More than 50 organizers of festivals and cultural events from the cities of Veliko Tarnovo, Ruse and Burgas discussed the multidirectional effects of digitization in the artistic world. The meetings in the form of focus groups held in each of the three cities were on the initiative of the Bulgarian Festival Association, carried out in partnership with the municipalities within the project "Bulgarian Festivals - Digital Perspectives", financed by the National Fund "Culture" under the Program " Audiences”. A number of topical issues related to the organization of festivals and cultural events, their uneven distribution throughout the year, their financing, and ways of reaching the public were raised.
The modern technologies with easier access to the arts, increased mobility and the development of tourism unlock new opportunities for a variety of activities. The question is how wisely they are utilized. In a broader plan, the digitalization is also a chance to improve the management and organization of festivals, commented the participants of the meetings.
The art festivals are important for the local community and in a way also develop the economy, promote the place, its historical sites, its cuisine and customs. Along with this, the festivals are also a place to be included in the achievements of the world.
The digitization creates conditions for rapid exchange of information, ideas and messages. In this way, people can express their position, solidarity and help in times of trouble much more quickly and effectively. Some arts and artistic activities have the chance to react directly, ubiquitously, and provoke participation. This is a reserved area of the city underground. Other things are more complexly organized - museums, galleries, theaters, operas, ensembles, orchestras.
The digitization is also important for the better preservation of life, traditions and customs, so that the memory of the past is not interrupted and mutilated. But should everything be digitized? And who will judge that? Because there are festivals of a laboratory nature, and in the performing arts and the most perfect recording there is no way to convey the live emotion.
The participants also commented with concern on the problems related to the limited funding and the heavy budgetary procedures, which do not allow the uniform saturation of the cultural calendar. There were other concerns. How much the digitization is a reliable tool to reach many more people and how much it turns the viewer into a passive consumer sitting on the couch at home. Also, there are too many festivals. A large part of them are of dubious quality, and the resources consumed by them harm events with a real contribution to national and world culture. Who will evaluate them when and how is another big question that digital technologies can also help to answer. Questions were also asked, to what extent the natural features in the cities /Danube, Black Sea, the Balkans/ are sufficiently actively present in the local cultural initiatives.
The final words of Antonia Kesedjieva, manager of a private independent gallery in Burgas, succinctly summarize the results of the meetings:
"For me, every festival is some kind of portrait of humanity. As much as festivals, as many portraits of human vision and feeling."
All participants in the focus groups received as a gift the "White Book" - a publication of the Bulgarian Festival Association with analyzes and proposals for reforms in the field of festivals in Bulgaria.