Takover of artistic authority by Turkish municipal governments?

Posted by Administrator (wb_admin) on 08/05/2012
2011-13 >> Europe&USA&Canada

Dear Friends,

Currently, the Turkish Government has passed a law through which they will have direct control over the Istanbul City Theatre.
The plays will be selected by Government appointed bureaucrats - any bureaucrat - meaning they would not need to have nay qualifications that would qualify them as theatre makers. The actors from the company would also be selected by these bureaucrats.
We have protested this unacceptable interference to no avail. We will continue to do so.

For some time now, there have been articles in the right wing (Islamic Fundamentalist) press calling for the creation of a "conservative culture". We reject this on the grounds that a culture cannot be created, a culture simply is. Otherwise, it is propaganda and censorship. The plays not only staged at The City Theatre but the National and independent theatres have also been criticized as being inappropriate - meaning lewd or politically critical of the government.
This is the reason for this new law. It is the government's way of putting an end to the degeneration.

We say, artistically, the theatres are and should be independent of governmental interference. The Artistic Director of the Istanbul Theatre and her board have already resigned. Sadly, there is talk of the tearing down of the Istanbul Modern Arts Museum as well... This seems like the first step in full governmental control over the arts in Turkey.

Please help us by spreading the word in your own countries. Please tell everyone so that people know that this is what it's come to in Turkey.

I'm off to the protest tomorrow, wish me luck, let's see what the Turkish police will have to say to us tomorrow at the march.

My Best Wishes To You All,




Dear Thomas Engel,
The divergence of views concerning subsidized theatres in Turkey (not just municipal institutions, but much more importantly the State Theatre) is not new. Arguments have been raging for years about so-called "automatic teller machine" actors -- those with civic servant status who never appear on any stage but regularly draw their legally guaranteed monthly salaries from bank machines. Private theatres have been complaining about unfair competition (their ticket prices have to be disproportionately higher than those of the subsidized groups). There has also been friction among actors of the latter, some of them asking why hardworking and talented people should be forever paid the same wages as the non-working and the useless. The basic reality of the general theatre scene in Turkey is that it is extremely lopsided, with the subsidized sector outweighing the private part unnaturally. Everybody agrees that a reform was long overdue. The important thing now is to ensure a) continuance of the necessary extent of official financial support for theatre, b) total artistic non-interference by authorities, c) protection of the acquired legal rights of all involved. The Turkish Centre of the ITI will be actively involved in the transition process, and will do its best to assist all sides ın realizing those ends.
Thank you very much for your interest.
Refik Erduran
Turkish IETM member Contemporary Utopia Management






The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to withdraw state support from the country's theatres after his daughter said she was insulted by an actor during a play: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/17/recep-tayyip-erdogan-theatre-daughter

Turkish Prime Minister’s bid to privatize theaters stirs uproar: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-prime-ministers-bid-to-privatize-theaters-stirs-uproar.aspx?pageID=238&nID=19577&NewsCatID=384

Last changed: 21/05/2012 at 13:03

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