1. Cultural policy system
Last update: July, 2016
The Kingdom of Hungary was established in 1000. Following Ottoman expansion (1526 to 1686) and subsequent Austrian domination, it was doubtful whether the Hungarians would be able to retain their identity and autonomy. The 19th century, however, brought about a successful national revival, in which culture played a significant role. A considerable part of Hungary's current cultural institutions and traditions is rooted in the nineteenth century.
Hungary's typical East European social structure was also inherited from that period. A highly developed upper class strata of society, with high cultural standards comparable to most developed countries, was opposed by a majority that was captured in backwardness. While a stable middle class formed the basis of democracy, economic and cultural development in Western Europe, more than half of the Hungarian society was constituted by peasantry up until the middle of the twentieth century. Compared to the West, the size of the working class and the intelligentsia remained small and the bourgeoisie was weak. At the same time, being a Central European country, Hungary constituted a "western" kind of entity as opposed to the Balkans and the East.
After World War I, cultural policy played a strategic role in helping the country overcome its national trauma, with just a fragment of its former territory left. After World War II, cultural policy was focused on physical and political reconstruction. At the same time, the bourgeois, conservative, national and civic traditions were increasingly liquidated. By the late 1940s, the progressive element was eliminated from a Bolshevik kind of cultural policy. Up until the revolution of 1956, a crude, schematic course, slavishly imitating the Soviets, dominated the scene.
After the suppression of the revolution, cultural dogmatism began to melt away in the early 1960s. Up until 1989, similar to other areas of life, a rather protracted process of revision was in progress and the most gradual transition of the entire communist bloc had taken place. As a consequence of the weakening of the communist system, public resources were gradually depleted and, parallel to the withdrawal of political control, the state pulled out resources to subsidise culture. In the 1980s, the commercialisation of culture moved ahead, and the Soros Foundation in Hungary obtained an important role in the emerging vacuum of finances.
As a result of state subsidies, culture was accessible at low cost in the decades of communism, and cultural consumption was growing (reading of books, attendance at the theatre, cinema, concerts, libraries, museums and exhibitions). Under dictatorship, art acquired a specific political significance; its end also contributes to the view of many that culture has been one of the losers in the transition.
After the political turn of 1989-1990, the shaping of cultural policy was based on two main sources: the national traditions from before communism and modern western examples. The establishment of the agency for financing cultural projects called the National Cultural Fund (1993), based on the arm's length principle, was an important sign of change.
Since 1990, when the first free elections took place, the pendulum of cultural policy priorities swung to the right and to the left at four year intervals; this regularity was broken in 2006 when, for the first time, the same "side" was re-elected. Some of the principles correspond to the clichés associated with the political notions of "right" and "left": conservative administrations put greater emphasis on national heritage and pride and on the cultural links with Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries. A marked re-centralisation process occurred between 1998 and 2002, during the first Orbán government. It was during this period that culture enjoyed the highest relative ranking among overall priorities of the government in the past 30-40 years. The schism between the two "sides" reached its peak at the 2002 Parliamentary elections, flared up again in the autumn of 2006, and have remained a sad feature of Hungarian society; the efforts to shelter culture from political and ideological influences have not yielded lasting and overall success.
During the first few years, transition from communism took place amidst great economic difficulties. By the time the change of system had been completed and the new setup was consolidated, nevertheless by 2004, the year of Hungarian accession to the EU, per capita GDP had grown to slightly above 60% of the EU-25 average (purchasing power parities, PPP).
The 2006-2010 period was characterised by increasing economic and social crisis in Hungary – aggravated but not really caused by the world crisis. A huge deficit accumulated in the state budget (as well as in the balance of trade and payments). Those years did not favour concerted action for culture. The elections of 2010 brought about a landslide victory for the centre right Fidesz, with over two-third of seats in the Parliament, which started a fundamental overhaul of the legal and administrative structure of the country. The depth of changes was underlined by the release of a Declaration of National Cooperation which heralds a new era and which each public institution was obliged to display in the form of a framed poster. Work on a new constitution started and was accomplished within a year (with five amendments implemented during the following two years). As part of the changes, the highest level cultural administration became a state secretariat in the Ministry of Human Resources. The 2014 elections consolidated the current political setup, including its objectives and achievements in culture.
