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Extremely Hungary

The ten-month cultural season entitled 'Extremely Hungary' is proved to be a huge success in the U.S.

TO GAIN CULTURAL RECOGNITION in the United States, the Hungarian State and the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York are organizing a ten-month cultural season this year, dubbed 'Extremely Hungary'. Complete with film premiers, cooking classes, fashion shows, countless exhibitions, concerts and even a mustache contest, the festival focuses on the impact of Hungarian culture on the American society, and is also commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. "This festival is probably the grandest foreign cultural mission of Hungary designed to shape the country's image abroad through the arts," Hungarian Cultural Minister István Hiller said, adding that Hungary is pleased with the reception of the events so far. "This festival is too important and was too long in the planning to allow it to fall victim to political issues," the minister points out. (Planning for this particular cultural season started in 2006.)

According to him, cultural seasons alike are all extremely fruitful because they boost Hungary's cultural tourism. "Our aim is to establish as many connections as possible, to make bigger names for those Hungarian artists who are already well known and to introduce the new generation of artists to the American audiences," Hiller continued. The series of events is supported by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture which contributed with HUF 700 million (EUR 2.5 million) in the festival, in addition to the HUF 500 million (EUR 1.7 million) provided by American corporate and private sponsors, the Hungarian National Tourist Office and the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "New York remains the area with the largest concentration of Americans of Hungarian origin, and this is the reason why New York hosts most of the programs, along with Washington DC," the minister adds. "The foundation and inspiration of the season is the body of exceptional individuals and contributions like first generation Hungarian-American political leader and former New York governor George Pataki, technology executive and space tourist Charles Simonyi or financier George Soros."

Since its foundation in 2001, New York's Hungarian Cultural Center (HCC) has linked Hungarian artists and intellectuals with American audiences through exhibitions, lectures, concerts, performances and screenings. "In the two decades since the fall of communism Hungary has undergone a renaissance to reestablish itself as the Paris of the East. During the early 20th century its cultural energy, the literary coffeehouses, music of composers like Bela Bartok, the beginning of the Bauhaus, was practically unmatched in Europe," said Laszlo Jakab Orsos, Director of HCC. "The programs of 'Extremely Hungary' present artists, many for the first time, who incorporate huge amounts of energy, talents, and willingness to make Hungary's cultural life bloom," he added.

Réka Alíz Francisck

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