People in the field of culture are the most underpaid and Bulgaria’s actors and staff at museums, art galleries and libraries should get a 10 per cent salary increase from January 1, Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov said on October 9 2012.
Speaking in an interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, Rashidov – who after taking office when the current centre-right government was elected in July 2009 embarked on sweeping reforms that saw closures and mergers of theatres and performing arts troupes – said that there had been very difficult and serious reform, which had succeeded.
He said that he would be raising the matter with Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov.
There should be investment in theatre and a 10 per cent increase in salaries of actors, Rashidov said.
“You have to invest in Bulgarian cinema for it to evolve, in books and publishing houses too.”
“It would be good for Bulgarian actors, who work with their hearts, to get better salaries,” he said.
People in the field of culture were the country’s lowest paid, taking monthly salaries from 350 to 540 leva (175 to 270 euro), and 98 per cent of these people were university graduates, but no one had “banged their fists on the table” for these salaries to be increased, Rashidov said.
Money was needed for new and interesting projects but the money available was just a drop in the ocean of what was needed and resources could not be allocated.
“Culture is very important, it is the mirror of society and shows us where we are. So you should invest in culture. How can you not afford to? For some projects, we have billions and for culture, stotinki.” (A stotinka, a hundredth of local currency the lev, is about half a euro cent.)
Much the ministry’s efforts were going on building and maintaining museums, which were of great value for the country.
However, if museums were to be developed, there should be a dedicated budget, he said.
He also urged people to come forward with proposals for the “Bulgarian Louvre”, the national museum complex being developed in Sofia and scheduled to open in 2013.
Rashidov said that people were more active in sending SMSes to VIP Brother rather than in culture, “so I’ll wait a little longer, until people choose the name of the new Bulgarian museum”.
Four new museums were being built in Bulgaria and nine theatres were to be renovated, he said.
He said that art schools were in desperate need of renovations, because for 40 to 50 years talented children had been learning in miserable conditions, and this was unacceptable.
(Main photo, of the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)