General Structure of the Cultural Field in Turkey

IntroductionTurkey has experienced several eras in its Cultural Policy development. Ince has indicated theseperiods as follows:

  1. Kemalism (1923-1938)
  2. Humanism (1938-1946)
  3. Pluralist democracy (1946-1960)
  4. Military Regime (1980-1983)
  5. Liberal Islam (1990- )
  6. EU Integration (2002- )


The growing governmental interest in cultural issues was a reflection of the Turkish revolution that happened in the foundation years of the Turkish Republic. It happened parallel to the economic development and the role of the national state therein. The social state regulated cultural activities and provided cultural infrastructure based on Western civilization. In addition, after the multiple-party period other points of view were also underlined, such as what the “traditional” Turkish culture is, which is based on a larger geographical space than that of the Turkish Republic. Other developments in the cultural scene happened after regulations and military coups in 1971 and 1980. The coup of 1971 resulted in the foundation of the first Ministry of Culture, which enabled the growing young population to combine access to Turkish cultural heritage with Western enlightenment. It was after the 1980 military coup that liberal economic regulations were subjected to discussion, and for the first time this economic view was reflected in the creative scene. Turkey began to categorize the economic activities in the cultural sector as not only the effort of the nation state after the liberal economic policies Turkey accepted due to 24th January regulations in 1980, but also the support of the private sector, which started to grow due to global developments.

Especially in the late „90s and the early 2000s, corporate resources entered the culture and arts scene. EU-supported mechanisms for artists such as exchange opportunities, scholarships abroad in developed European countries, and collaboration opportunities through partner projects all emerged in this period. As a result, the Turkish cultural initiatives and artists experienced a period of “project writing” through EU projects, corporate sponsorship dossiers, and ECOC projects, and most of the participants became keen on administrative issues in order to sustain themselves. The Turkish-Dutch relations are especially important for the cultural sector. This relation not only incorporates a know- how transfer, but international groups may also create a paradigm shift in a collaborative way.

We are able to see the developments of each era reflected in the various institutions. Nowadays most of the state bodies develop “management” solutions in order to serve, which did not used to be the predominant aspect of the former public service mentality. It is the inevitable result of the influence of market economy, but also results from the fact that nowadays the artists are also willing to demand more in order to put meaningful output up for discussion and thus entices the audience to think and comment more. Nowadays the political agenda also supports this climate. Very recently the political party in power, AKP, suggested discussion platforms for sub-cultures and minorities. Unfortunately these attempts of democracy and plurality are not organized as thoroughly as other projects of the party.What these developments show is that there is clearly a growing interest in culture in Turkey, developing on several levels. More international collaboration may help in the further developing of the cultural sector. Experiences from past collaborations have already shown that this collaboration has a positive influence on all parties involved. The year 2012 may be a good year to further explore the possibilities for expanding the collaboration.

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