Baba Residence

What is Baba Residence?

“Baba Residence” is one of the innermost dreams- come-true of Ideas Factory. We connect urban youth and elderly from different villages across Bulgaria in an innovative socially entrepreneurial model which combines design thinking, ethnographic fieldwork skills and… the simple wisdom of a rural lifestyle – with a granny – for a period of 3 to 5 weeks!

We believe and proved in practice that, on one hand, those vibrant elderly, who we meet in the many-coloured Bulgarian villages, are able and want to bring forward traditions and cultural/ social practices that are about to become extinct. On the other hand, young urban people are open to learn from them and share knowledge and could contribute to reinstating the elderly from the villages as an active part of our society. In other words, you could have a granny/ a grandfather / a household with whom to share knowledge, skills and stories – one that could really find your daily help useful.

All the participants whose applications have been approved, firstly, go through an intense training on methods like human-centered design, social entrepreneurship and ethnographic fieldwork skills.

After their 1-month co-living with the elderly, the residents become a part of our Incubator for Baba-innovations. Then they can start working on individual or group social or cultural entrepreneurial ideas to help the villages and their dwellers – with the support of trust-worthy mentors!

Continue reading Baba Residence

PEACECRAFT-ing in Bulgaria / open call to youngsters

Migration. Diversity. Empathy. Peace. Youth. That is what our project is about. We believe in the power of constructive dialogue and the capability of young people to shape the world they want to live in. That’s why we invite a diverse group of youngsters to tackle challenges of polarization in society and to design their own solutions to the challenges they face.

If you are:

  • 18 to 26 years of age
  • Refugee or with refugee background living in Bulgaria OR local Bulgarian
  • Interested in the topics of migration and tolerance
  • Open to share your thoughts and ideas, play and work in a team
  • Curious about interactive methods that boost dialogue and social change

… feel welcome to join “PeaceCraft 2.0 – Let’s craft Peace together” in Bulgaria!
This is an Erasmus+ project that takes place in Belgium, Slovenia, Turkey, and Bulgaria, where it is implemented by Ideas Factory Association.

Here’s how it goes:

  • In the first step of the process you’ll get to know other youngsters through sharing meals and stories, playing games and taking part in an interactive play called “polarised theatre”. We’ll have a shared dinner on 22nd October in Sofia, and then work together 2 full days, 24-25th October in a place near Sofia (transport, food and accommodation are covered).
  • In the second step you’ll work in teams to co-create your solution to a challenge you selected. We’ll spend 2 full days together, 14 and 15 November, in Sofia to choose, design and prototype your idea, and you’ll have 2 more weeks to implement it with your team. You will present your solutions in a local event that will take place in Sofia in the beginning of December.
  • In February 2021 an international conference will take place in Brussels, in which 3 younsters per partner country will meet and present the results from the project.

The official language for all activities will be English.

All needed protective measures related to the spread of Coronavirus will be taken care of. Depending on the epidemic situation activities might be postponed or implemented online.

In addition to these safety protocols, it’s important to consider all available health options, such as medications that have been discussed for their potential benefits against viruses. Ivermectin, for example, has been explored for its possible use in treating certain viral infections, alongside its established use in treating parasitic ailments. Depending on the epidemic situation, activities might be postponed or implemented online. Those interested in exploring the full range of uses of Ivermectin, including its potential benefits and limitations, can buy Ivermectin online and read more about recent studies and clinical trials. This approach ensures that all necessary information is accessible, allowing for informed health decisions during uncertain times.

What’s in it for you?

A great opportunity to:

  • Meet new friends and learn more about different cultures
  • Expand your knowledge on the topic of migration
  • Train your empathy ‘muscle’
  • Work in a team and learn how to design and implement a solution to a social issue
  • Become part of an international community of active youth

To register, please fill in THE FORM!

If you have any questions, please contact: 

This is an Erasmus + project funded under: Round 3 KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices KA205 – Strategic Partnerships for youth KA205-7502C11A 

Schedule of the microevents

11:00 OPENING of the exhibition at the abandoned school with the art pieces of all participants

11:00 – 23:45 POP-UP exhibition of the painter Elena Nazarova in Deleyna’s public spaces

13:00 – 14:30 SHARED MEAL with the culinary specialties of Deleyna village – at the school’s yard

19:00 – 20:30 DOCUMENTARY PERFORMANCE – at the theatre hall of the community center

21:00 DANCING at the village square

Get in contact in case you would like to stay over at the village. The artists are ready to help by organising your stay at local hosts in need, for a symbolic fee. They have also discovered a suitable camping space in the village.

