Sharing 2016

Dear friends,

In the eve of 2017 – a year when the Open Arts Foundation will celebrate its 10th anniversary, let us turn to the passing 2016 in gratitude and with a smile and remind ourselves what it was like through our activities.

In the past twelve months with the support of our longstanding partners – the America for Bulgaria Foundation and the Plovdiv Municipality, we continued working on some of our well known and symbolic projects in our three main programs: NIGHT/Plovdiv, Contemporary Art Educational Program and City and Culture. We developed them further by including new formats which had to do mostly with professional cooperation with more experts, allowing more time for programs, starting new events in Sofia, developing web space platforms, bilateral cooperation between us and established media to create new formats, measuring the economic effects of our events, the inclusion of new institutional and financial partners in our initiatives among which the Sofia municipality, United Bulgarian Bank and VISA Bulgaria deserve special mention.

It comes as a surprise to no one that we haven’t given up following our dreams and do not hesitate to raise the bar with every passing year. Already in early 2016 we began work on an idea we’ve had for a long time – to make our culture corner in Otets Paisiy str. in Plovdiv complete by adding an open-air cultural scene open to cooperation and new audiences. The Austrian embassy in Sofia and curator Ursula Maria Probst gave our idea conceptual integrality and brought it to life so in September we welcomed the newest member of our family – the FLUCA Austrian cultural pavilion which will be with us at least until 2020!
We had the pleasure of sharing the Open Arts Foundation’s expertise by taking part in working groups, conferences and seminars on cultural management and planning, developing cultural policies or joining new networks such as the IN-SItu Network.

In what follows we invite you to read and follow up on each of these activities and in 2017 we urge you to be with us yet again!

Wishing you bright holidays!
Vesselina Sarieva, director of the Open Arts Foundation

What does the NIGHT give Plovdiv or what are its economic effects?

We began this year with the presentation of the results of the economic survey on the effects of Night/Plovdiv on the city’s small and medium business, which was the first of its kind. During Night/Plovdiv 2015 the Bauersachs Foundation and the Industry Watch Group in partnership with Plovdiv University’s department of Applied and Institutional Sociology and the Open Arts Foundation team conducted a survey on this topic.

The results were extremely positive and showed a total economic effect of between 1 and 1,4 million BGN; over 780 000 BGN direct profits for Plovdiv; over 580 000 BGN readiness of audiences to pay for cultural events; 400% return for the city, meaning that on each lev invested in the Night, the city made 4 lev.
The data was presented to colleagues and partners in Plovdiv and in Sofia.

Read more.

12-th Night!

For us and for the thousands fans September is mostly by NIGHT! The festival took place in on 23 and 24 September offering its 40 thousand strong audience a program of over 140 cultural events at 70 locations in the city. A special focus was the selection of 10 art projects produced or coproduced by us and our partners and singled out in the Open Arts program. These 10 events, being our selection and contribution to the Night’s program were prepared and carried out with the help the festival’s team and included various fields of art – contemporary art, music, theater, cinema, literature, digital arts. We worked on the different modules with different experts and curators, namely Ursula Maria Probst, Emil Urumov, Vera Mlechevska, Maya Vitkova, Stefan Ivanov and Stanislav Kertikov, Petko Tanchev, the Common Future team.
Of course, once again this year we worked with our traditional participants without whom the night wouldn’t be what it is. As always the Special Projects Fund offered support for their projects of which there were 31 in 2016.

Read more here and here, see the Night here.

FLUCA or how cargo of container becomes an art center

FLUCA – the Austrian Cultural Pavilion is Plovdiv’s newest place for contemporary urban culture and art. The idea for this pavilion was born in 2015 in conversation with Ursula Probst from FLUC (Vienna). For us this project is a natural continuation of our work on the issue of the city, its alternative spaces and in particular our favourite street of Otets Paisiy. The idea of a mobile cultural pavilion made out of a cargo container was supported with great enthusiasm by the Austrian embassy in Sofia which led to the idea developing further and the scale increasing. This year FLUCA was installed in Otets Paisiy street for the first time on 17 September, presenting diverse art works from Bulgaria and Austria for a month. We’re planning on developing the pavilion’s potential at least till 2020, working in various fields – contemporary art, music, architecture and the urban environment, performance, video etc. The new season at the pavilion is coming up from April to October 2017 with alternative international events and a very contemporary urban outlook.

Read more.

Ever so Introduction to Contemporary Art to new horizons

Plovdiv 2016 educational course
This year’s Introduction to Contemporary Art made its second edition in Plovdiv being implemented in partnership with the Municipal Foundation “Plovdiv 2019″ and included in the educational platform FORUM 2019. The art critic Vessela Nozharova gave five introductory lectures on the history of contemporary art that can be viewed online on our Youtube channel.
Read more. Video here.

Lecture Tours with Lachezar Boyadjiev
In May this year we began the new format – Lecture tours with artist Lachezar Boyadjiev. He prepared 4 lecture-tour-performances with different itineraries in Sofia touching upon important issues of the history of art and the city. The project ended with an exhibition entitled Places of Wisdom at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Sofia where documentation from the tours was presented.
Read more. Video here.

Capital LIGHT column
We’ve continued the Introduction line in a new field – with a column in Capital LIGHT. We invited various authors presenting important issues in the field of contemporary art, current problems and trends and which the cities of art around the world are right now.