Main features of the current cultural policy model
It would be difficult to place Hungarian cultural policy into any one of the existing "models". If anything, the Hungarian cultural policy can be described as eclectic. Similar to other countries in the region, Hungarian cultural policy has inherited two complementary features, which can be labelled as plebeian and aristocratic. Historically, culture has had the social function, or rather mission, of empowering the lower classes. This, for example, is reflected by the significant share of socio-cultural programmes and institutions in the various cultural budgets, especially at the local levels. At the same time, determined efforts serve the achievement of cultural excellence, often in the spirit of adding to the pride of the nation.
After the regime change, (1989/90) decentralisation and the arm's length principle were important slogans. The objective conditions for the former have been set by creating nearly 3 200 local – especially municipal – self-governments in 1990, and the weight of local governments in public financing of culture soon surpassed that of the central government; however, both in the eyes and expectations of the public, and in actual practice, national cultural policy is fairly centralised. The member of the cabinet in charge of culture, currently the Minister of Human Resources, is supposed to bear primary responsibility for Hungarian culture. The running of major cultural institutions is considered to be a state obligation. Although the National Cultural Fund (NKA) was established in 1993 as an arm's length agency and has been acting in this capacity since then, its strategic role is usually underestimated – and currently challenged by the Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA).
Furthermore, Hungarian cultural policy is characterised by pragmatism, in which there is an absence of basic official documents. The orientation of cultural policies and practices are rarely guided by high level statements, legal acts, strategic plans or theoretical documents. During the 2000s efforts were made to change this characteristic by composing two draft middle-term strategies, but both were shelved after a change of minister. The place of overarching strategies has been taken by legislation in certain cultural domains: film and the performing arts. In 2012 medium term strategies have been disclosed by all nine sub-boards of the National Cultural Fund following that of the main Board – without much effect on actual practices.
A latest evidence of pragmatism in the sense of the lack of need for theoretical foundations is the decision to downgrade (practically dissolve) the National Institute for Culture by ordering it under the charge of the Lakitelek Folk High School, a conservative non-governmental foundation in the countryside; the research section of the Institute used to be a leading workshop for cultural studies. As a counter move, MMA received a villa and billions of forint to build up its own research section.
A few areas had found their way both into the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 National Strategic Reference Frameworks for the EU Structural Funds, addressing the rationalisation and modernisation of libraries, museums and houses of culture (socio-cultural activities), as well as of the place of culture (especially built heritage) in urban development.
The main underlining aspect of the processes that have taken place after the landslide victory of Fidesz has been the concentration of decision-making: important single cultural issues are decided ad hoc by high level functionaries. Some early examples were the appointment of a governmental commissioner for the National Opera by the prime minister (overwriting the result of the call administered by the culture ministry); an extraordinary subsidy to a once brilliant veteran dancer's group by the prime minister; the personal choice of a little known private gallery to run a large scale art exhibition in Beijing by the (former) state secretary; and the discretion of the mayor of Budapest to appoint theatre directors, which led to the controversial case of Új Színház (New Theatre), now led in the spirit of the radical right. Disputes have occurred over a number of other positions, the most notable case being the director of the National Theatre in Budapest. Lately, the accumulation of resources in the Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA), and the large scale overhaul of the big cultural institutions are in focus.
Cultural policy objectives
The advent of the System of National Cooperation in the result of the 2010 parliamentary elections brought about fundamental changes also in cultural policies. On a longer scale, changes in culture are subject to more general processes in the system of taxation, local governments etc. In the short term, the primordial efforts of the government to reduce the accumulated public debts cast a shadow on almost every aspect of cultural policies. The diffuse nature of cultural finances in the country does not allow us to present how the various domains were affected by austerity.
Last update: July, 2016
Ministry of Human Resources
Last update: July, 2016
The single-chamber Parliament is in charge of legislation. In addition to its role in preparing laws, the Committee for Culture and Press also fulfils supervisory functions by occasionally putting various issues related to culture on its agenda. On the whole, however, the Parliament and its Committees have limited autonomy, in most cases reflecting the will of the government or the dominant parties. This has become especially apparent after spring 2010 when Fidesz gained 2/3 of parliamentary seats – a feat that was repeated in spring 2014 – ushering the regime called the System of National Cooperation (Nemzeti Együttműködés Rendszere). The radical right-wing populist party Jobbik secured 20.5% of the votes during the Parliamentary elections the same year. Submitting important draft laws by individual MPs, thus shunning the cumbersome procedure of adjusting through governmental offices, committees and organisations, has lately been a frequent practice, also in the case of culture related laws (like the Media Act). Since 2010 a state secretary for culture within the larger Ministry of Human Resources has been in charge of culture. Nevertheless, important domains have been moved to other bodies of the government. After intermediate changes during the past five years, cultural institutions abroad are now supervised by the Minister for Foreign Economic Affairs, the greater part of the financing of the film industry by the Minister of Economic Development, and protection and regulation of built heritage and archaeology shared between the Prime Minister's Office and the regional (county level) Government Offices. In the Prime Minister's Office there is also a deputy state secretary for major cultural investments. In addition, the realm of the state secretary for culture within the Ministry of Human Resources is further limited by the gradual shifting of competences towards the Hungarian Academy of Arts.
