The British Council believes that gender equality and women’s empowerment are crucial to creating inclusive, open and prosperous societies.

Our Arts programme in Turkey is focused on diversifying audiences for the arts by working outside ‘traditional’ arts spaces and identifying and developing skills of new curatorial voices and creative entrepreneurs who champion a more inclusive and accessible arts offering at new forums. 

Hence, developing female leaders and artists in culture who are explicitly working to diversify audiences is a key aspect of our programme. 

The aims of our Grant Scheme to support showcasing of female artists from the UK in Turkey are:

  • to create and share opportunities for professional collaboration of female UK artists with creative professionals, public and private institutions, NGOs, universities and creative hubs in Turkey,
  • share, celebrate and broaden appreciation of artistic excellence of female artists from the UK in Turkey through diverse, inclusive and innovative programming.

Assessing gender equality and women empowerment were at the heart of the programme and were reflected in the representation of the talent from UK; the showcasing of different genres of projects and in using innovative approaches to reaching diverse audiences across  Turkey, both live and online.

The organisations which have received support from the #WomenPowerinCulture Grant Scheme for organisations are:

Bahçeşehir University Cartoon and Animation Department - ANİMİST (19 – 21 March 2020), Helen Piercy

ANİMİST is Bahçeşehir University’s international animation festival which will be organised for the third time by the Cartoon and Animation Department. It appeals to everyone who is interested in animation including professionals, amateurs, students and educators. It aims to create a platform that will bring together educational institutions, the sector and the people who are interested in animation; inspiring, widening the vision of and nurturing youngsters with animation; and creating awareness of animation as a platform of art and form of communication. 

 ANİMİST invited Helen Piercy from ANIMATED WOMEN UK, an association bringing together women from animation and VFX areas to talk about effects of COVID-19 on women animation artists and the sector in this online interview. 

Helen Piercy is a multidisciplinary filmmaker, award winning children’s author and professional educator. After graduating with an MA in Directing Animation at The National Film and Television School in 2009, she began her career as a London based freelance animator before launching her own business as a filmmaking educator. Helen is currently a full-time lecturer on the BA (Hons) Animation Course at Norwich University of the Arts and Educational Advisor to Animated Women UK. 

BoMoVu – Urban Spirit – Hip Hop Ladies, Kloé Dean (15-16 February 2020)

BoMoVu (Sport and Body Movement for Vulnerable Groups) is an association that develops programmes to convert sports and body movements to social benefit in order to struggle with discrimination in these fields. Thanks to the network of volunteer practitioners of sports and body movements, the association enables meetings and workshops with various vulnerable groups in Turkey as children, refugees and women.

Urban Spirit – Hip Hop Ladies is a project which was created to emphasize sexual discrimination in dance and to create a platform where women and girls can express themselves more freely. Several dance events will be organised with different NGO’s in İstanbul and Ankara. Nine internationally known women dancers (Aydan Uysal, Duygu Etikan, Gülay Tezcan, Hürrem Ç., Kloe Dean (United Kingdom), Cynthia Tobledo (Sweden) and Queensy (France)) are coming together for the first time with this project.  Other than from those subbranches of hip hop dance culture as Breaking, House and Popping, there will be four dance workshops and performances from the most successful women choreographers from Turkey will meet with the audience.

Kloé Dean, performer, choreographer, educator and the artistic director of all female Hip Hop company, Myself UK Dance has performed and created in numerous productions, showcases and competitions around the world over the past 15 years. Kloé actively teaches Hip Hop and various other StreetDance styles in various dance institutes, studios, community projects and educational establishments around the UK and internationally including Copenhagen, Brussels, Bratislava and Taiwan. With a huge passion for her craft and hard work ethic, Kloe pushes to be an advocate in representing strong females within hip hop and urban dance styles. Having a back catalogue of experience including London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, Kloe debut her new hip hop theatre work ‘Man Up‘ at the Laban Theatre being one of the first female artists to share Hip Hop theatre in that venue.

Komünite Bodrum – Lost Libraries, Abigail Reynolds (1-2 December 2020)

Composed of young entrepreneurs operating in different sectors in Bodrum, Community Bodrum, as a pioneering project, aims to revitalize Bodrum’s only cinema hall in the 1990s as a space for culture and joint creation under the name The Karia Hub in 2020. The space is currently being transformed for this purpose, and Community Bodrum continues to work on new ideas and projects.

The artist Abigail Reynolds, in the scope of her project 'Lost Libraries', which features a 16 mm film and text about the libraries located on the Silk Road and now lost for various reasons, has shared the results of her five-month journey. After the screening of the ‘Lost Libraries’ film, a talk was organized to discuss her artistic works and the power of women.

In her works, the British artist Abigail Reynolds shares the materials she collected during her research and travels concerning books and libraries, in the forms of collage, film, sculpture, print and live performance. The artist's project 'Lost Libraries' received the BMW Art Journey award in 2016. In this project she set off in a five-month journey to explore the libraries along the Silk Road which were destroyed over the centuries due to political conflict, natural disaster, revolution or war, and came up with a 16 mm film and text.

