ON NOVEMBER 1, CULTURAL WORKERS PROTESTED, THE MINISTER OF CULTURE ANNOUNCED THAT THE NEW BUDGET FOR CULTURE WILL BE BETTER THAN THE CURRENT ONE

1 Ноември 2023г.
IVAN VARBANOV - SOFIA - NOVEMBER 1st / On November 1st, there was a warning protest by cultural figures and a statement by the Minister of Culture on this occasion. In fact, the president of the Union of Artists - Hristo Mutafchiev, announced only a day ago about this protest. They want decent pay and an increase in the budget for culture. Do people who care about our spirituality need to protest to be heard? In essence, the Union of Artists joins the protest of artists and specialists from the sphere of museums, galleries, community centers, libraries, performing arts.

Hristo Mutafchiev stated in an open letter that, in his opinion, native culture was not a priority for the government, which was evident from the attitude to the budget and the budget forecast of the Ministry of Finance. He points out that according to the latest data, the shortfall in the financing of the performing arts amounted to more than 80 million BGN. Higher uniform cost standards for financing the state cultural institutes that operate in the field of performing arts have not yet been updated and adopted. At the moment, it was not clear how the size of the standard will be determined between the minimum and maximum specified in the government act of June 2023. Therefore, the Union of Artists categorically joins the demands of the National Federation "Culture".

MINISTER KRSTEU KRSTEV: "I AM FROM THIS SECTOR, I AM ON THEIR SIDE, I SUPPORT THEM!

So, in response to the warning protest, the Minister of Culture Krastyu Krastev made a public statement to express the position of the institution and the government, giving an interview to the Bulgarian National Television. "I am from this sector, from this branch. I am on their side. I support them in their requests. The position of minister is temporary. I have been working in the "Culture" sector for almost 40 years, which is very difficult. We are trying to sort out the sector - everything that has been moved in recent years. The sector has been underfunded for quite some time. We need new rules and laws, and hence an arrangement of the entire system," said Krastev.

It is more than humiliating to work for a minimum wage, as the protesting experts and employees declare, the minister agreed. The whole ministry is listening to the requests, we are working to overcome these obstacles, we have held many meetings with those working in the sector. We want to identify the problems and work to improve the situation. He added that it is always about money. Culture and art is an expensive pleasure everywhere. This requires certain funds. The problem is not exactly the funds, but how they will come to us and how we will use them to create a better product.

Yes, the Ministry of Culture previously returned a lot of money allocated for projects. There were no clear and well-ordered projects.

The budget for 2024 will be much better than the one for this year. Minister Krastev emphasized: "The problems are understood by the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Finance and the Government. In the person of the Denkov-Gabriel cabinet, we have a full supporter, I believe in this thing... Everyone wants this sector to work well and be secured. has been big over the years and it takes time. We will ask for more money. This mythical 1% is high time to achieve it. We need to prepare the system to work well. To have clear, precise projects scheduled. Regulations must be synchronized with the law, the statutory framework to be cleaned up, synchronized with the European required rules. The Ministry is working on this - to sort out the process that creates culture."

THE MINISTER OF CULTURE: AFTER THE BUDGET IS ADOPTED, I WILL SIGN A REAL AGREEMENT WITH THE UNIONS!

What else did Krastyu Krastev - Minister of Culture - explain: "In order to sign the Branch Labor Agreement as a party, I must guarantee the fulfillment of all points in it. I am used to making my promises. And since I am not sure that I can fulfill everything, laid down in the written texts, I did not sign it. I want to be honest and frank with them. But I can assure them that the entire Ministry of Culture and the Government are working for this - to make everything happen. After the Budget is adopted, we will sit down and then I will sign a real Branch Agreement, such as I can actually sign. We will work to increase this budget. Since June 6th, since we have been in office, we have been dealing exclusively with this subject - budgets. We want to create not only as numbers, but as real activities. We must be sure that the allocated money will be absorbed and not returned to the budget."

TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS, CHANGES ARE COMING TO THE LAW ON THE PROTECTION OF CULTURE

Yes, many things are not going well in the National Culture Fund, the Minister of Culture admitted. According to Krastyu Krastev, the meaning of its existence is this - to be a donor for funds for projects, outside the policy of the Ministry of Culture. "We will solve the problems as we should. That is why there will be an amendment to the Law on the Protection of Culture, the rules and regulations. There are groups that are working for changes. Last week we finished the coordination with other ministries, with commissions, etc. A public discussion will starts in the coming weeks. At the beginning of the year, the changes will go to the National Assembly. Precise work is required to write the law exactly, with the right words and sentences, so that each written text is not read differently. There will be changes and in the Ordinance regarding the method of election of the Management Board and the executive director of the National Fund "Culture", Minister Krastyu Krastev pointed out.

And, yes, nowhere in the world, no art and creation of culture, they can not be self-supporting. Quality requires a lot of resources. Minister Krastev pointed out that in reality a ticket should cost 100-150 BGN today - for given productions and asked: "Do you think there are Bulgarian citizens who can afford to pay that kind of money on a regular basis?"

There is little money in culture. The material base in many places is in a deplorable state, where the cultural product is distributed. The maintenance financing activity must be monitored by the state. According to the calculations of the ministry's team, more than 500 million BGN are needed to renovate the base and the entire network. There should be a lean and clear program, major repairs should be undertaken. It is necessary to start planned repairs of theaters, temples of art and culture.

The Ministry of Culture supported the film "Blaga`s Lessons" in terms of the advertising campaign in the US, as well as in the distribution of the tape.

"Culture is part of the national security of a country. That is why the government pays special attention to this sector. We need a little patience and we will see the results," concluded Minister Krastyu Krastev.

(News BG Reporter, Ivan Varbanov, Sofia, November 1, 2023)
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