At the beginning of the changes the theatre network covered equally the whole country. It included 36 state drama theatres, 1 municipal and 1 institutional (Theatre of the Bulgarian Army - under the authority of the Ministry of Defence) drama theatres; and 17 state and 1 municipal puppetry theatres. The state theatres were under the authority of the Ministry of Culture. Their employees acquired education at the Higher Institute of Theatre Arts (actors, directors, theatre critics), at the Arts Academy (scenographers) and at the High School of Theatre Professionals (technicians). The members of the Union of the Actors in Bulgaria only reached beyond 4000 people. All performing arts organisations were repertory theatres with full time employed artists (with the exception of Theatre 199). Each season some 270 - 300 new productions were staged. The salaries of the artistic personnel outreached the average salary in the country. The necessary expenditure was covered by regular state subsidies and own income generated from box office income in a ratio 8:2.
The demand for changes in the theatre system was already acknowledged at the end of the 80-ties. There were already public debates on two projects for a new Theatre Law in 1990.
In 1991 the Government Decree - 23 was adopted. The decree got ahead of its time making it possible to delegate autonomy to theatres in order to generate more alternative income (leasing of space, commercial activities, etc.). Another Government Decree established the National Theatre Centre (NTC) at the Ministry of Culture as an arm-lengthed structure. Before it started any activities the NTC was abolished and re-established again in 1993. In 1994 г. the first open competition for funding of theatre projects was organised. The principle of equal opportunity was adopted for state, municipal, private and non-governmental structures and organisations.
In 1994 an opportunity was created to make available state theatre organisations without permanent artistic company as well as an opportunity to attract municipal funding for the support of theatres. In 1997 the accumulated experience was summarized and developed in a Programme for the Development of Theatre in Bulgaria, which practically set up the framework of the theatre reform. The general intentions were: diversification of the structural models of state theatres (repertory, production centres, artistic laboratories, and the transitional type "Stage 6+", where the state provides only for the salaries of 6 full time employees, and the statute of the theatre is determined by the institution providing for the alternative co-financing); introducing of co-financing of state theatres (i.e. agreement for municipal funding); binding the open competitions for the position of a Theatre Manager with the open competitions for state subsidy; increasing the share of financial support for the funding of projects; regulation of the funding for activity; increase of the average salaries; etc.
Only one theatre organisation was shut down during all these years. The institutional theatre (Theatre of the Bulgarian Army) was moved from under the authority of the Defence Ministry towards under the authority of the Ministry of Culture, 3 state companies became municipal structures, 3 new municipal theatres were established. Many private companies sprang up - mainly with marginal artistic value (with the exception of "La Strada") and non-viable survival. A number of firms and NGOs became producers (or co-producers) of theatre productions. Future theatre employees acquire education in other higher education institutions. Today the number of the full time employees in the theatre system is around 1800 people. The number of the new productions annually created in the state and municipal theatres is around 250. There is no statistics about the new productions created by other structures. 6 state drama theatres have been merged with state puppetry theatres. The annual number of theatre visitors, which has gone through stages of decrease, is now stabilized. But in some cities the consumption of theatre production has abruptly decreased. As a rule the life cycle of a production is quite short. It is incidental that some productions of high artistic value tour around the country.
The 90-ties "opened up" Bulgarian theatre towards the world. The participation of our performances and particular artists in the programmes of prestigious international events is not an exception anymore. Several international and national theatre festivals are held in Bulgaria. Some of them have been founded in the last 10 years.