Turkey lags far behind in spending on culture, arts

Turkey lags far behind in spending on culture, arts

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey lags far behind in spending on culture, arts

The Orchestra of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino performs in Istanbul on Dec 7 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. AA photo

Turkey’s public sector fails to lend enough support to culture and arts, lagging behind many developed Western countries, according to Bülent Eczacıbaşı, chairman of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV).

The culture and arts foundation generates 70 million Turkish Liras and produces some 6.2 million liras in taxes with a mere 2 million liras of public support, Eczacıbaşı told a group of journalists he hosted at a breakfast.

Referring to the government’s assertive goals for 2023, the 100th anniversary of the modern republic, Eczacıbaşı said the country has failed so far to include cultural targets.

Not a privilege for rich

“Culture spending is not a luxury for rich countries, but something necessary to become rich,” he said, noting that the benefits of cultural activities were not limited to quantifiable ones and they inspired the economy and backed the international promotion of countries.

The country’s strong team of cultural institutions lacks its playmaker, the public sector, in a bid to qualify itself to a global league, said Eczacıbaşı, quoting figures from a recent report, the Economic Affects Research, conducted by the İKSV.

The ratio of culture spending to the national income in developed countries differed between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent, while this figure stood at only 0.1 percent in Turkey, the report said.
Direct culture spending in Turkey in 2010 per capita is at 10 euros in Turkey, way below Germany’s 101 euros or France’s 197 euros. This figure doubles to 20 euros in Istanbul, the heart of culture and arts in the country, when 2009 figures are considered. The average in European cities with populations over 1 million is 58 euros.

Profitable investment

Investing in culture and arts is profitable for the state once the required infrastructure is completed, said Ahmet Kocabıyık, the vice chairman of the İKSV.

More than 400,000 people attended İKSV activities in 2011, as the organizer of the city’s leading film festival, biennale, music, jazz and theater festivals along with many other events was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Some 10,000 of the participants were foreigners, the İKSV said.

The attendees at these events generated 17.3 million liras when the ticket prices were excluded. The sum of direct and indirect spending due to these events piled up to 38.3 million liras, the report said, claiming an annual additional gross domestic output of 70 million liras when the multiplier effect of 31.7 million liras is added.

The taxes on these activities more than triples the 2 million liras the public sector granted to the foundation, it said. “The public sector has gained back more than its financial support with tax revenues,” it said.

The İKSV calls for urgent action to boost culture spending in the country. A call for a budget share of 1 percent, up from the current 0.5 percent, is an initial suggestion.
Tax cuts for culture sponsorships, steady revenues such as a share from the national lottery and value added tax eases on purchases by nonprofit cultural associations and foundations are some of the other suggested measures.