Fifth Istanbul Design Biennial, Young Curators Group, Billie Muraben and Sumitra Upham (November 2020)

Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) since 2012, Istanbul Design Biennial aims to bring together a diverse cross section of design ideas once every two years, exploring a wide range of fields concerning design, using the city as a dynamic space for projects, actions and interventions.

As part of its 5th edition titled ‘Empathy Revisited: designs for more than one’ by curator Mariana Pestana, the Istanbul Design Biennial has worked on a new curatorial practice called Young Curators Group which brought established and emerging curators together on imagining new relationships between objects and ideas. Mostly formed of young female curators based in Istanbul, the group have worked with UK based designers Billie Muraben and Sumitra Upham who also took part of the curatorial team of the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial. The project featured a public talk on alternative female curatorial practices, touching upon the themes of the biennial. You may watch the talk from here

Billie Muraben is a writer, editor and lecturer of British/Turkish descent, based in London. She teaches on the Experience & Environment platform of BA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins. She is currently Editorial Advisor on the third edition of A Line which Forms a Volume, a publication by MA Graphic Media Design at London College of Communication. 

Sumitra Upham is a London-based curator working at the intersection of art, design and technology. She is currently Senior Curator of Public Programmes at the Design Museum where she is responsible for public programming, residencies and temporary projects.

Istanbul Modern - International Artist Residency, Rana Begüm (February 2020)

Established in 2004 in order to share Turkey's artistic creativity and cultural identity with the national and international arts scene, Istanbul Modern is Turkey's first museum of modern and contemporary arts, and also hosts interdisciplinary activities. Until the construction of its new building in Karaköy is complete, the museum will continue its activities at its provisional location in Beyoğlu complete with temporary and permanent exhibition halls, photo gallery, educational and social programs, library, cinema, café and shop.

Supported by İstanbul Development Agency (IDA) under the scope of its Innovative and Creative Istanbul Financial Support Program, the ‘International Artist Residency Program’ hosts 10 artists who engage in creation in İstanbul in collaboration with artisans. The works created during the program will be put on display in Istanbul Modern between 26 February – 19 July 2020. One of the selected artists for the program, Rana Begum worked at a metal spinning workshop in Istanbul to create a wall installation that demonstrates the visual link between the molds in the workshop and the multi-layered urban silhouette of the city. 

Rana Begum, who lives and works in London, UK, has participated in international biennials and exhibitions and her works are featured in the collections of leading museums and art institutions worldwide. Rana was born in 1977 in Bangladesh, from where she moved to the UK with her family. She received a BA in painting from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, followed by an MFA in the same field from the Slade School of Fine Art. Using various modes of expression such as painting and sculpture, the artist draws inspiration from urban architecture and Islamic arts. 

Performistanbul – Artistic Development Programme for Performance Artists (November 2020)

Performistanbul was founded in 2016 with an initial aim to unite performance artists under one roof and promote their participation in new projects. The international performance art platform continues to embrace its ‘spaceless’ identity by carrying out a flexible work model which consists in collaborating and developing projects with various art institutions and artists in the world. 

In collaboration with Live Art Development Agency (LADA), Performistanbul has initiated an artistic development programme offering a four-week project development workshop and a ten-day residency for a performance artist.  For the second part of the residency, Oleva was invited to Turkey for ten days to benefit from research facilities in the building of PCSAA and concentrated on the elaboration process of her project. Because of the transformation of the project due to the Covid-19 Crisis, on the 11th of May, 2020 Alisa Oleva firstly actualised her online performance entitled ‘Tracing the Inside, A collective Action”’ as part of Stay Live at Home. The project ‘Walking Home’ that is developed by the artist within the scope of the three months and process during the online development programme, have actualised with the participants in October and met with the audience in November (2020). You may find more information from here

Alesa Oleva holds an MA in Performance from Goldsmiths. She treats the city as her studio and urban life as material, to consider issues of urban choreography and urban archaeology, traces and surfaces, borders and inventories, intervals and silences, passages and cracks.  

SALT – Black Atlantis, Sophie Mallett (19-21 March 2020) - Postponed

SALT is a not-for-profit cultural institution in public service engaging in research, exhibitions, publications, web projects, conferences and other public programs in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey.

Initiated in 2019, SALT’s Black Atlantis series examine sea-related resistance and cultural formation stories that speculate on both the present-day and future. The program in 2020 will continue with the screening of Sophie Mallett’s new video, a sequel to Our Gelatinous Past (2018). The work will link ancient species’ migration to the global system of extractivism to imagine a structure beyond the global present through various footages such as of the shores of Portugal, interviews with jelly watchers in Scotland and ceremonial celebrations of a navy. The screening, accompanied by her live performance, will take place in the Walk-in Cinema at SALT Beyoğlu on March 19 and 21.

Sophie Mallett is a London based artist and filmmaker. Her practice concentrates on the construction and control of financial, architectural and social worlds and in turn their effect on our ability to co-exist. Her work revolves around landscapes of global capital.