ART-idea have prepared a series of workshops to support Plovdiv 2019 in their bid to optain the European Capital of Culture title in 2019. The worksops will be carried out by 6 leading experts in the field during three blocks.

The first block of the bid preparation workshop for Plovdiv was delivered by Diane Dodd and Greg Richards, 25-26 July 2013. The block concentrated on the foundations of the bid – the needs and aims of the city, the priorities for the programme, how Plovdiv could articulate with the European agenda, how the image of Plovdiv could be projected on the European stage and how the success of the event could be evaluated.

Follow-up workshops will take place later this year with Robert Palmer, Danuta Glondys, Ernst Houdkamp and Mary Miller.

Plovdiv is an ancient city (possibly the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe) with a wealth of archaeological treasures and monumental buildings. The physical infrastructure is however in need of renovation and upgrading. The cultural infrastructure is also in need of expansion and improvement, and the city wants to do more to animate public space and renovate disused buildings to provide new cultural spaces. These problems are also seen as opportunities – the long history inhibits change and innovation, but it provides a rich cultural DNA that can stimulate future change; the dereliction of the old town has potential to be transformed into new cultural spaces; the current neglect of the river and surrounding hills can be transformed into a new dialogue between culture and nature.

The overall impression that ART-idea had of Plovdiv and the bid team are positive. There is a recognition of the challenges that the city faces, and an eagerness to develop a programme that meets those challenges. Plovdiv as a city has many assets that should help build a strong bid, including tangible and intangible heritage, pride in the city, good energy and hidden gems such as the Roman arena and the Old Town.