President of the 36th session of the General Conference

© UNESCO
Katalin Bogyay, Hungary’s Ambassador to UNESCO

Katalin Bogyay - Diplomat, television broadcaster, writer

She obtained both her Economics Degree (1978) and her Diploma in Journalism (1981) in Budapest. She also holds an MA of Arts in International Communications (1994) from the University of Westminster, London and read Counselling (1995) at the Westminster Pastoral Foundation in London.

As a regular contributor to various cultural publications, she has been writing music, theatre and art reviews since 1979. For ten years she worked for the Hungarian Television as a TV presenter and producer in the Evening News Programme and also in the Arts and Culture section. Her work included shooting documentaries in various countries worldwide, featuring celebrities, thinkers, artists such as writer Arthur Koestler, writer George Mikes, poet Győző Határ, violinist

and conductor Lord Yehudi Menuhin, conductor Sir Georg Solti, scientist and writer Desmond Morris, broadcaster David Attenborough, actor Margit Dajka, actor Teri Horváth, viola player Rivka Golani, writer Malcolm Bradbury, Chief Rabbi József Schweitzer, poet Ágnes Gergely, Chief Rabbi Ödön Singer, mathematician Béla Bollobás, arts collector  Edmund de Unger, pianist and conductor Tamas Vasari, singing teacher Vera Rózsa, artist Hamar Lehel Ürményi to name a few. Her interviewees include Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Leonard Berstein,  Klaus Maria Brandauer, Montserrat Caballé, José Carreras, Sir Peter Ustinov, Jane Goodall , Nadime Gordimer, Susannah York, Janet Suzmann, Jeremy Irons, Edward Fox ,just to name a few. She also hosted various gala concerts and entertainment programmes all over the world.

She worked as a senior correspondent for exclusive media coverage during the first visit ever of a Pope to Hungary, namely by Pope John Paul II. A mastermind behind TV shows such as “Utódok reménysége” (Hope for the descendants), a first TV programme introducing Jewish religion and culture, “Bogyay Katalin és vendégei” (Katalin Bogyay and her guests), a chat show focusing on intercultural dialogue and various intellectual hotspots worldwide, “Írók a’ la Carte” (Writers à la carte), a series of talk shows on literature, “Meghívó nélkül” (Invitation not required), the first cultural programme of its kind offering highlights of Hungary's social and cultural life in the transformation period, and “Eltűnt írók nyomában” (Remembrance of writers past), a series of documentaries highlighting the artistic achievement of individual authors in political emigration. Following the political transition in 1990 she was the first television journalist to have been offered a scholarship at the BBC by the British Government, known as the Know How Fund. Following that, a scholarship offered by Austria's Foreign Ministry made it possible for her to go to ORF, an Austrian television channel. Between 1993 and 1994 she studied International Communications in London, as a  Chevening Scholar and Fellow, with another grant offered to foreign students by the British Government.

She lived in London for 13 years. During the 1990s she was involved in various programmes ranging from work for the BBC as an independent producer (5 Live, Europe Direct, Radio 3, the Michael Palin Show), the European Business News television (EBN) and Global Vision Network (GVN), a multimedia studio and corresponding to MTV-Hungary, Duna-Hungarian TV. She worked for Mayer Lismann Opera Studio, a London-based international opera company, and the International Budapest Club. From 1997 she organised British-Hungarian cultural soirées at the Café Royal in London. She was also involved in various projects in Europe and the United States.

In 1999 she became a diplomat and began working for the Hungarian Ministry for Culture. As Director she opened the Hungarian Cultural Centre in 1999 in the heart of London's Covent Garden. The Centre was uniquely and recognizably successful in putting Hungary on the cultural map of the United Kingdom. It has become a culture space where thoughts, religions, cultures met from different parts of the world. To mark Hungary's entrance into the EU in 2004, Ms Bogyay masterminded Magyar Magic, a seventeen-month-long festival celebrating Hungarian talent throughout Britain under the dual patronage of Her Majesty the Queen and the President of the Republic of Hungary. She gave a platform to over two thousand Hungarian and British artists in a cross cultural bridge-building exercise and organized more than five hundred events with more than 300 British partner organizations just in that period. The audience for these in Britain alone topped one million!

Between 2006 and 2009 Katalin Bogyay was State Secretary for International Affairs at the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Between 2007 and 2009 she was the curator of “Liberty and love” a joint Chinese-Hungarian cultural project, “Magyar Masala”, a joint Indian-Hungarian cultural focus, and has prepared the cultural programme series of the Japanese-Hungarian Friendship’s Year - “Only from the clear spring”. She was also spearheading Hungary's participation in a European Union initiative called “European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008”, and the” European Year of Creativity” in 2009.

She is firmly committed to policies such as cross cultural bridge building, the international visibility of cultural collaborations and the strengthening of links between Hungarian talents and the world. In 2005 she was awarded the Knight's Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary for her achievements in international culture. As a specialist of the new cultural space, she was invited in 2007 by the London School of Economics and the Financial Times Business into a new publication titled The future of EU, 50+Top Thinkers about Europe. In 2009 she was awarded the Humanitarian Prize, called Aphelandra for her work performed internationally, aimed to advocate the dialogue between peoples and cultures. She was given a Honorary Doctorate (Dlitt) by Glasgow University in 2012 for her contribution in intercultural dialogue.

She was invited to become the Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) in London .She is an honorary member of the London-based Imago-International Psychoanalytical Society. Also, she is a co-founder of the Liszt Academy Network, an initiative backed by The Prince of Wales , which was launched in 2001 at  Kensington Palace. She recited the Prologue of Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle on several occasions, first in 2002 at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, directed by Willy Decker, then in 2004 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London and in the Welsh National Opera Production in 2007.

She has been invited as key-note and after dinner speaker and a lecturer on cultural diplomacy and cultural identities all over the world.

She has published several books: a biography on actress Margit Dajka (1989) as well as another biographical work on János Pilinszky, a poet (1990). Találkozásaim a nagyvilágban (My encounters around the globe) is a collection of interviews with internationally acclaimed artists and scientists (1996). The Voice of Freedom-A szabadság hangja (2006) is a compilation of interviews on the subject of the 1956 revolution. In 2002 film maker Márta Mészáros made a documentary featuring Katalin Bogyay- “Woman and politics”. In 2010 Hedvig Dvorszky wrote a book about Ms Bogyay’s life: “In the Service of Hungarian Culture“.

Her husband is a lawyer in Budapest and her son is a lawyer trainee in the City in London.

From September 2009 Ms Bogyay continues her work in Paris as Hungary’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.

Between 1998 and 1999, as a London based television producer she took part in UNESCO’s international communication campaign for the World Conference on Science held in Budapest for the first time. As State Secretary for Culture and Education (2006-2009) she has worked on all  UNESCO related topics of the country and with Hungary’s National Commission of UNESCO. At the UNESCO General Conference in 2007 she acted as one of the Vice Chairs of the Cultural Committee. In 2009 in the 35th General Conference of UNESCO she acted as one of the Vice Presidents. In 2009 she was invited to present the Regional Report in Confintea VI. Conference in Brazil. In the 2nd half of 2010 Ms Bogyay was the President of the Electoral Group II. In 2011 she is representing the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union in the EU Group.

 

Back to top