The Balkan folklore is a rich and colourful mixture of traditions, rites sand rituals, legends and myths, real life and fantasy. It reflects our great common history, the spirit and creativity of our peoples, the strength and will not only to survive, but to live on! All this treasure has been kept and preserved for centuries mainly in chitalishtes (community centers) and other cultural institutions. As our culture is really unique and different from the other parts of the world, it is well-respected and recognised all over the globe. For our particular folklore music in the 1980s was created the trend “world music” as it did not fit any other style. Bulgarian folklore song has been travelling on board of the spacecraft Voyager to represent Earth’s spirit and humanity! In Bulgaria only on the territory of Pernik region there are 61 chitalishte and 41 in Kystendil area. The analytical part of the both regional development strategies of Pernik and Kyustendil districts point out as a strength the strong network of cultural institutions and as a weakness – the low level of promotion of the rich cultural-historic heritage of the region. Similar findings are presented in the Strategy for cultural development of Nis. So to support the struggle to overcome those, our project proposes interventions in the following directions: 1. Establishing and strengthening cross-border links between cultural institutions, NGOs, experts and individuals; 2. Creating an attractive and innovative cultural product – a spectacle based on traditional folklore sources and preserving them; 3. Promoting the cross-border region and its rich cultural and historical heritage through the presentation of the spectacle in both countries; 4. Creating an on-line catalogue of all folklore performers and annual events in the whole cross-border area; 5. Publishing a specialized brochure with folklore highlights as an educational and information tool for experts and general public.

The project aims at promoting Bulgarian and Serbian common folklore heritage of Pernik, Kyustendil and Nisava region not only in the cross-border area but also in both countries and the world. We will gather and highlight the specific wealth of our regions, and present and promote it to the world through a specialized folklore brochure (on costumes, dances and songs) and a web-based tool – an on-line catalogue in three languages (BG-SR-ENG) of ensembles and annual events in the cross-border region. Our project promotion strategy includes creation and public performance of a joint modern and innovative folklore spectacle with multimedia elements in both countries. Furthermore, the two ensembles may include the spectacle into their regular repertoire and continue performing it in the future. All these we believe will constitute a nice cultural product and attract the attention of the cultural and historical heritage experts and specialist, cultural institutions, folklore performers and specialists, local population, tourist organizations and visitors to the cross-border region. Organisation of the events (the participants and the spectators) will stimulate local economies through putting money at least into the hotel, restaurant, transport and souvenir sectors. Also as the ensembles involved are not professional and include participants not only from the big cities but also from nearby villages, the project will ensure direct impact in their towns and villages, as well as in their family and friends’ circles contributing to establishing new cross-border networks, interactions and connections at the cultural, social and economic spheres. As the project involves 2 new organisations to the Programme (although organisations and team members have been working together for 5 years now) this will contribute to enlarging and strengthening our professional networks and contacts in the area of culture, tourism and youth sector as well.

All these interventions will serve as an instrument to focus public’s attention at the cross-border area, which will include demonstration and preservations of its rich heritage and increasing the number of tourists and visitors there, thus stimulating the local tourist economy and sustainable regional development. The target groups of the project are organizations in the cross-border area working in the field of folklore and culture and their members; experts, specialists and individuals interested in the topic; tourist operators and other similar institutions; local population, tourists and visitors. All of them are interrelated in the direction of folklore cultural heritage – regional promotion – tourism – sustainable local development. Preservation of authentic folklore traditions are very import nowadays because of the globalization processes and internet access the world borders and regional characteristics have started to smear. That is why our project products are even more important as they not only promote but also preserve our reginal identity.

Research on folklore dances and costumes in the CB region Pernik/Nis and publishing a specialised brochure
A thourough research on the folklore dances and rituals (analysis of rythmic and dancing patterns, style and dancing technique, costume elements, etc) in the cross-border area (Pernik-Kyustendil-Nisava region) will be carried out. Serbian and Bulgarian qualified folklore experts will be involved in this activity and after detailed comparative analysis will point out the similarities and differences. Such comparison has not been done so far. Then a joint report with pictures of national costumes shall be elaborated and published on the web. A specialized full colour brochure (at least 40 pages) for the general public and folklore experts will be published in BG-ENG and SR-ENG to be used by interested parties in the cross-border region and the foreign tourists charmed by our national folklore dances. The brochure will also be appropriate as an educational tool for teachers and specialists working with kindergarten and school pupils, middle school and university students, as well as all community and educational centers. Thus it is an important sustainable project output with a great impact beyond the project lifetime and coverage.

Round table and press-conference in Pernik

This will be the final project event. It will consist of a one-day Round table for 40 people with focus on “Folklore promotion and preservation for the next generations”. The on-line catalogue will be presented as a tool and a major and sustainable project result. The event will be targeted at folklore, cultural and history specialists, municipality experts, educational representatives, community centers and NGOs and new professional contacts shall be established for cooperation and project development in the area of cultural heritage. All participants will be given project promotional materials and folklore brochure. After the round table a final project pressconference will be held to announce the project results. The Serbian group of 15 people will share the transport with the ensemble for the spectacle in Pernik and come on the previous day.

Balkan legends – a modern folklore spectacle in Pernik

The modern folklore spectacle Balkan Legends will be presented in Pernik by the two ensembles with the innovative multi media videos. The Great Town Theater Hall (with greater stage) in the city center will be rented to attract more guests. The participants will have one rehearsal and then – evening spectacle. Sr group will leave on the next day. The event will be promoted in the local and regional media and invite the public of the previous IPA SKC-NBU successful project concerts in Pernik (Youth Music Master Workshop – best practice award!). The spectacle will be video recorded and published on the web as a promotion material and result. The event will be included in the Pernik Municipality Cultural Programme.