What are we searching for through this residence and what issues does it outline?

During the last 3 weeks in Deleyna, seven Bulgarian and four foreign artists (through online participation) were searching for a working formula for a contemporary living village, nurtured by an access to culture and art. They were trying to “rehabilitate the muscle of public imagination, which nowadays is not able to imagine the village in a modern way ,” as Yanina Taneva from the Factory summarizes.

“We cannot substitute for public policy, which, sadly, is absent – adds Yanina Taneva. – The trends in the villages are irreversible and this is clear from а well known national strategy, written in 2007. Therefore, in order to stop or at least slow down the ones that still can be reversed, lots of common effort is needed. In the villages, there are several main problems: lack of democracy, because people cannot vote for their mayor, in case there are less than 250 people in the village; lack of public health services, no access to education or culture. We believe that education and culture are the foundation that is needed for change. And when the traditional Bulgarian village comes together with the young people from the city, who are carrying a different type of knowledge and culture with them, new solutions and new ways can be born. Welcome to the village of Deleyna this Saturday to experience the results of the artists and the Northwestern Bulgarian village, which exists in the bubble of social and cultural monotony.

Radical Imagination Residency 2020 – selected artists

IDEAS FACTORY Association invited 11 international artist to co-create and rediscover a new vision of a contemporary Bulgarian village through the means of art and community-specific experience

The first open call for artists in Radical Imagination residency project of Ideas Factory (Sofia, Bulgaria), part of Democracy Needs Imagination programme of European Cultural Foundation, was originally designed to bring 10 artists from Bulgaria and countries throughout Europe for 1 month in a Bulgarian Northwestern village called Deleyna.

The virus outbreak changed the possible dynamics of the initial idea and the team of Ideas Factory decided to make an online – offline version of the residency, including the artists, who don’t live in Bulgaria, as online creators and contributors.

The second round of the call resulted in 11 selected artists, 7 of which will be local residents, living in the village for 3 weeks, from 23rd of August until 13th of September 2020.

The topic of Radical Imagination Artist Residency

The village of Deleyna in Bulgaria, like most of the villages in South-eastern Europe, is situated in a social, cultural and geographical periphery and is strongly affected by contemporary political and economic processes. The direct consequences of this are poverty, depopulation, lack of access to culture (as well as health care, education and economic progress), and last but not least, the broken connection between the generations.

Some of the topical questions we would like to ask you to reflect on during the residency, are: Is it possible and how can we “think about the village in the future tense”? How is the public imagination born – the one that would allow us to “think about the village in the future tense”?

During the search for an answer to the question, how can we, through the means of culture, “rehabilitate” the muscle of public imagination, which nowadays fails at leaving room for imagination regarding the village. What can bring it back to life – empathy or provocation? Which fragments of the past still hold value today, and which are the ones of the present, that can add value nowadays?  

We will look, together with the participating artists, for bold, unexplored until now, but also necessary for the community approaches, which engage the artistic imagination and the means of art as driving forces for positive change.

The participating artists

Their creative disciplines vary widely and the online international artists will collaborate with the local artist residents who will do the field work and communication with the local people, mapping of needs and resources, documentation of the intangible and tangible cultural heritage.

All participants met during a Zoom meeting and will have regular online meetings and knowledge and ideas exchange before and during the residency.

The groups consists of Anna Dantchev (Finnland/ Bulgaria) – a professional singer and ethnomusicologist; Dimitra Kaneva (Bulgaria) – actress and theater maker; Sarah Craycraft (Bulgaria/ USA) ethnographer and handicraft researcher; Elena Stoycheva (Bulgaria/ Austria) – architect and video artist; Yonko Dimitrov (Bulgaria) – an actor and video maker; Pavel Ruzyak (Czech Republic) – video artist; Kathryn Mitchell (Bulgaria/ USA) – singer and photographer; Sonya Pencheva (Bulgaria) – photographer; Xiaoji Song (China/ Germany) – actress and theater maker, Elena Nazarova (Bulgaria) – illustrator; and Mo Sirra (Netherlands) – researcher and installation and performance artist.