The National Cultural Fund is a semi-autonomous institution and remains in charge of financing projects. Other quangos, quasi non-governmental organisations which used to play important roles in the administration and financing of various cultural domains (film, visual arts, book publishing and translation) were dismantled and their functions were re-channelled to new structures.
The instance of reorganisation of greatest weight was connected to the new constitution (The Fundamental Law of Hungary), which entered effect on 1 January 2012. Besides the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (established in 1827) the constitution recognises the Hungarian Academy of Arts (Magyar Művészeti Akadémia – MMA). A non-governmental association with this name had been in existence since 1992 and it became upgraded to the rank of a public foundation by Act CIX in 2011. Altogether five parliamentary acts and several government decrees were passed about the MMA between 2011 and 2016 assuring its position in all major decision making procedures in culture.
Please find the available information on this subject in 1.2.2.
Please find the available information on this subject in 1.2.2.
Last update: July, 2016
There are numerous art and cultural associations in Hungary among which one can find the following advocacy groups addressing cultural rights management:
|Name||Name in English||Stakeholders||Web address|
|ARTISJUS Magyar Szerzői Jogvédő Iroda Egyesület||Society ARTISJUS Hungarian Bureau for the Protection of Authors' Rights||Composers, lyricists, literary authors, audiovisual artists, film writers, film producers, visual and applied artists, performing artists, phonogram producers||www.artisjus.hu|
|Művészeti Szakszervezetek Szövetsége Előadóművészi Jogvédő Iroda||Bureau for the Protection of Performers' Rights||Performing artists||www.eji.hu|
|FILMJUS Filmszerzők és Előállítók Szerzői Jogvédő Egyesület||FilmJUS Hungarian Society For The Protection Of Audio-Visual Authors' And Producers' Rights||Cinematic creators (director, cameraman), film writers, film producers||www.filmjus.hu|
|HUNGART Vizuális művészek Közös Jogkezelő Társasága Egyesület||HUNGART Collecting Society of Hungarian Visual Artists||Visual and applied artists, photographers, architects, industrial designers, creators of creative technical facilities||www.hungart.org|
|Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége||Hungarian Recording Industry Association||Phonogram producers||www.mahasz.hu|
|Magyar Szak- és Szépirodalmi Szerzők és Kiadók Reprográfiai Egyesülete||Society for the Reprographic Rights Of Professional Non-Fiction, Fiction Authors And Publishers||Literary authors, scientific literature authors, book publishers and magazine publishers||www.maszre.hu|
|Repropress Magyar Lapkiadók Reprográfiai Egyesülete||Repropress Association for the Reprographic Rights of Publishers||Publishers of periodicals||www.pressjus.hu|
Focusing on their specific target groups, the aforementioned organisations address copyright and cultural rights protection as legal bodies.
Last update: July, 2016
Since the responsibility for culture is distributed between several high level authorities, inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation in cultural matters is mandatory.
Besides EFOP, the Human Resources Development Operational Programme of Hungary 2020, two or three further OPs may contain culture related projects under the EU 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy. Co-ordination is carried out by the Prime Minister's Office.
As regards vertical co-operation between the central government and lower levels of administration, the ministry in charge of culture has no general institutional representation at the levels or regions or counties. Regional and (or) county subsidiaries exist in some areas, e.g. the public library system, museums and archaeology, cultural heritage.
Last update: July, 2016
The reconstruction and reopening of the Erkel Theatre is a prime example of the government's concentration of cultural finances. The largest performing arts venue of the country, with 1 800 seats, had been closed since 2007. The refurbishment cost 1.7 billion HUF. The building, originally erected in 1911, mainly serves popular opera, with the most expensive tickets at HUF 3 600 (about EUR 12).
