5 Cultural Policy Resources in South East Europe
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30.07.2002 | author: Tsveta Andreeva
Another Opportunity for Decentralisation? Regional Development of Cultural Entrepreneurship in Bulgaria
Policies for Culture Journal, July 2002
Tsveta Andreeva
Policies fo Culture Local coordinator for Bulgaria; Expert at the International Cultural Policy Directorate, Minsitry of Culture of Bulgaria
Development of Cultural Entrepreneurship. Setting up a strategy on the basis of the experience of two regions in Bulgaria. A project of the Euro-Bulgarian Cultural Centre – Sofia in cooperation with the Agency for Regional Development and Business, Vidin and the Association of the Rhodopi Municipalities– Smolyan. Supported by the Arts and Culture Network Programme of OSI – Budapest

After the political changes in the past 5 years, we are again faced with a certain vagueness of vision about the strategy and long-term steps in our cultural policy. The existing decentralisation instruments and efforts seem to lack coordination and continuity. However, there are several general developments in Bulgarian cultural policy, which can be considered as highlights of the ongoing priorities (laid down in the current governmental Programme*, presented in the PFC January 2002 Newsletter).
It is clear that the role of culture in different fields of activity and its relation with the economy, tourism and social affairs has not been explored sufficiently. The State is divided between intentions to give more freedom to local authorities, but at the same time to maintain control over funds, which is obviously required by the current economical situation. Where the freedom of initiative and entrepreneurial spirit are concerned, though, the state should assist these processes. And responsibility for the cultural processes has to be shared between the Ministry of Culture, the local authorities and the independent sector – NGOs. The Ministry has been disabled of its structures for local activity; local self-government has the power to deal with cultural issues but not the capacity (particularly in the medium-sized and smaller settlements); the NGO sector and the media on the local level are active but still not willing /or not aware enough of how/ to participate in local policy making. The issue of cultural industries and entrepreneurship is among the indispensable answers, an alternative that deserves to be investigated thoroughly both from a cultural and socio-economical point of view. At present, it has been barely treated in the region of SEE as something worthy of investment, either as a progressive sector with low risk and quick development, or as an opportunity to develop the existing infrastructure and institutions and to use the human resources’ capacity for the improvement of the local image and cultural revival.

This project has already progressed through two seminars and a concluding round table, to gather the key partners in this process – the local authorities, the existing agencies for regional and business development, the local NGOs and cultural industries, and to “melt” them together in order to discuss the following issues:
· agency for cultural development – “pro” and “contra”; what this agency will be like?
· SWOT analysis of two focus regions
· WHO is the cultural entrepreneur?
· The need of strategy and priorities on a local level
· The role of the cultural industries for regional development – job-creation, low risk, creativity, positive effect on social inclusion, etc.
· The cultural tourism issue and its relation to regional development
· Funding opportunities of existing international programmes and how to place cultural issues in their frameworks.

Many other fields have been touched upon that are related to cultural enterprise and industries, which shows that this issue is an inseparable part of other sectors, and its relation has to be reconsidered on both a central and local level.

New Initiatives

The project as such, aimed to define new entrepreneurial activities, which usually don’t make up part of public funded cultural activities, but affect the labour market, the development of a creative environment in the regions and thus, shape the overall attractive image of the regions. These new initiatives are identified in the border area between traditional arts – plastic arts and crafts, performing arts and music, literature, museums (usually referred to the public funding) and the dynamic activities of creative enterprises - media, advertising, design and arts and crafts trade. The project was focused also on some new skills and models of cultural entrepreneurship activity. In the focus of the discussions were projects, representing a result of independent initiatives or accomplished in a way close to the SME structure; projects related to the intellectual product, new technologies, media, even traditional crafts. Some of the most interesting examples:

· Opportunities Available through the PHARE Programme in Bulgaria (Development of Cultural Tourism, Cultural Industries and Social Cohesion) - by representatives of Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works
· The UNDP Support for the Chitalishte Network (2001)and a current project for support handicrafts
· The Cinema Industry: possibilities for projects for development of the regions as cinema productions places – by representative of the Bulgarian Film Commission
· Other smaller local examples with craftsmen in Smolyan, on boat “plein-air” exhibition on the Danube in Vidin etc.