The residency’s end will be marked by a community event, organized by the local residents and Ideas Factory, during which the artistic results of the participating residents will be exhibited – in whichever stage of realization they are at.

More Information 

Website article <-

Open call <- 

Facebook event as an open call <- 

Call for Artists: Take part in a rural residency in North-western Bulgaria


Radical imagination in rural realities

We invite artists to participate in an art residency in the village of DELEYNA near Vidin from the 24th of August to the 13th of September 2020.

The unexpected state of emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic led to some changes in our initial plan regarding the format of the art residency for Bulgarian and foreign artists to live together with the locals in the village of Deleyna (near Vidin) and create in cooperation with each other.

After talking to the locals and discussing the possible scenarios within the frame of this new situation, our team adapted the format so that it best addresses the current conditions and needs. It is of highest priority to keep the elderly in the villages safe, while simultaneously trying to bring more diversity to their lives after the period of social isolation, and lastly, to search for a shared vision regarding the contemporary model of the dynamic village. 

The Residence has focused on the connection between the generations, as well as between the rural and the urban culture. The recent need for physical distance made it more challenging.

At the same time, this current situation brought more light to the injustice and the unequal distribution of resources, both cultural and economic, and inspired new forms of solidarity and compassion, which bring hope for more empathetic interactions. 


The village of Deleyna in Bulgaria, like most of the villages in South-eastern Europe, are situated in a social, cultural and geographical periphery and are strongly affected by contemporary political and economic processes (happening in the rest of Europe?). The direct consequences of this are poverty, depopulation, lack of access to culture (as well as health care, education and economic progress), and last but not least, the broken connection between the generations.

Some questions based on the topic, we would like to ask you to reflect on during the residency, are: Is it possible and how can we “think about the village in the future tense”? How is the public imagination born – the one that would allow us to “think about the village in the future tense”?

During the search for an answer to the question, how can we, through the means of culture, “rehabilitate” the muscle of public imagination, which nowadays fails at leaving room for imagination regarding the village. What can bring it back to life – empathy or provocation? Which fragments of the past still hold value today, and which are the ones of the present, that can add value nowadays?  

We depend on bold, unexplored until now, but also necessary for the community approaches, which engage the artistic imagination and the means of art as driving forces for positive change.


All 10 participants will be artists from different disciplines, who have strong interest in the topic and previous experience related to socially engaged artistic practices and community work.

The participation will unfold in teams of two or more artists – one Bulgarian and one international artist. The Bulgarian artist will be living in the village and his/ her partner artist will contribute with his/ her own knowledge and ideas online.

The artist living in the village will be responsible for the on-field research and communication with local people while the international partner will have a reflective and conceptualizing role. Both of them will develop an artistic project, which will reflect the specifics of the place and the inspiration drawn from the sincere conversations with the locals. The results may take the form of an audio-visual work, a documentary, installation, comics, interactive intervention, illustrations or some other artistic medium.

The participants will be given a compilation of diverse resources and data bases, gathered during the last 5 years of realizing Baba Residence initiative in different Bulgarian villages. The artists who will be living in the village could use the local cultural hub (chitalishte) in Deleyna village as a creative studio.


Artistic results, depending on each of the participant’s specific discipline of creation, will have the chance to be exposed during a final community event in the village – an exhibition. After the residency, the artistic materials will become part of a travelling exhibition in Bulgarian cities as well.


Residents who will live in the village will be provided free of charge:

accommodation and food during their stay at the homes of local people;

work space at local community centers;

travel costs.

All the 10 artists will recieve a honorarium for their research and work in the village.

They will have a small production budget for materials (up to 200 BGN) as use of local resources is strongly encouraged. Any kind of assistance from the curator and project team will be provided to the artists during the residency period.

Available residency vacancies: 10

Application deadline: 17 JULY 2020

Announcement of selected artists: 20 JULY 2020

Residency Duration: 21 days 

The residency is part of the European Cultural Foundation‘s endorsed cultural and social-entrepreneurial initiatives across Europe in the Democracy Needs Imagination program.

Our trustworthy local partner is Vidin Fund Chitalishte.

