Kapana Creative District

Plovdiv, BG
From capital of culture to creative district


Kapana Creative District was established in 2014 in the historical artisans’ quarter of Kapana, which dates to more than seven centuries ago. The initiative began as the main bet of the Plovdiv 2019 campaign for the European Capital of Culture, and since 2014 has supported more than 50 cultural activities, held more than 100 events per year, and hosted more than 500 active businesses in its premises each year. The district aims to be a place for cultural and creative innovation and discovery.


In city centre


The historical quarter of Kapana dates back to about seven centuries ago, when it was the central location for artisans to do business. [1;2] Since the independence of Bulgaria, the neighbourhood began a residential phase, which ended in the 1970s with (failed) prospects of building a modern trade centre – which was then replaced by neglect and the need for parking spaces. [2] In 2012 the city made its first attempt for bidding in the European Capital of Culture programme by the European Commission. In 2019, Plovdiv was the European Capital of Culture. [2;5] The district has a historical and cultural significance that has remained somewhat hidden from current Plovdivians. Thus the goal of the Kapana Creative District was not only to protect and reutilise the built heritage of the site, but also to enable a cultural re-encounter. The project’s long-term aim is to transform the district into place that attracts national and international visitors and creative industries representatives. [1]

The district aims to be a place for cultural and creative innovation and discovery and is the first creative industries district in Bulgaria. [4] It wishes to be a meeting space for, among others, artists, artisans, writers and musicians. The initiative hosts a yearly festival with renowned artists and movie and theatre performances and has yearly ‘design’, ‘architecture’, and ‘dance’ weeks – which were moved purposely from Sofia to Kapana.[2] The district also hosts thematic open calls each year that support artists and creatives around pre-defined themes, like the urban environment (2016), youth culture, circus and street art (2017) and artistic interventions in public space (2019). [3;4] Between 2014 and 2019, the district has supported 55 major cultural activities and hosted more than 100 events per year, as well as providing space to over 500 active businesses in its premises each year. [3] At the same time, the municipality has renovated and pedestrianised parts of the neighbourhood to further enable cultural and creative encounters. [3]


Heritage utilized
Building(s) and/or monumental structures
Cultural and Creative Industries
Creative industries; Entertainment; Public space; Tourism


Development of the Kapana Creative District has been led by Plovdiv 2019 and the municipality of Plovdiv. Plovdiv 2019 is a non-profit organisation formed in light of the ‘European Capital of Culture’ bidding process. Together with the municipality of Plovdiv, this organisation initiated and organised the activities around Kapana Creative District. [3] Specific projects are managed by partners from the NGO sector, (international) public institutions, independent artists and students. [3]


Governance arrangement
Led by government
Organisational form
Public entity
Stakeholders involved in implementation
Local Government / municipality; Non-government organisation / non-profit organisation; European Commission; Private sector business / corporate; Public sector institutions

Business Model

Through annual open calls, creative businesses and entrepreneurs were invited to establish the creative district. At the start, the city provided the rent for the first year of business. In later calls, this shifted to funding for creative work.[3] Between 2014 and 2019, the municipality has allocated €100.000 to these calls.

For the infrastructural projects related to public space rehabilitation, a budget of €3.600.000 was available, of which 70% came from the municipality and 30% from the national government. [3]


Initial investment
Type of financial resources utilized
Direct funding or subsidies / Earmarked public budget
Source of financial resources
Public local authority's budget; Public national authority's budget
Non-financial contributions


  1. Visit Kapana (2017), organisational website, retrieved from https://visitkapana.bg/en/2017/05/16/20122013/ on 22-02-2022

  2. The Culture Trip (2018). Plovdiv’s Kapana Creative District: From Decay to Art Hub. Retrieved from https://theculturetrip.com/europe/bulgaria/articles/plovdivs-kapana-creative-district-from-decay-to-art-hub/ on 22-02-2022

  3. NWS Eurocities. Plovdiv Kapana Creativee District. Retrieved from https://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/PLOVDIV_Kapana_creative_district.pdf on 22-02-2022.

  4. Plovdiv 2019. Kapana creative district. Retrieved from https://plovdiv2019.eu/en/platform/transforms/130-urban-dreams/418-kapana-creative-district on 22-02-2022

  5. European Commission(n.d.). European Capitals of Culture. Retrieved from https://culture.ec.europa.eu/policies/culture-in-cities-and-regions/european-capitals-of-culture on 22-02-2022