The world-renowned street artist Nasimo has already painted an entire facade of a building on a central Sofia street in connection with the European Year of Cultural Heritage and as part of one of the youngest but most rapidly growing artistic festivals in the Bulgarian capital. Also this year an entire neighbourhood downtown Sofia will be transformed, the festival organizers promise. And they are a group of like-minded enthusiasts united in the so-called creative collective "kvARTal" (in English translation “quarter, neighbourhood”) operating on the territory of an emblematic area in central Sofia, locked between Maria Luisa Blvd., Rakovski Blvd., Slivnitsa Blvd. and Dondukov Blvd. One of the most thriving regions of Sofia in the early decades of the 20th century, also known as the Jewish Quarter, for a long time it was plunged into neglect and slowly-pervading ruin. In recent years, however, the visionaries from the artistic collective including the House of Cinema, the House Art Foundation and the Architectural Heritage Association, have set themselves an important task - to revive the characteristic spirit of the place and to turn it into the official creative district of Sofia, similar to the designated art quarters of many European capitals.
Today is the beginning of the 3rd edition of the festival, which will take place from 14th to 16th September, and its motto this year reads "REstart: kvARTal strikes back", countering the strike of the time that put its patina on one of Sofia’s most vibrant areas from the beginning of the century.
"We are expecting a very rich program and many new outdoor venues in the neighborhood," Alexandra Genova, one of the organizers and a resident of the neighborhood, told the Bulgarian National Radio. "We are very happy with the fact that some streets in the area will be closed for traffic, trying to make more public space for residents here and for guests. The neighborhood that suffers from the problem of overbuilding will be able to breathe at least those three days, which is one of our main goals."
The centre of the musical events will be one of the emblematic Sofia buildings, namely the Central Market Halls (Centralni Hali) built in 1911, where the specially erected outdoor stage will welcome the rock surf, rockabilly, rock-and-roll musicians from Van Cock, the darkwave band Violet General, and the Beat and Hip-Hop label Sofia Beats.
The main emphasis in this year's edition of the festival is painting on walls, continues Alexandra Genova, and in connection with the Firefighter's Day on September 14th one of the facades of the building of the Sofia Fire Brigade located within this neighbourhood will be painted. This task will be handled by the graffiti artists from 140 ideas, known for holding the graffiti festival We All Write, which gave a whole new look to the seaside town of Ahtopol in 2017. The talented artist and illustrator Yasen Sgurovski will also join them.
"Another of our goals is to show the architectural heritage of the neighbourhood and this is namely the Old Jewish Sofia," says Alexandra Genova. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the architecture and the history of emblematic buildings in the architectural tours organized during the three festival days .
The diverse program of the festival will also feature traditional gourmet tours, alternative city graffiti tours, various children's workshops, open-air bazars and impromptu street performances as well as a large open discussion on the future of this part of Old Sofia aging with dignity.
Edited by Rossitsa Petcova
English version Rossitsa PetcovaPhotos: fest.bg.com, BTA et BGNES