PLATFORMS

Our annual program includes projects and events organized in the following three programs: Night of Museums and Galleries, City & Culture, and the Contemporary Art Educational Program.

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The NIGHT OF MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES Program runs the organization, programming, coordination and promotion of the annual Night/Plovdiv festival, which we have held annually since 2007. The first Bulgarian event of its kind, the Night of Museums and Galleries festival was first organized in 2005 by the founders of the Sariev Gallery Vesselina and Katrin Sarievi. In 2007, the Sarievs founded the Open Arts Foundation which went on to organize the festival’s subsequent editions. The Night of Museums and Galleries was later renamed to Night/Plovdiv. Like similar events in Western and Central Europe, Night/Plovdiv provides opportunities for public encounters with artists, art and culture in non-traditional evening and late night hours. With an annual program of more than 100 events and an audience between 40 000 and 50 000, the festival continues to seek new challenges and to expand its scope. A “culture at large” event, Night/Plovdiv works with state, regional, private and non-governmental organizations who vary significantly in their organizational models and level of public recognition. In 2012, the Open Arts Foundation created the Museums Fund, later renamed to the Special Projects Fund, which seeks to support organizations and artists by co-funding their festival projects. Night/Plovdiv has worked with some of Bulgaria’s most recognized contemporary artists and curators, as well as with many of the most active international cultural institutions represented in the country. With their help over the years Open Arts Foundation  organized,  produced or co-produced special artistic projects at Night, some of them: Steve H. Barovsky (USA) with its horror novel “The Seven Hills of Plovdiv”; the project Creation of Museum of Contemporary Art in Bulgaria by Ivan Moudov; the installation Lighthouse by Vadim Fishkin, curator Iara Boubnova; East Art Map by the Slovenian art collective IRWIN, selected by Iara Boubnova; PLOVEDIV – project for public space by Milen Gelishev and Simeon Todorov;  festival “City and public spaces” curated by Vera Mlechevska entitled “Rituals of the Habitual“; special jubilee program “The Dark Side of the Night” curated by Art Affairs and Documents Foundation; Curatorial program of Night/Plovdiv, 2015 and many others.

More information is available on the festival’s websiteFacebookTweeterFlickrInstagramYoutube profiles.

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The CITY & CULTURE program aims to draw public attention to the urban environment and its architecture, problems, and development potential for the cultural and arts sector.

Our first project in this program was the Otets Paisiy St. Festival (2010-2013), which we initially started under the motto “Parallel urban culture”, with program segments in history, ethnic studies and art. It took its inspiration from Otets Paisiy St., which runs parallel to Plovdiv’s main pedestrian street and where both the OAF offices and the SARIEV Contemporary Gallery are located. Focusing on the past and present of previously unstudied and little known locations, the project has had a total of four editions: Parallel Urban Culture (2010), Parallel Urban Culture / Overlapping (2011), Text (2012) and Behavior (2013). The Otets Paisiy St. Festival aims at activating, producing and showcasing contemporary urban culture through a program of open-air music events, public space projects, screenings, workshops, actions, performances, informal events, culinary art, lectures, discussions and readings. More information is available on the festival’s website and  Facebook page.

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Project 0 (2010-2014) came out of Project 01 by the artists Svetoslav Michev and Kiril Kuzmanov and the curator Vladiya Mihaylova, which was shown within the framework of the Background: Young Artists 2010 Program of the Sariev Gallery. Constructing a double mirror wall that ran perpendicularly to Zlatarska St. in Plovdiv’s central Kapana district, Project 0 drew public attention to the need for revitalization of the city’s environment and a reconsideration of less conspicuous locations of great promise and potential. In the words of its author, Kiril Kuzmanov, the project “aimed at re-activating the public’s imagination for the location through the examination of urban space and a variety of lifestyle patterns and stereotypes, and their influence on the visibility or invisibility of the district”. The project was implemented in 2014. More information is available on the OAF’s website and the project’s blog.

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In 2011, the Open Arts Foundationwas part of the initiative to save and regenerate the derelict Kosmos Cinema in central Plovdiv as a contemporary center for culture and the arts. OAF’s executive director Vesselina Sarieva joined the public committee for the preservation of the cinema from imminent demolition, while the OAF hosted a series of events drawing public attention to its fate. The case raised a number of important and previously neglected issues related to the preservation and potential of valuable period buildings across the city, and served as an illustration of the role and strength of civic engagement in urban planners’ decision making process. More information about the Kosmos Cinema case is available here.

In 2012, we started the City Arbor discussion series, a joint initiative of the Open Arts Foundation and the аrtnewscafé developed in collaboration with Studio 8 ½. The series aims at creating an environment conducive to knowledge accumulation, debate, city mapping and the activation of new ideas for Plovdiv’s development as an urban center. The following topics were discussed in 2012: Communist-Era Architecture, Tobacco Warehouses, Industrial Buildings, Bauhaus Architecture, Public Spaces, Suburbs and Outlying Areas (Meeting Points and Underground Culture), the Kapana District, and Utopian Plovdiv. Four additional topics were discussed and researched in 2015: the Hadji Hassan Mahalah, the Maritsa River: Ways of Inhabiting (Karshiyaka, Marasha, Stolipinovo), Social Life in the Panel Blocks (Trakiya Residential District) and Plovdiv’s Hills as Forms of Social Life. A number of researchers and professionals have contributed key-note presentations at the discussions. More information about the 2012 series can be found here; more information about the 2015 series is available here.

