Szép To Leave Sziget For NY

Fruzsina Szép is leaving Hungary’s Sziget Festival to take up a new post as director of the country’s Cultural Institute in New York.

This year’s festival will be the last she spends as Sziget’s cultural director before taking up her new four-year post, which involves representing Hungary on a diplomatic and cultural level in New York and throughout the U.S.

The institute is funded by the country’s ministry of education and culture. The aim of its 18 global offices is to promote Hungarian language and culture aboard.

Szép joined Sziget at the beginning of 2009, having spent four years running the Hungarian Music Export Office. Its role was to promote Hungarian music abroad, but the government shuttered it within 18 months of Szép leaving.

As a program director at Sziget, her roles have included liaising with festival booker Dan Panaitescu on the programming strategy, positioning the event on the international festival market, and coming up with ideas for new venues and stages, such as the Hungaricum Village, the Europe Stage, European Meeting Point and the Eastern European Fun Fair.

She also represented Sziget on international conferences and trade fairs, most recently at Tallinn Music Week in Estonia, while regularly keeping her eye out for new acts that might be suitable for the festival’s two-dozen or so stages and performance areas.

The RegiON CEE Music conference she organised in Budapest in 2008 gave birth do the idea of the Central European Talent Exchange Programme, an Eastern Bloc version of the European Talent Exchange Programme organised at Eurosonic-Noorderslag in The Netherlands.

Although the music export office has closed and Szép will be in the U.S., the formation of CETEP was one of the central planks of the bid that Eurosonic creative director Peter Smidt included in his successful bid submission for $3 million worth of European Union funding.

The local organisers of CETEP are likely to be Sziget and Serbia’s Exit Festival.

During her time at the music export office and the festival, Szép says her “long-time dream” was to develop a well structured link between eastern and western Europe.

Szép will at least depart Sziget with the festival apparently in good shape. It’s recently reached a compromise with Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos for a fraction of the euro 9 million (then $12.2 million) he was apparently asking for use of the 108-hectare Danube island site, and also been voted one of the best festivals in the world by British world music magazine Songlines.

The UK’s The Independent also had it as one of the leaders of the world’s festival scene.

So far this year’s Aug. 10-15 lineup includes Amy Winehouse, The Chemical Brothers, Kasabian, Sohne Mannheims, Deftones, Pulp, Judas Priest, Dizzee Rascal, Rise Against, Marina & The Diamonds, Motorhead, Interpol, Sonata Arctica, Gogol Bordello, Crystal Castles and Skunk Anansie.