The Budapest Observatory
Regional Observatory on Culture in East-Central Europe

Budapesti Obszervatórium
Kelet-Közép-Európai Kulturális Obszervatórium

con_tel  (+36 1) 327 3181
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con_address H-1051 Budapest, Október 6 utca 14




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The official birthday of the Budapest Observatory is the 22nd of April; the foundation "Kelet-Közép-Európai Kulturális Obszervatórium Alapítvány" was registered on that day in 1999. The time between the original conception and the birth was rather long, with two preparatory meetings paving the way (see notes).

From the autumn of 2015 the Observatory has been operating as a programme of Summa Artium


To be of help for those who want to know more about the conditions (finances, legislation, governance, policies) of cultural life (cultural activities, products and organisations) in east-central European countries.

Scope, Objectives and Activities

The term east-central Europe is applied generously, to cover about twenty states between the Baltic and the Adriatic Seas which share the same (or very similar) historic legacy of authoritarian Communism. In certain ways we are inclined to extend our sphere of operation to Austria (they had a bit of Soviet occupation for almost ten years) and the east of Germany.

We are not searching for a common east-central European identity (a new version of the Mitteleuropa concept); but we do look for shared experiences and interests.

In spite of the sea of words told and printed about the issues, successes and failures of cultural policies, especially funding, in the region, reliable first-hand evidence is hard to find. The Budapest Observatory aims to fill this information gap. As a resource organisation, the Observatory wants to facilitate research, collect and provide information, establish contacts in areas that include the financing of culture, cultural policy, legislation and statistics.

The foundation

The "Kelet-Közép-Európai Kulturális Obszervatórium Alapítvány" (Foundation for the East-Central European Cultural Observatory) was registered at Budapest Central Court in April 1999. (Register number at court: 7489. Tax register number: 18095379-2-41). The founder was the Kultúraközvetítők Társasága (Society of Mediators of Culture), a Hungarian civil organisation.

The latest Board of Directors was presided by Valéria Pavluska. Members: Iván M. Balassa, Gábor Koncz, Máté Kovács and Csaba Tóth. Miklós Marschall served as president during the first year. Other former members were Péter Hidy, János Horváth, Sándor Horváth, Edina Lakatos and Zsófia Zimányi.

The latest Board of Supervision included Csaba Gallyas, Katalin Farkas and Péter Kirschner. Former members were Péter Deme, Katalin Havas and Timea Tibori.


Péter Inkei (director), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Vaspál, Zsuzsa Hunyadi, Zsolt Böcz (finance).

Former staff members: Zita Lévai (1999-2002), Attila Zongor (1999-2000), Anikó Kis (2000), Zsófia Földesi (2000-2003), János Z. Szabó (2002-2013), Dóra Balázs (2002), Anna Horváth (2002), Márton L. Rövid (2002), Csaba Boros (2002-2003), Daniela Langusi (2002-2004), Gizella Barsi (2003), Zita Kádár (2003), Judit Friss (2004-2009), Zsuzsa Hunyadi (2004-2005), Zoltán Imely (2004-2005), Krisztina Keresztély (2004-2005), Beáta Barda (2005), András Dávid (2005), Bíborka Molnár (2005), Gábor Mondik (2006-2008), Vera Iváncsics (2009-2010), Nóra Szabó (2010), Diyana Josifova (2010), Marta Lis (2010), Lili Török (2010-2013), Szilvia Bába (2012), Júlia Hentz (2012-2014), Rebeka Pataki (2014), Csilla Gaál (2015).


Unesco provided seed money which was spent on setting up the initial infrastructure and on functioning in the first several months. Since then, BO has survived from project grants. BO received structural and project support from the Hungarian Ministry of Cultural Heritage (Nemzeti Kulturális Örökség Minisztériuma, 2003, 2006), the Hungarian National Cultural Fund (Nemzeti Kulturális Alap, 2004, 2012), and structural support from the National Civic Fund (Nemzeti Civil Alapprogram, 2007-2010).

Nevertheless the main source has been commissions and grants gained at various international and national calls.


The Budapest Observatory was a member of CIRCLE (Cultural Information and Research Centres Liaison in Europe, now defunct), and Encatc, the European Network of Cultural Administration Training Centres, actually of Culture Action Europe (formerly  EFAH, the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage).  


Our logo was designed by Anna Farkas.


Péter This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. was deputy to the minister for culture between 1996-1998, lately - besides the post fulfilled at the Budapest Observatory - consultant of the Council of Europe (Mosaic project, cultural policy review on Albania, CultureWatchEurope events etc.), the Open Society Institute - Budapest, the World Bank, the National Development Agency of Hungary etc. Between 2000-2006 board member of CIRCLE, and between 2004-2006 member of the Steering Committee of LabforCulture. As author of the country profile on Hungary, has been member of the Compendium expert team since 2000. Since 2001 deputy manager of the Central European University Press.

The Foundation was registered under non-profit status (as a "közhasznú szervezet") according to Hungarian law, see közhasznúsági jelentés (public benefit report) 2004 , 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 , 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.

The pre-historic two meetings:

  • International Conference on the Preservation and Development of Cultural Life in Central and Eastern European Countries, organised by UNESCO in co-operation with the Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Education, Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO, Council of Europe, Commission of European Communities, European Mozart Foundation, Budapest, January 1997;
  • Consultative Meeting organised by the Foundation for the East-Central European Cultural Observatory and the Hungarian National Commission for Unesco in co-operation with the Hungarian Ministry for Cultural Heritage, KulturKontakt, Budapest, April 1999.