Many countries, notably the usa, think wrongly about Turkey as a result of some prejudices. in order to remedy these misperceptions, an effective and accurate promotion of Turkey should be undertaken.
The Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF) is an organization that was founded in the USA in 2000 to promote Turkey accurately. Since its establishment, the TCF, which sponsors original programs in order for Turkish culture to be preserved and known around the world, has launched many important projects as well.
Güler Köknar, General Director of the Turkish Cultural Foundation, stated that the TCF also supports other institutions’ projects in addition to the original projects that are devoted to the preservation of Turkish culture by emphasizing the fact that such activities promote to Americans the rich culture, art, architecture, history and cuisine of Turkey.
The Turkish Cultural Foundation organizes some programs in order to promote Turkish culture in the usa. Can you inform us about these programs?
The TCF categorizes the foundation’s main programs under particular titles: Person-to-Person Culture Exchange, Cultural Turkey Tours for Influential Americans, Turkey Research Tours for American Teachers, and Conferences that promote Turkish culture and art. American teachers come to Turkey via Turkey research tours, which were initiated by the TCF in
collaboration with the World Affairs Council of America and this is a program pertaining to America.
Within the frame of this program that was initiated in 2007 between the two institutions, 296 American secondary and high school teachers in total visited Turkey due to two week research tours that were organized and sponsored by the TCF. In order to introduce Turkey to influential Americans and increase Turkey’s cultural tourism, the TCF hosted 185 Americans in
Turkey on such cultural tours that it has been arranging since 2006.
Selected guests, who were nominated as candidates by Turkish-American foundations consisting of a variety of people ranging from artists, politicians, representatives of nongovernmental organizations to academics, are introduced to the rich culture, art, architecture, history and cuisine of Turkey within the scope of this full travel itinerary. The TCG-organized tours take the travellers to especially places that are not included in popular Anatolian touristic trips but which have 1,000 years of Turkish cultural heritage. Guests are given the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Turkish art, civil society, business, and education sectors.
Another TCF program that makes considerable contributions to the promotion of Turkish culture and art in the USA is the Turkish Culture and Art Conference. During these conferences, which are possible due to the being hosted by museums and
universities, over 1,000 Americans were informed about Turkish culture, history and art in 2010 alone.
An important promotion activity carried out by the TCF is realized online through websites.
The TCF’s Internet portals, which are about Turkish culture, music and cuisine, www.turkishculture.org - www.turkishmusicportal.org - www.turkish-cuisine.org, are portals from which millions of people around the globe acquire
information about Turkey and Turkish culture. In 2010, 1.7 million people from 200 countries visited the TCF portals.
As a foundation, the TCF offers events and activities devoted to the preservations of Turkish culture in addition to its promotion. What specifically does the TCF do to preserve Turkish culture?
The TCF has original projects that are devoted to the preservation of Turkish culture and there are other institutions’ projects that the TCF supports as well. One of our past events is the Turkish shadow play Karagöz. In order to for Karagöz to survive and be shared with future generations, the TCF recorded 20 Karagöz plays in a 5 DVD collection. Karagöz is one of the oldest examples of traditional shadow plays in the world. These particular plays were staged by Metin Özlen, and presented to artlovers. This DVD collection can be purchased from our website, Turkish Culture Shop (www.turkishcultureshop.org).
At the end of 2010, we implemented a very important “protection” project: Laboratory for Researching and Developing Natural Paint – DATU (www.tcfdatu.org). DATU was established with the support of Armaggan Design, with the aim of
promoting natural paint sources of Turkey, which has the richest plant flora, reviving natural painting and creating employment in rural areas in this field. DATU has the most comprehensive natural plant and insect collection in the world. This collection was assembled in short period of time to highlight how these natural resources are used as dye and paint. Using advanced technology in the analysis of natural paint, DATU provides important services free of charge to prominent museums of Turkey for the protection and restoration of historical artefacts.
Furthermore, the TCF financially supported and pioneered very important “protection” projects. One of them is the Inventory of Iron Age Settlements in Turkey project, which was created by the TAY Project-Turkish Archaeological Settlements.
Another such project is the Inventory of Seljuk Structures project, which was completed by the Foundation of Improving Cultural Awareness last year. The TCF also sponsored the restoration and display of 118 historical carpets and rugs, which are preserved in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Works, within the frame of International Congress of Oriental Carpets that was held for the first time in Turkey in 2007. Supporting an American institution, Global Heritage Fund, the TCF supported the rebuilding of Namık Kemal’s historical house in Kars and transformed it into Namık Kemal Culture Center. In collaboration with the same institution, it financially supported archaeological restoration practices in Çatalhöyük for three years.
Do you think Turkish artists are wellknown abroad? Is there any work that the TCF conducts in terms of this?
Individual successes of Turkish artists, which are global, are sources of pride to all of us. Especially in terms of literature and cinema, Turkish people have made a name for themselves. We thought about a project based more on background and developed a database project titled “Who is Who in Turkish Culture and Art.” In this project, which is being conducted by an art historian employed in the TCF’s Istanbul office, we have created files on nearly 1,750 Turkish artists in more than 50 categories since March 2011. The purpose of this database is to introduce Turkey’s artists in a virtual environment and make it easier to reach them. Another activity is devoted to the promotion of modern Turkish art in America. For the last five years,
the TCF has been introducing modern Turkish artists of sculpture and glass to American galleries and art lovers by having a Turkish stand in the New York and Chicago SOFA Sculpture Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) expositions, which is one of the biggest art expositions.
Finally, Turkey’s individual artists, who are invited to international art events, receive support by applying to the TCF for funding in order to attend these occasions.
What programs are being offered by the TCF in 2011?
In 2011, our educational program throughout the USA will continue. At present, the TCF is coordinating educational teacher workshops and trying to select 57 American secondary and high school teachers who will visit Turkey by means of the two research tours that we will organize in the summer. Between 12 and 28 September, the TCF Turkey Cultural Tour will run; we are trying to select influential Americans who will be the guests of the TCF on this tour. While preparing for the SOFA New York exposition that will be held 14-17 April, the TCF also is organizing Turkish culture conferences of Prof. Dr. Nurhan Atasoy that will be held throughout the USA. A series of TCF culture conferences, which were devoted to foreigners and embassy representatives in Istanbul, will continue as well.