Dear friends,

Like every year, in this one we turn to you as associates, colleagues and friends to share our work experience over the past year, the experience in our working field where we and you are together. Once again we would like to tell you what we did, which was seen, and what we went through, which was hidden. We want to prompt you in those lines what we believe in, what we defended, what we gave the lead to, what we ignored and what we were rewarded for. With this sharing, we would like to give you an occasion for empathy, an occasion to learn from our experience or to protect yourself from it. We do all this with the full awareness that we are part of an ecosystem, a professional cultural environment that we would like to maintain and develop.

For Open Arts Foundation, the ending 2018, on the one hand, rewarded us with the launch and the final realization of two of our truly long-awaited international projects in the platform “Introduction to Contemporary Art” – a book and a website presenting the history of contemporary art in Bulgaria and its current state; It also allowed us to spread our innovative cultural model from our City and Culture platform and get to a new audience – FLUCA: Austrian cultural pavilion, which went to Sofia; But also in 2018, we were suddenly confronted with external unforeseen circumstances that led us to the tough decision to declare a zero year for the fourteen-year-old, awaited annually by tens of thousands of visitors, influential in the professional circles, realized in collaboration with a vast network of partners and participants, an example of cultural management, the most successful project in the history of our organization, namely NIGHT / Plovdiv.

We are grateful for all this because it gave us the opportunity, as every other year, but now even more articulated, to show that for Open Arts Foundation the process of doing cultural projects is a guiding principle. Because we believe that this “how” shows us why they are being made, what they are like, what influence they have here, now and especially in the future on the socio-cultural eco system. And we are grateful because we have been able to show that we believe in cooperation and equality as principles for achieving a common ground, or rather, it cannot exist if cooperation and equality do not exist.

We would like to thank our partners, friends, colleagues and associates who were with us both in moments of success and in difficult times. Who supported us with their donations, with their peer support, but also with meetings, phone calls and messages, through social media or tapping on the shoulders, through their projects and platforms.

I would like to thank the curators, the experts and the number of participants with whom we are developing our projects. Personally, I would like to thank the people behind Open Arts – Katrin and Boyana, my little team here in Plovdiv – Detelina and Mina, as well as my team “everywhere” – Francesca and Dessi for all the support!

And because we often co-operate through the screens, welcome and join us at the traditional party All Together Now, made in cooperation with artnewscafe, which will be held on 25 December in Plovdiv.

Below you can see year 2018 through concrete projects and see what awaits us in the coming 2019.

Thank you for being together!
With all my heart I wish you joyful, shared holidays!

Vesselina Sarieva
Director of Open Arts Foundation

The book “10 years Open Arts: HERE EVERYWHERE”

In 2018, we published our anniversary book “10 years Open Arts: HERE EVERYWHERE”. The bilingual edition commemorates the 10th anniversary of Open Arts Foundation, as well as the exhibition “HERE EVERYWHERE”, curated by Vladya Mihaylova, which was realized in its context. In the book’s 160 pages we presented the key projects we initiated and developed during the past decade, time in which the Foundation introduced new cultural and managerial practices and models of work, created significant events and projects and confirmed its belief in the need of cultural missionary activity. In the book we also presented the partners and associates who supported the activity of “Open Arts” over the years.

The design of the book is by PUNKT Studio.

We presented the book officially on 28 May in Generator, in the presence of friends and partners of the Foundation, as a discussion with the participation of Vesselina and Katrin Sarievi (founders of Open Arts Foundation), Luchezar Boyadjiev (artist), Lyubo Georgiev (architect), Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva (art historian), Vesislav Iliev (economist) and Georgi Lazarov (designer of the book), moderated by Vladiya Mihaylova (curator and culturologist).

The book was distributed to a wide range of organizations from the country and abroad and is available in the National Library “St. St. Kiril i Metodiy”.

The book can be viewed online here.

The book “Introduction to Bulgarian Contemporary Art”

In 2018, within the educational platform “Introduction to Contemporary Art”, initiated by Open Arts Foundation and Sariev Contemporary Gallery in 2011, was realized a long-awaited project that has been worked on over the last seven years, namely the book “Introduction to Bulgarian Contemporary Art (1982-2015)”. It is a comprehensive history of Bulgarian art from the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century. The book is the result of a series of lectures delivered in Plovdiv and Sofia by its author Vessela Nozharova within the “Introduction to Contemporary Art”. The book offers an all-round overview of the art scene in Bulgaria in a clear and accessible way. It is published in Bulgarian and English and has been distributed and is available in the libraries of more than 35 museums, galleries, cultural centers, collections, such as MoMA, TATE Modern, Centre Pompidou, Getty Research Institute.
The book was presented to friends, partners and readers on 11 June at Sofia City Art Gallery, by its author Vesela Nozharova and in conversation with its publishers Vesselina Sarieva from Open Arts Foundation and Manol Peykov from the publishing house “Janet 45″.

