Hristo Namliev: The crisis exposed performing arts’ over-reliance on public funding


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Platform for Arts, Institute of Art Studies, BAS, did a series of exclusive interviews with this country’s leading artists and art historians about how does it feel to make art amid the coronavirus pandemic, about its impact on culture and long-term implications.

Hristo Namliev composes music for films and theatrical productions. He studied philosophy at the University of Sofia. He played and composed for the Herman’s Wolf Band. Received Askeer and Icarus Awards for Best Theatrical Music. He composed the music to the theatrical productions of Mad Grass, The Last Man, Albena, etc., and to the films Glory, Thirst, Theo’s Formula, Before I Sleep, etc. Coming soon are the Bulgarian premieres of the films Sister (dir. Svetla Tsotsorkova) and The Father (dirs. Christina Grozeva, Peter Valchanov).

Q: What are you doing now during self-isolation at home? Are you making the best use of your time?

A: Nothing changed in my life because I am engrossed in a commission from the Netherlands. So, the quarantine made no difference to my daily routine. Were it not for this commission, I would relax, read, play, etc.

Q: At what point of your work were you caught up in the COVID-19 crisis?

A: I was writing music for several theatrical productions.

Q: How did the pandemic change your everyday life, professional agenda and decisions?

A: All theatrical productions I was writing music for were cancelled. Sofia International Film Festival expected to screen the Bulgarian premieres of The Father by Christina Grozeva and Peter Valchanov, Sister by Svetla Tsotsorkova, a short by Svetla Tsotsorkova once again, was also cancelled and I was supposed to play on the opening and closing nights and in-between. Plus I had to carry out repairs in Varna.

Q: Do you have a room of your own to work in or you find it difficult to isolate yourself, taking care of young children or students?

A: I do have right now and I do not find it difficult to isolate myself.

Q: What smouldering problematic subjects surfaced as a result of self-isolation and with all activities across Bulgaria and the world cancelled?

A: Performing arts’ over-reliance on public funding. And a number of psychological, psychiatric and pathologic problems associated with the exhibitionistic streak in the artistically inclined.

Q: Your opinion about the impact on the creative quests and the long-term implications?

A: Depends on how long it will last. I think that the processes are kept in check. Still, I believe that a longer quarantine will make a mess of the plans and deadlines, especially in the film industry. But then again it is a golden opportunity to shoot a zombie apocalypse under a currency board system.

Q: Where do you expect to get support in the declared state of emergency over Covid-19?

A: I do not expect any support for me. More globally, from the EU.

Q: What about the therapeutic role of art in the resocialization after the pandemic ends?

A: Art is playing such a role right now with all those world theatres and opera houses free to view online, in addition to the option to download movies. Many use this time to familiarise with the world film, drama, music, etc., which they had no time enough to do before. I hope that they will continue with, say, Béla Tarr and Wagner after the end of the pandemic.

Q: Any ideas about how to resume this country’s cultural activities after the end of the pandemic?

A: I get only silly ideas; let life get back to normal first…

Hristo Namliev: The crisis exposed performing arts’ over-reliance on public funding

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