Plovdiv expecting to be crowned European Capital of Culture

With a show entitled "We Are All Colors", which is expected to include 1500 performers, Plovdiv will officially open its program as European Capital of Culture 2019on January 12. In the coming months Plovdiv will host more than 300 projects and 500 events.

A partner of the ancient Bulgarian city is the Italian city of Matera - an ancient one with interesting architecture. It was the place where Mel Gibson shot his movie "The Passion of Christ".

Preparations for the big forum in Plovdiv have been mostly completed. We managed to create a wonderful team able to carry out the entire process of applying to the realization of the projects, Plovdiv Mayor Ivan Totev said in an interview with the Bulgarian National Radio. We see enthusiasm among people. We also have many volunteers who are helping us - currently they are over a thousand. Several hundred people will participate just at the opening event, the mayor said and added that the construction and repair of all important sites related to the cultural events during the year will be completed in due course. The huge stage downtown Plovdiv is still being built.

“There have been over 700 confirmed invitations to delegations and guests who would come to Plovdiv, so I expect a really big event, which is of key importance to us. Opening events in European capitals of culture are major events that draw attention to the program of events for the whole year. I think we have achieved popularity, which is much bigger than what we could afford for advertising. There have been articles about Plovdiv published by CNN and other big media. I hope the events on January 12 will further contribute to the positive image,” Ivan Totev said.

According to the European Commission, the crown "European Capital of Culture" gives cities the opportunity to change their image, be seen on the world map, attract more tourists and rethink their development through the prism of culture. The forum is expected to have long-term effects not only in cultural, but also in social and economic terms. More from Mayor Ivan Totev:

“The very moment Plovdiv was chosen as a capital of cultural, we saw positive results. Each year we register a huge increase in visits to the city; overnight stays have doubled for just 5 years to 500,000 in 2016. Currently we register about 700,000 overnight stays annually, which is big rise. There are also indirect benefits as better image, which also attracts investors. We believe that culture is an overwhelmingly important factor for people to prefer to live in the city and do business here. Everything is connected and according to us this cumulative effect is visible in Plovdiv.”

Some analysts have already called Plovdiv the "economic tiger of Bulgaria". Everything is the result of many small factors and the fact that Plovdiv has been selected for European Capital of Culture has certainly played a significant role, too, Mr. Totev added. Partnership with the ancient Italian city of Matera also has a positive effect. Being a partner with the Italian city adds value to our project.

But did Plovdiv receive enough support, given the different abilities for financing that Bulgaria and Italy have?

“Naturally, our abilities are more modest. In comparison to the budgets of other cities in Europe, we have an absolutely normal budget for a city like Plovdiv. Naturally, our budget is much smaller than those of Liverpool and Marseilles, for example, which have already held the title. I think we can have comparable events to those in our partner Matera. For example, the opening event in Plovdiv will be much larger than the one in Matera. I can say that the support we receive is by no means smaller than the support Matera receives," Ivan Totev, mayor of Plovdiv told the Bulgarian National Radio.

Editor: Veneta Pavlova

English: Alexander Markov

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