Shortly thereafter, on the 17th of June was the presentation of the book in Plovdiv, in the cultural center of Radio Plovdiv. The presentation was in the framework of the festival “Plovdiv reads 2018″ with the participation of Vessela Nozharova, Vesselina Sarieva and Manol Peykov.

The book was also officially presented in Vienna, at the international contemporary art fair viennacontemporary. There, on 28 September, Vessela Nozharova, Veselina Sarieva, Manol Peykov and the artist Luchezar Boyadjiev presented the book to an international audience.

Highlights of the media coverage of the book can be seen at BNT, Capital, Egoist, ELLE.

Order the Bulgarian edition of the book online here.
Order the English edition of the book online here.

You can watch all lectures from the “Introduction to Contemporary Art” platform in the youtube channel of Open Arts Foundation.

Open Art Files

The year was really successful and very strong for our educational platform “Introduction to Contemporary Art”, which reinforced the Foundation’s many years of activity in direction of generating the context of contemporary art in Bulgaria. At the end of the year was the pre-premiere of the “Open Art Files” website, part of the project “Open Art Files: Topics, People, Spaces, Files in Bulgarian Contemporary Art“, which is aimed at popularizing Bulgarian contemporary art in the country and abroad. On the website, we gathered extensive information on topics, people, spaces and documents from the Bulgarian contemporary art scene. The site is a bilingual database / archive of contemporary art in Bulgaria, an online library, and an art critique environment. The detailed concept of the “Open Art Files” website was developed by the director of Open Arts Foundation Vesselina Sarieva in collaboration with Svetlana Kuyumdzhieva, artistic director of Plovdiv 2019 Foundation and the curator and art historian Vera Mlechevska. The website is in process of constant development and uses both the newly created and archival content of the current educational platform “Introduction to Contemporary Art”. The “Open Art Files: Topics, People, Spaces, Files in Bulgarian Contemporary Art” project is part of the official program of “Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019″

Currently, the site starts with about 100 profiles in the People panel, 20 spaces, 15 key articles, and a library of more than 1300 resources. By the end of the year, the site will grow to more than 120 individual profiles, over 30 spaces, 25 articles and 1400 library resources, and in 2019 we are looking to doubling up those numbers. The site will be officially presented at the beginning of 2019 in Sofia.

You can learn more about the project here.

The pre-premiere of the site was in Plovdiv at SKLADA on Ekzarh Yosif Str. in Plovdiv on 18 December, with the participation of Vesselina Sarieva (project initiator and conceptual development), Vera Mlechevska (curator / editor in chief of web content), I -Creativ Studio (web design and programming) and Francesca Zemyarska (website editor).

Visit the “Open Art Files” website at

FLUCA: Austrian cultural pavilion

In season 2018 FLUCA presented a rich and varied program of artistic projects from Bulgaria, Austria, Germany, USA. The FLUCA season was opened in Sofia where it stayed for 4 months, in connection with the consecutive presidency of Bulgaria and Austria of the Council of the EU. At the head of the mobile art-platform team in the role of artistic director in 2018 was Boris Kostadinov, curator and art historian based in Vienna and Berlin. During the season, the pavilion was at three lively public spaces in Sofia, with some of the program highlights being the exhibition “Olympia” by Aldp Giannotti, the “Complex Pussy Catalogue” performance by Ivo Dimchev and Kamen Stoyanov’s Performance Pizza Painting. An exciting part of the FLUCA program was also the strategic for the Bulgarian art scene conference “Western Balkans”, the presentation “Leave Your Mark” by “Vision for Sofia”, the presentation “Sofia –  city for the people” by Zdravko Zdravkov – Chief Architect of Sofia and the presentation of the “Green Line Sofia” project. Part of the program on the mobile stage were also the performances „Yogaholic” by Voin de Voin, Martina Stefanova’s “Music for a penny”, the “FLUCA & Co” meeting, Mihail Mihaylov’s “Headspacing” installation, the art show “World of Co x FLUCA Art”. The FLUCA screenings were also part of the weekly summer program in Sofia, with a special selection of video installations by Bulgarian and foreign artists, curators and art collectives, such as Iv Toshain’s video installation, the BIG DATA collaboration of Sibin Vassilev and Yoann Trellu, the video selection “Escape Room” selection of the American curator Naomi Lev, “That thing” by Boryana Ventsislavova.

