Statement of Open Arts Foundation

STATEMENT OF OPEN ARTS FOUNDATION

17.02.2018

Threats such as those of Mayor Ivan Totev should not be tolerated in society. Because they evoke fear on many levels. We will not accept that because we have accepted the mission of creating culture, but not a culture of fear. Due to this conviction, the management board of Open Arts Foundation decided to refuse the financial support voted by the Municipality of Plovdiv in the Cultural Calendar 2018 for the festival NIGHT / Plovdiv 2018, which was the theme of the intimidation by the mayor.

Open Arts Foundation hopes that with this decision it will provide a prerequisite for a higher level of respect for the activity of cultural operators in the city and the establishment of a healthy cultural climate by defending democratic models of cooperation before the important to all of us European capital of culture – Plovdiv 2019.

Open Arts Foundation does not intend to stop the NIGHT / Plovdiv festival. The event will take place on 14 and 15 September 2018, and this will be its 14th consecutive edition.

We are ready to advise on spending the amount that was provided by Plovdiv Municipality for NIGHT / Plovdiv 2018 at the amount of BGN 40 000, and we think that the funds should be used in favor of the cultural program of the Plovdiv museums, galleries and cultural spaces that had participated in the festival.

We thank all friends, associates, colleagues, media and partners who have supported us in this decision.

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BACKGROUND:

On 6 February, Open Arts Foundation’s director Vesselina Sarieva responded with a Facebook post on the renovation which began without warning for the citizens connected with Otets Paisiy Street, and on the removal of the paving stones emblematic for the place. The rectangular paving stones are one of the symbols of the street and a sort of artistic intervention in the pavement itself. Vesselina Sarieva’s outrage has prompted an active civic response in social networks, with many people sharing her opinion and commenting on the case. Her statements were published in several Plovdiv media. The danger of removing the paving stones caused an inspection by the Regional Inspectorate of the Ministry of Culture in Plovdiv, which concluded that the replacement of the specific paving stones that are part of the history and the nature of the street is not an agreed decision. The Inspectorate issued a special regulation that after the renovation the pavement should be restored in its authentic form.

Regarding the situation, at an official press conference in the municipality on 14.02, Plovdiv Mayor Ivan Totev made professional threats to Vesselina Sarieva, the director of the Open Arts Foundation, because of her civil position in her personal Facebook profile.

„Veska Sarieva is our friend. Let Lord give her life and she better burn candles not to stop the Cultural Program of the Municipality because I do not know what she will do then.”

The rude attitude and speech of Plovdiv Mayor Ivan Totev became news for a number of national and local media and created a wave of dissatisfaction and indignation among citizens and professional organizations.

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FOLLOW THE CASE IN MEDIA:

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ABOUT NIGHT / PLOVDIV

The festival NIGHT / Plovdiv, which we are organizing in the city of Plovdiv for more than 13 years, is one of the significant cultural events in the country with thousands of visitors each year. The event contributes to the building of the contemporary cultural aspect of Plovdiv, and has always been a symbol of art, sharing, democracy and innovation. The festival co-operates with some of the most prominent cultural organizations and teams in the city and the country by creating an informal network of associates and experts in the field of culture. The event has an extremely positive effect on the local economy, and for every BGN 1 invested in the festival, BGN 4 returns to the city (400% return to the small and medium business, see more HERE).