Participants – Facilitators and Experts
Martina graduated in art and graphic design in Moscow, where she lived for many years. Following her studies there, she spent one year in specialized multimedia design studies in South Korea. She then she decided to return to Bulgaria. Over the years, Martina has explored various aspects of design while working in advertising as a designer and art director, focusing on corporate communications, advertising strategies and development.
In 2012 she and Doychin Kotlarov, a lawyer experienced in local social projects, founded the DOMA Art Foundation. Martina is currently CEO, producer, project manager, curator and program director at DOMA.
The mission of DOMA Art Foundation is to implement valuable projects and attract audiences’ attention to culture, contemporary art, architecture and urban development and to provoke cultural exchange and interaction between local and foreign institutions, organizations and artists. The Foundation holds one of the biggest international contemporary art festivals in Sofia (DOMA Art Fest); has developed the UnderGara Creative Hub (www.undergara.com) project, which is a cluster for creative businesses in the Central Railway Station underpass with 140 abandoned empty spaces; has an urban initiative for establishing nighttime public transport in Sofia and runs the “KvARTal” Initiative to establish a neighborhood of creative industries and culture in Sofia. Since 2015, the foundation has established partnerships among the Balkan countries (Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia) to work together for better visibility and development of the East European contemporary art scene. DOMA is also a partner at the ESCAPE international art and sports festival in Croatia.
Martina Stefanova and Doychin Kotlarov were selected by Forbes for their work at the DOMA Art Foundation as two of the 2017 “30 under 30” people who are changing Bulgaria in the fields of culture, art and media. The leading newspaper Capital also selected Martina Stefanova as one of the three next generation leaders for 2017.
About my project
A small neighborhood in the center of the capital with an unprecedented image, forgotten beauty and historical value, an asocial environment, closed and isolated from the urban process community. Once the richest area, nowadays it is overlooked and abandoned.
KvARTal was created for people working and living in this neighborhood, but it also has the potential to become a point of identity for Sofia, create an alternative cultural environment, become an attractive locale for tourists and help local businesses and residents develop a better life and make them proud of their community. The idea is to connect all the small puzzle pieces and add more of them in order to create a holistic image of the district as it used to be and to upgrade it in a modern way.
Through community work in KvARTal, we want to create a new, positive image for the area; make the residents proud of living there, communicate and support each other, know their quarter better and love it; help local businesses prosper and create new job opportunities, use abandoned houses and spaces; and help restore and preserve the cultural heritage (ruins and old Viennese houses) and make the area recognizable on the cultural map of Sofia as a creative neighborhood and one of the most charming places in the city. KvARTal is also an information platform. Through it, we plan to create a printed book to distribute around the area and the city that will include a map and information about what you can find and where, programs and events, the historical parts worth visiting, etc.
We will work with institutions such as the Sofia Municipality and the Ministry of Culture, cultural centers and institutes (such as the Goethe Institute, the Polish Institute, which is located in the neighborhood, the French institute, etc.) and the “Shalom” organization of Bulgarian Jews (like the former Jewish quarter in the capital). We will also work with architects and experts to organize more cultural events or urban (guerrilla) interventions and work with people in the neighborhood to create a strong creative network that will change how the area looks.