2022 Wish List: Support Underground Musicians, Find More Grace and Rediscover Country Life


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As is now tradition, the Budapest Business Journal has asked a wide variety of folk in business and services around the country for their wishes (beyond a solution for COVID) for 2022, the Chinese year of the Tiger.

Savannah Rudlin: Hungary Should Value and Nurture its Less-traditional Musicians

When I’m asked about my favorite things about living in Budapest, I immediately mention the underground music scene. On any day of the week, you can find DJ sets in the bars of Madách Imre tér and Széll Kálmán tér, late-night parties in transformed cinemas and daytime parties in cultural centers. Besides the music, there’s a wonderful community of talented artists that can be found in these spaces. In 2019, during my time interning at Budapest Showcase Hub (a festival and conference in iconic nightlife venues across the city over three days), I had the privilege of listening to and connecting with a great many musicians.

These people make Budapest vibrant and attract tourists and locals alike. However, when speaking to them, a common theme is that they often struggle to make a living from music and feel unsupported compared to more traditional artists.

Still recovering from the COVID-induced pause in live music, a primary source of income for musicians, many look to the state for assistance. Yet, I’m told, the response from the Nemzeti Kulturális Alap, the National Cultural Foundation, is weak, with few underground artists receiving much funding from its hangfoglaló support program.

The Hungarian Oncoming Tunes (HOTS) program is one exception; it sponsors some underground artists performing at international music festivals.

However, both organizers and artists feel that the contemporary music scene has little financial support compared to Western European countries. France, in particular, provides substantial support to a wide variety of artists.

When speaking to organizers about possible reasons for this lack of assistance, some blame official attitudes towards avant-garde music, while others suggest that the support system is merely underdeveloped and needs time to grow.

In 2022, I wish for more general acceptance and increased funding for these brilliant musicians in the underground scene: they bring joy and freedom so desperately needed during these uncertain times. The onus is not on the government alone; artists need continuing support, albums and merchandise to be bought, and, importantly, crowds at gigs, and I hope 2022 will allow that.

Savannah Rudlin is originally from Cape Town, South Africa. She studied Communication and Media Science in Budapest and is now a creative copywriter with a multi-national telecommunications company in the Hungarian capital.

Tamás Pletser: A rational Germany, Less Tension Around Ukraine and Energy Storage Innovations

I believe foreign events and developments, especially concerning Germany and Russia, could play the most important role in the life of Hungary in 2022. I do not expect a change in the political scene in Hungary, despite the April Parliamentary elections. In Germany, the politics of the new ‘traffic-light’ coalition, and in Russia, the tension with Ukraine could well be the most critical factors.

I wish that Russia avoids any escalation of the military conflict with Ukraine and stabilizes the political situation with its southwestern neighbor. Regarding this issue, I also blame the West’s policies, which seemingly do not understand the geopolitical fears of Russia.

I also wish that the new German coalition will build its policies on rational rather than ideological grounds. Europe needs a smart German leadership with clear and achievable targets; otherwise, the whole EU project could become mired in a policy quagmire.

As an energy analyst, my greatest wish for this year is to have technological breakthroughs in energy storage. For some time now, we have been expecting new, solid Li-ion battery solutions, as well as new ideas for the long-term storage of electricity. The ideas vary widely, from traditional hydrogen to gravity or chemical-based storage systems, but these need to work on an industrial scale and not only in a laboratory environment.

Breakthroughs in these technologies could be pivotal and may substantially speed up the transition of global energy systems to achieve sustainability. Climate change is a growing concern for future generations, and I doubt we can find a solution without new technical developments. These issues could have a significant effect on the Hungarian economy as well: just think that 10% of our GDP is based on the automotive industry, which is directly affected by the electrification of transport.

Tamás Pletser is an Erste Bank EMEA oil and gas analyst.

Ádám Somlai-Fischer: Taking Climate Change Personally

We make a plan in my family every year, agreeing on things we would like to accomplish as a family and as individuals, and even asking each other for some things.

Because of climate change, we’ve been taking night trains in Europe instead of flying, have stopped eating beef altogether and generally reduced our meat consumption, things like that.

But beyond the personal choices, I’ve decided to find a concrete project I can contribute to that actively fights climate change, something that is on the active innovation side of ecological efforts. I don’t know yet what that is or in what role, but it is a project I intend to take seriously and have done in 2022. An example would be to join one of the fusion energy projects or companies and help them as best I can.

Ádám Somlai-Fischer is co-founder and principal artist of Prezi, an international presentation software company originally founded in Hungary.

