İKSV volunteers work to save Emek cinema from demolition
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Emek Movie Theater was an indispensable venue for IKSV’s Istanbul Film Festival.The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) yesterday proposed to develop a project that will restore Emek Movie Theater in an effort to save one of Istanbul’s historic venues from being demolished and replaced by a shopping mall.
“We don’t believe the project in its current form will contribute to Istanbul’s art and cultural life. There is a need for a new solution and as İKSV we are willing to provide that solution,” said Bülent Eczacıbaşı, chairman of İKSV, at a press conference.
“We spent time trying to understand what is being done there and why. We tried to establish dialogue between those who want to do something and those opposing them. We tried to be a platform to provide a transparent information flow. Yet we failed to contribute to a transparent process,” said Eczacıbaşı.
A campaign has been launched by civil society representatives as the trend rises to demolish Istanbul’s historical buildings to replace them by high-profit shopping malls. The building that harbors Emek Movie Theater, an iconic figure of the Turkish art scene, is on İstiklal Avenue, Istanbul’s busiest pedestrian walkway.
“Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay said it will not be demolished and that’s important,” said Eczacıbaşı.
Günay, Beyoğlu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan and the owners and architects of the project have been accused of misinforming the public with vague descriptions of the plans by saying that Emek Theater would not be demolished but moved “upstairs.”
“There should have been an open dialogue. The details should have been shared and constructive criticism should have been taken into account. But the process is not progressing in that direction,” said Eczacıbaşı. “We have limited information but in light of this information we don’t believe that the continuation of the project in its current form will contribute to art and culture.”
“We can provide a solution. Give us time, six months. We can look for a project that can enable Emek Movie Theater to contribute to art and culture, in harmony with Beyoğlu’s fabric, and bring forth a proposal with financial details based on how it can be operationally managed,” he said. He also said they cannot guarantee the project will be financially profitable and all relevant sides should be ready for certain sacrifices for the sake of a significant contribution to Istanbul’s art scene. The Emek Movie Theater building is owned by a public organization.
Eczacıbaşı was relatively more optimistic on the controversy of the Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM), another iconic landmark of Istanbul’s architecture and art scene. The AKM closed its doors for renovation in 2008, and its reopening remains mired in a legal dispute that shows no sign of ending.
Recalling that Günay promised to solve the problem, Eczacıbaşı said the AKM is irreplaceable and the culture and art scene suffers tremendously from the absence of a large venue, as Istanbul hosts some of the world’s most prestigious groups. These groups usually end up performing in congress centers.
“But our mentality has changed. At least now there is a general acceptance that Turkey deserves better,” he said.
While conscious of the Culture Ministry’s efforts to increase its budget and the related challenges, Eczacıbaşı did say very limited public contribution to art and culture was not helping. “This is very peculiar. We are really one of the few countries where the share of public contribution is minimal.”
Ahmet Kocabıyık, Vice Chairman of İKSV, also said infrastructure issues were especially major problems and fixing those went beyond private sector capabilities.
İKSV to celebrate its 40th year
Although İKSV will celebrate its 40th year in 2012, Kocabıyık said next year will be more economically straining than 2011. “This is obvious looking at the increased financing costs. It will become difficult to find sponsorships. In its 40th year, İKSV’s public support should be different; it deserves to be treated differently.”
İKSV will host special events for its 40th anniversary, but the details will not be announced until early next year. Eczacıbaşı said, however, the Istanbul biennial design fair scheduled to take place between October and December next year will be a first for İKSV.