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Round table: Public-Private Partnership: institutional deficiencies and civic alternatives

Key speakers

On 16 May 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a roundtable in Varna on ‘Public-Private Partnership: institutional deficiencies and civic alternatives’. The guests included representatives of non-governmental organizations, community centers (chitalishta), local administration and cultural institutes.

As a member of the authors’ group, Dr. Liubomir Kutin presented the main ideas of a report on the topic, which is currently being developed by the Center for the Study of Democracy. He highlighted the importance of a strong partnership between public institutions and the civil society sector, as the wellbeing of the entire society depends on its successful cooperation.

During the subsequent discussion, the most prominent ideas were in relation to the change in the regulatory framework for community centers and libraries. According to Ms. Dobrinka Dobreva, representative of the ‘Vasil Levski 1945’ community center, these unique cultural venues must receive greater financing opportunities through projects, based on a holistic program with clear regulations, transparent rules and assessments, which stand on objective criteria.

According to Ms. Lyubka Todorova from the community center ‘Prosveta 1927’, the community centers which fill in statistical surveys are not a representative sample, as it is usually the same active ones which are included in the final dataset. Consequently the information available in this sector becomes distorted as it is not based on real data that community centers can easily verify. This allows community center managers to easily manipulate the data about their activity.

As a representative of the Regional consultation and information authority for community centers, Ms. Sasha Staeva pointed out that the information on this topic is not always processed promptly and that the Registry of the Ministry of Culture is not updated.

Ms. Kristiana Dimcheva, from the Regional library ‘Pencho Svaveykov’ in Varna noted that the introduction of standard procedures for libraries has been postponed for several years. Such rules should lead to a more effective and fair distribution of public funding among libraries in regional and community centers, schools and universities.

The representative of Varna Municipality Ms. Stanislava Genkova, informed the participants, that the potential participation of civil society is of great importance in preparation for Varna’s application for European capital of culture. Community centers are particularly important for this process, as they will be equipped to become modern information centers not only for cultural events, but also for a much wider set of public activities. In relation to this, the existing community centers in Varna will soon be adapted to the new social and economic circumstances.

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