The Young Visual Artists Awards international network (YVAA) was established in 1990 and stands as one of the most sustainable cultural exchange programs between the U.S. and Central and Eastern Europe. The initiative originated in the Czech Republic where Wendy Luers, President of the Foundation for a Civil Society, together with several dissident artists and with the support of Vaclav Havel established the first prize for young artists, aimed at providing creative residency in New York. Nowadays, ten European countries organize similar competitions, administered by local cultural nonprofit organizations and financially supported by International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP), New York (until 2014) and by Residency Unlimited (RU), New York (as of 2015).
In Bulgaria, the BAZA Award was established at the initiative of Maria Vassileva and is run by the Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia and Edmond Demirdjian Foundation. The competition is held annually. It is open to artists up to 35 years of age, who submit a portfolio. A jury elected for a term of two years nominates four to eight participants. The exhibition of nominees takes place at Sofia City Art Gallery. The winner is announced during the opening of the event. The award is a two-month residency of one Bulgarian artist in New York City. The BAZA Award winners have the opportunity to hold a solo exhibition in the gallery of the Institute of Contemporary Art – Sofia.
Members of the 2019 BAZA jury are: Irina Batkova (curator), Boshko Boskovic (program director of Residency Unlimited, New York), Dessislava Dimova (curator), Karina Kottova (curator), Biliana Rubinova (artist and curator) and Omar López-Chahoud (curator and artistic director of Untitled Art Fair, Miami).
BAZA Award winners from previous years are: Rada Boukova (2008), Samuil Stoyanov (2009), Anton Terziev (2010), Vikenti Komitski (2011), Leda Ekimova (2012), Kiril Kuzmanov (2013), Zoran Georgiev (2014), Alexandra Chaushova (2015), Dimitar Shopov (2016), Martina Vacheva (2017) and Martin Penev (2018).
The first prize goes to the artist Valko Chobanov for the project #getthatbread, I don’t lose followers followers lose me/ if I win for all our people if I lose I lose only BAZA#follow 4 follow