Music is a traditional emblem of Bulgaria. After 1989 it was not necessary for the world to rediscover the quality of Bulgarian musicians. As a result many of them succeeded to establish their professional careers abroad. For a long time after the beginning of changes foreign observers still found the number of music ensembles amazing. For example in 1995 there are 15 symphony orchestras and filharmonics in the country. Eight of them are state companies and seven are financed by municipalities. There are one ballet studio company, one national choir and two folk ensembles, financed by the state. Tens of other ensembles supported by municipalities exist. Both at that time and still now the National Centre of Music and Dance manages to subsidize only a part of the numerous projects according to the new financing system. It hardly manages to take advantage of the market prosperity of some popular janres and to organise apportionment of income from well off towards less profitable but still valuable projects. Meanwhile the first private music ensembles appeared. They borrow or "re-invent" different approaches to develop activities. For example in 1991 the private New Symfonic Orchestra appeared. It is financed maily by the voluntary affiliation fees gathered in the so called annual fund. Businessmen, diplomats, well off melomans are members of the fund. Relations,if any, between the National Centre of Music and Dance and Private Initiative exist predominantly due to the impulses on behalf of the "entrepreneurs" and minimally due to the knowledgeability of the Ministry.
In 1999 the first step towards reforming the music organisations was done.
The resolution for structural transformation is pronounced on January 31st 1999. Opera Philharmonic Associations (OPA) appeared. The new cultural institutes were established in four cities: Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv and Russe. The OPA is a result of the merge of the so far self-dependent opera and philharmonic organisations. It unites the efforts of 266 employees, of which 107 are orchestra musicians, 52 chorus singers, 28 ballet dancers, 16 soloists. The rest 64 employees include artistic leadership, administrative and technical personnel. The General Manager takes decisions concerning the particular management model applied. The reaction of the musicians towards the establishment of the OPA was negative, predominantly because of fear of personnel cuts, the demand to master new repertory and mainly because of conflicts between the old and the new leadership. Three years after the beginning of the experiment there is no OPA in Sofia yet - a fact that does not contribute at all to the facilitation of the operability of the National Cultural Institutes. They are forced to develop fundraising activities in order to be able to realize their repertory plans.
The need to take care of the financing of projects drives cultural organisations to seek sponsors, i.e. advertising warrenters. The new conditions affect the repertory too. For example in the 90-ties the Sofia Opera makes a name for the "Opera on the Square" productions - spectacular performance coupled with a compromise in the music component. At the same time the national opera theatre turned into a setting for the popularization of a Brasilian author, whose works could hardly be noted as a repertory accent in other cicumstances. For many music institutes it becomes the usual practice, to conform repertory in priority to the requirements of impresarios exporting music performance to marginal cultural settlements abroad. It becomes the usual practice to find foreign guest conductors of amateur quality facing distinguished Bulgarian ensembles.
These 12 years are characterized also with an enormous personnel flow - up to the extent that the Main Conductor of the National Philharmonic is not able anymore to become acquainted with the new faces behind the pult. A deficiency of arts managers combining artistic soundness with management proficiency appears. Liberalization brought to rearrangement of the genre hierarchy. Pop genres displayed exceptional flexibility under the new conditions in compliance with the market dispositions.
The niches between the elitist and the so called mass culture were filled in. This happened in parallel with the extinction of different commissions - institutions functioning as a censor, but at the same time keeping up high level artistic standards. A current survival issue for the cultural organisations at the moment is related to the capacity of the Ministry of Culture to convince mayors of municipalities to sign agreements for joint financing. It is the guarantee for the success of the reform where as according to the set of rules the MC provides for 70% and the municipalities provide for 30% of the sallaries. The conditions facilitating these agreements are found in a number of laws, i.e. they are definitively determined. The municipal funding aimed at sallaries provision is set aside by the Ministry of Culture and redistributed back in the regions as activity funding. If the municipality does not pay off its obligations, the MC provides for personnel costs, but no funding is left for the downright activity of these cultural organisations. During these 12 years there is no significant festival that has failed. Even some of them are blossoming. New private festivals have appeared. It is typical of them that they often change their proprietors or otherwise proliferate.