National Community Center (NCC) “Bratolyubie – 1884” in the town of Lyubinets

The Community Center “Bratolyubie – 1884” in Lyubimets is one of the first such centers in the region established immediately after the Liberation. Actually, the community activities began already in the end of the 1850s when in the school in Lyubimets, one of the teachers – Ivancho brought Bulgarian books and his successors established the first school library in the village and started the first pupil performances. The teachers were the most active initiators of the establishment of the Community Center in Lyubimets.

In 1884 the teachers Petar Mitev, Gospodin Karagyozov and Alexander Vaptsarov, supported by local tradesmen, public figures and farmers established Bratolyubie Community Center. The rules of the newly created community center were approved by the Minsitry of the Interior with decree No.15708 from 21.12.1884. In 1953 the Community Center was renamed to NCC “September”, but in 1992 with Decree No. 43, Protocol No. 9 from 29.04.1992 of the Municipal Council of Lyubimets, the old name of the Community Center – Bratolyubie, was restored. The first Chairman of the Community Center is Petar Mitev – teacher and public figure, who has participated in the Ilinden uprising. He is author of 2 brochures: “History of the school in Lyubimets”, 1924 and “From Harmanli to Bulair”, 1924. In parallel to the education activities which developed in the newly established community center, the first theatre group was created already in the very beginning of the community work. For a long period, the theatre amateur performances were the most significant of the activities of the community center. The theatre group of Bratolyubie Community Center quickly became the glory and pride of Lyubimets. From 1884 to 2005 the stage of the Community Center has witnessed hundreds of plays, including nearly all Bulgarian dramatic plays: „Long-suffering Genoveva”, „Lost Stanka”, „Master Michalaki” , „Boryana”, „Brotherly love”, „To the other side”, „Mother-in-law”, „Foreigner”, „The millionaire”, „Golemanov”, „Kalin – the Eagle”, „Old times Bulgarians”, „Career hunters”, „Geratsite clan”, “The iron chandelier”, „Kingdom of women” and many others. The theatre cast has received tens of prizes from numerous festivals and they have played at many stages in the neighbouring towns and villages and also in Sofia and Plovdiv. From the scene of this amateur theatre began their career the great Bulgarian actors Stoycho Mazgalov and Prof. Ventsislav Kisyov. Among the most important and known directors of the theatre are Atanas Vrabchev, Dr. Hristo Bozaliev, Stoycho Mazgalov, Lyuben Karaboykov, etc. The hall of fame of the theatre activities includes the actors: Veneta Stefanova, Lyuba Poryazova, Gospodin Kurkalichev, Kalina Stariradeva, Tinka Kraycheva, Mariyka Popova, Maria Mangurova, Petar Marmurov, Georgi Ivanov, Nayden Ovcharov, Alexander Blagoev, Luka Yanev and many others. Together with the theatre plays, in the Community Center were developed the dance performances, choir singing and musical schools. The first dedicated building to the community center was opened in 1935 and the current building of NCC “Bratolyubie” was completed in 1972. The library of the community center exists already from its foundation and has over 35 000 books. Already in the beginning of the 1930s the community center supported the publishing of the newspapers “Sound mind” and “Truth” in Lyubimets.

In 2006 was published the book “Bratolyubie Community Center – my love, my hope”, co-authored by Bonyo Bonev, Honorary Chairman of the Community Center and Maria Tochkova. During the years NCC “Bratolyubie – 1884” has established as spiritual center and the real focus of culture in the municipality of Lyubimets. Nowadays the community center is one of the most dynamically developing local communities, a real school in art and satisfying the cultural needs of the population of Lyubimets. The numerous amateur groups and bands and their various activities in participation in concerts, tours, national and international festivals are the proof that the spark of the enlightenment and spirituality is still there. In 1884 teachers, priests, public figures, villagers and craftsmen from Lyubimets establish the Community Center and christen it as “Bratolyubie” (Brotherly Love). This is an insight and a message from our ancestors – to follow the legacy of Khan Kubrat – everybody together, in accord, united as brothers to seek and follow the path of knowledge, enlightenment and the perfection of body, mind and soul. For already 130 years the Community Center of Lyubimets is following that road and will continue further.