The ‘River of Tolerance’ also flows through the Prof. Vasil Gerov Hall

UNESCO granted patronage for the International Youth Art Festival to NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria

Text: Magdalena Gigova

Video: Tsvetan Ignatovski

Today we will not relate, but present. Mila Stareyshinska, the Programmes and Projects Expert, will seem to simply take you on a stroll around the Prof. Vasil Gerov Hall at the NEF ‘13 Centuries Bulgaria’ headquarters, but, in fact, the ‘River of Tolerance’ will be flowing through it.


If you have never heard of the International Youth Art Festival, now is the time to learn that it is traditionally held at the Sarafs’ House in Samokov and its fourth edition will be in 2021.

The project, entitled ‘River of Tolerance’, aims to bring together young and creative people of different ethnicities and religions. Photographers, artists and cameramen from Balkan countries get to know each other, learn from each other and from the renowned guest lecturers, create together, and challenge their talents and minds.

Non-formal education and communication powers our flight.


The festival was launched in 2010. It was then that the tradition for the Sarafs’ House—an architectural jewel wrapped in a veil of fascinating family history—to be its host was inaugurated. And Samokov itself is a town where Jews, Bulgarians, Turks, Americans, Roma and Karakachans have left a unique mark. The participants in the ‘River of Tolerance’ have the opportunity to draw inspiration from the Metropolitan Church of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, the Convent of the Protection of the Holy Mother of God, the Bayrakli Mosque, the Synagogue, the Graphic Art Centre of Bulgarian Artists, the Museum of Regional History and the Regional Art Gallery.

In this way, they become acquainted with the rich cultural and historical heritage of Bulgaria, with the local customs, traditions and crafts—an expression of the centuries-old, good-neighbourly coexistence of people of different ethnicities and religions.


The artworks created during the project—graphics, photographs and videos—will be included in exhibitions presented in Bulgaria and the other participating countries.


The news for the fourth International Youth Art Festival is that the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund was granted UNESCO’s patronage for the 2021 ‘River of Tolerance’.

The decision of UNESCO’s Director General, Audrey Azoulay, was announced by her Assistant for Priority Africa and External Relations, Firmin Edouard Matoko. In his letter to Slava Ivanova, the Fund’s Executive Director, he commended the role of the festival in intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding.

Lecturers and students in the visual arts from the Balkan countries are invited to take part in the fourth edition of the forum. Over the course of ten days, established artists and young talents will have the opportunity to work together, express their individuality through the universal language of creativity and build their vision of the values unifying them.

Artists, photographers and cameramen from different countries will work together to create art, with younger people having the opportunity to ‘steal’ from the skills and knowledge of those who are more experienced.


You can watch Tsvetan Ignatovski’s video introducing the artworks from the three previous ‘River of Tolerance’ festivals in Prof. Vasil Gerov Hall, presented by Mila Stareyshinska.

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