Other features of the fundamental overhaul of parts of the cultural infrastructure are discussed in chapter 4.1. Here, a summary is given about the most important recent intervention in the Hungarian cultural infrastructure, the use of European funds in the cultural field:
The national framework programme for 2007-2013, called originally the New Hungary Development Plan, renamed later the New Széchenyi Plan, contained no separate culture chapter or dedicated cultural targets, in conformity with the European Union's policy. Nevertheless, under the umbrellas of education, tourism or urban development, a significant amount of cultural investment is being financed from these funds, to an extent that has not been possible in the past 20-30 years from Human Resources. (The figures in the next several paragraphs are in million EUR, the exact value depending on the actual EUR / HUF exchange rates. They show the amount of EU assistance, to which in most cases a 5-15% contribution is added from central or local government budgets. The Source of the figures is https://www.zsi.at/en/object/partner/1832, the website of the National Development Agency.)
The biggest single investment of about 35 million EUR, the reconstruction of the Franz Liszt University of Music, was finished in 2013; the Art Nouveau main building houses one of the most beautiful European concert halls.
The largest amount nevertheless went to Pécs, European Capital of Culture in 2010. Over 32 million EUR transformed the Zsolnay ceramics factory site into a cultural quarter. Building a new conference and concert centre absorbed nearly 20 million EUR, and a new regional library received 17 million EUR. Nearly 25 million EUR were spent on the revival of public spaces and parks in Pécs, and the reconstruction of exhibition infrastructure cost 5.5 million EUR.
In the framework of a nation-wide project, nearly 60 million EUR funded the construction of complex community cultural centres (so called Agoras) in nine cities. Another 33 million EUR was allocated for five or six Polus Agoras, to be built in conjunction with universities, aimed at creating spaces of interaction between research, development, teaching and the general public, especially youth.
Decisions were made on nine more individual development projects receiving over 1 million EUR each, on the reconstruction or extension to cultural objects. (The smallest was for the youth cultural centre A38 Ship on the Danube in Budapest, to extend it with a second vessel).
In addition to these initiatives supported from the European Regional Development Fund, the resources of the European Social Fund were also used for cultural projects on a scale that stands out among EU members. ESF money has served the integrated development of cultural sub-sectors, which is another Hungarian feature: a number of calls resulted in supports to hundreds of minor investment or training projects in the fields of local community culture (altogether about 32 million EUR), libraries (30 million EUR) and museums (9.7 million EUR for museum education). Cultural projects of smaller settlements have been supported from a third major channel of the European Union: from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
Important cultural investments have lately been accomplished, in considerable part from ERDF sources. These include the restoration the Pesti Vigadó, the Erkel Theatre and the Castle Garden Bazaar, as well as the completion of the Budapest Music Center. The reconstruction of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music received the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2015.
Lately, in the focus of attention has been Liget Budapest, the capital's large scale museum quarter project (http://ligetbudapest.hu/), which aims to reshape the urban landscape of the capital at the same time reorganising the entire (contemporary) art scene. The project aspires to create a unique cultural and family park through the complex development and renewal of Budapest's City Park. By 2019 important reconstruction and modernisation is foreseen in the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Science, Technology and Transport and the Budapest Zoo; buildings for the New National Gallery, the House of Hungarian Music, the Museum of Ethnography will be created. Exponents of the plan anticipate an additional 1 million visitor nights annually, and a return on investment within the next 10-12 years.
The project has nevertheless been under criticism for the secretive nature of decision-making and also of esthetical and historical points of view. Opponents are concerned about the historical, institutional and natural qualities of the 200-year-old City Park. The plan is connected to the removal of the National Gallery from the Castle Hill; the National Dance Theatre has also had to leave the castle area and currently plays in five different venues across the town.
The issue of the House of Fates – European Educational Centre (Sorsok Háza) is controversial, too: owing to the academic and civil sector's harsh critique, the new holocaust museum planned to be built at an abandoned railway station in Budapest has not been inaugurated.
