In our project we collaborate with local civilians who formed a group and chose a name - but they are not a "formal" organisation. Still we wanted to add them here as our main partners in the project.
GyárKert is a long-term community art project, initiated by the habitants of a marginalized district of Budapest. We define our project as 'cross sector co-commissioning', as it relies on a joint curatorial work by local civilians and art professionals. This method allows us to realize cultural projects by combining the ideas of our local civil partners and reconciling their different positions. The project aims at empowering the local community to take its part in the decision-making processes.
Csepel, a peripheral and marginalized district of Budapest, Hungary
Csepel is a district on the outskirt of Budapest. During the communism, it was a vivid industrial area, which lost its significance in the years 1990. Presently it has an ambivalent reputation, but also a low self-estimation. The district has basically lost its identity when the industry has gone and nothing else replaced it later. It also has low attractivity in the eyes of the investors, developers and the business sector.
Due to the peripheral location of the district and its low self-estimation, the local community is highly vulnerable and exposed to the authoritarian top-down decisions of the local municipality (which characterise the whole antidemocratic system in Hungary). These decisions often generate serious social tensions and completely ignore environmental sustainability.
We approach the challenge of active citizenship and empowerment of local community from the direction of arts:
- How can we increase the feeling of the ownership of art in a community?
- How does the feeling of ownership of art correlate with the feeling of ownership of the location and pride?
- How can we collaborate with local cross-sector partners in increasing the feeling of ownership and what advantages can the partners draw out of it?
By developing a horizontal model of commissioning that involves members of the local community and private partners in the process, we aim to enhance the motivation of the community, which may lead to increase the demand and likelihood for continued activity. The feeling of pride and ownership may prompt them to participate in local decision-making.
The population of our target area is mixed:
- middle-class middle-income families living in gardened houses,
- lower income habitants living in block houses,
- roma population moved here from gentrified areas of Budapest,
- people living in deep poverty in the industrial zone itself.
We aim to involve local people on different levels:
- directly into the commissioning process, designing and curating the projects (relying on an already existing network of local civil partners who can be considered as key figures and may help us reaching a socially wider circle),
- indirectly into the process (mapping local habitants' needs to be articulated in our artistic projects, creating job opportunities),
- as audience members (projects in public space, available for all social groups).
GyárKert is based on a circular working method: co-curating, co-organising and co-financing a cultural event together with local partners / "using" this event to reach out for further active collaborators and financial coproducers / preparing the next event with the widened group. We believe that the initiative grows stronger with every circle.
After having realised a couple of cultural events in the past years, we plan to organise the next one in the spring of 2021.
The artistic projects are developing through regular discussions among artists, organizers and local partners, thus they are always embedded into the local context. We also aim to create (even temporary) jobs for local people living in bad conditions and to make local habitants and businesses motivated to get involved.
As we imagine our long-term project as a circular process, the most important result would be to grow stronger with one more circle of activities - to reach more people as audience, to involve more active collaborators and financial supporters, to become more sustainable financially and more visible as a strong community.
Empowerment of a local community is very difficult or even impossible to "measure", but if the members of the community can be proud of a successful event curated and organized by them and they can believe more in their strength and rights to be involved in decision-making, it would eventually lead to more "measurable" achievements.
We would judge the success of our project by the degree of the local habitants' involvement and the improvement of their self-estimation.
Authoritarianism and populism, strongly characterizing the Hungarian politics for 10 years, is a general threat also to other European countries. Strong local communities on one hand, artistic and cultural projects fostering critical thinking against the political propagandas on the other hand can play crucial role in counter-balancing (even a bit) these political tendencies. We intend to marry these two components in our initiative, and aim at strengthening and empowering both through this marriage.
We hope to be able to develop a kind of a toolkit or method together with our local civil partners which might be useful for other communities facing similar issues and problems.
As mentioned before, the FactoryGarden community project has been running for 4 years and it may bring a meaningful result only on a longer term. However we have already achieved plenty of smaller successes through the years that strengthened our mission to continue the project. Also our local partners put huge trust and confidence in us (members of our association working with them for years), and that means a serious recognition, but also a big responsibility.
Furthermore in the present political climate in Hungary, it feels to makes less sense to present "purely" artistic projects, so we have gradually shifted the focus of our activities to this socially engaged, locally rooted long-term project where we can see more opportunity to make changes, even on a modest scale.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
ees / producers, 2 pax, 10 months / 8600 €
Fees / hired collegues, 6 pax, 6 months / 6400 €
Fees / 6 Hungarian artists / 5200 €
Fees / 3 foreign artists / 6000 €
Travel costs / 3 foreign artists / 1050 €
Accomm / 3 foreign artists, 10 nights * artist / 2400 €
Location / venue rental, 4 projects / 1700 €
Material costs / 6 projects / 1000 €
Catering / community events / 800 €
Promotion / 6 projects / 1200 €
Capacity building / 10 workshops / 3000 €
Admin costs / 10 months / 600 €
How can we work more efficiently towards financial sustainability of our project?