Izmir is Turkey's third most populous city and Turkey's primary port for export. It is widely regarded as one of the most progressive Turkish cities in terms of its values, lifestyle, dynamism, and gender roles. Politically, it is a stronghold of the Republican People's Party (CHP). Most Dutch tourists arrive at Izmir’s Adnan Menderes airport and spend their holidays around the Aegean coast. The current day Konak district corresponds to the historical Izmir, also known as Smyrna. Izmir has almost 3,500 years of recorded urban history and has been one of the principal mercantile cities of the Mediterranean Sea for much of its history. Dutch traders were active and lived in Izmir by the end of the 17th century. Events following the World War I and the 1923 agreement for the Exchange of Greek and Turkish population had profound effects on the composition of the population. Many Turkish Greeks had to move to Greece, as well as the other way around: Muslim people from Greece had to resettle in Turkey. Many Aegean Turks have Greek relatives in their family trees. In Greek cities like in Piraeus, Thessalonica and Athens sizable Turkish-Greek populations established themselves and created their own subculture and music (rebetiko).
In the STGM database a total of 695 NGO’s was listed of which 55 were dedicated to education and youth, 56 to culture and 2 to arts. Izmir had a school project with a Dutch school. Bergama city which is located in the Izmir province has a city-link with Alkmaar and had a school project with a Dutch school. 6 % of all Dutch companies in Turkey are based in Izmir.
Izmir has four private universities, of which the Izmir University of Economics is most relevant for arts and culture and there are three State universities. There are plans to establish more universities in Izmir.
Izmir University of Economics
Izmir University of Economics was founded in 2002 by the Izmir Chamber of Commerce and has a campus in the metropolitan district of Balçova. It has Erasmus program agreements with 40 universities abroad and it has an academic cooperation protocol with 23 universities. The Faculty of Fine Arts and Design has departments of Fashion Design, Visual Communication Design, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture and Environmental Design and a department of Architecture. The Graduate School of Social Sciences has a Design Studies department and one for Media and Communication Studies. The Graduate School of Natural and Applied Sciences has a Computer Games and Technology department.
Ege University was founded in 1955. It has many educational facilities in the entire region. The main campus is situated in the metropolitan district of Bornova. It houses the newly restored Culture and Arts Hall with accommodation for 330 spectators, the Amphitheater with accommodation for 5000 spectators, Atatürk Cultural Center (The Center has 2 auditoriums with accommodation respectively for 654 and 628 spectators, 4 seminar rooms with accommodation for 45 spectators, a theater hall, 8 workshop rooms with accommodation for 12 spectators, and an exhibition gallery with a capacity of 800 guests) and the Conference Halls of Faculties and Schools. An Art Gallery was established in March 1997. Art Studios have been established in which fine arts courses for students are organized. There are 45 student clubs which are active in many diverse fields of interest. The Ege University Sports and Arts Festival is organized every year during May. Concerts, cinema and theater presentations, conferences, symposia, fashion shows and various competitions take place during the Festival. Student groups from other Turkish universities and from foreign countries participate in the Festival.
Dokuz Eylül University
Dokuz Eylül University (DEU) was founded in 1982 principally by splitting off from Ege University. DEU is the first university which applied the problem-based learning method in Turkey. There is a Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Faculty of Fine Arts and a Faculty of Architecture. Notable alumni are all performing artists. The campus is located in the metropolitan district of Buca, with 61 depending institutions across Izmir.
Izmir Institute of Technology
Izmir Institute of Technology (İYTE) was founded in 1992 and is the city's first institute of technology and the campus (Turkey's largest) is located in the nearby district of Urla.
Commercial art is not successful in Izmir, which has the reputation to be a leftist city. Therefore it is relevant for art and culture that Izmir municipality is very open to support culture in the city and tries to solve the lack of development in the cultural field. Izmir is getting gentrified, and real-estate prices are rising, but now there are still spaces that can be claimed for art. The cultural actors in Izmir wonder how to claim these spaces and turn them into sustainable cultural venues. They are interested in knowledge exchange about venue management. There needs to be more coordination between the different cultural actors in and around Izmir. In Istanbul the various artistic disciplines are more integrated than in Izmir. Another problem is that initiatives in Izmir are not aware of, or not networking with each other (they are networking with Istanbul). In the Aegean region there are many opportunities for arts projects but all activities are geographically separated, which causes lack of coordination. Artists need to be more city conscious, now people stay and focus only on the same part of the city. The cultural actors in the region wonder how to network and how to organize their network in the most effective way. There is also a gap between generations. It would be good to create dialogue between them because there are a lot of young artists, and established artists may seem unapproachable to them. Some coordination problems stem from the fact that there is a lack of a cultural management layer. Izmir lacks curators because the spaces there do not create enough opportunities, so young curators go to Istanbul.
