In the last twenty-five years the idea to establish a cultural office in Cracow came up many times and when Cracow was chosen as one of the cultural capitals of the world in 2000 the Ministry of Cultural Heritage of Hungary set up a Hungarian Cultural Office for the jubilee year. Taking into account its success, the experience obtained during its activity and the future prospects though, we thought it would be irrational and uneconomical to interrupt its operation therefore we did everything in order this branch office could continue the work it started, even in a different legal form.
Accordingly the CRACOVIA EXPRESSZ Foundation was set up in January 2001. The aim of this public utility institution is to establish an independent Hungarian Cultural Centre, which will continue work with the financial aid of foundations and sponsors. Our primary objective is to ensure in the forecoming years the appropriate place for Hungarian presence in the Central-European cultural exchange.
The recent economic and political changes and the accelerated process of European integration threw new light upon the traditionally friendly Hungarian-Polish relationship placing an even greater emphasis on the need for a Central-European cooperation. The distance between our countries that used to be maintained artificially by the official politics of the 80’s seems to have been diminishing.
The spontaneous initiatives of the civil sphere and non-profit organizations of the two countries play a very important role, accelerating and coordinating this process of approach at the same time opening up new perspectives for a cultural, economic and political cooperation on a larger scale.
In Warsaw there has been a Hungarian Cultural Institute operating for many years. Its activity, however, does not cover the whole area of Poland where there are several cultural centres simultaneously. On the other hand it is a historical fact that Poland’s cultural capital has been Cracow. The administration of several European countries have understood this: there is a French, an Italian and an Austrian Institute in the town, the Goethe Institute and the Pro Helvetia Foundation from Switzerland are also very active here.
The operation of the Centre can be taken as a good example and motivator for the institution system of cultural diplomacy and policy on an international scale. Its economic efficiency releases the burden of state administration, the succesful operation of the Center proves that even a small group of people with little money can achieve resounding effects enabling the institution to be present everywhere and arouse interest, curiosity and even admiration towards Hungarian culture. The small branch office in Cracow represents a new entrepreneurial and fundraising model – it can set an example for transformation of existing infrastructures into more flexible and self-sustainable one, and can be an alternative vis-a-vis the less effective cultural institutes working of a huge state budget.
Head of the Trustees of Cracovia Expres Foundation
Director of Hungarian Centre in Cracow