ABOUT IDEOLOGY AND HISTORY
Center For Contemporary Arts, Estonia (hereinafter: CCA, Estonia) main objectives include collecting and distributing information about contemporary art while promoting and mediating Estonia’s art scene in international art events.
To be a growing digital archive of contemporary visual art from Estonia, easily accessible to professionals, to assist in conceptualizing current appearances of visual culture, to organize international art exhibitions and conferences, to publish catalogues and other printed matters on mentioned issues – all these enterprises have remained and will remain crucial for us. CCA, Estonia has tied its plans with the freedom and independence of the arts within Estonian society as well as with the understanding that art is experiencing the same complex changes and is faced with the same difficult questions of identity as is the case with every national culture that is capable of making its contribution to the kaleidoscope of international art.
CCA, Estonia was founded in 1992 by the Open Estonia Foundation (as Soros Center of Contemporary Arts, Estonia) and officially opened its doors in March 1993 in rooms of Tallinn Art Hall (http://www.kunstihoone.ee/). The opening became possible thanks to the Hungro-American philanthropist George Soros who created a system of open foundations (http://www.soros.org/) within countries of Central and Eastern Europe as well as the former Soviet Union. The programme of activities in CCA, Estonia was very similar to the art centres operating in other Central and Eastern European countries. The first step was to create the possibility for communication with the international artistic community, to aid openness and bilateral exchange of information. Secondly the aim was to support artists or projects that were primarily connected to new technologies and their use within the art world.
CCA, Estonia started its activities with following people among the staff: director Sirje Helme, vice director Piret Lindpere, programme coordinator Mare Pedanik, art historian Ants Juske (until 1995) and bookkeeper Juta Keskküla. In the 1990s the office also had Johannes Saar (1995-2001, as art historian) and Liina Siib (1995-1997, as programme coordinator) working in it.
Since 1999, following the restructuring of the Soros Foundations (all Soros Centers for Contemporary Arts started to transform into non-governmental organisations under the membership of the new association ICAN or International Contemporary Art Network, based in Amsterdam), CCA, Estonia started to operate as an independent non-governmental institution, continuing the ideology of open mentality within the arts scene and society of Estonia.
Since 2000 there is no more financial support from the Open Estonia Foundation (http://www.oef.org.ee/et/), so the office worked out quite complicated scheme of financing, which generally and briefly is based on two channels of financing: a) covering of the administration expenses has been hitherto guaranteed by the Cultural Ministry of Estonia (http://www.kul.ee/); b) all the programmes, events etc., organized by the office depend on the sponsorship and supplementary possibilities (Cultural Endowment of Estonia (http://www.kulka.ee/), embassies, various institutions of culture, foreign partners, etc.). To guarantee the real financing, CCA, Estonia’s events and projects are planned at least one year before. Positive side of this system is that the office can cover its expenses in reality, while its negative side is that CCA, Estonia cannot be as flexible as it would like to be – the office can’t switch to the projects, which are not taken to its financial plans in time.
The year 2005 witnessed changes in the staff of CCA, Estonia (greatly as a consequence to the opening of Kumu, the new main building of Art Museum of Estonia). On July 8th Johannes Saar was chosen to be the next director of the office and since September 5th he has run CCA, Estonia with Eilve Manglus as secretary (who had been among working in the office since the beginning of 2005). Andreas Trossek took the job of an art historian in autumn that year and Elin Kard followed as a project co-ordinator (however, she left the office in December, 2007).