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İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts

Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı

Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı

Şakir Eczacıbaşı

Şakir Eczacıbaşı

Bülent Eczacıbaşı

Bülent Eczacıbaşı

İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts

Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation founded in 1973 by seventeen businessmen and art enthusiasts who gathered under the leadership of Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, with the aim of organising an international arts festival in Istanbul.

The Foundation's initial goal was to offer the finest examples of art from around the world, while at the same time promoting the national, cultural and artistic assets of Turkey, by using arts to create an international platform of communication.

The first International Istanbul Festival, organised in 1973 on the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic, covered a period of one and a half months and focused mainly on classical music. Soon after, it included other artistic fields in its programme such as film screenings, theatre productions, jazz and ballet performances, and art exhibitions held in historic venues. As public interest grew, groups of events organised in different artistic disciplines gradually evolved into distinct festivals.

Presented as a separate section under the name "International Istanbul Filmdays" in 1983, the film week transformed into the International Istanbul Film Festival in 1989; 1987 marked the beginning of the International Istanbul Biennial, and in 1989 the International Istanbul Theatre Festival was initiated.

In 1993, after Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı passed away, Şakir Eczacıbaşı became the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Since then, the Foundation took serious steps on the path of institutionalising and strengthened its position in Turkey's cultural and artistic life.

The International Istanbul Jazz Festival was initiated in 1994, the same year that the International Istanbul Festival changed its name to the International Istanbul Music Festival. With the inclusion of Istanbul Design Biennial in 2012, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts became an institution that organises four festivals and two biennials on an international scale.

On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts initiated a social responsibility project and founded the Istanbul Friends of Culture and Arts Tulip membership programme with the intention of protecting cultural heritage and fostering the development of arts. Continuing today under the name of Tulip membership, the programme gathers art enthusiasts under one roof, and provides its members a variety of privileges during İKSV-organised events including the Istanbul Festivals.

The same year, İKSV made a decision to organise smaller events throughout the year and initiated Filmekimi (a week of film screenings in October) in 2002. The Foundation assumed the organisation of the bi-annual Leyla Gencer Voice Competition, from its 4th edition onward, in 2006. From 2007 onwards, İKSV also began organising one-off events throughout the year.

İKSV has been committed to bringing together different cultures and contributing to the creation of a platform for multicultural dialogue. In this respect, İKSV organised a series of international festivals in major European cities. This journey began in 2004 with "Şimdi Now" in Berlin and continued with "Şimdi Stuttgart" in 2005, "Turkey Now" in Amsterdam and Rotterdam in 2007 and 2008, Russia in 2008, and Vienna, Austria in 2009. The "Cultural Season of Turkey in France" activities held between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010 were also organised by İKSV, in collaboration with Culturesfrance. İKSV continues to undertake the coordination of Cité Internationale des Arts, an artist residency programme in France that was initiated within the scope of the Season. Since 2007, the Foundation has been organising the Turkish Pavillion at International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia. In 2014, on the initiation of İKSV, Turkey obtained a long-term venue in la Biennale di Venezia. The allotment of 20 years (from 2014 to 2034) at Sale d’Armi, Arsenale, one of the two main venues of the event, allowed the Pavilion of Turkey to take part for the first time in 2014 in the International Architecture Exhibition.

In December 2009, İKSV’s headquarters moved to Deniz Palas in Şişhane. Together with its new building, which was named Nejat Eczacıbaşı Building in 2011, İKSV realised a long time dream and launched its own performance venue, Salon, where it hosts cultural and artistic events.

In addition to such happy developments, the beginning of 2010 also brought sorrow, as Şakir Eczacıbaşı, who had been the Chairman of the Board of Directors for 16 years, passed away. In February 2010, Bülent Eczacıbaşı was elected as the Chair of the Board of Directors. İKSV celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012 with a series of special events. The same year İKSV also introduced Aydın Gün Encouragement Award, to be presented annually to a promising young musician in the field of classical music. Talât Sait Halman Translation Award followed in 2015, with the intention to support translators of outstanding literary translations into Turkish.

On its way to its 50th anniversary, İKSV continues its activities with the goal of making Istanbul one of the world’s foremost capitals of culture and arts, playing an active role in the production of contemporary culture and arts, and contributing to the development of cultural policies.

Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı

Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, the leading figure in the establishment of İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), was born in İzmir, on 5 January 1913. A dedicated enthusiast and supporter of culture and arts, Eczacıbaşı became acquainted with arts when he started taking private violin lessons during primary school. After graduating from Robert College of İstanbul, he decided to study chemistry, and went to Germany for his undergraduate studies. In the following years, Eczacıbaşı continued studying chemistry, receiving his master's degree from Chicago University and his PhD from Berlin University. Eczacıbaşı returned to Turkey in 1940s, and founding the Eczacıbaşı Pharmaceutical Factory, he played an important role in the development of pharmaceutical industry in Turkey.

The idea of organising a festival in İstanbul emerged in the mid-60s. In order to realise his dream, Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı worked tenaciously for many years inviting important figures who took part in the organisation of prominent festivals around Europe to İstanbul, and continuing his meetings in both Turkey and abroad, he established contacts with individuals who could prove to be invaluable in realising of such a festival in İstanbul. When Turkey's Ministry of Culture was established in 1971, Eczacıbaşı's enthusiasm about and faith in the possibility of a festival was heightened. Finally, a meeting organised in 1972 laid the foundation of İKSV. Among the principal founders of İKSV, supporting Eczacıbaşı, were businessmen, artists and art enthusiasts, namely; Afif Tektaş, Reşat Aksan, Bülent Tarcan, Aydın Gün, Yıldız Kenter, Prof. Mazhar Şevket İpşiroğlu, Ercüment Berker, Cüneyt Gökçer, Mükerrem Berk, Mehmet Önder, Semih Günver, Cemal Süreya, Kazım Eke, Cengiz Altuğ, Ambassador Muharrem Nuri Birgi and Cevat Memduh Altar.

Following the official establishment of the Foundation, the first İstanbul Festival was also realised in 1973, as part of celebrations of the Turkish Republic's 50th anniversary. While the Festival was widely appraised on both national and international levels, in 1974, the Council of Europe awarded Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, the director of the Festival Aydın Gün, and Head of Cultural Affairs Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Semih Günver with medals, acknowledging the immediate success İKSV achieved among the international art festivals from around the world.

Eczacıbaşı believed that every businessman had a social responsibility of contributing to the advancement of the society, and acting upon this belief, in addition to İKSV, he supported the establishment and continuity of many other foundations, including Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Foundation and İzmir Foundation for Culture, Arts and Education (İKSEV).

Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, who was committed to the promotion of culture and arts all through his life, is also the author of two books published by Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Foundation Publications; Kuşaktan Kuşağa (Generation to Generation, 1982) in which he gathered his memoirs, and İzlenimler, Umutlar (Experiences and Expectations, 1994), which he completed shortly before he passed away in 1993.

Şakir Eczacıbaşı

Born in 1929, Şakir Eczacıbaşı graduated from the Robert College in İstanbul and studied pharmaceutics at the London University. Upon his return to Turkey, on 1953 he was among the publishers of the infamous supplement of Vatan newspaper, Sanat Yaprağı (The Leaf of Art).

Eczacıbaşı joined the Eczacıbaşı Pharmaceutical Company in 1955 and from 1956 to 1967 published the journal Tıpta Yenilikler (Innovations in Medicine), which deeply affected the milieu of arts and culture as well as the medical community. Moreover, he organised Eczacıbaşı Cultural Films series together with Sabahattin Eyuboğlu and Pierre Biro between 1960 and 1962. One of the films among the series, Renk Duvarları (Walls of Colour), won the Council of Europe Cultural Film Award in 1964.

In 1965, together with Onat Kutlar, he leaded the foundation of the Turkish Cinemateque Foundation, which he headed for ten years.

In his business career, Şakir Eczacıbaşı became the general manager of Eczacıbaşı Pharmaceuticals in 1970s, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Eczacıbaşı Group on 1980, and the Chairman of Eczacıbaşı Holding in 1993.

The basketball, volleyball, and table tennis teams that he established in 1966 won numerous championships in Turkey. Şakir Eczacıbaşı continued to head the Eczacıbaşı Sports Club until 1996. The club represented Turkey in a number of European cups for years.

