Given the experience of “ECHO: European Cultural Heritage Onstage”, “ECHO II: Traditions in Transition”, and “ECHO III: For Memory’s Sake”, the project tries to tackle the issues of visibility, networking, employability and opportunities to enter the art market for new European talents. When it comes to the use of heritage as an inspirational source, It builds on the values of the European (European Year of Cultural Heritage and its legacy, New European Bauhaus) and glocal (critical heritage discourse) perceptions of heritage.

ECHO Academies (ECHOAc) is a 24-month (1 January 2023 – 31 December 2024) artistic project that aims to foster young and emerging European talents in the fields of comics (in Greece-GR), fashion design (in Bulgaria-BU), music (in North Macedonia-MK), photography and architecture (in Hungary-HU) by using heritage:

  • Karagiozis Shadow Puppet Theatre-GR,
  • Traditional Folklore Costumes of Rhodope region-BU,
  • Ritual Songs-MK, and
  • Urban Industrial Heritage of Budapest 1860-1960-HU)

as a means and inspiration for their work.


The main foreseen activities of ECHO Academies are the following:

  • Four (4) ECHO Academies in Athens (Greece), Smolyan (Bulgaria), Bitola (North Macedonia), and Budapest (Hungary).
  • Four (4) small-scale award ceremonies (open to the public) in Athens, Smolyan, Bitola and Budapest (after each academy).
  • A mentorship programme for all participant artists.
  • A 5-day capacity building course with international online sessions and local afternoon sessions on the following 5 topics: (a) project-based work / project management, (b) communication, (c) career development, (d) partnerships, and (e) intellectual property rights.
  • Implementation of 12 pilot projects by 12 winning artists of the Academies in cooperation with grassroots and micro-organisations in their own countries.
  • Open events presenting these 12 pilot projects and their outputs and outcomes.
  • Connection of the artists with national, European and international markets.
  • 2 international online forum events.
  • Networking events and audience development activities.

CALL for artists

ECHO Academy in Bulgaria

In the period 05 – 27 October 2023, ten young fashion designers from Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Turkey, Kosovo and Albania participate in the ECHO Academy in Bulgaria. In addition to folklore cultural heritage, their program includes topics such as:

  • ecological practices for painting with natural materials;
  • cultural project management;
  • working in partnership and what it gives us;
  • financial opportunities for artists;
  • what we expect from their micro-projects (for those of them who will be selected);
  • how to build their brand;
  • how to plan their marketing strategy.

On October 26, the projects of these young designers, inspired by the cultural heritage of the Rhodopes, will be presented in the Art Gallery of Smolyan. Three of these collections will receive funding for their production and marketing.

A professional jury will select three of the proposed collections based on: creative originality, interpretation of the theme, deployability and sustainability.

In the next one year, the young designers will have the support of the team of the Open Space Foundation, a micro-organization from their country and CUMEDIAE from Belgium, to realize their ideas and develop professionally.

Capacity Building Activities

The course offers artists and CCS professionals new tools and skills that would improve their employability and increase their competitiveness in the market. The five-day Capacity Building Activities (CBA) training will be in production management, career development, and deeper understanding of the local and international context artists work in.

Five themes will be held in five days:

  • project-based work/project management,
  • communication,
  • career development,
  • partnerships, and
  • Intellectual Property Rights.

There will be morning and afternoon sessions, where the morning session will be international and online, focusing on international contexts related to the abovementioned themes and the afternoon sessions will be national on-site workshop sessions, specialised in particular in the national contexts related to the abovementioned themes and to the applicants’ interests and needs.

The courses are free of charge.

Dates and how to participate will be published soon.

Project is co-funded by EU program “Creative Europe”, European Cooperation Projects – CREA-CULT-2022-COOP-1 and National Culture fund of Bulgaria


Inter Alia (Greece)

Open Space Foundation (Bulgria)

Pro Progressione (Hungary)

Sfera International (North Macedonia)

CUMEDIAE: Culture & Media Agency Europe (Brussels, Belgium)