UNESCO Cities of Design

The conference is intended as a dialogue platform which could encourage sustainable cooperation between different cities and actors in the field of culture and arts. During the sessions, speakers from the Netherlands and Istanbul will share their views on a wide range of topics from sustainable cities to cultural heritage, festivals and children and arts. Sessions will bring the topics of cultural planning strategies of local governments, different cultural management models, and cultural diversity up for discussion.

Details are coming…


Making Connections Through Arts and Culture

İpek Sur van Dijk – Senior Policy Officer for Culture for the Foreign Affairs of the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul

Özlem Ece – İKSV Director of Cultural Policy Studies

Dijk and Ece are talking about how this project was created. The session is moderated by Yekta Kopan.

Dijk: Foreign Affairs of the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul came up with the idea and IKSV helped to create it. Culture is not only in the museums, but it is also in the streets and Anatolia.

Ece: After the research idea came out, we conducted the research process for 3 months.

Sustainable Cities

Moderator: Görgün Taner, General Director of IKSV


Güneşin Aydermir, Coordinator of Bir Tohum Derneği Foundation

Kadir Altınkaya, Manager and Chairman of the Executive Board of Afyon Bus Terminal

Mehmet Emin Çakay, Head of Planning, Programming and Coordination Department at Eastern Anatolia Development Agency

Mert Fırat, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador


Bart van Bolhuis, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul

The role of culture in realizing the sustainable development goals discussing through examples from Çanakkale, Afyon and Van.

Güneşin Aydemir: Nature actually creates complex relationships with simple rules. Sustainability can occur through nature. We are in this together. We lost our connection with ourselves, nature, society, everything. We should change this. This loss of connection is the most important thing about sustainability. 

Sustainability is understood by art and culture. The art should talk about these problems.

Kadir Altınkaya is talking about how he changes the pattern of Afyon Bus Terminal. Afyon Bus Terminal is now somewhere very important in Afyon as a living space. They improved the terminal’s sustainability by producing delight.

Mehmet Emin Çakay is talking about their Tuşba City Theatre example. Çakay is sharing their mission at Eastern Anatolia Development Agency.

“If you invest in people, sustainability occurs.”

Mert Fırat is opening up a discussion on how art and culture can be affiliated with 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

“It should be applicable for something to be sustainable.”

Bart van Bolhuis, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul, is giving his insights about this session.

“It is important how cities inviting people with art and culture and creating a sustainable environment in cities.”

“If you want to create a dynamic economy in the city, the physical structure is not enough, art, culture, creativity, and diversity in the city are also important.”

“If you invite people to think and create solutions you can get better results.”

Local Culture Management


Cem Erciyes, Arts and Culture Journalist, Publisher


Güney Özkılınç, Director of Cultural and Social Affairs of Nilüfer Municipality (Bursa)

Abdüssettar Yarar, Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism Konya Provincial Director of Culture and Tourism (Konya)

Mithat Nehir, Former Mayor of Samandağ Municipality (Hatay)


Mirjana Milanovic, Senior Advisor and Head Designer of Planning and Sustainability Unit of Amsterdam City

In this session, participants from Bursa, Konya and Hatay, are talking about the impacts of on the city when arts and culture is a focal point for municipalities.

Güney Özkılınç: “We strive to create gender and equal opportunities in all events. We support different organizations to involve women and young people in culture and art. ”

Mithat Nehir: “Art and culture must gain continuity in municipal administrations.”

“The budget should be determined for local administrations for culture and arts.”

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism Konya Provincial Director of Culture and Tourism, Abdüssettar Yarar is sharing information about Konya. Abdülsettar Yarar gave information about Photography Contest and Music Festival and made various quotations from Mevlana in his speech.

Mirjana Milanovic: “We have different activities for different target groups. Breathing places is important for the city of Amsterdam. We want to places where people can breathe.”


Public Engagement in the Arts

Moderator: Özlem Ece, IKSV Director of Cultural Policy Studies


Ulaş Bayraktar, Cofounder of Kültürhane (Mersin)

Ayşegül Ateş Tarla, Cofounder of Kırkayak Kültür (Gaziantep)

Pınar Demiral, Cofounder of Art Anywhere Association (Mardin)

Sabha Aminika, Music Director of Art Anywhere Association (Mardin)

Commentator: İpek Sur van Dijk, Senior Policy Officer for Culture for the Foreign Affairs of the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul

Examples from Mersin, Gaziantep and Mardin, which embrace the premise of “culture for all” along the way taking the context of accessibility and participation in cultural life as a reference is the focus of this session.

Ulaş Bayraktar, Cofounder of Kırkayak Kültür says “Kültürhane is actually a cafe with a library on one side, which performs various activities.”

Kültürhane is open for 2 years now in Mersin.

“We come together to talk about the problems of the city and the solutions of these problems and to talk about the stories of the city.”

Bayraktar is mentioning about their activities and missions with Kültürhane.

“It doesn’t matter if half the glass is empty or full. If there’s a glass, there’s work to do.”

Ayşegül Ateş Tarla: “We had some problems about the city and we came together and established this foundation to find solutions to these problems.”

Tarla is talking about Zeugma Movie Festival and their activities in Gaziantep.

“We are creating a contact area in the events. It is important for us that people interact with each other. We also carry out many studies on refugees. We now define them as our “new neighbors” and our door is always open to them.”

Sabha Aminika and Pınar Demiral are talking about Association and their activities about refugee children.

In Mardin region there are thousands of marginalized children and youth, including refugees and ethnic minorities. Most of them are deprived of educational opportunities and safe, playfull childhood. Sirkhane is proposing an alternative way of engaging refugee and displaced youth in education through non-formal playful means.

The commentator İpek Sur van Dijk is evaluating this session. “Who you work with is very important. It is very important that you know your audience. Civilian initiatives play a major role in the positive changes in social life.

All the work done was all meticulously executed. This is great.”

“We need to make some effort to accomplish things. We have to put aside excuses and force ourselves. The examples we listen in here are very valuable examples in this perspective.”

Cultural Heritage and the City

Moderator: Assoc. Prof. Burak Asiliskender, Kayseri Abdullah Gül University, Head of Department of Architecture


Emine Öztürk, Director of Zeugma Mosaic Museum (Gaziantep)

Ali Daimi Boz, Founder of Sinema62 (Tunceli)

Tuğba Yazıcı, Director of Hemşin Life Association (Rize)

Çetin Şişman, Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism Malatya Provincial Director of Culture and Tourism (Malatya)


Dr. Jaap-Evert Abrahamse, Senior Researcher for the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

The participants in this session from Gaziantep, Tunceli, Rize and Malatya will discuss the management of the cultural heritage, in a city with a strong tangible/intangible heritage and its impact on the city.