Istanbul’s new cultural complex to be opened in two years
“We will complete [construction of] the Istanbul Ataturk Cultural Center in a short period of time, some two years, and we will put it in the service of artists and culture lovers,” he said in a speech during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new center in Taksim Square.
The new center, representing an investment of 850 million Turkish liras ($162 million), will have five separate sections spanning over 95,000 square meters, according to Erdoğan’s remarks.
The complex overlooking Taksim Square and Gezi Park will replace the landmark Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) building which was demolished last year.
It will include an opera house, theater, cinema and concert halls, an exhibition center, a convention hall, a library, a museum, an art gallery, cafes and restaurants.
Erdoğan recalled the opponents of the proposed construction, saying that he had to “struggle” to carry on the project.
“Those circles who saw the old building as a symbol of their marginal ideology spent all the energy to obstruct the project starting from the first day. They tried to sabotage the project by asserting accusations, unlogical and unconscionable slanders, and when they were not successful, by inciting street movements. During the slander campaign starting from 2007, they alleged that we would build a shopping mall or a mosque on the location of the AKM, or we would change its name,” he said.
“Istanbul Atatürk Cultural Center will be a monument of victory against the Jakobin mindset at loggerheads with the naiton’s values, beliefs, history and culture,” he added.
At the end of his speech Erdoğan invited the representatives of the contractor companies to get promise to finish the construction works in 20 months.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also announced that a giant library will be opened in Istanbul’s Rami neighborhood in the district of Eyüpsultan. The historical Rami Artillery Barracks will be converted into the country’s biggest library containing 6 million books, according to his remarks.
Erdoğan added that Turkey would no longer impose VAT on books, magazines, or newspapers, saying: “Thus, we will provide a strong support for publishers who have been disadvantaged by the digitalization trends.”
The draft law to lift the VAT on books and periodical publications is expected to be brought in parliament in a week.
The number cultural centers in Turkey have risen to 115 from 42 in the last 17 years, and the number of State Theater stages reached 65 with an increase of 42, Erdoğan also said.
“No one, no sector will be able to condemn our country to mediocre art and culture any longer,” added.