Diana Andreeva is a co-founder and currently Director of the Observatory of Cultural Economics (since 2008). She obtains Master Degree in Finance at University of National and World Economy, and has continued her education on Arts and Cultural studies at Sofia University ”Kl.Ohridski” , as well as Film Directing at theNew Bulgarian University. She works as a researcher in cultural policy and cultural economics since 2005. She is a guest lecturer on Marketing and advertisement of Performing Arts an ”Financing of the Performing Arts” at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts “K. Sarafov”, as well as Economics and Financing of Film Industry at the New Bulgarian University. Diana has published numerous articles in the last years and has participated at various Bulgarian and international research teams in the field of cultural economics and financing. Since 2010 she is a co-editor of the Compendium of Cultural Policies of the Council of Europe , responsible for updating the Bulgarian cultural policy (together with Assoc.Prof. BilyanaTomova). Diana is a member of the Association of Cultural Economics International. Diana volunteers for 17 international organisations and projects in more than 10 countries.
1. You are one of the founders of the Observatory for Cultural Economics in Bulgaria. What is its mission and main aims? What are the recent achievements of the Observatory?
We were circle of friends who created the Observatory of Cultural Economics in the spring of 2008. (among them Bilyana Tomova and Lidia Varbanova. New experts joined the observatory recently: Rozalina Laskova, Borislav Pavlov and an external consultant of international cultural policy Irina Ivancheva. We are researchers and professionals in economics and finances, with sensitivity to the cultural sector and the Bulgarian culture as a whole.
The mission of the Observatory is to support arts and cultural sector in a sustainable mode through creation and dissemination of economic and financial analysis and prognosis.The main aim is to develop and advance the theory and practice of economic analysis in the cultural sector in the country: to support cultural organization in their effective involvement in the processes of elaboration of cultural policies and strategies at all levels.
The Observatory initiates open public discussion, develops cultural projects, stimulates the start-up of new networks and coalitions in the field of cultural economics. The Observatory works in a partnership mode with diverse organizations, government authorities as well as the business sector.
For the period 2008-2011 the Observatory has realized successfully 18 major projects: collaborative research, applied research, analytical papers, round tables and conferences, pre-election debates in the field of culture with political parties, open public discussions, etc. Most of the Observatory’s research activities reflect in publications and wide dissemination across the country, using diverse media.We combine: applied research, analytical papers, lobbying on the research results to be adapted in cultural policy decision-making. Since 2010 we play a leading role in the Bulgarian film industry ”revolution”. We participate as one of the 8 protesting organizations in the film industry in street protests, we initiate and sign various protest declaration (more than 30 for the last 2 years) and we lead public debates.
2. The project you are currently working on is titled “Mapping of Cultural and Creative Industries in Sofia”. What are the main methodological challenges you are faced with?
This is the first research on culture and creative industries in Sofia, and also on national level with the type of methodology that we are using. The main focus of the research is the experience of the European member states, which we mapped with the comparative methodological analyses to find the best practices. We also added and developed methodological indicators adapted especially for the need of the Bulgarian culture and creative industries.
One of the main aims of this partnership between the Observatory of Cultural Economics, Sofia municipality and the National Statistical Institute is to elaborate the economic impact of these industries so that there is a clearer understanding on the overall cultural and social resources of the city. This would provide a more solid basis for establishment of a cultural policy at a city level: a policy which includes concrete priorities, resources, partnership and programs (for example, establishment of an environment stimulating creation of clusters, business incubators, etc.)
We hope that this research will provide opportunities for: development and guidance for the cultural potential of Sofia e.g. (cultural infrastructure, contribution of the organizations, defining of priorities and etc.) These are steps for the entire cultural policy and will allow an effective and efficient management of financial resources for culture and creative industries in Sofia, as well as concrete policy making.
3. Your PhD thesis is on the new financial instruments for the development of the Bulgarian film industry. Could you briefly elaborate what arethe main trends in financing the film industry in Bulgaria, especially in relation to the recent debates on the need to elaborate a national strategy in the sector?
For several consecutive years the negative trends for budget’s cut-offs at the Ministry of Culture being a primary administrator of budget allocations are compensated by reducing the subsidy for filmmaking. The main reason for this is probably that these results in lack of redundancy – there are no layoffs in other parts of the cultural sector. The main characteristic of the Bulgarian film industry is that the state film subsidy is spent entirely on film production and there is nothing left for the payroll of some state or municipality structures or employees. This is partially valid as the impact on the film makers community is indirect.
During the last years the lack of sustainable funding of the Bulgarian film industry and the infringement of the Film Industry Law reduced the funding of the film production to the symbolic 2-3 feature films annually (considering the period 1997-2003). Only in the year 2003, with the enactment of the Law, there was a trend for a relative growth of the filmmaking – the films amount to 5-7 annually in that period.
