The first phase started in October 2008 with the registration of festivals, which is followed by the second phase of qualification or rating from May 2009. The complex programme was initiated by the five festival associations and enjoys the political and financial support of the government. The ministries in charge of culture and tourism (the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Local Government) have a record of joint sponsorship of cultural festivals, which co-operation was extended to backing the registration and rating exercises. The interested parties – the professional unions and the supporting ministries – attach the following expectations to the project:
sounder information about the ever growing and diversifying field of festivals and similar events
clearer criteria for the decisions on the distribution of public funds
a stronger legitimation and justification of public support to festivals
improved guidance for private sponsors
better orientation for the general and the professional public
and ultimately, a rise in the quality of festivals, in all their aspects
The book based on the survey of Hungarian festivals in 2006 (Fesztivál-világ: Festival-World) contained a chapter with the design of a rating system: that can be considered an early antecedent. The actual scheme has been developed and is being supervised by the professional Board (Szakmai Intéző Bizottság – SZIB) composed of the representatives of the five unions. The project is managed by the Hungarian Institute for Culture and Art, with the involvement of the Budapest Observatory.
A few clues to this site:
The page Regisztrált fesztiválok contains the list of registered festivals. Registration is voluntary and free of charge. The process is largely automated. Final approval of registration requires a majority decision of the Board. During the first months about 5% of events have been refused on the ground of not fully corresponding to the criteria set by the Board to qualify for a cultural festival. The data sheet (adatlap) at the end of each entry contains the information provided by the respective festival.
The page on statistics (Statisztika) offers periodical summaries of the data on the registered festivals.
The Minősítés page provides introduction to the rating system. This process, too, is voluntary, involving financial contribution of the festivals to the expenses of the two or three monitors who administer the assessment along a complex standard scoring scheme, consisting of 19 aspects - the annotated list is available in Hungarian on the Minősítés page. Besides percentage scores, monitors make written notes, too. These have been communicated to the festival organisers in a slightly edited form (preserving the anonymity of specific remarks).
Several dozen festivals indicated interest well before the actual start in May 2009. By October 2009, the necessary documentation had been accumulated on 87 festivals. Of these the Board decided not to rate 15 events – not without lengthy discussions, and often by a vote of three to two. The reasons for disqualification were either low scores or problems of definition. Several events that had passed for a festival at the registration phase, proved to fail to pass a stricter test, and were considered a string of cultural programmes rather than a focused festival. The remaining 72 festivals received the title of Qualified Festival, with sub-distinctions according to level (Outstanding, Good or just plain) or genre (Arts, Folklore, Gastronomy, or again just plain, for festivals that are difficult to label). The first set of 72 titles were ceremoniously handed over to organisers on 2 December. See list HERE.
The project continues, the next round of deciding on qualifications is foreseen by early summer. For further information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.