3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy
Currently, there are 19 Hungarian Cultural Institutes in operation in 17 countries. There are considerable differences between the institutes, with some having facilities for providing scholars with fellowships, while others are just offices for cultural co-operation. The assistance and co-ordination of the content of the activities of the 19 institutes is managed by the Balassi Institute (Balassi Intézet, named after a 16th century poet), which also co-ordinates Hungarian studies and looks after students and lecturers who act in the framework of intergovernmental agreements. The latest additions were the Hungarian Cultural Centre in Brussels in 2004, and the affiliate in Sfântu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy, a Transylvanian city with prevailing Hungarian ethnicity) of the Balassi centre in Bucharest.
The Ministry of Human Resources records bilateral agreements with over 100 countries, about 50 of which are active. The exchanges of experts are still of importance in the agreements, especially in the heritage field. In the arts, most co-operation projects are realised through other channels.
In the previous decade, major emphasis was placed on concentrated events, called cultural seasons, in selected foreign countries, such as:
Although it was not labelled a cultural season, the Hungarian participation at the World Expo in Shanghai 2010 included a rich cultural programme.
Another priority has been the organisation of large scale exhibitions from abroad. The main focus of these projects is the Museum for Fine Arts (Szépművészeti Múzeum), which was rated in the top 20 exhibitions in the world in 2007, with 483 thousand visitors to its Van Gogh exhibition. In between, smaller but similarly important exhibitions took place (Turner and Italy, From Botticelli to Tiziano, Botero, Schiele, Chagall).
Cultural diplomacy remains almost entirely dominated by the promotion and branding of Hungarian culture abroad. This is characterised by increasing professionalism (which also refers to the great projects cited above).
As regards co-ordination of the Hungarian presence abroad in different cultural fields, the picture is varied.
Magyar Filmunió is the International Division of the Hungarian National Film Fund, promoting Hungarian cinematography throughout the world. Among others, it organises the participation of Hungarian films (feature films, shorts, documentaries and animation) at international film festivals and retrospective screenings, and also acts as a sales agent.
The Budapest Music Centre (BMC) is an independent initiative, financed from a number of public and private sources. Regular exhibitor at the MIDEM in Cannes, BMC has mainly focused on contemporary music. In 2005, the government established Music Export Hungary, with the aim of promoting Hungarian pop, rock, metal, electro, underground, jazz, folk and world music on an international level, but this office was closed in July 2010.
The Hungarian Translation Fund, in operation for 10 years in the framework of the Hungarian Book Foundation, had a small, but efficient office that provided grants to foreign publishers. With the dismantling of the Foundation in 2011, the translation grant programme was incorporated into the national Petőfi Literary Museum. Allies in this endeavour are the Hungarian Translators House Foundation, as well as a civic website entitled Hungarian Literature Online http://www.hlo.hu. The country traditionally runs a national stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair, managed by the publishers' and booksellers' association (in 2012 in conjunction with the Balassi Institute), similar to the annual Budapest Book Festival, which is an international event.
Although in the past years the Hungarian presence has been rather modest at the largest world music gatherings, WOMEX11 in Copenhagen was opened by a Hungarian concert, with the main organiser being a private distribution agency Hangvető.
Műcsarnok, the national art exhibition centre is in charge of curating the country's exhibits at the Venice Biennale, where Hungary has had a pavilion of its own since as early as 1909. With regard to art fairs, Hungarian galleries have enjoyed a limited presence at the leading world events. (The higher than average Hungarian presence at the 13th Documenta - 2012 was an exception.)