Hungarian director may lose stipend after sexual harassment

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In the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, the Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA) will likely withdraw film and theatrical director Péter Gothár’s prestigious “Artist of the Nation” title and the monthly 655,000 forints (€1,957) stipend that goes with it, a member of the awarding body told news portal Origo.

Last week, one day after Budapest’s prominent Katona József theater announced the sacking of an employee for “repeated inappropriate conduct”, well-known Hungarian film and theatrical director Péter Gothár, 72, admitted in a statement that he was responsible for one case and had apologized to the actress in question.

“One year ago I approached a female colleague in a morally unacceptable way. A few days later, I apologized and she accepted the apology,” the award-winning Gothár wrote in the statement. “Now that the case became public in both the theater and the country, I would like to publicly apologize again. I am very sorry for what happened. I am also sorry if I have offended anyone with my brusque style, bad manners or morally objectionable behavior.”

Actress Anna Kubik, a member of the MMA’s Artist of the Nation board, said the MMA will issue a statement on Monday and it was possible that his title may be withdrawn following an inquiry. She refused, however, to comment on Gothár’s case itself.

The title of Artist of the Nation is conferred by an 11-member board and can be by simultaneously held by a maximum of 70 prominent artists in Hungary.

New awards can only be granted upon the death of existing carriers of the award. The title comes with a lifelong stipend equal to 23 times the minimum pension in Hungary and is exempt from all taxes and duties.

Back in 2017, at the peak of the #MeToo scandals, Katona even featured a theatrical production on the topic of sexual harassment.

Title image: Hungarian film and theatrical director Péter Gothár (source: MTI/Zsolt Szigetváry)

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