Fészek Artists’ Club, whose name is an acronym for the above professions, is an association qualified as public-benefit. Its activities cover the whole of Hungary and it builds international relations as well. It operates in its own three-storey building (protected as a historical monument), with an area of 3,738 sq m (4,471 sq yd), in the downtown of Budapest (H-1073, Kertész utca 36.).
It was established in 1901 by the public subscription of artists, to join forces of the broadest range of professional artists, to create an opportunity for an interchange of creative ideas, and to serve their artistic and personal relationships. According to its first statute, its goal is “to promote social contacts of artists, so that the groups up till now dispersed can meet in a common, warm nest [Fészek: ’nest’], and they could serve the Art by means of communication and by an enriching interchange of ideas. Let this intimate bond give the moral weight of the association towards the external world.”
Among its founders were: Gyula Benczúr (painter), Sándor Bródy (writer), Gyula Csortos (actor), János Fadrusz (sculptor), Adolf Fényes (painter), Sándor Góth (actor), Gyula Hegedűs (actor), Jenő Heltai (writer), Jenő Hubay (composer), Pongrác Kacsóh (composer), Károly Kernstok (painter), Ödön Lechner (architect), Ferenc Molnár (writer), Árpád Ódry (actor), Imre Pethes (actor), József Rippl-Rónai (painter), Kálmán Rózsahegyi (actor), Alajos Stróbl (sculptor), Pál Szinyei Merse (painter), Ede Újházi (actor), and János Vaszary (painter).
In the next decades, Fészek became the centre of artists and the art, and at the same time a meeting point of prominent people from the banking, industry, diplomacy, politics, and academia. Out of them, it was especially the Ministry of Culture that significantly contributed to its financial operation.
In January 1945, the building, located at the corner of the ghetto, was hit by several bombs and bullets, and thus became unusable. Members restored their club out of their own funding.
In 1950, the Artists’ Club was wrongfully nationalized (labelled as a bourgeois meeting place), but as it partly belonged under the Ministry of Culture until the change of regime, its conditions of operation were secured. As its independence and its building were regained in 1989, its maintenance funding discontinued, and it was forced to fend for itself. Since that time, Fészek has found it more and more difficult to raise the financial means for its operation and the sustenance of its building.
However, Fészek is a host theatre of all the arts, suited for public performances of every branch and form of professional prose, music, dance, and trapeze arts, at the same time, a civil organization and association of film, radio, and television artists, architects, photographers, representatives of the fine arts and industrial design, as well as writers, journalists, and theoretical experts.
In the spirit of its foundation, its objective continues to be to facilitate providing professional information mutually among artists in the different branches, and to be the scene of informal social life and a cultural centre of maintaining contacts with the intellectuals, in the framework of a club, where the artists are the hosts. Therefore, it organizes performances, lectures, debates, conferences, premieres, evenings with entertainment, exhibitions, film and video screenings etc., it maintains a high-quality library specializing in arts books, it regularly enables its membership to meet artists visiting Hungary, and it hosts various domestic and international events of arts associations and the cultural public life. As far as its content is concerned, Fészek is a venue of presenting progressive contemporary works of the time from all the arts, a basis for young artists and those already acknowledged to manifest the most recent initiatives or performances heard or seen only here: at approximately 1,000 events with 120,000 visitors on average per year. It is supplemented by the radio and television broadcasts of its events in the public media, reaching millions within and beyond the borders of Hungary.
Fészek, aged more than 112 years, is still a host theatre for all the arts and a centre for general education, unique in Hungary as well as in the world, keeping the cultural heritage alive and improving it further.