Act XCIX/2008 on Performing Arts in December 2008 was considered a major achievement in cultural policy of the previous government – prepared in close co-operation with professional organisations. It aimed at stabilising the status of artists employed in theatres and orchestras, in line with related UNESCO recommendations. It also regulated the conditions of access to state subsidies. Theatres were registered in six categories, orchestras in two categories, the number of performances being the main criterion. A special aspect was the guarantee of at least 10% of public grants for independent, alternative or experimental theatre groups (category VI). A Performing Arts Office (Előadó-művészeti Iroda) was created to register organisations and handle the administration of subsidies and tax credits. A special section of the Law regulated the selection of directors of public theatres and orchestras, ensuring the involvement of professional delegates in the process. Performing arts organisations welcomed most of the tax credit measures of the Law, discussed in chapter 4.1.4.
In 2011 substantial amendments were made: the theatre part was practically fully re-written. The six categories were reduced to three: national, preferential and other performing art organisations. Several of the automatic decisions in the former Act were removed, giving thereby more room for quality judgement. A 24-strong National Performing Arts Council for Reconciliation of Interests was established. Upon their recommendation – with minor adjustments – the Minister selected 24 national and 54 preferential performing arts organisations. The list is updated each year: in 2014 there were 21 national and 51 preferential organisations, ranging from the National Theatre to the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra in Veszprém.
The guaranteed share of the third group – the independent scene – from the subsidies was not kept. These organisations apply for subsidies in the frame of an annual public call.