The parties were also an integral part of the FLUCA program and the Sofia summer music stage. The audience of the pavilion enjoyed fresh sounds at the opening party of the HippieLandia Music Festival, the “DOMA music: Funkusion” party and the “Container Party” with Niki Phoenix and Emil Doesn‘t Drive.

In September the magic box returned to its audience in Plovdiv, at the traditional location of Otets Paisiy Street, and presented art installations, screenings and presentations. Highlight in the last month of the 2018 season was the specially created for the pavilion and with its participation video installation “Refugium 01″, by the Viennese artist Reinhold Zisser, which the author himself presented on the stage of FLUCA. We also presented Naomi Lev’s video selection “Escape Room” and the video installation “What is Germany” by the Berlin art collective “Projektraum LS43″. Throughout its stay in Plovdiv, the pavillion was in the colorful company of the 3 Enzi-s – typical city benches coming from MuseumQuartier in Vienna which have become an integral part of lively public spaces throughout Europe.

A special place in the FLUCA program for the season was the „Phantasy is more important“ project by Kamen Stoyanov, which was presented in September at Notgalerie in Vienna as part of the „In Vienna“ program at the international contemporary art fair viennacontemporary.

FLUCA, for the third season, was also a favourite place for DJ parties, informal meetings and discussions, and is already preparing for the new season, when it will remain in Plovdiv as part of the program of “Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019″.

Follow FLUCA on its official Facebook page.

Artnewscafe bulletin

In 2018, аrtnewscafe bulletin – one of the longest-running projects of Open Arts – for the tenth year reflected the most interesting of Bulgarian and world art. Under the editing of Svetla Petkova and Dessislava Mileva, and with the help of an internship team, the newsletter provided monthly news, art reviews and interviews to its readers.

During the year the authors of the artnewscafe bulletin reviewed and commented on some of the most interesting and significant projects and exhibitions from the Bulgarian art scene.

Since November 2018 the bulletin can be read through a new mobile app. The updated version of the app is made by and is available for all Android or Apple devices. In addition to making the bulletin much more accessible, the app has a number of new interesting and useful features, one of which is the interactive map included with each news that allows accurate localization of each of the exhibition spaces. Let the artnewscafe bulletin guide you!

The app can be downloaded for Android here and for Apple devices here.

NIGHT/Plovdiv 2018
Between February and April 2018, Open Arts Foundation, as an organizer of NIGHT/Plovdiv, without objective reason was faced with challenges several times, which was a real challenge for the team at the moment of active preparation of the 2018 event. Several times we have made definite and strong decisions to preserve the realization of the event and its independent character.

In response to these decisions, we received real support from the general public, media, participants, representatives of the artistic scene, fans of the event from Plovdiv, the country and abroad, our sponsors and partner organizations, which we would like to thank!

In the course of this widely publicized situation, Open Arts Foundation, as the main organizer of NIGHT/Plovdiv, had lost two very important months from the organization of NIGHT/Plovdiv 2018, had already entered an active organizational phase of new and other key projects such as FLUCA: Austrian Cultural Pavilion and “Introduction to Contemporary Art”. In connection with this delay, and especially in connection with the climate around the preparation of NIGHT/Plovdiv 2018, on 10 April Open Arts Foundation took the extremely difficult decision to announce a zero year for the event in 2018.

At the moment of this decision, Open Arts Foundation started the conceptual preparation of NIGHT/Plovdiv for 2019 together with the artistic director Vladiya Mihaylova and the participants in the event, realizing the importance of the “Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019” project for the city of Plovdiv, for its citizens, cultural organizations and people who love it, a city where Open Arts Foundation and its founders have dedicated over 14 years of active work.

These intentions and efforts, based on the long-standing work of Open Arts Foundation, were recognized in the autumn of 2018 when our project “NIGHT/Plovdiv 2019: COMMON GROUND” was chosen as an official highlight of the “European Capital of Culture 2019” program, under the motto #together.

Currently, an open call for proposals is announced for the artistic program of the fourteenth edition of the NIGHT, which will be held under the slogan COMMON GROUND. Here you can get more information about the open call, as well as submit a project.

NIGHT/Plovdiv 2019 will take place on the 13th, 14th and 15th of September, you can check the official website for news regarding the NIGHT, as well as its facebook page.

More about the case NIGHT/Plovdiv 2018 you can learn from the official statements of Open Arts Foundation from: 17 February, 12 March, end of March and 10 April 2018.

