“Without culture there can be no advancement, no family, security. Without culture there is no country.” With these words Hungary’s Minister for Human Resources Zoltán Balog opened the 24th Zempléni Festival on Thursday evening in Sárospatak.
In the courtyard of the Rákóczi Vár before a full house the minister said that economic growth can only be sustainable if it grows from “local treasures”. By way of example he mentioned the soil, wine, tourism, the air, ground, water and culture “with a capital ‘C’”. He said that without culture economic growth means nothing and cannot be sustained.
Balog added that culture is one of the most important elements of sustainable prosperity and a livable countryside. “In the arts, culture finds a sustainable strength,” said the minister, adding that culture is a “powerful tool” which “creates a real possibility for us to live a better, more complete and better quality life.”
Culture was something we must hand down, nurture and rediscover “in order to keep our sons and daughters home”, and that even if they leave “to draw them home”.
He voiced the opinion that Hungary will be the country of festivals, of which the 24th Zempléni Festival stands out for the quality of performances it offers, as well as for the spirituality with which it connects youth to the artistic blood flow.
The event offers up an example of solidarity on the part of local leaders and the community as well, Balog said. Over eleven days performances ranging from classical music to jazz are being performed in wine cellars, churches and castles in four different cities.
Minister Balog’s words are somewhat disingenuous as the past five years has witnessed a massive defunding of the arts under the 2nd and 3rd Orbán governments.