The Old School Residency, Gorna Lipnitsa, Bulgaria works in partnership with artists from around the world to strengthen the civil and artistic sector and its impact on institutions.

The Old School Residency develops the long-standing traditions of goodwill and friendship between Bulgaria and the artists of the world. The residency’s editions embody the generosity and strength of the Bulgarian people and the highest Bulgarian standards of strength, ancient history and pristine values.

We are looking for courageous artists with an innovative spirit who possess the vision and the capacity to bring about positive change. We support creative ideas and new solutions. We are not afraid to take risks that others would not, and to challenge established orders and stereotypes.

In an effort to stay true to our overall mission and strategies, we listen to local needs to ensure that the initiatives we support have a lasting impact on the local community and are embraced by them.

All are welcome regardless of geographical location and in particular those who need a breath of chaos to wake up. We will welcome you with open hearts, offer you new ideas, and change your reality. The rest you will do on your own.

*We use «Bulgaria» and «America» not just as designators for territory and people, but also as a metaphor for the POTENTIAL of Bulgaria’s typical wildness, unruliness and connection to nature, lack of traditional political and economic stability and the STAGNATION of the developed democracies and economies.

“In short all good things are wild and free”

Henry. D. Thoreau

About the residency

The Old School art residency is the first international artist residency program in Bulgaria. It’s been 14 years now since we started supporting artists from all over the world in their search for inspiration and new ideas by offering them the magic of the parallel artistic reality that we’ve created. Our residency program is not just an escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city, industrialization and consumer society but it also serves a purpose as a retreat for artists with whom we share our ideas, friendship and wholeheartedness. We believe that in doing so we help with the creation of a new generation of people/artists who have the bravery and courage to challenge and change themselves. In our eyes art is not just a mean for creating that which is esthetically pleasing but also a tool capable of changing the world. By staying with us in Gorna Lipnitsa and creating your art here, you will have the chance to become the spark of change for the people here and to leave a lasting trace in their lives. It might even happen so that the place enchants you and affects you in an unexpected way. How exactly… it’s for you to find out.

We offer a place for creative work and relax. A locus for individual artists or a small group of artists – up to 4 people – to ruminate, reflect and rejuvenate. Gorna Lipnitsa, is a rural community, where the present and the past complement and contrast one another. Here, the spirit of Socialism is still alive, remnants of which can be found throughout the streets of the village. Upon visiting us, you will be enveloped by the bucolic scenery, crisp, clean air, silence, economical and fresh food, amiable community, and opportunity for true inspiration.

The Old school residency is a multidisciplinary residency program, we accept artists who create in the field of the visual arts (painting and drawing, wall painting, photography, installations, video, filmmaking, land art, etc.) and performance arts (music, dance, theatre).

From 2010 to 2024, the residency has accepted more than 160 participants from more than 35 countries and the number of applications is over 820.

Up until this moment, we have staged about 45 exhibitions and art events, which present the works of the artists who take part in the residency.

The Residency studios

The name of the residency derives from the place where the studios are located – a spacious and beautiful school building, created more than a hundred years ago.  The classrooms of the already closed down school have been rearranged into rooms where the artists can work. The residency provides workspace for the participating artists – 6 indoor workshops including a photo studio and open air spaces – the yard of the school, movie and concert salon.

The residency has its own “Room of secrets” in which different objects are being kept, such as teaching materials collected during the long history of the school and objects from Bulgaria’s socialist past, like posters, dipositives, vinyl, literature, diaries, paintings, etc. The visiting artists have the freedom to use whatever they find in this particular room for their works.

The school is open 24/7 for the artists.


The artists will be accommodated in guesthouses in the village. Each artist will have his own room, a common space to hang out with the other artists, a shared bathroom and kitchen. The guest houses have their own separate yard which can also be used for work and leisure. Nearby the houses are located beautiful fields and walking trails, spaces to practice sports and suitable spots to observe the evening starry sky.

For the visiting artists we organize welcome and closing dinners. We also provide the artists with the opportunity to taste clean and healthy food originating from the village: fruits and vegetables from our garden, homemade jam, dried herbs to make tea with, traditional Bulgarian alcoholic drinks as well as homemade honey.

