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Istanbul has become one of the important cultural and artistic hubs of the world. Every day sees at least twenty-five or rather thirty cultural events, all of them full houses. Of course this is not just by chance. All this has been accomplished with the artistic support granted by the public and private sector.

The Metropolitan Mayor’s Office of Istanbul (IBB) allocated a significant amount from its budget for artistic purposes, and stages both domestic and international pieces of art, one after the other. The Cultural and Social Affairs Directorate of the Metropolitan Mayor’s Office of Istanbul has been really successful in this. Two nights ago the Budapest Festival Orchestra gave a fantastic concert at the Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall. Conductor Iván Fischer and the orchestra received a standing ovation. The same concert hall welcomed the Russian Red Star Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble as a guest. The Red Army Chorus will be meeting the people of Istanbul today, both during the day and in the evening.

Akbank, Garanti Bank, Borusan, Türkcell, Vodafone and Avea as well as various private sector organisations and foundations led by IKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art) are also busy. They bring the world’s most famous artists and orchestras to Istanbul. For example, Akbank. They welcome “Cats” to Istanbul, which has been a phenomenal musical staged before record-breaking audiences on Broadway and London since 1981. The audience could enjoy the musical, which was sponsored by Akbank for the first time, at the PSM Hall of the Zorlu Center. Cats, which is on stage until 9 February, is truly phenomenal. Especially its music. Everything is the result of a professional concept, ranging from the scenery to the acting. It presents conflicts between cats, but rather depicts people. This wonderful musical presents love, the vulnerability of man, behaviour patterns, reactions, and the power derived from living together.

In the meantime, let us say a few words about Zorlu Center PSM (Zorlu Center Performing Arts Center) too. Its location is already extraordinary. It is exceptional from a sound perspective too. Turkey is getting to know a new style. Its entrance, interior design, entertainment and catering rooms as well as the architectural style of the whole building is just extraordinary. Not to mention its artistic centre, which is peerless. Both the foyer and the grand hall are magnificent. Listening to music staged in this hall is a peerless joy. Whatever was said to be first class in the old days is dwarfed by the Zorlu Center PSM. But let us leave Turkey; I have not seen anything similarly beautiful throughout Europe.

Istanbul is leaping forward in becoming what is a hub for finance, tourism, entertainment, conferences, culture and arts. This naturally means industry is being shifted to Anatolia. If this shift is realised as planned, then Turkey will emerge as a significant player on the world market.

Like it or not, the versatile image of Istanbul must be emphasised and this beautiful city must be turned into an international brand. It has got history, culture and art. And if you need beauty, you will find loads of it. It only needs the city to get rid of its past errors and ugly buildings. This is easy. By working together, Istanbul must be elevated to where it duly belongs.