Film Industry in Crisis as Bulgaria Extends State of Emergency

    The National Assembly of Bulgaria The National Assembly of Bulgaria

    SOFIA: The Bulgarian Parliament voted on 3 April 2020 to extend by one month the State of Emergency declared on 13 March over the coronavirus pandemic. All cultural and entertainment venues including cinema halls will remain closed during this period. In the meantime, work is in progress on the 2020 Budget Act revision.

    Representatives of the independent cultural sector in Bulgaria have expressed their concern that over 500 cultural organisations are suffering heavy financial losses. According to calculations coming from the sector, by the end of June 2020 the amount of the losses could reach 3.5 m EUR, and 7.5 m EUR by the end of the year.

    Over 1,000 independent artists signed open letters to the country’s main authorities, stating that many independent artists will not be able to meet their basic household needs.

    As a response, during two consecutive online conference meetings on 27 and 31 March, Bulgaria’s Minister of Culture Boil Banov promised to review the proposal for the creation of two funds: a social one to support independent artists without any income; and a structural one to support independent cultural organisations under the risk of extinction.              

    At the initiative of the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers nine principal creative organisations uniting writers, actors, composers, artists, dancers, journalists, translators and architects addressed their own Open Letter to the authorities, insisting on the need for “an urgent evaluation of the negative effects of the coronavirus crisis on the cultural sector and the provision of an action plan for the next three, six and twelve months”. 

    According to Diana Andreeva-Popyordanova, director of the Sofia-based Cultural Economics Observatory, “The Bulgarian film industry is in a most unfavourable situation as no funds have been provided for it so far. There are nearly 3,000 people who were working or were hired and now they need to be supported. One possibility is that the state pays these people the minimum wage of 610 BGN (312 EUR) during a period of three months. The total amount of the support would be around 2 m EUR.”