Oh, To Be In Istanbul In 2012

A Trailblazer in the İstanbul arts communıty, The İstanbul foundatıon for culture and arts (iksv) İs celebrating its 40th anniversary this year in a spate of special events and commissioned works. Bülent Eczacıbaşı, the foundation’s board chairman since february 2010, gave us the details.

What are the 40th anniversary events that are planned for 2012?

Here at İKSV we are beginning to shape our future by assessing our past on our 40th anniversary. The past forty years are helpful in determining the task ahead. The İKSV, we say, should maintain the position of leadership it has held up to now by turning to new areas that can enrich culture and the arts in Istanbul. The Foundation is celebrating its 40th anniversary in a number of special events. One of them is a world premiere presentation by La Fura dels Baus, which will take place on the anniversary of the Istanbul Festival.  A Catalan street art and theatrical group, La Fura dels Baus is putting together a special production about Istanbul for İKSV. Another major event is the İKSV’s Special 40th Anniversary Concert to be given in September by the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle. Praised round the world, our own highly acclaimed young artists, Efe and Fora Baltacıgil, will perform as soloists in the concert.  We are also preparing a book, to be published in June, in which the 40-year history of the İKSV will be told by all those whose efforts have gone into it.

What’s in store in 2012 in terms of festivals?

Our 2012 events will kick off with the Istanbul Film Festival, March 31 to April 15. We have created a special section of the festival for the Year of China, which will be celebrated in Turkey throughout the year. Later, May 10 to 30, there’s the Istanbul Theater Festival. And in June we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Istanbul Music Festival. Giya Kançeli and Fazıl Say have been commissioned to compose special works, which will have their world premieres at the festival. The Istanbul Jazz Festival in July will host the premiere of another commissioned work. Then, in September, we are holding the 7th Leyla Gençer Voice Competition, and in October the 11th Filmekimi. The Istanbul Design Biennial runs from October 13 to December 12. In addition, 2012 also marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Holland so we are planning special concerts and shows in honor of that as well.

Why is it important to commission new works?

We place a lot of importance on commissioning works because they have a concrete and lasting impact in the long run. The Istanbul Theater Festival has realized joint productions in the past. The Istanbul Music Festival intensified its efforts in this area through works commissioned last year to İlhan Usmanbaş and Turgut Pöğün. The works commissioned this year to La Fura dels Baus and to Giya Kançeli and Fazıl Say, the leading classical music composers of our day, for İKSV’s 40th anniversary are important from this angle as well. For the first time this year the Istanbul Jazz Festival is also commissioning a work to an internationally successful musician/composer, which will be premiered at the festival with the participation of musicians from Turkey. Added to world culture under the auspices of the İKSV, these works will be played in the future in various cities around the world, where they will make an impression on numerous music lovers without being bound by any particular time or place. We are happy about that.

The first Design Biennial is to be held this year. This is a brand new experience both for Istanbul and for the Foundation. What are your dreams and expectations?

We want to consider design as an element of culture by bringing together different and critical angles. The Istanbul Design Biennial is going to be the largest scale event in its field in Turkey. It will stress the positive impact of design on economic development, social progress, cultural interaction and the life quality of individuals, as well as sharing the potential in our city with the rest of the world.

The İKSV aspires to play an active role in formulating arts and culture policy. Why is the development of cultural policies important to you? Is formulating cultural policy the business of the government, or of civil society?

Practically speaking, developing and implementing cultural policies is the responsibility of the government. But, as in every field, considerable responsibility falls on civil society  in this area as well. We are engaged in an effort to develop cultural policy by bringing together public sector officials and members of civil society at the discussion meetings we host. We are trying to assist in formulating cultural policy through the reports we compile. The Istanbul Foundation of Culture and Arts has never been an institution that only organizes festivals. İKSV is an institution that works to enrich the life of art and culture in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey, an institution that was founded and is sustained by people who believe that culture and the arts occupy a big place in the development and progress of a country and who regard it as their responsibility to work in that area. We too are entering  a more active period in the area of cultural policy by taking that responsibility one step further.

Does the İKSV’s new vision include items such as preserving traditional arts like calligraphy, illumination and the miniature and reinterpreting them from a contemporary point of view so that they will be featured more often in festivals and other events?

To carry out projects in the traditional arts in the period ahead, we are currently engaged in efforts to see how we can approach the subject so as to get more positive results. We plan to hold a symposium in 2012 to reassess the subject from a broader angle.

About İKSV
A not-for-profit, non-governmental organization, İKSV was founded by 17 art lovers and businessmen led by Dr Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı in 1973 for the purpose of organizing international art and music festivals in Istanbul. Following Dr. Eczacıbaşı’s death in 1993, Şakir Eczacıbaşı was elected chairman of the foundation’s board. He was succeeded by Bülent Eczacıbaşı in February of 2010.

Notes From Previous Years
More than 400,000 people attended the events organized by İKSV in 2011.

With Kevin Spacey in the lead role, Shakespeare’s Richard III, directed by Sam Mendes, was performed in Istanbul in a joint production by the Istanbul City Theaters.    

Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra under conductor Gustavo Dudamel gave a concert in Istanbul.