Staff of unused Istanbul cultural center ‘uneasy’ about receiving salaries

Staff of unused Istanbul cultural center ‘uneasy’ about receiving salaries

Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
Staff of unused Istanbul cultural center ‘uneasy’ about receiving salaries

The staff of the Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM), a currently unused facility in the heart of Istanbul, soon to be replaced by a cultural complex, have complained to authorities that they are “uneasy” about still receiving their salaries, despite not having done work for years since the close of the cultural center.

Located in Taksim Square in Beyoğlu, the iconic Atatürk Cultural Center has not been used since May 16, 2008, when a final concert was performed by the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra. Last year, daily Hürriyet’s report titled “directors of the empty building” brought to light that a total of 58 personnel were still registered as employees of the unused facility. Since then, authorities have relocated four department managers, also reducing the number of security personnel from 25 to 21 and the number of cleaning staff from 11 to 10.

The staff of the unusued facility had recently taken the issue to the Turkish Prime Ministry’s Information Center (BİMER)—to which complaints about public agencies can be made. Following the staff’s application, the Culture and Tourism Ministry assigned an inspector to investigate the case, but the inspector’s report on the issue did not lead to changes.

Afterwards, the staff applied to the Communications Center of the Presidency (CİMER) with a letter of complaint.

“In the AKM, there are 16 civil servants as well as 21 security and 10 cleaning personnel. Everyone sits around the whole day. The office allocated for the use of department managers has been given to the cleaning staff, who use it as a study room,” read the letter.

The letter also said the official car allocated for the use AKM-related businesses was being utilized for “private affairs.” The personnel’s letter also claimed that in the last year and a half, 3,000 liters of gasoline had been used by the official car in question, which should not have been the case under normal circumstances as the facility was closed to any activities. The staff are now expecting an answer to be returned to them regarding their letter.

Meanwhile, demolition works at the AKM began on Feb. 13 to replace the center with a cultural complex that will include an opera house, an exhibition center and other facilities.

The new building will consist of a cultural center overlooking Taksim Square and Gezi Park. The opera house within the premises of the new building will host up to 2,500 people.

The new building to replace the AKM will also have theater, cinema and concert halls, an exhibition center, a convention hall, a library, a museum, an art gallery, cafés and restaurants. 

The total size of the center will increase from 5,794 square meters to 35,206 square meters.