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The Alternative Map of Plovdiv (2013) is a tourist guide with little known sights and locations that are usually absent from mainstream tourist guides of Plovdiv. Created in collaboration with Studio 8 ½, the Alternative Map offers a number of theme-based itineraries derived from the City Arbor discussions organized by the Open Arts Foundation in 2012, covering Plovdiv’s communist-era architecture, tobacco warehouses, Bauhaus architecture, the Kapana district, a selection of little-known religious sights and Otets Paisiy St. The project aims at creating a wider awareness of the city and provoking curiosity about its less-known and often neglected architectural and cultural treasures. A revised edition of the Alternative Map of Plovdiv, with new topics suggested in the City Arbor discussions of 2015, is due in 2016. More information is available on the project’s website и Facebook page.

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FLUCA: Austrian Cultural Pavilion is an innovative project for mobile cultural stage created by cargo container and transformed into an art installation. The project was launched in 2016 in partnership with the Austrian Embassy in Sofia, BKA / Austrian Federal Chancellery, Plovdiv Municipality, FLUC (Vienna) and artnewscafé with the idea of ​​the program to evolve and expand over the years, till its culmination in 2019 when Plovdiv will be European capital of culture. Inspiration comes from FLUC – a space for urban planning, contemporary music, art and performance in Vienna with a long tradition and unquestionable reputation internationally. The container in Plovdiv is located on Otets Paisiy Str. – very close to the Roman Odeon, the Catholic Church, the Big Basilica and the Forum of Ancient Plovdiv. At the same time FLUCA is arifgt next to gallery Sariev Contemporary, artnewscafe and the office of Open Arts Foundation. Thus the FLUCA project continues the effort and experience of Open Arts for revitalizing the street creating an integrated complex and a “cultural oasis” of institutions oriented towards forms of visual and performative arts, architecture, music, design and more. The pavilion presents diverse cultural content – concerts, video screenings, performances, exhibitions, open discussions, conferences, presentations etc. More about FLUCA here.

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The OAF’s EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM has a focus on contemporary art and includes the following projects:

artnewscafé bulletin – a monthly publication with fresh news from the Bulgarian art world and beyond, assembled by the visual arts editor of the reputable Kultura Weekly Svetla Petkova since 2008.  Since 2015, it has also featured art criticism and a rubric of interviews with art history interns working under Petkova’s supervision. The artnewscafé bulletin is freely available as a mobile app for iOS and Android, in the form of a monthly newsletter, and on its Facebook page. More information can be found on its website.

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A key component of our Educational Program is the Introduction to Contemporary Art educational course, which we’ve offered freely since 2011. Organized jointly with the SARIEV Contemporary Gallery, it has been developed in collaboration with the curators Svetlana Kuyumdjieva, Vera Mlechevska and Vessela Nozharova. Its program includes theme-based lecture series and workshops delivered by leading Bulgarian and international artists, critics and curators. It has been held annually in Sofia since 2011, and in Plovdiv since 2015. More information is available on the OAF’s website and the project’s Facebook page. Lectures from previous editions can be viewed on YouTube.

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Another part of our Educational Program is the Collectors’ Forum, which we organize jointly with the SARIEV Contemporary Gallery. It aims at presenting established private and corporate collectors’ practices, while encouraging young collectors to start and maintain their own contemporary art collection through deepening their art sector awareness and networking. The Collectors’ Forum’s first edition was held in September 2011 within the framework of the VIP Program of the Plovdiv Night of Museums and Galleries, in the form of a moderated presentation of several private and corporate collectors’ practices. It was later modified and integrated in our Introduction to Contemporary Art Educational Course as a lecture by a leading Bulgarian or international collector.

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The Focus:Bulgaria project was a high-profile survey of Bulgarian contemporary art, the first one of its kind, at a major international art fair, the viennacontemporary 2015. Its program included a theme-based exhibition curated by Iara Boubnova and Vessela Nozharova; panel discussions and short conversations moderated by Dessislava Dimova; (art) history highlights illuminating the Bulgarian context; a special publication developed by Boris Kostadinov; and a number of fringe events. More information is available on OAF’s website.

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From 2009 to 2012, the Open Arts Foundation co-organized a Film Program produced externally by Art Film, which included the Future Shorts, Short Circuit and The Flowers of the Quran film festivals.

Communication channels:

Night/Plovdiv: websiteFacebookTweeterFlickr,InstagramYoutube

Otets Paisiy St. Festival: websiteFacebook

Project 0: сайт ФОИблог на проекта

Cinema Kosmos case

City Arbor: 2012 and   2015

Alternative Map of Plovdiv: Facebook and website

artnewscafe bulletin: сайтFacebook, mobile app for iOS and Android,

Introductuion to Contemporary Art: Facebookyoutube

Colectors’ Forum

Focus:Bulgaria