Workshop in Nis and a concert (Balkan Legends – a modern folklore spectacle)

A 4-day joint Bg-Serbian workshop in Nis. Day1 Demonstration and learning 3 Bg national dances. Day 2 Rehearsals and open day for learning Bg national dances. Day 3 Rehearsal for the spectacle. Day 4 General rehearsal and Concert – Balkan Legends – a modern folklore spectacle. As a prelude between the folklore dances media materials will be incorporated and projected to keep the storyline, based on a legend/story from CB area. The spectacle will be video recorded and published on the web site. Stage sound equipment will be procured and necessary national folklore costume elements for Sr dancers. The 3 partners will decide on the topic of legend/story after the research report of activity 2. A professional scripter will be involved to produce attractive scenario for the spectacle and videos.

Workshop on folklore dances in Pernik and a joint concert

A 4-day joint Bg-Sr workshop will be held in Pernik. Day1 Demonstration and learning 3 Serbian national dances. Day 2 Learning SR national dances. Day 3 Open day for public to learn Sr national dances and rehearsal for the concert. Day 4 Rehearsals and joint concert. Performing folklore choreographies from Sr and Bg, demonstration of learned choreography (Sr ensemble performs Bg dance and vice versa). The concert will be video recorded and published on the web. Intrepreter will be availablle for the first 2 days. Evening transport will be provided for participants from near villages. The concert will happen in the theater hall of PP3. Stage sound equipment will be procured, incl. wireless microphones for Sr musicians, costumes for Bg dancers and accessories for Bulgarian costumes for Sr dance.

Creating Web Catalog of Folklore Ensembles and events in Cross-Border Region Bulgaria – Serbia

The Web Catalog of Folklore Ensembles and events in CB region Bg-Sr is an ambitious task for our project to collect and systemise all available information for existing folklore ensembles in the whole CB area. Also the various folklore festivals, carnivals, celebrations will be listed. The catalogue will be very useful for the promotion of the folklore events and ensembles not only in Bg and Sr but all over the world as it will be in Bg/Sr/Eng and a description, contact information and link to any video performances will be included. The list of events will compose a Folklore Calendar of CB area and will foster an active exchange and participation of all folklore performers and attract more visitors to the event thus stimulating the local and international tourism in the area. The web catalogue is one of the major sustainable project products as it will be available on-line to anyone in the world and will be maintained for a much longer period beyond the project span by SKC experts (at least 3 more years).

Learning Serbian choreography in Pernik

Sr folklore expert will visit Pernik and hold a 5 day learning choreography training for the participating Bg ensemble and choreographers. The participants will learn one of the typical folklore dancing patterns from Serbian south-east ethno region. This choreography will be implemented by the Bulgarian ensemble during the final spectacle and after the end of the project as part of their regular repertoire. For this purpose a set of assessoaries traditional for this Serbian dance folklore costumes will be procured to ensure authentic experience on stage and truthful presentation of the dance and costumes in Bulgaria. For the training a playback of the required Serbian music accompaniment track will be provided by SKC. The learning session will be video recorded for further reference and use in the future. Interpreter will ensure the efficient communication. Transport will be provided for the participants from near villages of Meshtitsa and Divotino in the evening.

Forum “Common folklore heritage of the CB area” in Nis and presentation of the brochure

A 2-day folklore forum will be carried out in Nis, possibly during the International Folklore Festival, on the problems and opportunities of young people to get to know, practice and preserve the national folklore heritage of the cross-border area. Lectures on Bulgarian and Serbian folklore heritage will be given to the attendees by ethno experts. A moderator will take care of the facilitation of the discussions. An interpretation will be provided for the at least 20 Bulgarian participants and their active participation. The event will be used as well to promote and disseminate the research results and the specialized brochure in Serbia. Project and programme promotion will be ensured too.The event is targeted at young people, specialists and experts in the area of folklore from educational, municipal, state and NGO organisations and media representatives, as well as cultural and historical institutions, guests to the International folklore festival.

Folklore costumes exhibition in Pernik and presentation of the brochure

A mixed collection of real samples of national Bg and Sr folklore costumes from Activity 2 will be exposed in Pernik. The exhibition will be shown in the Art Gallery, managed by PP3. Sr representatives and a Sr specialist on costume installation will attend the opening. The event will promote oficially and disseminate the research results and brochure in Bulgaria. The guests will be specialists in ethno and folklore issues, educational institutions, NGOs, tourist organisations, etc. The exhibition will be open for the public for 1 month and a curator will be available for that period to provide information to the guests and answer their questions. Local lighting equipment and statives for the costumes will be procured to ensure the best possible way of exposing the items of the exhibition. The authentic costumes will be hired from other Bg and Sr cultural organisations. Promotional materials and snacks will be provided for guests.

Learning Bulgarian choreography in Nis

Two Bg folklore experts will visit Nis and hold a 5 day learning choreography training. The participants will learn one of the typical folklore dancing patterns from Bulgarian west ethno region, where Pernik and Kyustendil districts are situated. This choreography will be implemented by the Serbian ensemble during the final spectacle and after the end of the project as part of their regular repertoire. For this purpose a whole set of costumes with accessories traditional for the area will be procured to ensure authentic experience on stage and truthful presentation of this Bulgarian dance and costumes in Serbia. For the training and the spectacle a playback of the required Bulgarian music accompaniment track will be recorded in Bulgaria by professional folklore musicians. The learning sessions will be video recorded for further reference and use in the future.