A project for kids support by Genç Kültür during the Design Biennale Istanbul 2018 at Pera Museum

Photo: DutchCulture

What do the numbers say? On striking growth and cooperation: edition Turkey

The amount of registered Dutch cultural activities in Turkey increased with a staggering 334% in 2018. We take a closer look at and behind these numbers.
21 August 2019
By Veysel Yuce


According to the latest DutchCulture database, the amount of Dutch activities in Turkey grew from 145 in 2017 to 484 registered activities in 2018, an increase of 334%. This meant a jump for Turkey from place 19 to place 7 on the list of most popular countries for Dutch artists. The increase was most sharp in the field of audio-visual media (from 11 activities in 2017 to 203 in 2018), theatre (12 to 81), visual arts (15 to 35) and design (7 to 28). The incredible growth was possible because of a number of happy coincidences that reinforced each other.

Figure 1: Events by discipline
Cultural departments

The cultural departments of Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ankara and Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul have been fully staffed since the end of 2017. The new team reactivated the previously dormant network of the cultural department and also expanded it. This gave them the ability to identify cooperation opportunities as well as being more open for requests from the Turkish field.

The total number of activities went up, but, more importantly, the number of activities in cities outside of Istanbul rose. Istanbul saw an increase of 264% in 2018; from 96 in 2017 into 254. However, the number of activities in Ankara almost quintupled (from 18 to 99), while in Diyarbakir showed a striking growth from 2 to 14 activities. One of the reasons underlying these changes might be the increased travel savviness among Dutch artists and organisations. Another key factor is that the Dutch Embassy and the Dutch Consulate General were actively looking for opportunities to share Dutch art and culture especially in Turkish cities and places less visited.

Figure 2: Top 10 cities

When we compare 2017 and 2018, we see that Dutch artists and cultural organisations have travelled to different places and had more shows and performances per stay. This has to do with the versatility of the projects. For example, the adapted Dutch children’s play Gezocht:Konijn by BonteHond and Kereltje by Theater Rast. Both were performed with Turkish actors. This made them much more easy to share with Turkish audiences.

Also here the role of the Dutch Embassy and Consulate General is very important. By reactivating their network, they tied up with more partners and as such, there were more disposable locations for Dutch art and culture to be explored. It’s worth noting that 55% of all activities took place during or at a festival. The most important reason for this may be the availability of the necessary infrastructure and the possibility to co-finance. 

The artistic director of BonteHond is explaining a scene of the play 'Gezocht: Konijn' to the Turkish actors.
Genç Kültür programme

Secondly, a yearlong extra means and manpower were put into strengthening the cultural exchange between Turkey and Netherlands. This was done in the field of arts and culture for children by means of the Genç Kültür programme. This programme was a cooperation between EYE Film Institute NetherlandsNetherlands Film Fund, Performing Arts Fund NLHet Nieuwe Instituut, Dutch Foundation for Literature, Creative Industries Fund NL, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ankara, the Consulate General in Istanbul and DutchCulture.

More than 225 activities were directly supported by this programme. Preference was given to low-cost projects that were easy to implement accessible to Turkish audiences and with a big outreach, such as theatre performances and film screenings. This also shows in our numbers: the total amount of audio-visual media activities rose from 11 in 2017 to 203 in 2018 and theatrical activities from 12 to 81.

To realise these number for audiovisual media, we worked together with EYE and Klik Animation Festival. Jointly, we prepared a selection of Dutch non-spoken short animation movies. We provided these without cost to Turkish festivals and other events.

These packages also fitted very well with the efforts of the embassy to widen their network, as it gave them the possibility to share Dutch products with a new Turkish partner. In the long term, this could help Turkish organisations to build up a relationship with Dutch partners. 

Genç Kültür also had a special focus on cities other than Istanbul. The total percentage of activities in Istanbul went down from 66% to 52%, meaning that a greater part of the activities took place outside of Istanbul.

Informal Education - Çocukistanbul organised an exchange programme with Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. During this project, local children redesigned their city according to their wishes. The redesigned cities were compared to see where they resembled and differed from each other.

Projects financed by funds such as the Creative Industries Fund NL started to produce results. The Creative Industries Fund NL hosts a special scheme for Turkey. They started supporting proposals in 2017, and in 2018, the first projects could be shared with the Turkish audience, for example ones that were made for the Istanbul Design biennale. The number of activities in the field of design grew from 7 in 2017 to 28 last year; architecture from 2 to16.

A defrosted relationship

The fourth factor may not be a major one, but might have had its effect: the diplomatic rapprochement between the Netherlands and Turkey. While many of our Turkish partners would and have worked with Dutch partners in the last couple of years, we heard through the grapevine that some of them were more reserved because of political circumstances. The normalisation of the relationship between the two countries has worked in favour of cooperation. 

Check out the complete overview of Dutch cultural activities in Turkey in our database.

If you are a cultural professional who wants to go to Turkey, feel free to contact our Turkey advisor Veysel Yuce.

For funding possibilities, check out our Cultural Mobility Funding Guide or the websites of our partners EYE InternationalFilm Fund, Performing Arts Fund NLHet Nieuwe Instituut, Dutch foundation for LiteratureMondriaan FundCreative Industries Fund NL, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ankara and the Consulate General in Istanbul.

Database Disclaimer

Turkey: 490 registered activities in 2018
featuring 204 artists

Turkey: Activities by
discipline in 2018

Turkey: Number of activities
12 months (2018)