Excerpt from the text "Standing Tall: Institute of Contemporary Art - Sofia at the end of the first decade of the 21st c." by Iara Boubnova:
We can't insist that our small visual art NGO located in a marginal financial scene, and even more marginal art scene-the city of Sofia, Bulgaria, has discovered the ultimate cure for cultural maladies and the priceless panacea for the financial meltdown... It's just that for us the universal meltdown is a familiar sight from the past, it's something that has already happened, and not only once at that! Because of that we have learned how to be self-sufficient in a neo-liberal kind of way though in a post-socialist kind of society. We push to transform a liability into an asset. And for us the most important asset are our members and their creative input is the number one priority. Time and experience has shown that this is an asset of very high liquidity - when worse comes to worst we only need to re-activate the creative resources of our main asset, to unleash the brainstorming power of the collective. Most of the time the asset has come forward to save the day.
ICA-Sofia was established more than fifteen years ago. In many ways its starting motivation and existence is a reflection of the all over situation with the visual arts and culture in Bulgaria at that time and ever since. The early 1990ies saw the birth of suspicion and even disbelief in the traditional for the country institutions as well as other elements of the infrastructure for art and culture such as the so called galleries, the museums, the artists' union, the ministry of culture, the various old-time funds and so on. In this environment ICA- Sofia started functioning as a self-regulated and self-sufficient system whose existence is based on the interaction between its members, their brainstorming sessions and discussions (though not always productive and often much too long) as a decision making mechanism. And all through the time since 1995 the personal creative biographies of the ICA-Sofia members are expanding: their careers are quite successful, although that happens in somewhat different dimensions of what success is.
We lived through the process of the so called normalization, a dream which so far turns out to have been identical to a full membership in the European Union. In the mean time we were here all along - we did not leave, we did not give up, and we did not scatter around to enter lucrative positions in some bureaucratic institutions of stable existence. We still rely on traditional schemes for fundraising - applying for funding on competitive basis to grant-giving institutions, both locally and internationally, often with projects based on collaboration with others.