“Open Arts” in the Media:
In 2018, dozens of pieces of media coverage and interviews in television, print and online media reflected the work of “Open Arts”. Among them were the video reports on BNT Premiere of the book “Introduction to the Bulgarian contemporary art 1982-2015″ and Unusual open-air art scene – “FLUCA” pavilion, the article “Welcome FLUCA” in Bravacasa, the article on the book “Introduction to Bulgarian contemporary art (1982-2015)” in EVA, the article about NIGHT/Plovdiv 2018 in Dnevnik, as well as the report by Terminal 3 about Vessi Sarieva and the foundation.

The media aspect of Open Arts’ projects has also produced articles published by Egoist and webcafe, as well as the ELLE article on the performance of Open Arts Foundation and SARIEV Contemporary Gallery in Vienna.

Our events reached a large audience thanks to our media partners: Bulgarian National Television, Bulgaria On Air, Capital, Dnevnik, GoGuide, Katra FM, Darik, AMICA, EVA, ELLE, Bravacasa, Iconomist, Znanie,, webcafe, Egoist,,, Programata,, ViewSofia, boyscout,,,,, ART Das Kunstmagazin,

“Open Arts”, what’s next?
In the long-awaited 2019, we will continue our partnership with Plovdiv 2019 Foundation, with whom we are working on three very important projects – NIGHT/Plovdiv 2019, Open Art Files and FLUCA: Austrian cultural pavilion – all three are highlights in the program of Plovdiv – European Capital of Culture 2019.

FLUCA: Austrian cultural pavilion that we created together with the Austrian Embassy in Sofia in 2016 will remain in Plovdiv to present, in its fourth season, a rich cultural program of Bulgarian and international artistic projects, curated by the artistic director of the pavilion Boris Kostadinov .

Within the frames of the “Open Art Files: Topics, People, Spaces, Files in Bulgarian Contemporary Art” project in 2019 will be held an exhibition promoting the website, an educational panel and a program for working visits and lectures by international art professionals, which will be realized in Plovdiv.

Expect the longest NIGHT of Plovdiv to return for a whole weekend, on the 13th, 14th and 15th of September, for its fourteenth edition!

In 2019 Open Arts Foundation will be partner of various projects in Bulgaria and abroad, among which is the exhibition “Listen to Us – Artistic Intelligence” which will present for the first time in Bulgaria the prestigious collection of contemporary art by Deutsche Telekom.

Do not miss the monthly art guide – artnewscafe bulletin – to stay up to date with contemporary art in 2019.

Follow us to find out more soon!


The team of Open Arts Foundation prepared all these events with exceptional dedication and diligence. Of course, they would not have happened if we did not have faithful friends and partners who believe in us and our ideas.

This year we were supported by Plovdiv 2019 Foundation, National Culture Fund, Austrian Embassy Sofia, Ruf Award, Wiener Club, American Foundation for Bulgaria.

For a consecutive year, we had the honor to work in partnership with the Municipality of Sofia, the Culture Program of the Municipality of Sofia, the Department of Art and Culture of the Federal Chancellery of Austria, Goethe Institute in Bulgaria, Sofia City Art Gallery.

We would also like to thank our new partners Sofia Arsenal – Museum for Contemporary Art, Vision for Sofia, Muzeiko, Green Line Sofia, Janet 45 Publishing House, Varna City Art Gallery, BKI ”Haus Wittgenstein”.
We would like to thank the incredible professionals we have been honored to work with while preparing our projects. We thank the participants in our initiatives for the inspiration and the understanding, and of course the audience for the high appreciation of our work!

We would like to express our personal gratitude to the curators of our projects:
Vera Mlechevska – curator/ editor in chief of web content of the site “Open Art Files”
Vessela Nozharova – author of the book “Introduction to Bulgarian contemporary art (1982-2015)”
Vladiya Mihaylova – artistic director of NIGHT/Plovdiv
Boris Kostadinov – artistic director of FLUCA: Austrian Cultural Pavilion

Thanks also to the collaborators of our different projects:
I-Creativ Studio
Manol Peykov from “Janet 45″ Publishing House
Francesca Zemyarska
Georgi Apostolov
Krassi Dobrev

And thank you to those that we worked with in 2018, who have new work field now:
Thomas Stoelzl (Deputy Chief of Mission, Austrian Embassy in Bulgaria)
Vassilena Pancharova (project coordinator in Open Arts Foundation)

We wish you a wonderful 2019!


Photos: Merian Nikolova, Mihail Novakov, Maria Vassileva, archive Open Arts Foundation