In the Film Industry Law a formula was introduced, which calculates the annual subsidy for feature films, documentaries and cartoons on the basis of average budgetary costs (Art.17 of the Law). As a result of this legislative act, there was an expectation to establish a relatively stable environment for the development of the Bulgarian film industry. Unfortunately, this formula for determining the cinema budget was not considered as a serious legislative base by the Ministry of Culture and The Ministry of Finance. All in all during all these years of implementing the Film Industry Law, the Bulgarian filmmaking has been constantly deprived of the necessary budget share of the expenditures’ distribution of funds to different programmes at the Ministry of Culture.
What actually caused a “revolution” in the film industry in Bulgaria was the decision of the National Parliament in the late autumn 2010 (when the State Budget Law was adopted), to “kill” the formulafor financing of Bulgarian film industry and to change it with the statement that “Bulgarian film industry will be funded by the state budget”if it’s possible”. This provoked the revolts and anger in the field. After a several weeks of protests, we entered negotiations in Cabinet of the Prime Minister and we achieved two agreements, which actually which nobody from the public authorities follow 7 months later. Then, 56 senators from the opposition in the parliament retorted against the formula for the film financing in the Constitutional Court. Eight film organizations, including the Observatory of Cultural Economics, were stated as a part in the Court. After three months we won the trial. Now we are waiting the Bulgarian state and the Ministry of Culture to fulfill the legislation and to cover the debt of more than 15 million Euro of the Bulgarian cinema.
4. Your research interests are also in the field of preservation of cultural heritage and related policy instruments. In one of your recent articles you state that there is a need for development of a national strategy for the cultural heritage in Bulgaria (as a follow up of the 2009 law). What on your opinion would be the main milestones of such a strategy?
The adopted in 2009 Cultural Heritage Legislation, was an “arena” of strong and sharp public debates and public protests by different professional organizations and social groups. This was an important step in the process of regulating and stimulating of the emerging market conditions in the field of cultural heritage.
With this legislation, the Bulgarian cultural heritage – movable, immovable, immaterial, was adopted in the legislative framework with the typical for the market economy instruments and mechanisms for conservation, restoration, socialization, exposition and trade with cultural goods. The main base for the adoption of these mechanisms in the cultural heritage legislation is the development of a National Strategy for the Development and Preservation of Cultural Heritage. This Strategy contains also a financial framework, showing alternative public and European opportunities, as well as a statistical framework with well elaborated system of indicators. We are aware that the National strategy for cultural heritage has to be an immense part of the National Cultural Strategy of Bulgaria, but at the moment, very unfortunately, both of them are still missing.
5. What kind of instruments, tools and incentives could be applied in the cultural sector in Bulgaria for improving the level of the national and local networking and collaboration between different arts sectors, as well as between decision-makers, researchers and artistic communities?
I will divide the answer into two aspects – political and economic.
The two Agreements on the common actions in the field of cultural policy between the Ministry of Culture the National Parliament and the civil society sector were signed in December 2010. This is a unique step as it shows the stage in the development of the civil society in the field of culture in Bulgaria. We could observe that until now, these Agreements are only on paper , as nothing practical has been moved in the field of cultural policy actions.
The economic aspect of collaboration: I see it in the opportunities for networks and partnerships between the cultural sub-sectors, and I think this could be stimulated through business incubators. This idea is not fully new, but is very poorly developed in Bulgaria. This is another field where partnership schemes between the government, the business and the third sector could be explored further.
6. What on your opinion is needed that the Bulgarian cultural policy researchers, especially the emerging one, to become more active in participating at diverse European and international gatherings (conferences, round tables, symposium, summer schools, etc).
One of the most significant difficulties for the young artists and cultural policyresearchers is the financial sustainability, including support for mobility. We receive invitations to participate at international events – conferences, round tables, etc., but it’s quite impossible to cover the whole travel; and participation expenses without an outside support as the Observatory has a not-for-profit status. There is a “Mobility” program at the National Culture Fund in Bulgaria, but artists and researchers could use the grant to cover their travel costs only once a year. This is a very limited opportunity to establish European partnership in a broader scale. The second problem I see is that on my view not that many European, as well as Bulgarian cultural policy researchers are interested in the Bulgarian cultural policy and economics. I have not researched deeper what the reason might be: maybe because Bulgaria is classified by some experts as not that important in the European Union setting….But my observation is that not many research organizations in Europe are interested to have on the discussion table the Bulgarian experience and case studies in the cultural policy field. I assume that this is maybe one of the reasons that not that many researchersfrom Bulgaria are invited to participate in international projects and events.
7. What is your hobby? What do you do in your free time? Which art field you are most inspired of?
After an intense working day, I usually go to do gardening in the cottage house in the mountain near Sofia: I relax there by being near to the nature. In my free time I usually travel: I keep this hobby of travelling in the last 10 years and I am on the road for 4-5 months a year. During my traveling I volunteer in the field of culture and arts in different countries. This is a great time in my life. I also consider it as a special “school/university diploma in humanity” – as by traveling and volunteering you learn and advance in a way which even the top world universities could not provide for you.
I am about to graduate in Film Directing and I am convinced that this form of art inspires me the most. I hope that I will have time in my life to realise all the film projects that I have planned. The most recent idea is to elaborate film series about the Bulgarian transition between communism and democracy.
Read the interview also on Young Cultural Policy Researchers Forum.
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