United for Contemporary Art sent a letter to Walter Queins, representative of the Ludwig Foundation, arriving to Budapest on 16 May 2013, asking him for a meeting. Walter Queins arrived to Budapest due to the competition for the post of director of the Ludwig Museum, and was to meet János Halász, State Secretary for Culture (of the Ministry of Human Resources) on 16 May at 3pm.
Prior to this meeting, fine artist Dóra Maurer – representing the group of the contemporary art scene and civilians who have been demonstrating in the Ludwig Museum for a week – handed the letter of United for Contemporary Art to the executive director of the Ludwig Foundation. The aim of the group is to draw the attention of the unduly excluded Ludwig Foundation from the competition jury, to its demands concerning transparency regarding the competition procedure and decision-making.
Under the present problematic situation, the group would consider as a realistic solution if, alongside the public disclosure of the other tender (Júlia Fabényi’s), a professional committee comprising new members would decide upon the two tenders received.
Today the group will forward its latest declaration (attached herewith) to the Ministry of Human Resources.
Last Thursday, United for Contemporary Art invited the Ministry for a public dialogue. The aim was to realise on-going communication, open to the public, by involving the relevant professional organisations. The debate should concern not only the competition for the post of director of the Ludwig Museum, but also every change executed in the field of the contemporary art scene and culture, where professional interests were ignored by the Ministry.
These include among others: the unjustified elevation of the Hungarian Academy of the Arts (MMA) to a position of institutional dominance holding sway over public funds; the merger of the Hungarian National Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts without proper consultation with art professionals; the systematic liquidation of the autonomy of cultural institutions; and a series of decisions regarding budget cuts threatening the operation of institutions. The common denominator of such measures is the total absence of professional consultations prior to decision-making.
The dialogue initiated by the United has still not been realised. Thus, the demonstrators stick to their radical but peaceful means, and will not leave the Ludwig Stairs, which is declared as an open, cultural and civilian programme platform, open to everyone 24 hours a day.
Budapest, 16 May 2013
STATEMENT (delivered to the Ministry)
The group United for Contemporary Art occupied the stairs of the Ludwig Museum Budapest on 9 May 2013. The group has done so in order to emphatically call attention to the unacceptable situation in which the Hungarian field of culture finds itself currently.
The untransparent process of the director’s tender of the Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest is only one – but undoubtedly the most typical – example, which has aroused uprecedented tensions within the contemporary Hungarian cultural scene.
In the interest of finding a solution satisfying all cultural professionals, we make the following proposal in connection with the director’s tender:
the Ministry should re-continue their procedure with the transparent and professionally competent judging of the two submitted tenders.
The conditions for this are:
–the establishment of a new jury, competent in the field of contemporary art, to which the relevant professional organisations delegate members;
–rendering the entire process transparent and open to the public;
–working up of criteria for judgement with the inclusion of professional opinion, thus assuring the commensurability of tender materials;
–the personal presence of the Minister at the Ludwig Stairs forum, by which he indicates his intention to undertake an on-going professional dialogue with the determining figures of Hungarian contemporary art. This dialogue can guarantee transparent and professional decisions in the future.
United for Contemporary Art
Budapest, 16 May 2013