Last update: July, 2016
Table 7: Cultural institutions financed by public authorities, by domain
|Domain||Cultural institutions (subdomains)||Number (Year)||Trend (++ to --)|
|Cultural heritage||Cultural heritage sites (recognised)||8 (tentative 11 in 2012)||+|
|Museums (organisations)||612 (2012)||-|
|Archives (of public authorities)||
|Visual arts||Public art galleries / exhibition halls||1 099 (2013)*||+|
|Art academies (or universities)||6 (2009)**||0|
|Performing arts||Symphonic orchestras||11 (2012)||+|
|Music schools||737 (2009)***||+|
Music / theatre academies |
|Dramatic theatre||169 (2012)****||+|
|Music theatres, opera houses||3 opera 1 operetta and 1 music house (2012)||0|
|Dance and ballet companies||39 (2012)||0|
|Books and Libraries||Libraries||7 404 (2012)||+|
|Interdisciplinary||Socio-cultural centres / cultural houses||2 899||-|
**: http://www.felveteli.hu; and
****: The number of residence companies is 56, all other companies are independent theatres.
Last update: July, 2016
Below is a summary of the status of some of the major cultural institutions in Hungary, which differs from sector to sector:
- the functions of the National Office for the Protection of Monuments have been transferred to the Forster Gyula National Heritage Management and Service Centre;
- there were efforts to streamline the State Opera (literally Hungarian State Opera House – Magyar Állami Operaház) by – among others – converting it into a public benefit company. This attempt met with the resistance of the staff despite the huge additional budget accompanying the reforms;
- the Palace of Arts is run by a non-profit limited company – Művészetek Palotája Kft; the building houses the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Arts, a public cultural institution;
- with the building of the new National Theatre a new Limited Company was established; leaving the old "National Theatre" in its old building under a new name "Magyar Színház" = "Hungarian Theatre";
- the State Folklore Ensemble was incorporated into a new national institution in 2000, called the House of Traditions; and
- the remaining seven art cinemas in Budapest (half of them operated by the municipality) struggle for survival.
Last update: July, 2016
Today the Balassi Institute operates 23 institutions in 21 countries. The oldest one was established in Vienna in 1924, the latest additions were Istanbul and Beijing in 2013, Zagreb and Belgrade in 2014, and Ljubljana in 2016. 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. In 2016 the Hungarian institute in Brussels set up the first Art Saloon of its kind in order to help Hungarian artists living in Belgium to cooperate with each other and with Hungarian cultural policy actors.
Bilateral agreements are recorded with over 100 countries, about 50 of which are active. In 2013-14 the government decided on the renewal of such agreements with six countries: Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Slovenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan, and in 2015 with Turkey and Russia.
After Germany, China and the USA in 2007-2009, the following concentrated large scale events or cultural seasons in selected foreign countries have been planned:
- Hungarian cultural days in Russia in 2015 was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with 200 million HUF.
- A Hungarian cultural year from May 2016 in Poland on the 60th anniversary of the 1956 uprisings in the two countries. Among others Hungary will be special guest of the Warsaw International Book Fair, Wroclaw2016 will include Hungarian productions, and Cracow will host the international Catholic World Youth Day with a significant number of Hungarian participants.
Another outstanding feature that requires great efforts of international cultural co-operation has been the organisation of large scale exhibitions. The National Gallery arranged a Picasso exhibition in 2016. The Museum of Fine Arts displayed works of Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age in 2014. 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 Hungarian Translation Fund has in the past few years operated in 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, similar to the annual Budapest Book Festival, which is an international event. In the last five years, the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Hungarian literature programme has been organised by the Balassi Institute’s Publishing Hungary programme.
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. The First Roma Pavilion at the Venice Contemporary Art Biennale was curated by the Hungarian art historian Timea Junghaus in 2007. 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.)
Last update: July, 2016
During the period of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (January-June 2011) the Hungarian cultural administration was actively involved in managing topical EU matters in culture, such as the preparation of a European Heritage Label, and organised a conference on the place of culture in Europe 2020, the long term strategy of the Union.
Hungary has been a member of UNESCO since 1948 and in 2011-2013, a Hungarian woman (Katalin Bogyay) was the President of the General Conference. A staff of three operates the Secretariat of the Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO within the Ministry of Human Resources. In the cultural domain, among others, eight Hungarian sites were added to the World Heritage List between 1987 and 2002. The special Act and the comprehensive state regulation of world heritage issues make Hungary unique in this respect. In 2015 the World Heritage Committee requested further details on current projects in the centre of Budapest – the report was submitted in January 2015, in which the government ensures the Committee about “the prominent attention the government is paying to individual emblematic parts of the Budapest World Heritage site. This attention is also shown through the reworking of the management plans for the World Heritage sites and the state support that has been provided and will be provided to the World Heritage site management organizations.” Before buildings are designed, detailed documentation is required about the Museum Park / Liget Project (see chapter 2.1) Budapest, too.
Hungary ratified the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006 and the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2008.
