site.btaUPDATED Cultural Figures Protest in Front of Ministry of Culture in Sofia
Cultural figures from Sofia and the country protested in front of the Ministry of Culture building with requests for legal changes to guarantee an increase in the budget for culture. The slogan of the protest was: "A Nation without Culture Is a Nation without a Future!".
Among the protesters were representatives of the Union of the Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers, the Union of Bulgarian Artists, the Culture Independent Trade Union Federation at the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions and the National Culture Fund at the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour.
The protest later moved to the National Assembly building and the Council of Ministers building.
Minutes after arriving in front of the National Assembly building, the protesters received an invitation from the Ministry of Culture to meet with a contact group, which they declined.
The national protest will continue. The protesters expressed readiness for indefinite effective strike action until their demands are met.
Commenting on the protest, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said that the budget for culture has been significantly increased compared to last year, by over BGN 50 million for performing arts and by BGN 28.5 million for museums, community centres and libraries. "I don't see what they are protesting about," he noted.
Later on Wednesday, the Culture Ministry said in a press release that Minister Krastev met with representatives of trade unions of artists, Podkrepa Confederation of Labour and Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria, as well as cultural institutes, regarding the changes in funding in the field of culture and the increase in salaries in the sector.
Krustev explained that new spending standards have been approved by his order and thus the directors of the cultural institutes will have the opportunity to reasonably increase the salaries of people in the sector.
He also informed that the Culture Ministry team is working to be ready ahead of schedule with the changes in the methodology for financing state cultural institutions in the performing arts, which is set in the government programme. A comprehensive analysis of the system is currently being carried out, which will help cultural institutes to be able to forecast their required budgets for each subsequent year from September of the previous year. Representatives of the artists' unions and cultural institutes will be involved in the work on the methodology.
The other key change that will help raise wages in the sector is the proposal to include a component to guarantee minimum wage costs. Representatives of the interested parties will also be included in the working group that will write up this proposal to be adopted by a Council of Ministers' decree.
Another working group with representatives from the interested parties will look for mechanisms for the State to co-finance municipal cultural institutes. Legislative changes will be proposed after a full analysis of the legislation and the system.
The planned increase in the budget of the Culture Ministry for 2024 is more than BGN 68 million, or 19% more than the budget for the previous year 2023.