“Tale Istanbul” International Festival
1. Küçükçekmece and culture
Küçükçekmece district is the 7th most populous district of Turkey and the 2nd district of Istanbul in terms of population. According to the last census, 805,930 people live in Küçükçekmece in an area of 37.8 km2. Küçükçekmece Municipality organises hundreds of cultural and art events; there are three culture and art centres and one show (concert) centre in the district. Küçükçekmece has a cosmopolitan and very comprehensive content in terms of population, economic income level, education level and employment. Living standards, interests and low economic levels of people can be obstacles to people participation in cultural and artistic activities.
In 2020 and 2021, The "Tale Instanbul" International Festival was held on the streets, squares, parks, schools, kindergartens and libraries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The “Tale Istanbul” International Festival was held in October 2020 (1st edition), and in September - October 2021 (2nd edition) in the streets, squares, parks, schools, kindergartens and libraries of Küçükçekmece, under the conditions of the pandemic.
2.2. Project development
Every year, during the 6-day festival, tales prepared around the theme of the festival (which changes every year) are narrated in a regular programme, carried out by storytellers from various countries. These fairy tales are coloured with music, dance and illustrations. Events are held on the streets, avenues, parks and squares with the Tale Truck-Scene, at the beach with the Fairy Tale Bike, at the women’s bazaar, in our culture and art centres, as well as in the academy of fine arts and our libraries. The festivals are organized for all children, young people, parents, elderly people, and employees, as well as for healthcare professionals and their children and women in Küçükçekmece.
It should be noted that Küçükçekmece Municipality’s Tale Truck performed the programme by visiting the neighbourhoods with difficult access to cultural and art activities. Due to the pandemic conditions, the storytellers on the truck narrated their tales to the rhythms by a musician, while children and adults had the opportunity to listen to these stories from their windows without leaving their homes.
Every year, during the 6-day festival, tales are told in a regular programme by storytellers from various countries.
3.1. Direct impacts
At the festivals, expert storytellers from 9 different countries told tales from their country’s culture, which were in line with the festival theme. A total of 124 storytellers, musicians, dance artists, academics and speakers contributed to the events in both festivals. The festival reached 11500 participants (adults, youth and children) with a total of 66 programmes.
The festival targeted 1200 children with six programmes conducted in schools and kindergartens. Children’s programmes were also held in municipal cultural centres and libraries (especially the children’s library with birds). Under the children’s programmes, 12 initiatives were carried out with the participation of 18 storytellers. A thousand children also benefited from the activities.
In festival academic programmes, 300 people who were experts in their fields were reached. Under the festival adult programmes, 21 speakers participated in the events held in the Fairy Tale truck between 20:30 and 22:30 every day in seven separate programmes. 1500 people watched the adult programmes and had a pleasant time. 1500 people participated in the two big concerts, mini concerts and dance shows. In the Tale Truck programmes, a total of 14 shows were held and reached 2700 children. Eight performances were held every day (daytime and night-time) in seven neighbourhoods.
In the Tale Bike programmes, people came together with bicycles on the Küçükçekmece Lake Beach. 1200 women and children participated in the fairy tale bike programme. The Municipality also organized events for women in the Municipality’s Hünerli Eller Bazaar, where they produce and sell handicraft products. Furthermore, 400 people visited two important exhibitions, entitled “Tale books” and “Opening to the East”, which were on display in the cultural centres for one month. Also, the seminars “What Do Children Learn from Fairy Tales?”, “Inspiration from Water”, and “Tale Theme in Turkish Poetry” were held and reached 450 participants. Training workshops on “Marbling Technique”, “Illustration Fairy Tale”, “Design Fairy Tale”, “Stop Motion Animation Fairy Tale” were organised and 450 people attended this training.
The Municipality conducts every year public opinion surveys in order to measure the impact of its work. More than 15.000 citizens are contacted every year. These survey studies are carried out by professional public opinion research companies.
3.3. Key factors
The festival reached neighbourhoods with low economic and educational levels, away from arts and cultural activities. The Municipality seeks to bring “justice in the city” and an equal distribution of cultural rights for all. Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic was used as an opportunity to organise this festival and make people happy.
The first theme of the festival was “birds” in 2020. In its second edition, in 2021, the chosen theme was “water”. Still related to nature, for the third edition of the festival (which will be held at the end of 2022), the theme will be “tree”. Every year, activities and partnerships are expanded. The number of international guests is also increasing compared to the previous year, and country diversity has also increased accordingly. This is important for the recognition and continuity of the festival.
Due to the pandemic conditions, the storytellers told the tales on tale trucks, while children and adults had the opportunity to listen to these stories from their windows without leaving their homes.
4. Further information
Küçükçekmece (Istanbul) was a candidate for the fifth “UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21” International Award (February – June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September 2022, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.
This article was written by Güney Özkilinç, Cultural and Social Affairs Director, Küçükçekmece, Istanbul, Turkey.
Contact: guney.ozkilinc (at) kucukcekmece.bel.tr