A key pillar of the 2023 Veszprém European Capital of Culture program was music, not least because Veszprém itself has held the title of UNESCO City of Music since 2019. The ECOC year placed special emphasis on ensuring that music reached the residents of Veszprém (and those living in the surrounding area) not just as passive consumers, but with as many people as possible actively engaging in it. Several projects supported this endeavor, but the most significant was the program of Hangvető, called Hangjáték (’soundplay), which, as a comprehensive music development program, implemented joint music-making sessions and even music education sessions in kindergartens. A particularly important achievement was the establishment of the Hangár Music Center, where music education is provided to both young people and adults in an inclusive and accessible manner.

In the second half of 2023, the HÉTFA Research Institute conducted a comprehensive evaluation study on the outcomes of the Hangjáték project and on the music life in Veszprém and its surroundings. The tools used for this included a representative survey of 1,000 people from Veszprém and its labor market area, as well as 42 expert interviews with key figures in the regional music scene—from schools to clubs, musicians to managers.

The research revealed that every second resident of the area attended some kind of music event during the European Capital of Culture year, and every fifth attended a classical music concert. Thirty-six percent of the adult population had learned to play music at some point, and a third of them sing or play music regularly. Although the rigid structure and methodology of music schools are unfamiliar to many, they still represent a popular opportunity for learning instruments and singing. Overall, the music life in the region is particularly Veszprém-centered, but even the music scene in the county seat is relatively modest and does not reach the masses. However, a quarter of the region’s residents had heard about Hangjáték, and 3% participated in some program.

The results confirmed that efforts to develop musical culture and enhance its community-building power are well-received — as well as that increasing the intensity of cultural life can be an excellent breakthrough point for Hungarian medium-sized cities. In Veszprém, the title of European Capital of Culture was just an opportunity: it was the new mindset and approach resulting in projects like Hangjáték that made this year successful.

The booklet about the research can be downloaded here (only in Hungarian).

Fotó: Hangjáték project