The founder and CEO of the Balkan Heritage Foundation, Mr. Ivan Vasilev was honored to become the chair of the Bi-National Commission for the Preservation of Bulgaria's Cultural Heritage. The Commission includes representatives of the Bulgarian Ministries of Culture and Tourism, the US Embassy in Sofia, the Fulbright Commission, ICOMOS, the National Institute for the Preservation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Bulgarian Academy of Science, Architectural Ethnographic Complex ' Etar'. The Commission was established as an outgrowth of the US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Bulgaria in January of 2015. During this visit, Secretary Kerry announced that education and culture was one of a number of key areas in which US and Bulgaria would engage in strategic dialogue. The goal of the cultural preservation commission is to bring together experts from diverse fields dealing with tangible and intangible cultural heritage and to identify projects worthy of preservation and to work with American specialists to identify and recommend best practices for such preservation efforts. The new commission is under the auspices of the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission for Educational Exchange, which has been successfully facilitating educational and cultural exchanges between Bulgaria and the United States for over twenty years.
In 2016, the commission organized a conference entitled Museum Exhibits and Standards: A Look Ahead, which gathered leading US and Bulgarian experts in cultural heritage and museum studies to discuss contemporary trends in museum exhibitions, the future of digital expositions and mobile applications for stimulating cultural tourism, and best practices in designing events and educational programs dedicated to cultural heritage. As a follow up to this conference, the commission organized two seminars on museum education with US-trained experts in November 2017 in Sofia and Varna. In cooperation with Plovdiv Municipality and My Museum Foundation, the commission will also be offering a series of seminars to Plovdiv-area museums throughout 2018 in preparation for Plovdiv 2019 - European Capital of Culture.