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Hungary/ 5.2 Legislation on culture  

In Hungary, there is no comprehensive law on culture or art. Act CXL/1997 is often referred to as the Law on Culture, but in fact it regulates three sub-sectors only: libraries, museums and local socio-cultural activities. The annually renewed Acts on the budget, on taxation and on regulating the competency of local governments have a pivotal role to play. The Acts on Public Finance and Public Servants pertain to the operation (creation and winding up) of publicly owned cultural institutions.

Similarly, public foundations are also a recent formation, the operation of which is basically regulated by the Civil Code.

Act XXIII/1993 created the National Cultural Fund that operates under the supervision of the minister in charge of culture. The Fund does project funding, but it does not give support to investments and operations: from project grants a mere 5% can be spent on operational overheads. Natural and legal entities as well as business organisations without incorporation may apply. The original Law stipulated a cultural contribution of usually 1% to be paid on certain cultural goods and services (of which advertisements were the most important source). Since 2010, 90% of the revenues from the most popular weekly lottery game replaced the levy. Each year, between HUF 7-8 000 million are collected. A quarter is reserved for the discretion of the minister, the rest is spent according to the guidelines of the main board. In 2016, seventeen area boards administered the grants, ranging from theatre to heritage protection.

Between 1993 and 2012 the Minister appointed the Chairman of the National Cultural Fund Committee. With the modification of the Law in the summer of 2012, the Minister kept the title of Chairman for himself and the position of Vice-Chairman was created for the de facto chief executive of the Fund.

The eleven member Committee is appointed for a term of four years. The members in the nine area boards are also appointed for four years, half of them upon the recommendations of professional organisations, the other half selected by the Minister. As of 2016 the president of MMA gains significant power in the finalisation of the annual work strategy, the financial decisions, the (re)organisation and constitution of the area boards of NCF, which results in an intense cooperation of the two major institutions. The Directorate of the National Cultural Fund helps in the administrative work of the Fund with a staff of 110 persons.

In 2013, 11 283 applications were processed and HUF 11.7 billion was distributed between 7 276 grantees, averaging HUF 1.04 million (ca. 3 400 EUR). Applicants without Hungarian citizenship need an assistant executive, which is a legal entity registered in Hungary.

List of the existing cultural legislation

Title of the Act

Year of adoption

Act on Archives

Act LXVI / 1995

Act on Libraries, Museums, Archaeology and Local Culture ("cultural law")

Act CXL / 1997

Act on the Hungarian Academy of Arts

Act CIX / 2011

Act on Hungarian World Heritage

Act LXXVII / 2011

Act on the Special Protection of Borrowed Cultural Goods

Act XCV / 2012

List of laws with relevance to culture

Title of the Act

Year of adoption

Acts on Public Finance and Public Servants

Act XXXIII / 1992 and Act CXCIX / 2011

Act on National and Ethnic Minorities

Act CLXXIX / 2011

Act on the Use of a Specified Amount of Personal Income Tax in Accordance with the Taxpayer's Instruction ("1% law")

Act CXXVI / 1996

Act on Authors' Rights

Act LXXVI / 1999

Act on the Hungarian Language

Act XCVI / 2001

Act on Volunteering

Act LXXXVIII / 2005

Act on Simplified Contribution to Public Charges (EKHO)

Act CXX / 2005

Act on Media Services and Mass Communication

Act CLXXXV / 2010

Act on Civic Society

Act CLXXV / 2011

Chapter published: 22-11-2016

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