulgaria/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

Amateur arts are supported foremost by municipalities and partly by the Ministry of Culture and by sponsors - foundations and members of the public. The number of local cultural festivals of amateur arts is increasing.

Amateur arts in Bulgaria have been associated with the Chitalishte (culture clubs) ever since their genesis. There has been a drastic slump in the number of amateur art companies, performers and viewers (especially since 1990). The past three or four years have seen the beginning of stabilisation within the system, which is evidenced by the growing number of amateur art events: festivals, competitions, traditional feasts. The majority of those events are devoted to folk arts and crafts and authentic folklore.

Bulgaria/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Chitalishte are important community culture clubs.

The UNDP Project BUL/00/002, Community Development and Participation through the Chitalishte Network 2001-2004, is among the most important grant schemes to develop the Chitalishte-infrastructure in Bulgaria. By building on the Chitalishte's existing network, the project envisaged an expanded and sustainable role for the Chitalishte. By building on its traditional strength, the potential exists for increasing grass-roots participation and local development. Some of the strategies for improving the capacity of the Bulgarian Chitalishte include ICT grants for "model projects which demonstrate good practice" and public awareness initiatives.

Bulgaria/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

Institute of Culturology: Bulgarian Cultural Policy 1990-1995. Sofia, 1997. 

Markov, Emil; Kassabov, Ivan: Statutory Options of Financing Culture. Legal Report on the Culture Technological Park Project under the Policies for Culture Programme (in Bulgarian). 

Materials from a seminar on DecentralisationInvesting in the Culture of Regions. held in Bistritsa from January 18 to 20, 2001 under the Policies for Culture Programme (in Bulgarian). 

Ministry of Culture: Cultural Policy 1996-1999. Sofia, 2000 (in Bulgarian). 

National Statistical Institute: Statistical Yearbook 2000; Statistical Yearbook 2001; Statistical Yearbook 2002, Statistical Yearbook 2003, Statistical Yearbook 2004, Statistical Yearbook 2005. Sofia: National Statistical Institute, 2000 to 2006. 

Tomova, Bilyana: Financing of the Arts / Culture in Bulgaria: Between the State and the Market. Economic Report on the Culture Technological Park Project under the Policies for Culture Programme (in Bulgarian).

ECF / Boekman Stichting: Arts, Politics and Change. Amsterdam, 2005 / Bulgarian.  Translation Изкуство, политика, промяна, ed. Sema-RS, Sofia 2005 

Ivan Tchalakov, Vladya Borisova, Donka Keskinova, Georgy Damyanov, Rossitza Arkova, Tsveta Andreeva, Jordan Kalchev, Todor Todorov: Economic Contribution of Copyright and related rights-based Industries to the Bulgarian Economy. With the methodological support of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Sofia 2007 (in Bulgarian. English version will be published by WIPO by the end of 2007). 

Arch. Uliana Maleeva, Arch. Hristina Staneva: HEREIN - European Heritage Network NATIONAL HERITAGE POLICY . BULGARIAN REPORT, UPDATED 2007, (in English and in Bulgarian), Sofia 2007. See also

Bulgaria/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Cultural policy making bodies

Ministry of Culture

National Council for Co-operation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues

Professional associations

Union of Bulgarian Artists

Union of Bulgarian Composers

Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers

Union of the Architects in Bulgaria

Grant-giving bodies

Goethe Institute - Sofia

Art Production Fund

"Values" Foundation

Apollonia Art Foundation

Concept for Theatre Foundation

Future for Bulgaria Foundation

National Culture Fund

Open Society Foundation

Resource Centre Foundation

Swiss Cultural Program in Bulgaria

Next Page Foundation

Krug Circle

New Culture Foundation

Art in Action

Cultural research and statistics

Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation

International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations

Centre for Advanced Study

Internet portal for Cultural Policy Studies

Culture / arts portals

Cult BG

Democratic Review. A journal published by the Citizen Foundation

Euro-Bulgarian Cultural Centre

Family of NGO in Arts and Culture

Kultura a weekly for arts, culture and non-fiction published by the Kultura Space Foundation

National Civil Forum for Culture

Institute for Contemporary Art

The Red House - Centre for Culture and Debate


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008