It’s Good We Are Doing This!

IKSV, WHICH CONTRIBUTES IMPORTANTLY TO ART AND CULTURE IN ISTANBUL, HAS FORTY EXCITING YEARS BEHIND IT. THE FOUNDATION’S PRESIDENT, GÖRGÜN TANER, LOOKED BACK AT THOSE FORTY YEARS FOR SKYLIFE READERS.

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) the first organized Istanbul Festival in a program that ran from June 21 to July 15. The first festival was mounted in 1973 with classical music concerts and opera, dance and theater performances as well as traditional arts such as folklore and the Janissary band.

As we were putting together this year’s 40th Istanbul Music Festival, we also celebrated the Foundation’s 40th year, because festivals, unlike people, are, as we see it, are a year old when they are born! During the process, the age and number of festivals increased. But their meaning for those who work to realize them has never changed since their inception: boundless enthusiasm and a pleasant flurry of excitement that makes you say at the end of a year of imagining, designing, planning, adapting, putting people in their place, and a feverish hustle and bustle and process of coordination, “It’s good we’re doing this!”

NOT WHAT I’VE BECOME, BUT WHAT I AM GOING TO BE
We always take pains to develop original and creative content in our festivals, and we strive to make the foundation a civil society organization that gives direction to culture and the arts in Istanbul and all of Turkey. From the beginning, the Foundation has placed importance on artists from Turkey and abroad engaging together in artistic productions, sharing their experiences and enriching their knowledge through dialogue and has expended efforts to give artists that opportunity. What’s more, it has never asked, “What have I become?”, but rather “What am I going to be?”, but has created even more challenging conditions for itself (but of course challenges it is capable of meeting!) in order to achieve something different, more successful and even better.

Since 2010 the Foundation has been undergoing a transformation. Preserving the level of quality we have already attained in organizing our events, we are seeking ways of contributing to the cumulative culture of Turkey and the world, of providing opportunities for young artists and art lovers, and of opening up new avenues in the cultural life of Istanbul. The works we have commissioned, our BitamBiÖðrenci project, our efforts in the area of cultural policy, the Aydın Gün Motivational Award that we are going to give to a young artist working in the field of opera or classical music starting next year, and the Istanbul Design Biennial, the second of which we are holding this year, are the embodiment of those dreams of ours.
By December we had left behind four festivals at which we welcomed audiences in excess of 255,000 at 522 showings where more than 200 films were screened, over 100 performances by more than 45 theater and dance ensembles, and upwards of 70 concerts of classical and contemporary music performed by 1,000-plus musicians. We enabled close to 5,500 young people to take part in the Foundation’s events through our BitamBiöðrenci project. We celebrated our 40th anniversary together with nine thousand Istanbulites in the Istanbul Istanbul project we commissioned to La Fura Dels Baus. During the season we opened our doors to art lovers in over 150 events at the Salon. We organized events in celebration of Chinese Culture Year in Turkey and the 400th anniversary of Turkey-Holland diplomatic relations. We held panel discussions and compiled reports as part of our cultural policy development efforts. And now, having left behind seven full months, we are looking forward with anticipation to the five months still to come.

THE BERLIN PHILHARMONIC AT THE 40TH YEAR CONCERT
At the end of September we are mounting the second major celebratory event organized for the Foundation’s 40th anniversary: the IKSV 40th Year Concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and young Turkish artists Efe and Fora Baltacýgil as soloists.

And of course, the Istanbul Design Biennial! This new event, which we started working on in 2010, will take place October 13 to December 12, curated by Emre Arolat and Joseph Grima, on the theme Imperfection, which was proposed by Deyan Sudjic, Director of Design Museum London and a member of the Istanbul Design Biennial’s Advisory Board. The exhibitions, take place at Istanbul Modern and the Galata Private Greek Primary School.

As I was enumerating the Foundation’s events for this article, I seem to have filled up the space allotted to me! Nevertheless, let me close with an expression of gratitude and an invitation: Thank you to our sponsors with whose contributions we realize our events, and to our artists and audiences for their support, and an invitation to all art lovers who happen to pass through Istanbul… We’ll be expecting you!

Starting out with a staff of four and organizing a single festival in 1973, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts in 40 years has become an institution that organizes five international festivals and two biennials a year and currently employs a staff of 79.

While the 1st Istanbul Festival, held in 1973, ran for 25 days, the events organized by the Foundation in 2011 were spread over 207 days of the year.

The Foundation has received support from 748 companies and organizations in its 40 years.

The Foundation has presented Honorary Awards to 97 artists and Lifetime Achievement Awards to 45 artists from Turkey and the world in its 40 years.

The budget of the 1st Istanbul Festival in 1973 was 8 million Turkish liras. (If you consider that a dollar was worth 14 liras at the time, this makes a total budget of 571,428 dollars.) The Foundation’s budget for 2011 is TL 29,879,814 (approximately 17 million dollars).