Cultural enterprises were analysed as a basis for the creation of a new economic area, which would guarantee the preservation of cultural identity on local, regional and
national level. The project seminars were organised to take local examples from the regions, their particular experiences in various cultural sub sectors and funding programmes (from the two focus regions). Then through discussing these issues to arouse SWOT analysis in this field and to come to an identification of specific models and activities that may be applicable in the regional situation.

Project Activities

The First meeting (March, 22-24 Pamporovo, Bulgaria)
introduced the project participants to the topic of the cultural entrepreneurship, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of this process, as well as drawing up the opportunities for its future development. The participants examined various options for links and partnerships between cultural and business /entrepreneurial activities.

The Second meeting (April, 25-27, Bozhentzi, Bulgaria)aimed at: exploring the possibilities for elaboration of a strategy for inclusion of cultural enterprise initiatives in the regional development programmes, on the basis of concrete examples of both regions (Smolyan and Vidin); following up the SWOT analysis of the existing infrastructure and relations; examining the possibilities for setting up Agencies for cultural development, on the basis of the experience of the existing regional development agencies. Below some of the interesting suggestions raised through the discussions:
· Setting up Cultural Business Incubators on the basis of the experience in the regions with this form of support to SMEs;
· Creation of a model of a support Agency for Cultural Development (but also to spread the scope of activities of the agencies for regional development and the existing chitalishta /cultural houses/ network);
· Offering informational services and training in business skills and marketing, access to equipment and technologies; acting as an agent between the cultural entrepreneur and the market, funding bodies, audiences;
· Specialisation in services and facilities for motion picture and other audiovisual industries in the regions;
· Using the opportunities of JOBS programme of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs developing cultural entrepreneurial projects and to stimulate job-creation;
· To use cross border cooperation and partnership in the framework of different Interregional development programmes.

The two seminars examined in detail the situation and concrete examples for development on a regional level. The Final Round table (21st of June, Sofia) was intended to conclude this framework by presenting the main project conclusions in this respect. The participants discussed the possibilities for integration of cultural entrepreneurship projects in the regional development programmes on a national and international level and the possibilities for new links between cultural entrepreneurship, social and economic issues. The National Culture Fund presented its funding opportunities for cultural industries. The ideas for the establishment of micro-credit or risk funds for cultural entrepreneurs were also discussed. The need of coordination of the strategy making on central and on local level has been reconfirmed. All participants accepted its importance for participation in the EU pre accession programmes and discussed the need for re-establishment of a PHARE Unit within the Ministry of Culture for the coordination and implementation of the projects related to cultural tourism and industries. The development of cultural entrepreneurship, by creating conditions for cultural industries on a national and local level, is already a strategic priority. This project contributed a lot to the clarification of its scope and activities in the Bulgarian context and raised awareness about the impact it would bring to regional development. Now it is up to those who are keen to work in this direction: probably first to start in the two focus regions (those who have already declared their willingness to develop such units with the existing infrastructure), secondly at the national level – by elaborating a strategy, and thirdly – by elaborating and implementing in practice a model of a cultural support Agency.


In conclusion it is necessary to mention that the project “Development of Cultural Entrepreneurship” must be referred to as an initiative based on some preceding facts. The EUBCC implemented in 2001, in cooperation with a team of English experts, the Pilot project “Cultural Diversity and Cultural Enterprise in Bulgaria” in the framework of the Council of Europe’s programme “Cultural Diversity and Cultural Policy” together with the Ministry of Culture. This year the second phase of this project has been launched with a seminar focusing again on the strengths and weaknesses of the creative industries medium and the initial model of the Agency (July, 11-12, Bistritsa).The project was communicated largely throughout the SEE region and in the EU countries, and it raised the interest of many cultural organisations. The establishment of future partnerships, beside the existing ones, on and international level is now progressing.
For more information, please contact: cip@eubcc.bg
or visit www.eubcc.bg

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