The Contemporary Art Centres of the Soros Foundation and C³

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • From isolation to networking: Cyber homosovieticus in search of promised land

Presentation Title:

  • The Contemporary Art Centres of the Soros Foundation and C³

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • George Soros, the successful American investor of Hungarian origins has been an active philanthropist since the seventies. In 1979 he established the Open Society Fund in New York, an organization that supports activities in more than 50 countries worldwide. The aim of this initiative was to promote the “open societies” concept originally proposed by the philosopher Karl Popper. In the following years when the Soros Foundation and the network of the Soros Contemporary Art Centers (SCCA) became a reality, lavish praise as well as harsh criticism was regularly heaped on the organization and the people associated with George Soros.

    The unique beginnings and the subsequent operation of the SCCA network including the Center for Culture & Communication (C³) cannot be fully appreciated without considering the regional socio-cultural context. What follows is not intended as a critical evaluation of the SCCA network and C³, Budapest. Such a study would require in-depth research into decades of relevant cultural history. Instead a cultural narrative is presented in the context of documented evidence and personal experience.

    In 1984, after lengthy negotiations with the authorities, a compromise was reached to establish the Soros Foundation in close collaboration with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The stated goal was to support fresh contemporary intellectual deliberations and initiatives tied to developing autonomy. From the beginning, the Soros Foundation aimed at bringing a new working moral, new informal style, creativity and most importantly transparency into the sociopolitical landscape, thus introducing a tool of pluralism unknown in the last forty years. It is essential to record the significant aid provided to many other causes such as health, the oral history program, English language education manager education, student exchange programs, publishing, environmental and ethnic minority causes including the Roma, etc. It is crucial to note that no pre-existing plans or precedence were available at that time.

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