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8. Creativity and Culture

8.1 General context

Last update: 5 April 2023
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  1. Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation
  2. Main concepts

Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation

Infrastructural background

There are no specific statistics on youth cultural institutions. Public cultural participation of children and youth is often realised through the spaces of community culture. When looking at figures regarding the number of cultural institutions we see an important change in tendencies: since 2013-2014 the number of institutions related to community culture has been increasing and, in parallel, the number of cultural events per 100 000 inhabitants was also increasing (the latest published data, as of 2023 February, is for 2018, and thus, does not reflect the effects of the Covid-pandemic). (Központi Statisztikai Hivatal - Kulturális ellátottság)

The pre-Covid increase in the number of institutions was partly due to the extension of a previously existing network of local community cultural institutions. The Integrated Community Service Spaces [Integrált Közösségi Szolgáltató Tér (IKSZT), hereinafter referred to as ICSS] had been created to serve the needs of the population of settlements with less than 5 000 inhabitants. As of 2016, 465 ICSS-s existed. The decree that created ICSSs (112/2009 Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) has become ineffective in 2018, but many of such institutions are still operating.

Another important reason behind the increase was the role of the EU structural funds available for socio-cultural activities. These objectives 'found their way both into the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 National Strategic Reference Frameworks for the EU Structural Funds'.

Participation of young people in creative and cultural experiences

The most important data sources for understanding the cultural activities of young people are the consecutive waves of large sample youth surveys. From 2008 on, there has been a steady decline in participation in every 'traditional' cultural activity listed in the questionnaire. According to the results of the 2020 survey [Hungarian Youth 2020 (Magyar Fiatalok 2020)], more than 80% of young people never visit spaces of 'elite' culture (opera, classical concerts), 76% of them never visit art movies and around 40% of them never visited multiplex cinemas either. The data for 2020 also reflects the pandemic situation. For instance, only 13% of 15-29 year olds attended popular music concerts at least every 2-3 months, while 9% of them regularly attended theatres.

Based on the 2021 data of the Cultural Statistical Data Collection System [Kulturális Statisztikai Adatgyűjtő Rendszer (KultStat)], referred hereinafter to as KultStat] that provides information from the National Statistical Data Collection Programme (in Hungarian: OSAP) the number of youth groups, clubs and study groups, run by all institutions that have a role in community culture, was 1 160 (this is higher than the number of the institutions, as one institution might have more groups). The average yearly number of members was 21 194, and the number of activities was 17 426 (out of which 1357 was online). The number of members and activities was significantly lower than in the pre-Covid years.

Data on participation in creative cultural communities and art groups is also available in the same source. According to this, in 2021, 24 528 15-29 year-olds participated in these type of groups (this number is almost the half of the 2018 numbers).

Differences based on location

A major difference emerges in terms of place of residence: young people living in Budapest are generally highly overrepresented in 'elite' cultural activities and consumption, while youth in the villages are tend to attend community centres and discos. The pandemic has meant that the gap has narrowed with the decline in cultural consumption in the capital.

Leisure time activities

Young people's offline leisure activities are much more dominated by café and pub visits (in 2020, around a quarter of 15-29 year olds visited a café or pub at least once a month), but it is important to note that festivals are key events for popular cultural activities for a large proportion of young people: before the pandemic, in 2016, 25% of 15-29 year olds attended festivals – most of them (13% of the total population) local ones, but major music festivals also attracted a wide audience (Ifjúságkutatás 2016).

Regarding leisure time activities, the results of the 2020 youth research [Hungarian Youth 2020 (Magyar Fiatalok 2020)] show that cultural activities are part of the everyday life of young people. Around 30% of them indicated the consumption of audio-visual content (including watching TV and listening to music) as one of their most common leisure activities, while 16% (weekends) and 12% (weekdays) of them mentioned reading (the data shows a huge decline compared to 2016 but it's mainly due to the methodological change of formulating question). Creative activities were not common: 1% answered creating decorative and everyday objects, and around 5% answered online/digital content creation as a common leisure activity.

