Draft for Turkish Art Institution raises concerns

Draft for Turkish Art Institution raises concerns

The Turkish Art Institution (TÜSAK) is a draft law that will close down the State Theaters, State Opera and Ballet and State Symphony Orchestras. The resolution about TÜSAK explains which projects it will support and how in clauses 9 and 10. According to this, the institution, in the process of evaluation and support of projects, will decide on these within the framework of the principles of contributing: a) Development, promotion and extension of theater, music, opera, ballet, dance, folkloric dance, adaptations, other visual and audial performing arts, plastic arts and traditional arts; b) To create a nationwide contemporary, productive and effective communication environment where the activities and products of art can be enjoyed by every segment of the society. C) To enrich and protect our culture and art life and heritage.”

What is the funding provided to the applicants to TÜSAK? According to clause number 10, “The amount of support agreed upon by the council cannot exceed 50 percent of the costs determined in the project. But the council is authorized to increase or decrease this rate depending on the characteristics of the project or the branch of art.”

The art environment in Turkey, especially in Istanbul, is accustomed to this kind of a funding since the year 2010, when Istanbul was the European Culture Capital. Is it possible not to remember what kind of heated debates and abuse accusations this method of funding caused at that time? Let’s see how the fact that the entire country’s art projects are to be evaluated by a council of 11 people appointed by the Cabinet brings peace to the country’s culture and art world?

In subsection 7 of clause 10, based on the TÜSAK law, metropolitan cities, municipalities of provinces and provincial special administrations are authorized to support art projects. We understand that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government wants to apply the decentralized system of the Arts Council of Great Britain when they formed local councils everywhere in the country to here by authorizing local governments.

Who will TÜSAK support? Those who have written opera, ballet, dance, theater and instrumental pieces and those who will stage and perform these pieces; those who will manage concerts, theaters and art galleries; those who will train, research, publish and broadcast, without any commercial purposes, and those who train artists will be able to apply to TÜSAK for support funds.

Maybe the least controversial aspect of the draft law is the 13th clause, which indicates that the council will provide “gifted and talented children and young people who are candidates to become artists, support for national and international education, if the need arises, support for instruments and material.”

Those articles of the resolution, which closely interests the personnel who work according to the Civil Servants Law No. 657, are collected at additional provisional clause number 16. With this clause, civil servants who are qualified to retire will be made to retire with up to 60 percent premiums. Those contracted personnel with the title “artist civil servant” who are hired at state theaters and state opera and ballet will be transferred to Culture and Tourism Ministry, keeping their positions. These personnel will be allowed to work in art activities and form choruses, groups and orchestras and work on projects to be submitted to TÜSAK.

Also, among the same personnel who are graduates of conservatories and who have worked for 15 years will be able to be appointed to fine arts departments or relevant departments of conservatories as instructors. The artist civil servants can also apply to TÜSAK to become experts there.

The “general justification” section of the draft can be seen as featuring lack of consistency and weakness of argument. It remains to be seen how the performing arts community will react to these serious developments.

Serhan Bali is a columnist for daily Radikal, in which this piece was published on June 18. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.