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IAM Feature on the Istanbul Music Festival

Friday, March 15, 2013   (0 Comments)
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ISPA partner organization International Arts Manager (IAM) has published an interview with Yesim Gürer Oymak, the Director of the Istanbul Music Festival put on by ISPA member Istanbul Foundation for Arts and Culture (IKSV).  Read the interview below and perhaps plan a trip to the festival before ISPA's June Congress in Wroclaw, Poland.  The article below is from IAM's volume 9 No 4 and can also be read on the IAM website in full here

Taking place from 4-29 June, around 500 local and international artists will participate in the 41st Istanbul Music Festival. While the event aims to programme ensembles on the basis of quality and originality, promoting young Turkish artists remains an overarching mission. Director Yesim Gürer Oymak talks to IAM about this year’s music festival.

How does this year’s theme ‘Time and Transformation’ relate to the programme?
This year’s festival includes special concert projects directly related to the festival theme, either in their subject, content, form or thematic transformation. We selected projects such as Jordi Savall’s The Cycles of Life in the Mosaic of Balkan People or Berlin Counterpoint Ensemble’s Time and Transformation. The work that we commissioned from Kamran Ínce is also related to the theme in the sense that its subject, Nasreddin Hoca, is a Turkish reflection of the German folkloric character,Till Eulenspiegel.

Since 2011 the Istanbul Music Festival has commissioned new works from Turkish and foreign composers. I think we all have the responsibility to enlarge the contemporary music repertoire. So far we have commissioned nw works by the well-known figures Fazil Say and Giya Kancheli, as wellas by the young Turkish composerTurgut Pög˘ün. In addition we co commissioned Klatbütne, a cello concerto by Pïteris Vasks.

How many visitors attend the festival during its duration?
We have around 20,000-25,000 visitors to the festival every year, depending on the number of the concerts and the halls. 30 per cent of our tickets are bought by the members of our fidelity programme called Tulip Card Membership, around 60 per cent of tickets are purchased by non-members and around seven per cent of our tickets are bought by foreign visitors.

How do you promote the festival internationally?
Our media and marketing departments are working really efficiently. The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) organises four festivals including the contemporary art biennial and design biennial. So they promote our festival both on national and international media (radio stations, television news, newspapers and magazines) by feeding them regularly with news from the festival as well as giving advertisements to some selected magazines, and on related well known international websites and blogs about classical music. We are also in contact with many travel agencies abroad and we are generally in their activity programme for their travels to Istanbul in June. Last year, for our 40thanniversary, we organised two events in London and in Berlin to get together with professionals in the sector.

What is the legacy and overall impact of the music festival?
Over these past 40 years the Istanbul Music Festival has proudly become an artistic platform, where both the local and the universal, the past and the present are represented – and values such as tolerance, respect for cultural diversity and freedom of expression are reinforced. This is a platform that serves to enrich dialogue between societies and cultures regardless of race, religion and belief. The festival has deeply influenced a generation of people,including myself, who are referred to as‘the festival generation’ in Turkey. It will definitely continue to enrich the lives of future generations.

Your remit is wide, how are you funded?
The foundation is a non-profit, non governmental organisation. Around 55per cent of our income comes from private sector companies and 30 per cent from ticket sales. Other components of the foundation’s income include the Tulip Card programme (four per cent), rent revenues, sales from the IKSV Design Store and contributions of public institutions, international donors, cultural institutions and foundations (11 percent). The major state institutions that provide public funds to IKSV are the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Prime Ministry Promotion Fund – only on a project basis. Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and District Municipalities provide support to IKSV for items such as exterior outfitting or allocation of event venues.

Have you been able to measure the financial contribution of the Foundation to the local economy?
Compared to prominent countries in the sphere of culture and arts, Turkey has not yet reached the desired level in terms of culture and arts production and consumption rates. Therefore, the state should play a more active role in supporting this field and allocate regular subsidies for culture expenditures. While the rate of state spending for culture to national income varies between 0.3 per cent and 0.5 percent elsewhere, in Turkey this rate is as low as 0.1 per cent.

Direct state support to cultural investments in Turkey is low compared to European cities. In European cities with a population of over one million,the public resource allocated per person is €58 – in Istanbul this amount is €20.

Regarding our contribution to the local economy, I can talk about the contribution of all the festivals and biennial that IKSV is organising every year. The foundation carried out economic impact research – the first conducted in this field in Turkey. The research aims to present the economic impact of foundation activities organised in 2011 and offer basic policy recommendations with regards to the public support necessary to reveal the economic return aspects of cultural activities in Turkey.

According to this research, over400,000 viewers – approximately 10,000foreign guests – have participated in activities organised by IKSV in 2011,and in districts where the activities were organised, participants have spent TRY17.3m (€7.3m) aside from and excluding ticket fees. The total of direct and indirect spending triggered by IKSV 2011 activities is TRY38.3m; this amount has generated an extra gross value added of TRY31.7m overall.When all values are added up, IKSV activities have generated an economic impact of TRY70m, almost twice as much as SME’s with an annual turnover of less than TRY40m.


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