Act 38 on Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2006) confers responsibility for implementing the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage on the ministry responsible for culture, the Ministry of Human Resources, with its State Secretary in Charge of Culture (Public Culture Department). In 2008, the minister formed an advisory body (the Hungarian National Committee for the Intangible Cultural Heritage), which includes representatives of the relevant administrative, professional and social organizations. Specific professional functions were delegated to institutions (such as the Association for the European Folklore Institute and other non-governmental organizations) and institutions (the Open-Air Museum). The Directorate for the Intangible Cultural Heritage was established as a separate organizational unit within the Open-Air Museum. Since 2012, the functions of the National Committee have been assumed by the Expert Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Hungarian National Commission to UNESCO. The Directorate for Intangible Cultural Heritage continues to perform Secretariat functions (by delegation of the State Secretary in Charge of Culture) and is responsible for participating in the professional tasks flowing from the Convention, managing the national lists, preparing UNESCO nominations based on the decisions of the Committee of Experts, and liaising with professional networks and relevant communities.
Human resources and training capacities for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage are generally of a high level, having been built on the basis of the historically strong ethnological work in Hungary. Education in intangible cultural heritage mostly involves institutions in the fields of the arts, humanities and social sciences, adult education, tourism and communication. Eötvös Loránd University as well as the universities in Pécs, Debrecen, Szeged and Miskolc offer courses on the intangible cultural heritage among their cultural heritage courses. Eötvös Loránd University offers an M.A. in history with a specialization in cultural heritage. Specialized courses of study are also available at Eszterházy Károly University, the Faculty of Information Technology, the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design and ISES Institute for Social and European Studies.
The documentation of traditional folk culture, including intangible cultural heritage, has been an extensive and continuing process since the second half of the 19th century. National museums (the Open Air Museum and the Museum of Ethnography), county and local-level museums, local history collections, as well as the Institute for Musicology and the Institute for Ethnology (both part of the Research Centre for the Humanities at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) and the László Lajtha Folklore Documentation Centre of the Hungarian Heritage House all undertake the systematic collection and storage of photographic records, audio and visual recordings and other documents. The Directorate for the Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Hungarian Open Air Museum also established the Intangible Cultural Heritage Collection (2012) for the purpose of systematically collecting and documenting material related to elements on the National Inventories. These are made accessible for research purposes and to the broader public.
Work on inventorying intangible cultural heritage has been undertaken since 2008 by the Directorate for the Cultural Heritage, the Expert Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Open Air Museum and independent experts. There are two national inventories: the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage (13 items in 2012) and the National Inventory of Best Safeguarding Practices (two entries in 2012). The criteria used for the inclusion of intangible cultural heritage elements on the inventory are adapted from criteria R.1 to R.4, which are used for nominations to the Representative List (at the international level). The obligation to prove the inscription of the element on the National Inventory is omitted, and mention of international impact is substituted with national significance. Initially, the inventory did not take into account the viability of intangible cultural heritage. However, the National Commission has recently incorporated a question on the application form for inscription on the National Inventory, which enquires about any possible difficulties that could hinder or even prevent the practice of the element. Similarly, the criteria for inclusion on the Inventory of Best Safeguarding Practices follow those used at the international level for the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices.
Nominations must initially be submitted by the relevant communities. Communities must also play a primary role in preparing the bulk of the documentation as well as in developing and implementing effective measures for safeguarding the viability of the element, thereby demonstrating their commitment to its practice and transmission. All applications for inclusion must be accompanied by a demonstration of the prior and informed consent of the community concerned. As for the involvement of non-governmental organizations, it is common to involve professionals from local (and, occasionally, national) professional organizations, local governments, churches and religious communities in identifying intangible cultural heritage and compiling the nomination forms. County Co-ordinators also contribute their professional advice and guidance to the process.
In terms of measures to integrate the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage into planning or development programmes, a system of financial support for intangible cultural heritage safeguarding is currently being developed. Certain funding programmes offered by the National Cultural Fund for culture-related projects and festivals already specify intangible cultural heritage themes as an advantage in the criteria for funding. For example, the Hungarian National Rural Network entitled ‘Quality of Rural Life and Diversification of Rural Economies’ offers support specifically to communities in preparing their nomination material for inscription on the National Inventories. Moreover it is reported that, from 2013, a funding system would enable the National Cultural Fund to support communities whose intangible cultural heritage element has already been inscribed on the National Inventories.
As for educational programmes, the Local Curriculum Framework (2012) has established ‘Homeland and Folk Studies’ as a required 36-hour fifth grade course and students are familiarized with intangible cultural heritage, with the involvement of practitioner or bearer communities. Extra-mural forms of training and knowledge transfer cover an ever broader spectrum incorporated into local school curricula and community-based cultural activities. Interactive education has also been developed for intangible cultural heritage and some university courses include intangible cultural heritage modules (e.g. environmental and community development studies as well as anthropology). Thanks to the Tanchaz Movement (and before it to the Kodaly Method), folk dance and music have been taught for decades in specialized folk music and folk art schools.
Bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation take the form of bilateral links with Romania, Slovakia and Poland (with the last two through the Tanchaz Method of transmission, selected in 2011 for the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices). The ETNOFOLK 2011-2014 project (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and Hungary), funded by the European Structural Fund under the aegis of the Central European Transnational Programme, involves sharing documentation on intangible cultural heritage and developing policies and strategies. International networking is strong and contact with foreign experts is continuous, thereby creating a continually expanding regional network of experts (e.g. from Romania and Slovakia). There is also great interest in the folk heritage of the Hungarian diaspora and other ethnic groups in the Carpathian Basin region and an information flow on intangible cultural heritage to the diaspora is ensured through experts.
Hungary reports here on one element inscribed on the Representative List: Busó festivities at Mohács, a masked end-of-winter carnival custom (2009). Since inscription, awareness of Busó festivities has grown nationally and internationally. The Busó groups have established relationships with other European masked and mummer groups. Importantly, inclusion on the List has also contributed to a renaissance of mask carving – one of the essential components of the tradition – and Mohács now has five mask-carving artisans, one of whom holds the national title of Young Master of Folk Arts. Certain risks threaten the Busó festivities. The primitive role-playing, mischief and playfulness of the traditional event is contrary to the Carnival’s public profile. This has resulted in a form of limitation, which is necessary during the procession. The other major threat is mass tourism: the small town of Mohács, with its narrow lanes, cannot cope with visitor numbers beyond a certain level. For the purpose of preparing the present report, the head of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Directorate held a personal consultation with the representatives of the community to discuss the questionnaire, and the community representatives themselves prepared the report, detailing their experiences and lessons learnt since the inscription of the Busó festivities on the list.