A Letter of Support for Toplocentrala (Sofia)

To the Municipality of the City of Sofia, Bulgaria

We, a group of international cultural workers, artists and activists gathered around networked process RESHAPE, would like to express our solidarity and support to the ACT association who have been working together with other actors of the independent cultural scene and the Municipality of Sofia towards the development of the Center for Contemporary Art Toplocentrala.

RESHAPE brings together practitioners in art and culture from Europe and the South Mediterranean areas, with the aim of rethinking its instruments and collaborative models, placing them in line with artistic and social innovation and the principles of fairness, solidarity, geographic balance and sustainability. Particular group of actors recently gathered in Sofia share interest in rethinking and innovating governance in culture and arts in order to bring them closer to the values of openness, horizontality and active participation of different societal actors.

During our visit to Sofia in December 2019, as a part of activities within the RESHAPE, we have had the opportunity to learn about the steps that the Municipality and independent actors have successfully taken in the recent period, by mutually developing cultural centre at the space of former heating plant in the centre of Sofia.

We recognise the efforts of finding and allocating an appropriate space for contemporary art, one that will serve innovative forms of cultural and artistic expression as well as gathering people of Sofia and international guests as active participants and audiences. One important part of this process was conducting the architectural competition aimed at investment in renovation and equipping the space, thus enabling it to serve its purpose to the local community.

We are certain that this space, once built, will forever change state of the art in Sofia and in the broader context, not only by strongly catalyzing artistic production and socio-cultural development of Bulgaria, but also contributing to the cultural production of the Balkan region and the rest of Europe.

Current processes of devising organizational roles and governing responsibilities of the centre are of great importance at this time. They hold a precious opportunity to co-develop and implement participative instruments of democratic decision-making in governance of the Center for Contemporary Arts Toplocentrala. For this reason we would like to emphasize the importance of continuing active cooperation with the independent cultural actors in developing a model of governance of the new institution.

Sincerely, the undersigned team of the Fair Governance Models Trajectory

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