Separation of cultural and social spaces

The data also show how social and cultural spaces are increasingly separated, meaning that the social character of cultural activities is decreasing, while – as a general trend – social activities are more and more shifted to online spaces. In 2016, 88% of young people had daily access to internet, and 85% of them owned a smartphone. By 2020, Hungarian young people aged 15-29 can be considered daily internet users, with four tenths of them virtually online all the time [Hungarian Youth 2020 (Magyar Fiatalok 2020)].

Main concepts

Definitions of culture

In Hungary there is no coherent formal legal definition of culture.

'For Hungarians, the word ''culture'' naturally involves the arts: thus the compound of ''arts and culture'' is not used. Although terms like ''cultural industries'', ''creative sector'' and similar expressions have made their way into the general public discourse, they have not been enacted in any high-level document.' (Compendium, 2016)

There is a lack of official definition of culture, a general understanding could be outlined based on the legal background and public appearances of decision-makers.

According to the 2022 Compendium report:

'Apart from a strong emphasis on national values and heritage, none of the themes that globally prevail can be identified in the public discourse on culture. This can be explained by the lack of strategic or conceptual declarations and strategies, and by the absence of important open debates on cultural issues.'

'Cultural law' - Act CXL of 1997

The preamble of Act CXL of 1997 on the protection of Museum Institutions, Public Library Services and Community Culture (1997. évi CXL. törvény) emphasises that the

'preservation and practice of national cultural traditions and those of nationalities, the improvement of the personal, intellectual and economic basis for individual and community cultural activities, and activities which improve the quality of life of citizens and transmit values, as well as the operation of the institutions and organisations created to achieve these goals through the system of basic cultural care is in the common interest of society.' (Act CXL of 1997)

The preamble's cited part shows two central focuses of legislation on culture:

  • cultural heritage and
  • reconceptualization of community culture.

Cultural heritage management appears in many other recent government decrees and strategic documents. The other is a more recent and conspicuous reconceptualization of community culture. The goal of providing basic cultural services was added to the law in 2017. However the concept has also been around in the previous years, starting in 2014 with the formation of the Roundtable of Cultural Basic Care (Kulturális Alapellátás Kerekasztala), now called The Roundtable of Basic Cultural Care and Community Development. The concept is

'a form of care in the field of culture that provides the minimum of cultural services used by a vast majority of the public. […] It is a conditionality of organisation, activity and financing that enables citizens and communities exercise their right to culture directly. […] The care can be used by local people directly, preferably in their residence or close to it, based on equal opportunities, as a civil right. […] Most or the entire part of the population enters the system of basic cultural care. Its operation is maintained by the Fundamental Law and cardinal laws. It is basically financed through public funds and the dominant engagement of the state characterises it.' (Ponyi, 2015)

Special target groups

Although the programmes are aimed at the entire population, school-age children are often highlighted as one of the special target groups. An example of this is the Lázár Ervin Programme (Lázár Ervin Program) is aimed at primary school children (For more information on that programme, see sub-chapter 8.4 Promoting culture and cultural participation).

Concept of creativity

The concept of creativity appears mainly in the context of innovation and research (sometimes, but not exclusively in the context of start-ups). The Ministry for Culture and Innovation does not mention creativity in its founding regulation, but terms such as informatics, science policy coordination and audio-visual policy, as elements of the Ministry's responsibilities indicate an understanding of creativity.

Objectives related to creative and cultural industries appear only once in the cultural law: the chapter on regional and metropolitan public cultural services contains the objective to contribute to

  • culture-based economic development and to
  • the development of services of creative and cultural industries.

Creativity also appears in the new National Core Curriculum (Nemzeti Alaptanterv) accepted in 2020. The concept of creativity mostly relates to artistic expressions as well as critical thinking and innovative problem-solving.