Taraf’s Ahmet Altan says he has been arguing for some years that Turkey’s biggest fight will be in the field of culture. As Turkey gets to the stage of “developed country,” its fight will be about cultural values: religion vs. art, morality vs. art, sacred values vs. art. The collision is unavoidable because art has no borders, and these “cultural values” all have their own borders. And this debate over the İstanbul City Theaters is a step on this road to the great fight, Altan says, signaling that the debate will grow.
Sabah’s Nazlı Ilıcak says the city theaters are now experiencing an apocalypse as there have been many resignations in recent days. According to Ilıcak, İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said the council will consist of two bureaucrats and five artists, so we should not react strongly against the decision before seeing the final result. After all, during the time he was the mayor of İstanbul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made clear he values artists, and he continued to support the theaters when he became prime minister as long as they didn’t get too political or ideological. She also says she knows Topbaş to be a man who appreciates art and artists. But I can’t help thinking whether the issue of obscenity has a role in this decision to change the regulations and whether Topbaş made such a decision because of pressure coming from conservatives due to obscene plays, she says. But even if there is a need of to have norms and borders for obscenity, who should determine them, asks Ilıcak. Surely if the state acts as the arbiter, it will lead to bigger debates, she says.
Arguing similarly to Ilıcak about giving a chance to the council to see how it turns out, Yeni Akit’s Ali Karahasanoğlu, on the other hand, says the debate derives from the artists’ insisting on being the full authority over theaters. But, he says, there must be someone to determine who the artists governing theaters are. Surely the two bureaucrats in the commission won’t be ordinary bureaucrats or unfamiliar with the arts; they will be there to help the artists with their decisions, says Karahasanoğlu.