Is Tekirdağ the most art-loving city?
Daily Hürriyet has been publishing articles about the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, as a large group of journalists visited the city last week. I also wrote about Kayseri and among the e-mails I received, two were meaningful. One of the e-mails had asked why Kayseri, whose population of 48 percent consisted of Armenians and Greeks until the year 1910, had lost its multiculturalism. The other was penned by Turkish actor Göksel Arsoy, known as the film industry’s “golden boy” in the 1960s.
Kayseri-born Arsoy pointed out that Kayseri Mayor Mustafa Çelik had not mentioned anything about the province’s arts and artists while hosting us.
Arsoy, whose second edition of his book “Göksel Arsoy the Golden Boy” will soon be printed, is not in the wrong.
Isn’t the most important part of a city’s identity its culture, enthusiasm for art and artists? The western province of Tekirdağ, for example, is very ambitious regarding this issue.
I came across the famous pianist Gülsin Onay the other day while meeting with the Tekirdağ Süleymanpaşa District Mayor Ekrem Eşkinat in his office.
For the last three years, Eşkinat has been organizing “Gülsin Onay Piano Days.” The mayor has been hosting Turkey’s leading pianists and foreign artists during this festival. Every corner of his office and the municipality building are full of paintings.
Eşkinat, also a good collector himself, is very happy about this situation.
Artists participating in the International Stone Sculpture Symposium donate their artwork to Tekirdağ and then go back home.
Tekirdağ Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Albayrak said that thanks to artistic activities organized by Eşkinat in the last four years, Tekirdağ’s name has even reached Europe.
Sculptures made at this year’s Third Bisanthe Symposium using good old marbles from Marmara Island are now at the municipality building and the city’s parks. Wherever you turn your head, you come across a sculpture. The Bisanthe Chamber Music Festival also hosts foreign artists from abroad.
Bisanthe is one of the old names of Tekirdağ mentioned in the Histories of Herodotus.
Also, international chess tournaments, sailing and bicycle competitions are organized with the name “Rodosto,” another historical name for Tekirdağ. Some 233 sailors had attended the last sailing competition.
Along with Eşkinat, I have visited social activity centers where Roma-origin children receive education in music, painting, dance, chess, instrument maintenance and repair in the Aydoğdu neighborhood where citizens mostly of Roma-origin live. The Aydoğdu Social Activity Center where 73 children receive education has been very good for kids of Roma-origin who cannot benefit enough from the state’s social policies and are sometimes excluded from society. So, leaving art and social activities to one side, what is the city’s economic vision?
Ekrem Eşkinat says “the target is a smogless development” during our visit to the immense Barbare Vineyards at which we stopped by after visiting the city center. This is a development model that is based on agriculture, viticulture and tourism, where factory chimneys do not give out smoke.
“In the beginning of the 1900s, there were 400,000 decares of vineyards in Tekirdağ. About 100,000 tons of unbottled wine were being exported to France in those years. In the 1980s on the other hand, the city was left with only 80,000 decares of vineyards,” Eşkinat said.
“The basic parameters of this region’s development have to be viticulture and winemaking because it is an agricultural zone,” he added.
You know the famous valleys of Tuscany, Italy, which people insist are “beautiful” at every chance? The endless view I see from the Barbare Vineyard is certainly more beautiful than that place.