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14 February 2019

Dear Friends,
Our first Hungarian Letter of News of 2019 brings the clear voice of Tamás Jászay reporting on the recent cultural and political actions in Hungary:
  • Homeless people face prison after the tough new law (Act XLIV. of 2018) is passed.
  • Viktor Orbán has banned gender studies programmes at universities, arguing that the area of study is an ideology rather than a science.
  • The Central European University (CEU) that was founded by billionaire George Soros has been forced out of Hungary. The decision was described as "an arbitrary eviction" that violated academic freedom.
  • Hungary’s Parliament passed a law, called "Stop Soros" that not only makes it almost impossible to seek asylum in Hungary, but also makes it a crime to help migrants and refugees. Also, human rights workers and community volunteers could be prosecuted and jailed for up to a year for providing services, advice, or support to migrants and asylum seekers.
  • The new corporate income tax relief system, which provides benefits only for sport clubs, ends the possibility to support culture—a major threat to the independent and private theatres in the country. 
Read his nuanced update in this issue.
He also looks at two emerging directors well worth noting:
  • Kristóf Keleman and his new production, OBSERVERS.
  • Andrea Pass’ latest work, VANISHING SENSES.
 Béla Pintér, Martin Boross and Enikö Eszenyi are also highlighted here.
I was in Budapest for almost three weeks in November/December; Howard Shalwitz, of Woolly Mammoth fame, and long-time presenter Margaret Lawrence of the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth, joined me and CITD Fellow Jarod Hanson for the second half of the visit.
Before I headed off to Budapest, I spent three weeks with two good friends, Hungarian critics and journalists Noémi Herczog and Andrea Tompa.  I was with Noémi on her lecture tour, and during those last days of October she was getting almost daily updates on the machinations of the government around cultural funding and policy.  The news continued to come in when Andrea and I were in Albuquerque with the PROMENADE ALBUQUERQUE project.  Both projects are reported in the ON OUR SIDE section of the HLN.

Howard writes about what we found as theatre community was dealing with tectonic shifts in funding in his post on HowlRound.
After we got back in early December, the lid blew off, with a flurry of some 13 articles, 2 editorials and 3 letters to the editor in the NYT, as well as major pieces by Elizabeth Zerofsky in The New Yorker and Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic. Click here for HUNGARIAN INK--a compilation of recent articles, editorials, and other writing on the current state of Hungarian politics and culture.
The combined articles give a good snapshot of end of the year Hungarian political realities.
Dark times, indeed.  But I continue to be inspired by the strength and resilience of our good friends there.  And in that spirit of hope, the 5th DunaPart Showcase has just been announced: 27 – 30 November! 
Stay tuned...stay strong,

Philip Arnoult
founder & director
C. I. T. D.
Center for International Theatre Development

901 Lenton Ave
Baltimore, MD 21212


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