A special meeting of Plovdiv City Council is to be held on April 8 following a petition by opposition councillors who have mounted an attack on the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation and its artistic director, Svetlana Kuymdzhieva.
The agenda for the council meeting will include a request for Kuyumdzhieva to resign.
The meeting is the latest twist in a saga that began with ultra-nationalist councillors, backed by the socialist group, objecting to the inclusion in Plovdiv’s European Capital of Culture 2019 of an event called Balkan Pride.
Organised by the GLAS (Gays and Lesbians Accepted in Society) Foundation, Balkan Pride is described on the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation’s website as a project focusing on human rights and the struggle for equality, “seeking to present a contemporary reading of Balkan traditions in the context of global society and our digitalised reality”.
An exhibition, a public discussion and a Balkan Pride musical event will present photos, artefacts and audiovisual installations from pride parades in big Balkan cities, including Sofia.
“The project challenges certain stereotypes, but also aims at a dialogue between different social, age and ethnic groups in order to improve urban culture and expand public horizons. Organisers of pride parades in Thessaloniki, Belgrade and Bucharest will also take part.”
The 21 councillors who signed the petition calling for the special meeting have asked for a report on the activities of the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation for 2017, 2018 and January and February 2019, as well as a report on all financial projects during the same period, and on the artistic director.
The second item on the agenda is a presentation on all contracts signed in 2017, 2018 and January-February 2019, with information on amounts allocated and paid by the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation.
There was earlier controversy, in January 2019, over the official opening ceremony of Plovdiv European Capital of Culture. The Regional Prosecutor’s Office announced after the opening ceremony that it had initiated an investigation into the spending on it.
The Plovdiv 2019 Foundation repeatedly has insisted that all of its budgeting and spending are lawful and transparent.
Kuyumdzhieva and the foundation have rejected the opposition criticism of the Balkan Pride event, which in February also was the target of homophobic graffiti daubed on the foundation’s Tobacco Town headquarters.
(Photo of the Plovdiv 2019 European Capital of Culture opening ceremony: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)