An open house experiment

The modern Hungarian settlement was identified by the two initiators – Pál Beke and Tamás Varga A. (from 1975) – as an ‘open cultural home’. This institution also evolved from a settlement type activity and idea to become a centre of local self-organisation. The ‘open house’ experiment was joined by cultural homes and professionals who were convinced that emphasis should be laid not on people’s education by someone else – at that time this profession was referred to by the term “adult education” rather than “community education” or “community culture” – but on collective or joint (self) education. Those professionals thought that rather than the council or professionals it is the local residents themselves who are the most knowledgeable regarding their own education, since they are the ones who know about what, when and with whom they wish to receive education. And they were sure that this attitude and approach will make them not unneeded but rather indispensable; because through their profound knowledge of what people are interested in and what their interests are and their continuous updating of this knowledge they can work as partners of the members of the community in what they need, and in the way it is suitable – and consequently then probably becoming also important – for them. This was the professional experiment from which community development evolved in Hungary.
It was by 1984 that the idea that the development of communities should be encouraged not at the cultural centre but at the level of the community (town or village). The initiators recognised that the Hungarian society was a mass of isolated individuals with hardly any bottom-up organisations or communities. They experienced the absence of democracy. So, they had to trigger and encourage the forming and evolution of communities and to do so on the basis of needs and requirements local residents actually felt were their own.

This article based on the following document:

Socialized Operation of Cultural Institutions : A methodological guide to community-based operation