My research investigates how the Orbán government’s cultural policy reforms are transforming the domain of cultural production into a battleground where both support for rightwing populism and opposition to it are mobilized. This project focuses on independent theater whose funding the Orbán government reduced by 75 percent beginning in 2010 when Orbán Viktor’s party, Fidesz, won two-thirds majority in the parliament. Proposing that rightwing populism is not only a political and economic program but also a cultural project, my study connects two sites of research. On the one hand, it examines why and how the Orbán government anchors its cultural policy to cultural essentialism. On the other hand, it investigates how the government’s political strategy of defunding catalyzed the transformation of particular domains of cultural production, such as independent theater, into new sites of opposition to rightwing populism.