Arts and cultural activities, Community development

ArtLabs for rural cultural hubs

Creating spaces for independent artists and local people as a model for sustainable artistic residencies


Who is behind this?

Desislava Stoyanova

Discovered Spaces


Who is joining forces?

Municipality of Kuklen



Idea pitch

In times when critical art has limited space and resources for expression beyond urban centres, people from rural areas have little opportunity to speak out, we will facilitate the creation of rural hubs through art residencies for sharing European values, openness and diversity. ArtLab will model artistic residencies using the infrastructure of cultural centres across Bulgaria to link up local citizens from all ages, independent artists from Europe, local businesses, municipalities.

Where will your project idea take place?

The ArtLab will be in two villages in the Rhodopi mountains within the region of Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Bulgarian independent art scene has very limited space for functioning and is mainly concentrated in bigger urban areas. This leaves a large part of the population in smaller towns and villages with very limited space to interact with critical thinking people, while their voice remains unheard and even unspoken. Most of the villages are continuously being depopulated with ageing population. They hold, at the same time, rich traditional knowledge, art and crafts and folklore heritage. Creating ArtLab will bring to the remote areas independent art scene with critical thinking and create space for diversity and openness. ArtLab will facilitate dialogue among stakeholders and will create a model for artistic residencies using the infrastructure of cultural centres that could be replicated.

Who are you doing it for?

The communities involved will be up to 10 artists from the independent art scene in Bulgaria and across Europe - storytellers, theatre artists, culinary designers, scenographers, musicians. We will, at the same time work with two cultural centres in the villages, as well as with up to 300 local residents and guests. Through the creation of the artistic product and final festival on the topics of democracy, diversity and openness, we will engage with younger generations of the local municipality of Kuklen who have little access to more critical culture and to expression through art, themselves. We will further target small businesses, like family hotels, farmers, production businesses, the municipality and invite other cultural centres in the region to develop in a participatory manner.

How do you plan to get there?

The ArtLab will have the following steps:
1) Organising three art residency periods through specific topic calls selecting artists from different fields. They will be mentored by artists who have experience in the villages;
2) Village fair with diverse performances - culinary shows, labyrinths, storytelling, etc.
3) Creating space of different experts at the village fair: farmers, artists, art managers, local authorities, to discuss on a meta level the situation and the possibilities of the development of villages and perspectives in front of the urban-rural cooperation in the context of growing urbanism and global economic crisis.

What are the expected results?

There will be results on several levels:
- establishing sustainable model for art residencies in remote areas, which at the same time, develop further the cultural centres;
- opening spaces for future such interactions for more independent artists and local residents;
- bringing perspectives together and building cohesion between different communities;
- providing space for expression, sharing, openness, diversity

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

In times of even bigger isolation and hardships for the independent art scene following the pandemic crisis, we are searching for new solutions, inspirations, ideas and sustainable resources. We seek to build on our previous experience and bring artists and people in remote villages together to engage local and 'outside' perspectives and make both communities voices heard - those of artists and local people. The artistic residencies will have topics related to democracy, diversity, openness, based on which they will sink in local people's lives and knowledge, understand their vision and try to re-establish relationships, engage local perspectives and empower them. The ArtLab will also celebrate this space through a festival and creating a showcase for actors beyond this region.

Why is this idea important to you?

We would like to support both communities of independent artists and local people in times of crisis, as we have witnessed the change and potential that this could bring to the selected region and the communities.
We have met motivated and welcoming people and feel the responsibility to further develop it into a sustainable initiative, which could serve as an example and inspiration.

€ 46500,-

Total budget

€ 46500,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs and coordination - 18,000 EUR
Travel and accommodation costs - 7,500 EUR
Public outreach and communications - 3,000 EUR
Office costs - 2,000 EUR
Artistic residencies - 10,000 EUR
Festival costs - 4,000 EUR
Meetings with stakeholders - 2,000 EUR




Idea created on May 27, 2020

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