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|