Events and organizations that are relevant for art and culture in Izmir are:
- İKSEV (Izmir Foundation for Culture, Arts and Education) is the Izmir branch of the IKSV organization based in Istanbul.
- Izmir International Fair (IEF), the oldest member from Turkey of the International Union of Fairs is held every year in August-September at Kültürpark, which covers an area of 421,000 m² in the heart of the city with open-air theatres, the Painting and Sculpture Museum and art centers.
- Seba-gallery will organize the first Izmir Biennale in 2011
- 1888 is an Izmir bar and used to be an old fasıl restaurant that is used for music performances (its garden is special apparently).
- The annual Izmir International Festival, which begins in mid-June and continues until mid-July, has been organized since 1987. During the festival, many world-class performers: soloists and virtuosi, orchestras, dance companies, rock and jazz groups have given recitals and performances at various venues in the city and its surrounding areas; including the ancient theatres at Ephesus and Metropolis. The festival has been a member of the "European Festivals Association" since 2003.
- The Izmir European Jazz Festival is among the numerous events organized every year by the İKSEV since 1994.
- The International Izmir Short Film Festival is organized since 1999 and is a member of the European Coordination of Film Festivals.
- Izmir Metropolitan Municipality has built the Ahmet Adnan Saygun Art Center in the Güzelyalı district, in order to contribute to the city's culture and art life. The acoustics of the center have been prepared by ARUP which is a world famous company in this field.
- K2 started out as an artist initiative and works with sponsors per project. Nowadays it is more institutionalized. Because the buildings are owned by Ayşegül Kurtel the owner and director of K2 the venue is sustainable. K2 has a 120 m2 gallery space and 20 studios. They recently started a residency for national and international artists. The residency has a.o. tools for ceramists and jewelry designers.
- Ayşegül also operates a small gallery where works are sold in another building not far from the K2 space.
- K2 has an archive and library of contemporary art. Borga Kantürk makes an archive of local and regional artists and events.
- There is a French Cultural Institute that has good relationships with K2 and they organized an exhibition together called ‘mirage’ by a French curator.
- Dutch artist Philippine Hoegen made exhibition in K2 with co-curator Silvia Kouvali in 2006.
- In 2010 Necmi Sönmez again organises ‘Port Izmir’ a successful public art event. A double deck bus drove around with art works and people could get in and out as they pleased. The treshold for seeing art was thus lowered.
- 49A is a studio turned project space by Mehmet Dere (used to work at K2) located close to Konak in the Kurdish neighborhood. Çizgeli Kedi is a space for literature and photography in Üçkuyulas near Izmir (Ayşegül knows their contacts)
- There are developments to make a cultural center out of a Renovated Gas factory (close to Alcancak stadion) just like Santral Istanbul.
- The association of free architects (architects with their own firm) has organizations in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.
- Close to Izmir, in Selçuk is the International Selçuk-Efes Culture, Art and Tourism Festival (with performing arts in the ancient Ephesus amphitheatre) 16-17 January.
- Close to Izmir, in Dikili, the Culture and Art Festival is held in the last week of July
- Close to Izmir, in Tire, the Culture and Art Festival is held between 3-6 September
- In Bergama in Izmir province, the Festival of Pergamon shows drama in the amphitheatre of the ancient city in May.
- Close to Izmir, in Kuşadası, there is an annual music festival in July
- Close to Izmir, in Foça, the Culture and Art Festival is held in the 2nd week of August.
- Close to Izmir, in Çesme, the Çesme Sea Festivity and International Song Contest is held every year in July. The festival is considered to be the 3rd biggest festival in Mediterranean, after Cannes and San Remo. Dutch singers performed there in 2010.