One of the most famous modern photographers of Turkey, Şakir Eczacıbaşı's encounter with photography goes back to 1960s. His photographs were exhibited in 15 exhibitions in Turkey and in 25 exhibitions abroad. Some of his works were published in the books titled Anlar/Moments (1983), Türkiye Renkleri (Colors of Turkey) (1997), Kapılar ve Pencereler (Doors and Windows) (2001) and Bir Seçki (A Selection): 1965-2005 (2005).

From 1968 onwards he published the Eczacıbaşı Colour Photograph Almanacs with contributions from prestigious authors and photographers. These publications also served to introduce many unknown young talents. He was also the editor of two books, one a collection from Bernard Shaw, titled Gülen Düşünceler (Laughing Thoughts) and the other from Oscar Wilde titled Tutkular, Acılar, Gülümseyen Deyişler (Passions, Pains, and Smiling Parables). He was also among the pioneers of the foundation of Milliyet Sanat, a prominent journal of Turkish arts world, upon the request of Abdi İpekçi in 1972.

He was awarded with the Medal of Art and Education Cavalier by France and with the Medal of Eminent Service by Turkey. He ceased his activities in the business world in 1996 and focused on İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), of which he became the chairman in 1993. Throughout the 16 years that he headed the establishment, İKSV, which began its activities with a single festival of one and a half months, grew to be a foundation with outmost importance for the cultural and artistic life of Turkey, organising five different festivals on international scale. The Film Days that grew to be the International İstanbul Film Festival, one of the most important film festivals of Europe, thanks to the efforts of Şakir Eczacıbaşı. Eczacıbaşı has also contributed to the intellectual life in Turkey with his efforts for uncensored screening of festival films, since 1988. Şakir Eczacıbaşı has also contributed greatly to the continuance of International İstanbul Theatre Festival, which has gained international eminence despite limited resources.

Şakir Eczacıbaşı had always believed that a well-organized and fruitful "cultural life" should be formed in Turkey. For this purpose, in addition to his efforts with IKSV he formed the Culture Initiative along with leading figures of Turkish cultural life. The Culture Initiative has realised seven important cultural symposia since 1998. İKSV has published the valuable volumes that compile the discussions that took place at these symposiums.

Şakir Eczacıbaşı has also initiated İKSV Design, an establishment that produces exclusive and limited souvenir material that brings together art and design. In the past four years, he personally took interest in every small detail from designs to the artists chosen to be invited to contribute to the collection.

Şakir Eczacıbaşı has accomplished the aspiration of Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, one of the founders of the Foundation, by realising the dream of İKSV to move to its own building. İKSV's new building will become a permanent part of İstanbul's cultural and artistic life, and will thus realise the dream of Şakir Eczacıbaşı.

Şakir Eczacıbaşı has recently authored a book of his memoirs, Çağrşımlar, Tanıklıklar, Dostluklar,  which is published in 2010 by Remzi Kitabevi.

Bülent Eczacıbaşı

Bülent Eczacıbaşı is Chairman of Eczacıbaşı Holding, a prominent Turkish industrial group with investments in pharmaceuticals, personal care products, consumer products, building products and financial services.

Born in 1949 in Istanbul, Bülent Eczacıbaşı graduated from the University of London (Imperial College of Science and Technology) and obtained his master's degree in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After initiating his professional career in 1974 in Eczacıbaşı Holding, Bülent Eczacıbaşı held a variety of management positions in Eczacıbaşı Group companies.

Over the years, Bülent Eczacıbaşı has been involved in a large number of civic associations, including TÜSİAD, the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association, where he was Chairman of the Board (1991-1993) and Chairman of the High Advisory Council (1997-2001). He was also founding Chairman of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) (1993-1997) and Chairman of the Board of the Turkish Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers' Association (2000-2008).

Presently, Bülent Eczacıbaşı continues to serve TÜSİAD as Honorary Chairman, TESEV as a member of the High Advisory Board, and the Turkish Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers' Association as Honorary President. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the İstanbul Modern Art Foundation, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), a member of the International Advisory Boards of the Harvard Kennedy School and Akbank, and also member of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT).

Bülent Eczacıbaşı and his wife, Oya, have two children.