Products can be purchased from two shops in the village as well as from the nearest town, 10 km away from Gorna Lipnitsa.

Each artist has a bicycle at their disposal as a mean to travel around the village.

We provide:

Accommodation – single rooms in local guesthouses.

Welcome and closing dinner with traditional homemade food and drinks.

Access to art studios in the building of the school, which are comfortable for painting, performances, dance performances and other arts.

Guided visit to the main sights of the village – community center, church, chapel, agricultural museum, etc. These locations can be used for artistic projects, as well.

Group walks in the nature a few times a week, off road cycling routes and running trails.

Organized trip to the town of Veliko Tarnovo – the former capital of Bulgaria. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Bulgaria; artists can get materials for their work from there.

Visits to the weekly open-air market in Pavlikeni where you can buy a wide-range of fresh fruits, vegetables, clothes and antiques.

Learning the basics of Bulgarian language with our team.

Written materials created by our team which are connected with Bulgarian rituals and practice and the theme of the residency.

Showing of ritual art, the creation and development of which our residency is based upon.

Open studio or group exhibition at the end of the stay.

Presentation of the works of the participating artists on our website.

Use of the Hall in the Community Center for artistic performances. The hall is unusually large for the scale of the village and has an equipped stage together with almost 300 seats.

Use of bicycles for transportation in the village.

Basic tools for work – scissors, brushes, acrylic and oil paints, paper for drawing, etc.

Contact with the local community.

Letters of invitation and other support to help you raise additional funds.


Laser printer, PC and multimedia projectors.

Possibility to use free internet at certain locations in the village including the accommodation place.

We will come to pick you up from the town of Pavlikeni and take you to the place of accommodation in the village of Gorna Lipnitsa. From Sofia to Pavlikeni you can travel by train. The ticket costs no more than 10 euro.

We will give you in advance detailed instructions for your trip from Sofia to Gorna Lipnitsa. We are also going to send you a list of places which you can visit, both in the Bulgarian capital as well as other major towns, in case you decided to stay a few days more in Bulgaria.

And the most important:

A lot of fun

Memorable experience

Untamed ideas.

Residency periods and duration of stay:

6 – 23 of September 2024

Residency Fee*:

450 EUR /including all mentioned residency activities and services, solo/group exhibition, accommodation/.

The fee for couples is 700 EUR.

Residency fee has to be paid as follows: 50% of the fee in 7 days after your application is approved. The rest has to paid a month before the start of your residency period.

We accept payments through Wise or direct bank transfers.

* We are a nonprofit organization currently functioning without any external financing. At the moment, we can continue to host artists only on a fee basis. The residency fee is intended to cover the general cost of running the program and the maintenance of the building of the old school in the village we are working in.

Additional options /for a fee/:

  1. A one-day trip to The Buzludzha monument – an exceptional example of Brutalist architecture in Bulgaria, included in the list of the 33 most beautiful abandoned places in the world.


  1. A one-day trip to the city of Gabrovo – the international capital of humour and satire and the hometown of the famous artist Christo. The trip will include:
  • visit to The Museum of Humour and Satire;
  • visit to The Open Air Ethnographic Museum “Etar”.

Terms of application:

Each candidate should send us:

  • A short CV;
  • Information about the selected discipline;
  • Information about the selected period.
  • The artists should present their works by sending info about website, portfolio or images;
  • A brief initial idea about your project at the residency.

For 2024 the theme of our residency is going to be “Bulgaria For America”. You are free to work on it or on another topic if it interests you more.

E-mail for application:

Deadline: 10th of May, 2024

Results announcing: Within 10 days after applying

The Organizers:

We are Darina and Dimitar – artists and lawyers, founders of The Old School residency, herbalists, runners,  but most of all idealists and seekers. We have been organizing various art events since 2010. As we are currently living in the village, we are going to be personally present at the residency during your stay. We will give you practical tips and advice for everything related to your stay, work, travelling and exploration of the area.

You can read more about us and our ideas:

The creative, artistic rebellion will change the world!


Questions: Please submit additional questions to:

Image Caption
The Old School residency building, Egregore by Christine Schröder, USA, 2023