Position of the Derida Dance Center team on the Cultural Policy of Sofia

Derida Dance Center is an independent cultural structure that exists since 2010 in Sofia. It is the only organization in Bulgaria that provides space and opportunity for representatives of the independent art sector in the field of contemporary dance, theater and borderline art-forms to improve their professional competence, to carry out production activities through  the center’s residence program and present own productions to the audience of Sofia.

Derida Dance Center is one of the few organizations that implement a coherent long-term strategy to promote contemporary art and culture and develop mechanisms to attract spectators. The Bulgarian company presents productions on the European stage and its collaborations with cultural organizations from other countries are realized in Sofia and are often span on a long-term cross-cultural interactions between the Bulgarian artists and their counterparts in Europe and Asia.

Mrs. Jelena Knezevic, the executive director of BITEF - one of the most important festivals of theater and alternative performing arts, defines Derida Dance Center as "the only place that has successfully developed contemporary art and culture in Central and Eastern Europe without municipal and state financial support”. In his analysis on the state-of-the-art of cultural industries in Eastern Europe, Mr. David Pledgar from the Australian Art Council sets an example for the existence of Derida Dance Center as "light in the tunnel."

The company is a partner in one of the approved projects of the "culture" of the European Commission, Strand 1.2.1. (28 February 2013), and has also received the support of America for Bulgaria Foundation for its projects for two consecutive years.

So far, none of the projects of Derrida Dance has been supported by the Sofia Municipality.
At the time when the city authority is spending significant financial resources to apply successfully for European Capital of Culture for 2019, the ongoing cultural policy shows extremely poor results due to lack of competence in preparing funding mechanisms for projects, vague cultural strategy and absence of concrete actions to address inequalities in the independent art sector.

The deputy mayor, Mr. Todor Chobanov who is in charge of the cultural policy of Sofia and Mrs. Galina Bezhanska, director of Culture Department of the Sofia Municipality have never been attending any of the public presentations or performances of the only center for contemporary dance in Bulgaria. In the meantime, Mr.  Todor Chobanov, during his sole meeting initiated by the team of Derida Dance,  has expressed strong position for the need of a long-term strategy that will create appropriate conditions for improvement in the evaluating procedure of the selection committee in order to support adequately the independent cultural sector. But the lack of follow-up dialogue after that meeting comes to indicate the level of involvement of the relevant state parties and their unwillingness to rethink and redesign the mechanisms for the good of the independent art sector.

The municipality is unable to provide enough venues and support which is one the major reasons why the local projects have a short stage life (about 5 submissions).
The team Derid Dance Center, whose competence is recognized by cultural organizations all over Europe and Asia, was not informed by the city authority for further discussions on the city’s culture scene and was never sought for any assistance or opinion in preparing an adequate sectoral strategy.
However, annually Derida Dance Center offers its support to dozens of independent partnering organizations when applying for funding before Sofia Municipality and guarantees in front of the Municipality its contribution with free venue for the purpose of these projects applications.
This present year the project proposal of Derida Dance Center was not supported by Culture Capital program once again. The reason for rejection of the proposal by the non-technical committee is that the municipality has no practice to inform in writing its applicants for document incompliance with the requirements of the programme. This makes the process of claiming proving administrative violations impossible.
The project proposal of Derida Dance Center was once more rejected on the second round even though the technical committee demanded orally and was provided within the given deadline with the missing documentation.
At present, the team Derida Dance Center still faces no support from the Sofia Municipality and there is still no indication of a clear vision for the independent art-sector. Therefore, the efforts of the team are concentrated on provision of funding from other national and international institutions. For example, last year one of the projects of the company, which is based in Sofia, was rejected by the Sofia Municipality, but was instead supported by the Municipality of Varna through the "Varna Territory of creativity."  Less than half a year later, this very performance was selected to participate in the prestigious festival "European Dance Festival" in the city of Limassol, Cyprus, and ironically was nominated for the Icarus Award 2013 – the major Bulgarian art award supported by the Sofia Municipality.  

To be The European Capital of Culture is a recognition that many cities apply for, and it is earned by those cities that know and use their resources, recognize the true ambassadors of art and create conditions for the realization of cultural events.


The position of Derida Dance Center is published in the newspaper Dnevnik on 23rd March 2013