CULTURE REMAINS FAR FROM GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES
Debates in the National Assembly on the 2005 budget proved what the parliamentary culture commission had already found out - with 0.6% of the republican budget, culture remains outside the government priorities again.In fact, the absolute amount of money planned for culture in 2005 is much bigger than it was in the current year. It takes into account the potential expenses of the municipalities as well as those of the Bulgarian National Television and the Bulgarian National Radio. BGN67,113,700 is the whole amount planned for the Ministry of Culture and its subordinate bodies for next year. The growth of expenses compared to 2004 is BGN16,074,700. One million levs will be provided for financing creative projects and programs in the museum work, book-publishing and arts. According to the most urgent needs of some institutes, specific funds are also planned: BGN2MN for completing the repair of the Youth Theatre (which started almost twenty years ago) and a church in Veliko Tarnovo, BGN70,700 for continuing the excavations in the Rhodopes-based Perperikon rock complex, BGN3.5MN for conservation and restoration of the monuments in the ancient Bulgarian capitals Pliska and Preslav, etc. Culture maintenance costs in the municipal budgets amount to BGN77.8MN, while expenses for local activities reach BGN32.9MN.In turn, the Ministry of Culture insists on receiving additional financing of BGN10.806MN that will guarantee the final or at least partial results from the work on several sites of national importance. Commitments have been made to the European Union for some of them or bilateral international agreements have been signed. That's the case with the complex of the Bulgarian National Film Library based in Boyana - BGN4MN are needed for its construction. The funds of the film library which represent the social memory of the Bulgarian people are spread across the country, while the inflammable tapes need urgent restoration. Moreover, the Ministry requires BGN4.606MN for repair and restoration works in the Bulgarian churches in Istanbul and Edirne. This is a commitment taken within the program for cooperation in the preservation of immovable cultural heritage signed by Bulgaria and Turkey.Considering the intensive work done by archaeologists in the Valley of the Thracian Kings and the numerous monuments found recently in the region, the Ministry insists on getting additional BGN900,000. The money is necessary for conservation and exposure of the newly-found pieces and the possible construction of decent infrastructure around them. The present government still has problems with the St. Alexander Nevski church which it inherited from the previous cabinet. The Ministry has calculated that it needs BGN1.3MN to have the wall-paintings in the interior of the church restored.The 2005 budget does not satisfy the appetites of the Ministry of Culture referring to the opening of 24 more jobs. No money has been planned for the two national institutes of art, either.