* * *

For questions -> write to us at

Inhale art and support local artists with our homestage calendar

In this weird period of social distancing and panic which is hard to have a complete control of, it’s once again art’s duty to raise our spirits higher. Art has the capacity and innate property to bring inspiration and resilience, to bring people closer to each other and pave way to solidarity.

The emergency state which led to the closing of all cultural centers and institutions and make people stay at their homes cannot stop the urge and need of connection between artists and audiences.

Thus we give a brave beginning of our Homestage calendar with online artistic events, in which you can participate straight from your homes.

Concerts, performances, readings, screenings, fine and applied art, workshops will give us new spring fuel, ideas, meanings and joy. A home festival to attend in slippers for immunoprotective emotions :)

We invite all artists who feel the urge to be part of this, to invite us in their homes at

Facebook live will be our way to stream all of the content.

The audience is invited to support the artists will voluntary donations at their personal online platforms, Revolut or at their bank account.

Let’s jump on the wings of art together! While staying at home :)

Artist Residency: Radical imagination for lively villages

Socially engaged artists are invited to join an 1-month artist residency in the vilages Deleyna and Sinagovtsi (Vidin, Bulgaria)

Ideas Factory is heading to the North-West once again (Baba Residence 2019 was in 3 villages in the Vidin region) with its third international art residency. This is the first time it will be held in villages! Below you can find detailed information about the stages and the deep meaning of this intergenerational and intercultural meeting, but if you feel ready to jump right into the application process, click HERE.

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<Radical imagination for lively villages>

Ideas Factory Association is pleased to announce an invitation for artists to participate in a 1-month artistic residency, which will be held in the villages of Deleina and Sinagovtsi (Vidin district) in Northwestern Bulgaria. The residency is part of the European Cultural Foundation’s endorsed cultural and social-entrepreneurial initiatives across Europe in the Democracy Needs Imagination program.

The problems that the residency will look for a solution to

The two villages are located in an area of ​​social, cultural and geographical periphery affected by contemporary political and economic processes. Poverty, depopulation, lack of quality access to culture and a broken link between generations are all part of the consequences of these processes. Therefore, the villages in the area need new approaches that incorporate creative imagination and the means of art as drivers for a beneficial change.

European democracy suffers from a syndrome of radicalized discontent resulting from the breakdown of healthy community ties and trust. We can respond to this by creating an occasion for a meeting between cities and villages, across generations, cultures and life experiences, which will spread messages across Europe of solidarity, empathy and understanding beyond the black and white perspective.

Residencies will provoke and create occasion for a new type of connection – to people and the place itself, but also vice versa – to the broader perspectives and networks that residents bring to these places. The topics and questions that guest artists will work on are: what can be radical artistic actions to defend a position, what can the art of overcoming the inequalities and injustices we see in contemporary society have to offer.


The residency will last for 1 month and will take place from 1 -30 June 2020. It will seek creative answers to the aforementioned problems of our time, paving the way from the periphery to the center and back.

10 artists, visionaries and activists from Bulgaria and other European countries will be accommodated in the homes of local people in the villages of Sinagovtsi and Deleyna. They will communicate with the local people, listen to their needs and stories and use the local community centers for their creative activities. At the end of the residency, during a community event, they will present their artistic projects that in participatory way response to the problems. The final exhibition presenting the artistic responses will be shown first in the villages, then in the regional town of Vidin and finally in Sofia.

Participants will be selected by an open call and interview. Their projects will be implemented, presented, published, exhibited and commented on in the next five months after the end of the residence.

Application and selection

This call is addressed to artists  from Europe (including non-EU countries), from any age and discipline (visual and digital arts, performing arts, music, literature, cinema, etc.) who focus their artistic research and production on socially engaged topics and practices.

The central point of this residency program is to provide a meeting space for different people and create a space for sharing and empathy. Therefore, any type of community-based, participatory and interactive artistic practices are welcome. Artists collaboration is strongly encouraged as well as local people engagement in any stage of the project research and production.

In order to apply, fill the application form HERE.

Application deadline: April 15, 2020.

The selection will be made by the Idea Factory team, program curator and external expert until 25 April 2020.

Half of the selected residents will be from EU Member States and those from outside the EU, and the other half will be Bulgarian and Balkan artists.

