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Szörényi’s rebellion against the Hungarian Art Academy

December 15th, 2012

The iconic right-wing composer says he supports Orbán’s fight for national idependence but right-wing cultural policies are turning into a catastrophe.

The Hungarian Art Academy (MMA), founded in the mid-nineties as a right-wing competitor to the liberal-dominated Széchenyi Art Academy set up as an arm of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, has assumed a new status under the new constitution as a public body with its own line in the national budget. In a move sparking controversy within pro-government circles, two major public cultural institutions have passed into MMA property and a yearly over 2 bn HUF have been transferred to MMA from the Ministry of Human Resources. This provoked the resignation of the director of Műcsarnok, the main national contemporary art exhibition hall. György Fekete, the President of MMA has made several controversial statements, among others that he does not believe in separation of state and church and that MMA will only invite artists who give proof of their national sentiments. Some artists have resigned from MMA in protest. See Budapost November 23rd, 2012 http://budapost.eu/2012/11/culture-war-around-the-national-theatre/

In Heti Válasz, Levente Szörényi spells out his criticism of those events in no uncertain terms. He says even one-time Communist culture Tsar György Aczél was more tolerant than MMA President György Fekete, for his rock opera about King Saint Steven could be performed in the National Theatre in the  1980s. ”I have had enough of this – having to swallow anything on the so-called national (pro-government) scene simply because it is national. Having to apologize every time I do not like a product or else they say I am not Hungarian enough or that I am moving towards the left (…) I do not care for of bad art”. Szörényi adds that so far “we said there was a Bolshevik group that could not take it when they did not have the last say in cultural matters. True enough, however, instead of putting an end to that kind of things and making quality the first priority, it seems there emerges another Bolshevik group”. To the question if he is disappointed with the Hungarian right, Szörényi replies he appreciates PM Orbán’s “fight for political independence”, but he finds cultural policy should be reconsidered.

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