Hungarian performing arts are represented today almost solely by independent artists and companies. My study aims to uncover the historical reasons for this phenomenon, going back to the 1990s. After discussing the variations of the term “independent”, the study gives a historical context of the Hungarian performing arts system after World War II. The prominent figures of independent performing groups of the 1990s had connections with theatre‑making at universities. Despite their peripheral position, these were the groups that first represented Hungarian theatre abroad. Due to the insecurity in financing in Hungary, the independents always tried to nurture international relations carefully, e.g. Péter Halász and Squat Theatre became world‑famous after leaving Hungary. A small studio theatre called Szkéné had a defining role in initiating artists’ careers: Josef Nadj aka Szkipe, Gábor Goda (Artus Company), György Árvay and Yvette Bozsik, Gerzson Péter Kovács (TranzDanz) or Csaba Horváth (Forte Company) all have or had relations with Szkéné. From the dance scene of 1990s, it is necessary to mention Tamás Juronics, Pál Frenák, while among the theatre artists there are László Hudi (Moving House Foundation), Árpád Schilling (Krétakör Theatre) or Béla Pintér (Béla Pintér and Company) as leaders of the most prestigious groups. In the closing sub-chapter of my study, I deal with the financial context of the independent performing scene in the 1990s, setting up a parallel with the present situation.