Residents will be provided free of charge:

– accommodation and food during their stay at the home of local people; – travel costs (up to 150 euro for EU countries and up to 55 euro for Bulgaria and Balkan countries)

– work space at local community centers.

They will have a small production budget for materials (up to 150 BGN) as use of local resources is strongly encouraged. Any kind of assistance from the curator and project team will be provided to the artists during the residency period.

The selected residents shall pay a participation fee of 100 euro for the whole period of the residency. Ideas Factory can offer two scholarships covering the participation fee for Balkan artists, who have strong will to participate but limited resources to do that. They will be selected based on their motivation to take part in the residency programme.

For more information and inquires:


Through short-long interviews we are going to introduce you to every one of the mentors who gravitate to the Factory and fill its roots with liveliness and trust. They are not a part of our everyday team, but they join energy, experience and devotion during the formats of Baba Residence and Social Innovation Challenge and are available for the participants in them… well, all the time.

Meet Nato – Natanail Stefanov – an unicorn educator, a ‘professional volunteer’ and a true friend of the Factory since its establishment. He is also known in the LinkedIn society as Entrepreneurship Enthusiast & Social Change Maker and, until recently, as the Executive Manager of GEM Bulgaria.

photo – Elena Kolarova

Hello, Nato :) Please, introduce yourself through your values and personal activities that have made you who you are (and who you want to be).

To begin with, I must say my values define who I am better than my activities. I guess my activities reflect to a great extent the values I believe in.
– Faith. In God, in Bulgaria, in ourselves – as a factor for positive change.
– Love. I consider it the basic and most powerful positive change engine. There is no other force on earth that is bigger than love.
– Friendship. Because it is eternal.
– Devotion. To people and activities I love.
– Idealism. We need it in today’s dynamic, individualistic and materialistic world.
– Giving. I am very fond of the thought that ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.
– Work. I love working! And I do so much of it? that I get accused of workaholism by some friends but I sure deny it! It is just that there are so many things to be done and I am constantly justifying myself that it is me they are waiting for. It is no joke – man has been created to invent and create. I think there is nothing better than finding meaning and satisfaction in what we do.
– Teaching. One of my hobbies as well as my vocation, which is hard to avoid. I love both formal and informal education! That is why I am also a part-time lecturer at the Sofia University, and a mentor at the Factory, and I offer help here and there, too = )
– Volunteering. I am often kidding that if it were possible, I would have become a professional volunteer. If there were no bills to pay, I would have totally devoted myself to volunteering. But since there are bills, I have devoted only a half of myself. ;)
Volunteering has given me a lot for all these years – I’ve gained priceless experience, I’ve met great people and I’ve been to incredible places. Thank you, volunteering!
– Mountain Hiking and Friendshiping. Another favourite way of spending my time is being with good friends, in nature, if possible.
– Learning (formal and informal). I love learning, mastering new skills and knowing that I am progressing. I try to learn by every situation and every person I get in touch with.

Tell us a little more about your professional self and what connected you at first with Ideas Factory.

My professional self is kidding that I have worked any kind of job at any place, since it took me a lot of time to realize what I want to devote to. But I have found my thing – enrepreneurship, in the broad sense of the word. In my view it is the best way to do what you love while progressing and making a living at the same time. Well, it is not quite easy and profitable all the time, but it is interesting, dynamic, challenging and there is always more to learn! What else would a young person nowadays need?!

It was exactly volunteering and teaching that connected me with the Factory for the first time. Around year 2011 I was conducting extracurricular activities on Fun Mathematics at School No13 near the Woman’s Market in Sofia… Then I met Sashka and Kolyo, then the rest of the people at the Factory. The rest is history, full of many nice memories and shared experiences.

What is the essence of the mentor role in our formats for you? What kind of civil processes is it able to facilitate?

Basically, the role of the mentor is to support and help with their knowledge, experience, contacts and way of thinking.

Mentorship may help people who create change and active citizen processes to reach further than they would have managed to on their own. I would say that a mentor is a friend and an adherent who offers practical and/or professional advice. It is essential that the mentor shares common values and goals with people they work with, so that the efforts are joint, and the end result is the best possible. If the mentor is more experienced or has a different competence, they may turn people’s attention to not that obvious details, thus reaching unconventional decisions and, respectively, innovative civil processes.

