Right to participate in cultural life

Right to participate in cultural life

According to IPSOS’ survey “Guide to Understanding Turkey,” people in Turkey do not spare time for arts and culture, TV is their only source of information and entertainment. 

One third of the society never listens to radio or read newspapers, half of them do not read books and do not go to the movies, 96 percent of them do not go to opera or ballet shows, 80 percent do not go to theaters, and 75 percent do not go to concerts.  

In a society so foreign to culture and arts, especially in the today’s world, where after the digital revolution, innovation is put at the center, how does one become a player?

Can one even become a player? 

For innovation, one needs creativity; for creativity, one needs creative brains. 

Today at workplaces, those who have different points of views and who can think flexibly are the ones who stand out. These are indispensable skills for the professions of the future. 

Exactly for this reason, almost all OECD countries are adding creativity, innovation and other essential 21st century skills to their curricula alongside the standard courses.  

Equal access to cultural life should not only be the issue of a group, but should be granted to everybody. 
Not only those who can afford it, but all young people should have access to culture and arts. 

Young people should be able to watch a play, see a dance show, should be able to go to concerts and museums so that they can overcome their prejudices and develop their critical skills. Creative subjects positively affect development and success. Visual arts support writing skills and makes one’s reading and comprehension skills better. 

Music helps in reasoning and understanding math. You may have recognized that these are the fields where we fail in PISA tests. 

There are numerous advantages of art and music for poor and disadvantaged young people. However, it is them who have difficulties the most in accessing arts. 

As a matter of fact, for creativity and innovation to prosper in a country, it is not enough for only privileged segments of the society to have good education and join the cultural life, but all segments should participate. 

It is the right of all young people to have access to all branches of art and obtain several skills through this.  
Creative generations are not only needed for economic reasons. To become a vibrant, self-expressing, questioning society, people should be in cultural life from a very young age. 

Last year, the Italian government allocated 290 million euros to be divided among all 18-years-old to participate in cultural life. Some 575,000 young people are able to spend 500 euros each of “cultural bonus” for theaters, concerts, museum tickets, cultural trips or books. 

In Turkey, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will grant cards worth 250 Turkish Liras each to 1000 university students between the ages 18 and 25 to be used in all activities of the foundation. 

Applications for this project, which is supported by the Eczacıbaşı Group, will be done between Jan. 23 and Feb. 11 on binuniversiteliaraniyor.com 

I wish, like Italy, the relevant ministry in Turkey would spread this practice for all the young people in the country for all cultural institutions. 

I wish all young people could go to a couple of exhibitions, concerts, plays and visit bookstores a couple of times every year. 

In 2016, Turkey spared a budget of $12.7 billion for defense, while the budget of the Culture Ministry was 3.5 billion liras. 

Can this budget not be increased, at least, to cover a young person’s participation in cultural life?