Government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkirályi said at Thursday’s Government Information briefing that Hungary would have “the biggest fireworks display in Europe” on the August 20 national holiday this year, which will be set off along 4.3 kilometers of the Danube and the entire spectacle lasting exactly 32 minutes.
Although the government organized “the biggest St. Stephen’s Day festival of all time” last year, the Orbán regime seems determined to nearly match that again this year.
Such talk inspired Budapest’s Átrium Theater, which recently announced it would have to shut its doors due to financial problems, to make an open appeal to the government.
The theater asked the authorities on social media to shorten the fireworks display by just one minute than its planned 32 minutes and use the money saved to bail out theater troupes on the verge of financial bankruptcy, or those that have already shut down.
Since last year’s fireworks cost 1.3 billion Ft. (US $3.27 million) and lasted 34 minutes, the spectacle costs taxpayers roughly 40.625 million Ft. ($102,000) per minute.
Átrium then listed 17 theatrical groups that it claims, in addition to itself, could be kept alive with just this amount of funding.
In response to the Átrium’s threatened closure, the Budapest City Council announced a few days ago that it would set aside 150 million Ft. ($377,000) for a “theater protection fund” for Budapest-based troupes. [Azonnali]