The scholarship named after the painter and graphic artist Gyula Derkovits has been known simply as the “Derkó” by artists for decades. Artists under the age of 35 can apply, and an applicant may win the scholarship for a maximum of three consecutive years. The amount of the scholarship grant has doubled in 2019 relative to previous years, and now amounts to gross sum of HUF 200,000 per month. The applicants’ works are assessed by an independent judging panel invited by the Ministry of Human Capacities. The panel awards scholarships to 26 artists every year, often after much debate and some extremely tough decisions. The judges have to choose between almost 200 applicants whose careers show promise, or whose bold experimentation and innovative ideas deserve support. The application procedure is managed by MANK Nonprofit Kft, an organisation dedicated to supporting creative artists.
The main mission of the scholarship, which was established in 1955, is to assist young artists who are just starting out on their careers, by providing financial support for their living expenses so that they are free to concentrate on the creative process. Besides this, winning a Derkó carries a great deal of prestige as the first state accolade in the artist’s career, potentially serving as a ‘stage pass’ to the higher echelons of the art scene. The scholarship brings responsibility, both for the judges awarding it and the artists receiving it. The young artists need to make the the most of their “Derkó” year(s), building up the strength of purpose that they need in order to persevere and continue evolving as artists in the years ahead of them. “Derkó scholars” may also be of particular interest to art writers, gallery owners and art collectors.
The exhibition held at Kunsthalle Budapest after the judging has functioned as an important forum for presenting the works of fresh Derkó Scholars for many years now. It showcases a small selection of each artists’ work, which in itself can lead to exciting new opportunities such as invitations to participate in group or solo exhibitions. The opening ceremony is also a reception for the next cohort of artists who have won the scholarship.