The Open Society Foundations has announced a €1.1 million ($1.23 million) grant in support of arts and cultural groups in Hungary.
Amid growing concerns over the influence of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's ruling Fidesz party, the grant was awarded to a private fund established by the Budapest-based organization Summa Artium that supports cultural and artistic projects at risk of not receiving public funding. OSF will have no say in what projects are funded through the program and made the grant with the hope that other private donors and Hungarian entrepreneurs will follow its example.
OSF founder and Hungarian-born George Soros established the Fine Arts Documentation Center in 1985 to promote artistic efforts and exchanges — a model that subsequently was replicated across the former Communist states of Eastern Europe in the form of Soros Centers for Contemporary Arts in eighteen countries. Previous OSF grants have supported the return to Hungary of the Sárospatak Library, which was seized by the Soviet Army in 1945; efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of Hungarian minorities living outside of Hungary; and the visual arts, including support for the Balázs Béla Filmstudio and the Cartoon Filmstudio/Pannónia Studioin in Kecskemet.
"Hungary's government is a generous funder of the arts," said OSF president Patrick Gaspard. "Unfortunately, its support comes with political strings attached. We are proud to contribute [funding] for independent artists — those who help show us the world through the eyes of others, and expect to be surprised, delighted, and challenged by the possibilities they show us."