Let’s get to know each other!

Culture and art surely play an important role in your life, too. Not less in the life of the mentally disabled people.

Would have you thought, that they draw and paint in the same way as their sound companions, they dance, singe and play music just like other artistic groups, and what is more, they also act in plays? They do it, because art is important for them too, as a free time activity, as means of self-realization and self-expression, and in certain cases as work.

The Hungarian Special Arts Workshop Association has undertaken the coordination of this artistic activity, the organization of cultural programmes and providing of different services. Our aim is to make the society acquainted with the mentally disabled people – in our opinion art can help in it – and if they got acquainted with them, they may accept their dissimilarity.

Now we would like you to get to know the activities of our Association, to get to know our programmes. We would like to get to know You too, so we look forward to meet You in the international cooperation.

Zsolt Asztalos, President



Our Association was founded to promote the artistic activitiy of adult and under-age mentally disabled people, to raise the standard of the artistic practice and to spread special techniques. It aims to give the mentally disabled people - living either with their families or in institutions – the opportunity of active participation in artistic activities and of showing their talents in public, and by this, to give them an assistance to their self-expression and social integration.

Our Association aims at the following activities:

  • organizing and implementing local, national and international festivals
  • holding arts and crafts and fine arts exhibitions
  • organizing art camps annually
  • organizing colour music camps, operating the National Colour Music Orchestra
  • organizing integrated theatre camps
  • running special professional trainings for collegues, who work with artistic groups of mentally disabled people
  • holding international professional conferences
  • establishing and operating a network of open-door creative workshops
  • establishing and maintaining relations with European organizations working on the field of special arts, international coordination


The Hungarian Special Arts Workshop Association is the launcher of a movement that aims to improve remarkably the life quality of mentally disabled people and to involve as many of them as possible into various artistic activities on the basis of their interests and abilities. This professional movement started in Andornaktalya, Heves County in 1986. At about this time folk dance and folk song groups of mentally disabled people were formed in a few institutions nationwide. As a result of the creative work in these workshops, National Folksong and Folkdance Meetings were organized in Eger in 1987, in 1988 and also in 1989. Later on, also arts and crafts and fine arts exhibitions were connected to these events.

Since 1990 these national cultural meetings have grown into more-day programs, and beside the folksong and folkdance performances, performances in prose and poetry and in acting also appeared, and by 1995 they turned into all-art festivals.

The first Arts and Crafts and Fine Arts Camp took place in 1993. The camp provided an opportunity for the mentally disabled artists to improve their artistic abilities. The Special Professional Training started its work with music, dance and acting courses in 1994. Here those pedagogues and educators received training, who deal with mentally disabled people. A scope of activities has been developed, that included the creative work, the artistic training and the presentation of accomplishments.

The Association originated from a civil initiative, and its original objective was to offer useful freetime activities for mentally disabled people. As an effect of this initiative, more and more institutions formed their own artistic workshops, which created a need for a kind of coordination in the work of special arts. As a consequence, the Hungarian Special Arts Workshop Association was founded in 1994. The Association aimed to preserve the established traditions and professional experiences and to develop them. The quality of creation and of performance come to the fore, instead of the useful freetime activity. The Association realized, that the difficulties experienced in the acceptance and reception of disability by the society, could be compensated by making the mentally disabled people’s art works and performances acceptable.


Following the annual organization of the folksong and folkdance meetings in Eger and the acting and prose and poetry meetings in Tamasi (which had 280-350 mentally disabled participants from 25-30 institutions) the Association organized the I. International Cultural Festival in 1995, and the second one in 1997, by which it established a unique European programme so far, as regards both its nature and its size. The festivals have been organized in different cities since this time, as we realized the great importance of approaching the sound members of the society.

Since 1998 the number of active participants in the cultural festivals has reached the 1000-1200 people on behalf of 75-80 institutions. Besides the growth of the number of participants year by year more and more branches of art appeared on the stage in better and better quality. At present the artistic groups perform in 8 branches of art (singing, folkdance, standard-, latin- and modern dance, reciting prose and poetry, acting, pupperty and music) and an arts and crafts and fine arts exhibition is connected to the performances.

We organize our national festivals every year and our international festivals every second year. The programme lasts 4-5 days. Its opening parade, its theatrical and open-air performances and all its accompanying events are tools, by which we try to be present in the cultural life of the host city and to make the society acquainted with the world of the disabled people and to have it accepted.


The arts and crafts and fine arts camps organized since 1993 provide an opportunity for the mentally disabled artists and their pedagogues to acquire the basics and to broaden their knowledge. The camp offers a great variety of workshops, such as painting and drawing, woodcarving, basket weaving, making objects of cornhusks, weaving and embroidering, pottery and ceramics, leatherwork, felting, threading of beads, patchwork, paper- and batik work. 140-160 young people take part in the workshops of the camp every year, in the latest years groups arrived even from Albany, Denmark, Slovakia and France.

We organized the first colour music camp in 2002 for those music teachers and educators who were interested in new teaching methods and for those mentally disabled people who had already dealt, or were eager to deal with music. In the camp, beside the exchange of experiences and the acquisition of the colour music notation system the participants formed the National Colour Music Orchestra, which has 70-75 mentally disabled members from 18-20 music workshops. These music camps provide an opportunity for any other music workshops to get acquainted with and practise this unique music method and to join the National Colour Music Orchestra.


The special professional training has been organized annually in Eger since 1994. It offered gradually more and more courses, the trainings in music, in folkdance and in acting were first completed with a standard-, latin- and modern dance course, then with puppetry and with handicraft. 40-50 pedagogues participate in the training every year, where experienced artists help them to learn the special techniques and the fundamental methods of certain branches of art. The aim is, that the pedagogues become not only simple demonstrators but artists with original thinking.


It indicates the recognition of the Association, that as a result of a series of negotiations started in 1998, the European partner-organizations authorized the Association to take a coordinating and implementing role in keeping contact among the special workshops, organizing international programs and establishing the fundamentals of network cooperation. International meetings and professional conferences give opportunity for the exchange of experience in the frame of cooperation first with Danish, Austrian, Belgian, later with French, Portugese and Slovak workshops.


Besides preserving the traditions, the Association is open to new initiatives, such as the sand sculpting festival, which aims the resourceful creative work, or as the open-door workshop in Eger, which aims the occupation of mentally disabled people living with their families, or as a national orchestra of mentally disabled people and a national integrated theatre.

Last modification: Sze 22 ápr. 2020




Magyar Speciális Művészeti Műhely Egyesület
3300, Eger, Széchenyi u. 40.
Adószám: 18571970-1-10
Bankszámlaszám: 11739009-20118587
Tel: 36-36-530-598, Fax: 36-36-530-599
Email: msmme@t-online.hu