The strength of Hungarian amateur cultural activities lies in the good infrastructure and the network of “művelődési házak” (houses of culture, local community centres or socio-cultural institutions). The political control of the communist system cast a shadow on the network, however the multi-purpose cultural institutions have re-gained their position all over the country after the fall of the old regime. These centres give home to cultural associations and amateur groups in all sectors of culture. Their programmes may be labelled as adult education, social policy, or youth policy and the “művelődési házak” have always been considered part of the cultural sector. In most smaller towns and villages, local cultural policy is almost synonymous with maintaining the houses of culture, absorbing the greater part of the cultural budget.
Table 13: Statistics of local community culture (houses of culture), 2020
|Type of activity||Frequency|
|Number of institutions||5 847|
|Lectures, information events||25 851|
|Interest groups, workshops||11 615|
|Arts events||24 975|
|Folklore events||1 662|
|Community events||26 112|
Source: Central Statistical Office
Until 2016 the activities of the network of houses of culture were coordinated by the National Institute of Public Culture (Nemzeti Művelődési Intézet), a state institute. This function has since been outsourced to a nonprofit limited company of the same name, owned by Lakitelek Népfőiskola Alapítvány, a private foundation.
Cultivating folk culture is traditionally an important function of these institutions. A particular offshoot of this is the grass root phenomenon of “dance houses” from the 1970s, still popular today, where traditional peasant dances are being learned and enjoyed as present-day entertainment.
The Hungarian Heritage House is a national institution founded in 2001 and maintained by the Ministry of Human Resources. It serves as a platform for associations and groups preserving folk culture and citizens to meet through numerous performances and interactive, educative programmes. It also provides further education for cultural managers in the field of folk arts.