Helping Musical Talent Find Its Voice – By Robin Marshall
Snétberger is a Berlin-based musician with an international reputation. Born in Salgótarján into a Roma family of six children, he is deeply committed to supporting social development among Roma society. One of his most famous compositions, In Memory of My People, was inspired by his love and respect for his roots.
Mészáros has many hats, one of which is as Snétberger’s manager, organizing his Hungarian concerts and now as managing director of the Camp Europe Felsőörs Education Nonprofit LLC which operates the center. But he is perhaps best known as the founder of VeszpremFest, and it was in that capacity that artist and entrepreneur met.
“I had been a fan of Ferenc, but we had never met,” Mészáros recalls. “Our relationship started in 2003, the first year I organized the festival. I asked him to play a set, and it was a great success.” So much so that Mészáros invited Snétberger back in 2004. The relationship built from there. When Snétberger took on a teaching role in Berlin in an institution dedicated to helping young Roma musicians, it planted an idea. “Why not do it in Hungary, where there are significant Roma music talents and where the social aspects of Roma integration are more significant, given the higher percentage of Roma in the overall population here?”
From that point to the opening this summer was a three-year slog, but the big breakthrough came with news that the Norwegian Financial Mechanism was prepared to become a major backer. Aimed at helping the European Union’s CEE countries catch up with the more established Western states, it has 10 priorities, one of which is Roma education. It was a perfect match.
“Eighty-five percent of the project support is from the Norwegian grant,” Mészáros says. According to the center’s website (www.snetbergerkozpont.hu), “the investment was financed by €2.7 million from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and by €0.5 million from the Hungarian State. The Open Society Institute gives significant help to the center both professionally and financially. The professional program is also supported by the European Social Fund.”
Each year, the center will take in 60 students, aged 12-20 years old, for a total of 12 weeks’ education, split into three semesters. The first six-week block is in the summer holidays. The remaining two three-week terms take place in October and March, requiring that students are given time off from their normal schooling.
Mészáros admits that, in a minority of cases, that has proved difficult. But the results are there to see already. “There are 15-20 kids who we can see have the potential to make a career out of their talent.” They will be invited back next year, meaning 40-45 new students will be taken on in the summer of 2012.
Establishing the center is one thing, keeping it running quite another. There could always be more instruments, and education for all the students is free, meaning there is a constant need for scholarships. Then there are the overheads of the Malomvölgy Educational and Recreational Center, where the institution is located (and available outside its “school terms” for corporate hire, see: www.malomvolgy.hu).
Which is where AmCham member companies come in. “We are hoping to develop a relationship,” Mészáros says frankly. “Financing this institution is one of the biggest burdens. One of our goals is to build up and maintain corporate sponsorships. We are building up a menu of opportunities and options for corporate partners.”
To know more, contact the foundation supporting the center directly by clicking here.
A relationship that started in 2003 with a festival organizer booking a well known Roma musician has deepened in less than a decade to the extent that the pair have now launched a foundation aimed at helping young gypsy students fulfill their musical talent.
Source: AmCham’s Voice Magazine