Life after the end of art

The 6th issue of Introduction to Contemporary Art in Sofia set itself the ambitious goal of presenting art through the eyes of philosophy and theory. Curator Vera Mlechevska invited Boyan Manchev, Todor Todorov, Svetla Kazalarska and Stanimir Panayotov to lecture. This year’s issue was topped off with a lecture from the Collectors’ Forum series by our special guest – one of the most influential collectors in the world – Alain Servais. The lectures drew audiences of between 120 and 150 people, happening on five consecutive weekends at the Sofia City Art Gallery.
Read more. Video here.

Art critique we cannot live without - for the ninth consecutive year, giving new topics and rubrics in artnewscafe bulletin

As years go by, it is becoming ever more difficult to write about art in Bulgaria and offer serious accounts of cultural and art events. But, unlike other media who give up, we’ve continued to do it with the Artnewscafé bulletin. Our team is growing and editor in chief Svetla Petkova has been joined by editors Teodora Konstantinova and Radoslav Mehandjiyski. The team was joined by young authors Kiril Buhovski, Desislava Mileva and Milena Radeva.
Read the Artnewscafe bulletin here or download the app for iOS and Android. The bulletin will guide you through the art events.

Open Arts Foundation’s activities in 2016

In the past year the Open Arts team took part in workgroups, conferences and seminars on culture management and planning, developing culture policies and inclusion in new networks. These included:
- the Emerging Spaces seminar organized by Fai-Ar and the In Situ network in Marseille, the IN SITU meets ECoCs.
- Тhe Circle for Children annual conference organized by the America for Bulgaria Foundation etc.
- Interactive workshop for a shared European public space in Brussels organized again by IN SITU
Learning Journey in Berlin for cultural managers organized by Goethe Institute.
Workshop on cultural sustainability and social economy  – “Let’s Participate”
- the third Salzburg Global seminar for young culture innovators by invitation from the America for Bulgaria Foundation
- We had the pleasure to join the volunteer groups helping in the excavation of the Big Basilica in Plovdiv. Thank you “America for Bulgaria” for the great experience, we can not wait to go back in the field.

The newest member of IN SITU

We’re happy to share with you that as of November 2016 the Open Arts foundation is the first Bulgarian member of the IN SITU international network for art in public spaces. The city and its alternative spaces have always been very interesting to us so expect the unexpected from us and IN SITU very soon in Plovdiv.

The Open Arts Foundation under close scrutiny or what we achieved in facts and figures

-we organized, co-organised, produced over 180 events
- our events were attended by more than 43 000 people
- we signed over 100 contracts with partners, colleagues, participants in events, lecturers, curators, artists, subcontractors
- our events were reported more than 300 times on TV, radio, printed and online media
- in the course of the year we worked with over 80 volunteers and 38 interns


The Open Arts Foundation prepared all these events with great dedication, motivation and diligence. Of course, they would not have happened if we did not have reliable partners by our side who believe in us and our ideas and with whom we vibrate to the same frequency.

We had the honour of working with the America for Bulgaria Foundation for the 7th consecutive year. They have given us the strength to follow our dreams for the development of the culture scene in the country.

The support and cooperation of the Plovdiv municipality and the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation have been very valuable. They have shown they appreciate our initiatives and what they contribute to the city.

This was our first year working with the Sofia municipality’s Culture Program. They recognised the significance of our educational platform in contemporary art together with our partners Gaudenz B. Ruf, the National Art Gallery and the Sofia City Art Gallery.

We also got support from the Mobility, Audiences and Critics Literature programs of the National Culture Fund.

We had the pleasure of cooperating yet again for Night/Plovdiv festival with some of the best established Bulgarian and international institutions in the country such as the embassies of the USA and Israel, the Institut Français, the British Council, the Organisation of Jews in Bulgaria Shalom, Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture who supported some of the highlights of the cultural program. For the first time we welcomed in our network United Bulgarian Bank, Visa and LIDL who supported the festival and took part in its program with a special cultural events. We continued working with Mentor Mate for the great mobile app of the Night, with Absolut we prolong the night till the surise, EVN Bulgaria and Ataro Klima helped us to have the amazing info point of the festival, Staropramen and Max Telecom were with us on some of the key locations of he Night and Star Hotel welcomed gladly our guests.

Special thanks to the enthusiasm, faith and the support of the Austrian Embassy Sofia for the realization of FLUCA, and the Department of Art and Culture at the Federal Chancellery of Austria and FLUC (Vienna).

Thanks also to Bauersachs Foundation, Industry Watch Group Ltd and the team of Department “Applied and Institutional Sociology” at the Plovdiv University for the great work on the study case for Night / Plovdiv, 2015.

Our events reached a wide audience thanks to our dear media partners: BTV, BNT, Bulgaria On Air, Darik, Egoist, Katra FM, EVA magazine, AMICA, MODA, OMV, OLX, Cosmos co-working space, Capital, Dnevnik,,, Programata,, Наука, Off news, GoGuide,,, ViewSofia, boyscout, Виж!София,,, and Krivicki & Co.

Thanks to the incredible professionals with whom we had the honor to work in the preparation of various projects. We thank to the volunteers and the interns who tirelessly helped us! We would also like to thank participants in our projects for their inspiration and understanding and audiences for their excellent evaluation of our work!

Follow us in 2017  in:

RUF Award Logo Лого на Софийска Градска Художествена Галерия