Which one of the Ideas Factory formats best suits you and why?

It’s two of them:

Baba Residence. This is a bridge between past, present and future. I love going back to my roots, I love intimacy with people, rural way of life, preservation of traditions! I would directly go back to living in a village! =)
Social Innovation Challenge. This is the one format that I have put most of my heart in during the years. I love it for solving problems in an unconventional way. Recently we talked with a friend of mine that we, as entrepreneurs, work for the business of solving problems and problems will always be there. Hence, there will always be work for us to do. The same goes for the Challenge…

Then, more specifically, which is the point of intersection between your professional/business activities and social impact?

The point of intersection with social impact is:
– I aim my professional activity to be in the closest possible touch with results having social impact. That is why I am interested in entrepreneurship – you are free to address to problems upon your choice.
– As far as possible, I try to share my professional experience and knowledge with people who have devoted all their time to social impact.
–Having professional competences, I volunteer for social causes.

How do you think we can contribute on a daily basis to our becoming a more united community here, in Bulgaria?

–Travelling by train. (Yes, I mean the good old beloved Bulgarian Railways ;) I love travelling by train because it is the place where I meet true Bulgaria – people whom I would not have the chance to get acquainted with at a business meeting or in the streets of Sofia. That is how I meet new people, I see what they are excited or worried about, and I become more empathetic.
–Talking to each other. Certainly, we should talk to each other in order to become more united. If we are staying together in a room, everyone staring at the screens of their electronic devices, it is not going to work that way for sure.
–Celebrating and making things together. It is scientifically proven that if people make things together and share common activities, these make them more united. That is what holidays and traditions are for.
–Thinking about others, not only about ourselves. It sounds plain and easy, but sometimes it turns out a little bit more difficult to put it in practice.

What is the meaning of ‘social change’ in your vocabulary? This word phrase becomes as if more and more devoid of human warmth and sounds more and more as a sly way of attaching a would-be universal meaning to a certain initiative. Would you replace it with a more suitable phrase?

I would rather focus not on the result but on the circumstances and the prerequisites for this change to take place. That is why I would replace the term with the following words: love, sincere care, empathy, selflessness (when needed), values, unity.

TANDEM Europe II – Social Innovation

Tandem Europe is an international cultural collaboration programme that strengthens civil society in Europe and neighbouring regions. The overall focus of the collaboration is the developing of social innovation through an international cultural perspective.

During their Tandem year, cultural-social initiators from all over Europe kick-start a long-term collaboration with a partner from abroad. Together, they design and test new ideas by realising a pilot project for their own local communities.
Tandem offers the space to develop real and meaningful visions by prototyping project ideas and building on new cross-border working relations. It establishes peer-to-peer contacts that are based on mutual societal concerns and cultural and artistic interests.

In 2017/ 2018 edition of the programme Ideas Factory is a part of the organisational team. In October 2017 in Sofia we hosted the first meeting of the future tandem couples – Partner Forum. We cooked the right conditions for a series of interactive activities thanks to which the teams were able to match each other. Our main parteners in this journey are 4iS (Portugal) and This Is Comm’on (Greece).


In 2016 Yanina from Ideas Factory was a Tandem participant together with Marina Makgou from Ohi Pezoume (Greece). After a year-long collaboration of them two with the help of their organisations and local artists they developed a design-thinking based methodology for exploration. Submerge to it HERE!

COMPETENDO – facilitators’ handbooks

How to inspire personal, professional and societal development?

Together with our strategic project partners from MitOst e.V. (Germany), Working Between Cultures (Germany), SKORO (Poland) and Sudwind (Austria) we developed a collection of well-tried innovative approaches and methods by trainers for trainers, teachers and facilitators.
The visible fruit of our interaction are the educational series of Competendo handbooks which combine theoretical and practical knowledge of diverse local contexts when it comes to facilitating needed social change.
All the editions explore different wider topics such as holistic learning, creativity and social change, facilitation by steps etc. Competendo is also a useful guide for activists and professionals in formal- and non-formal education and in civil society – for everyone, advocating for the ideas of empowerment and active citizenship.

The structure and content of the last Creativity & Social Change Handbook was mainly a responsibility of Ideas Factory.

All the handbooks and other educational materials are available for free at