Beatrix Olgyay: More, not Less, Online Learning, but With Innovation

In the last 10 years, we teachers have had to get used to the achievements of the constantly developing information technology and media, but it initially seemed a fruitless task to make people like online classes. Companies attempted to provide employees with a kind of hybrid learning, mixing e-learning programs with contact hours but, initially, this teaching method did not spread widely.

The arrival of the COVID-19 virus in 2020 turned the world upside down. It not only ruined several branches of the economy but also changed the lives of many people. But after the first shock, in 2021, people learned to turn a profit from lockdown. They discovered that the internet could be used for obtaining basic necessities even in quarantine, and it could also be a useful means of starting or developing businesses. Last year, company leaders also started to think more cost-effectively, investing in developing new technologies and less in recruiting new employees.

Adult education also experienced changing customer demands. Companies began preferring online classes based on economic reasons and safety regulations. At first, everybody thought it was only a temporary trend, but with each wave of the pandemic, it became clear for everybody that learning languages would never be the same. In 2021, teachers were not only more experienced than a year before, but students also got used to the idea of being taught online. Both have now accepted e-contact lessons as an alternative to on-site training.

My wish is that in 2022, more and more services will be provided online in the different economic fields to avoid close contact and for efficiency. Adult education institutions will still provide online and traditional classes in parallel but will probably come up with new innovative ideas in teaching. Many are likely to offer off-the-shelf e-learning programs and also improve the number of online tutors, being able to involve native teachers living far away.

Beatrix Olgyay is head of the Oxford Language School in the city of Győr, in western Hungary.

Rebecca M Chory: More Grace for Better Understanding and Less Stress

My wish is that we practice grace more frequently, in more situations, and with more people in 2022 than we have in the past. Having just spent four months teaching and researching as an American Fulbright Scholar in Budapest, I realize how easy it is to be offended, misunderstood, and judged unfairly by other people, as well as how easy it is to offend, to misunderstand, and to judge others unfairly. We need to remember that people have different beliefs, values, traditions, and experiences before judging.

COVID and divisive political and social issues have made us more anxious and frustrated, increasing the likelihood that we will “mess up,” offend or disappoint others. When that happens, which it inevitably will, my wish is that we respond to each other with grace. I hope that we extend each other understanding and courtesy, that we give each other an opportunity to explain our points of view, that we are slow to judge, and that we avoid being so sure of our own rightness that we fail to consider that we may be at fault or that we may have erred.

I sometimes felt this was missing in my interactions in Budapest. I admit I could have acted more graciously at times, too. My Fulbright experiences with my students and colleagues in Budapest reminded me of the blessings that practicing grace bestows.

Rebecca M. Chory, Ph.D., is a professor of management at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland, USA. She recently spent four months in Budapest as a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Scholar teaching and researching male-female workplace relationships at Corvinus University, Budapest.

Robert Kindl: Getting Back to the Country

Despite the obviously catastrophic consequences of the pandemic, I find the current trend of moving out of cities one welcome effect. Although big cities may generate tension among people due to population density, they also encourage a certain level of tolerance. They create way more opportunities to socialize. Despite this, people still do not tend to really engage with each other: we can say people in big cities have a busy life. Inevitably, it is more superficial.

Recently, even before the pandemic, Hungarians have been increasingly rediscovering Lake Balaton as a temporary or permanent home. As a result, there has been much infrastructural, welfare, and convenience development in the region.

My wish is that this process expands into other regions of the country. I hope there will be more programs to encourage prosperity and to retain young minds, as this is essential for Hungary. There are many aspects in favor of rural locations; for example, the quality of life, the closeness to nature, better mental health, and more chance to connect with fellow human beings as people pay more attention to each other.

In past centuries, there was more diversity of populations in rural centers and even villages that encouraged tolerance. In today’s globalized world, it is increasingly important to use local products and services. These trends would be stronger if there were more people finding opportunities and support in the countryside.

Rural culture is still the cradle of our traditional roots but, with local life being irreversibly connected to the entire world, village residents can also remain connected to the wider world. The more we spend time getting to know different cultures first hand, the more we enrich ourselves, recognize our values and learn tolerance. That is why I would like to see the growing interest in visiting rural Hungary by many more Hungarians continue. I believe our future generations depend on it.

Robert Kindl is the general manager of the Tokaj-Oremus Winery. He was born and raised in Budapest but now lives with his family in the small town of Sárospatak, northeast Hungary.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of January 14, 2022.

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