Turkey’s arts and culture sector ‘may become its soft power’

Turkey’s arts and culture sector ‘may become its soft power’

Hatice Utkan Özden
Turkey’s arts and culture sector ‘may become its soft power’

It is a fact that Turkey’s growing arts and culture area may become its most important soft power, according to Ali Güreli, founder and chairman of Contemporary Istanbul.

Speaking at a panel that took place at TTYD (The Turkish Tourism Investors Association) at Raffles Hotel in Istanbul on Jan. 28, Güreli added that the notion of “soft power” is an important asset for all governments in the 21st century in order to develop in terms of economy, hence, he believes, why we need to talk about the perception of arts and culture.

The panel, included speakers Professor Hüsamettin Koçan, founder of Baksı Museum; Erol Tabanca, founder of Odunpazarı Modern Museum in Eskişehir; Görgün Taner, the general director of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) and Melih Fereli, the founder director of Arter Museum. While all panelists discussed how to ameliorate arts and culture and especially contemporary art’s presence in Istanbul and Turkey, the power of fairs, biennials and museums have come to the fore in terms of developing tourism.

According to Koçan, three main things are important in cultural development. These are, he said, geography, which also stands for scene and setting, history and cultural heritage as well as century, which means being in accordance with contemporary culture. “The most important thing is to create harmony between tradition and quality. We need to think twice when we create value in arts. We need to create things that are both contemporary and in harmony with the cultural heritage. That’s what we are doing in Baksı Museum.”

Koçan also added that Baksı Museum is contributing to the people’s lives in the area and this is the best way to develop the power in arts and culture. “Creating a contributing museum is a must and we need to create everything in harmony with the century we are living in.”

City taxes

Speaking about supporting arts and culture events and institutions in Istanbul, Taner said that everything should be standardized. A part of the city taxes should be allocated to arts and culture, and the arts and culture industries may develop with these taxes. “This is how Notre de Dame de Paris has been restored. Everyone is allocating city taxes to the usage of art and culture,” he added.

Another important issue that everyone has agreed on was sustainability. Fereli said it is easy to become the first doer of something in Turkey, but is never easy to sustain this in a successful way. So, what we are trying to do in Arter is to sustain the success and will, he added.

EMITT is one of the top four tourism exhibitions worldwide, annually attracting around 60,000 industry professionals. The event is continuing for three days and hosting important panelists to talk about the tourism sector.