The Hungarian National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Hungarian National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage were established in 2008. Since April 2009, the body responsible for the implementation of the Convention in Hungary is the Intangible Cultural Heritage Department of the Hungarian Open Air Museum in Szentendre; a national inventory was also set up (see chapter 3.1). In 2014 Hungary became a member of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage for the 2014-2018 period. Currently four items are inscribed on the UNESCO world list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The latest two were adopted in 2012: the folk art of the matyó, involving a few villages in the north-east of the country, as well as the tradition of falconry, jointly with 11 other countries. The national inventory of intangible cultural heritage contains 24 items http://szellemikulturalisorokseg.hu/.
Hungary is also party to the Memory of the World Register. In 2015, the 7th Hungarian item was added to the Memory of the World Register – three documents related to the discoveries of the 19th century physicist Roland Eötvös.
The European Folklore Institute is a regional centre for the safeguarding, revitalisation and diffusion of traditional culture and folklore in Europe: it was founded in 1996 by Hungarian government and UNESCO.
The European Youth Centre Budapest has been a residential educational establishment of the Council of Europe since 1996. Within the Council of Europe, the EYCB is part of the Directorate of Youth and Sport and is, like the European Youth Centre Strasbourg and the European Youth Foundation, an important instrument of the Council's youth policy. The EYCB enjoys diplomatic status under an agreement between the Council of Europe and the Hungarian state, the owner of its building.
In the seven years of Culture 2000 (2000-2006) there were nine project leaders, 193 co-organisers and associated organisations from Hungary. In the 2007-2013 Culture Programme there were 17 Hungarian beneficiaries, 115 co-organisers and 45 publishers among the grant winners. Since 2000 there have been 342 winning projects with Hungarian cooperation. As for Literary Translations (Strand 1.2.2), Hungary was the second strongest country by number of supported projects. As part of the first calls of the Creative Europe programme, Hungary as an applicant country won three projects within the "Networks of Towns" (Strand 2.2), and there were a significant number of successful applicants for "Town Twinning" (Strand 2.1). So far, in the newest Creative Europe (2014-2015) programmes Hungary has been a less popular partner than before: while it used to be the second most chosen country among the new member states, nowadays it is struggling for the fifth place. Upon the initiative of the Hungarian Cultural Contact Point, Hungarian winners of the Culture Programme have received practically automatic grants as matching funding from the National Cultural Fund (NKA), except for 2013 and 2014, when the NKA board in charge refused to co-fund several of the winners of EU grants.
The Budapest Observatory is an independent non-profit initiative, whose remit is to monitor the cultural policies and conditions of culture in the ex-communist countries in east and central Europe.
Hungary also takes part in the cultural co-operation programme of the Visegrad Fund, as well as of the Central European Initiative. However, neither the dimensions, nor the intensity, of these initiatives match regional co-operation in, for example, the Nordic and Baltic area. The EU strategy for the Danube Region is taking shape rather slowly: Hungary, nevertheless, plays an active role as the Collegium Hungaricum in Vienna is the co-ordinator of the Danube Cultural Cluster.
Beyond these formal and official frameworks, increasingly vibrant co-operation and networking takes place in the civic sector and at municipal level. EU programmes tend to dominate co-operation between regions.
Last update: July, 2016
Hungarian cultural operators are well integrated into their respective international communities and they are active in a number of European networks. At the same time, criticism about provincialism is often voiced: e.g. few Hungarians are active in European cultural policy forums and projects, lacking an adequate academic and educational background in cultural matters.
Most of the mainstream institutions (museums, galleries, theatres, symphonic orchestras, and especially large festivals) have rich programmes of international exchange. Outstanding venues attracting international artists and works of art are the Opera House, Müpa (formerly called the Palace of Arts, a concert hall which also houses the Ludwig Museum), the Modem in Debrecen, and the latest, the Kodály Centre with concert and conference facilities at Pécs, opened in 2010, when that city was European Capital of Culture. Cultural and artistic activities of many operations are international by definition. Trafó, the A38 ship, the Bakelit multi art centre and the MU theatre are popular and well-functioning spaces especially for innovative and experimental productions, both from Hungary and abroad, which regularly participate in EU projects and are financed by a variety of sources.
Among festivals, the Budapest Spring Festival and its twin CAFE (the contemporary art festival of Budapest in the autumn) have the largest number of international cultural links, not to speak of Sziget. The National Theatre launched its own international festival in 2014: MITEM, Madách International Theatre Meeting (Madách Nemzetközi Színházi Találkozó), celebrating its third edition in 2016.