One love, One heart! Let’s join the Turkey Jazz Network

This past mid-February, I found myself right in the middle of some topics, familiar to me from the time period I have lived in Turkey. The discussion was about the cancellation of several fairs due to the contagious virus, a topic frequently discussed among people and media outlets in the past few weeks. This situation led me to a chain of thought.

The music business in Berlin where I moved to in 2015, and in Europe by extension, is much more stable than the one in Turkey. It is at a point where sensational changes do not happen weekly; and you can foresee the future more transparently and clearly when making plans related to your organizations. Turkish music business, on the other hand, has proven to be a difficult area to work in during the past nine years, as I experienced through my work with various companies and in different roles since 2003. Wearing my working hat in Germany, there have been numerous instances when we had to cancel or postpone all our organizations due to some dramatic event in Turkey while we were busy discussing which band to add to the XJAZZ Berlin program or which gastronomical activity to include in a festival. Many examples and reasons can be given in the context of this comparison, but these are not the only focal points of my article.

Nevertheless, there is a reason I mentioned these topics. This steep difference between these two geographies and ecosystems transformed into something else starting in March when the pandemic hit the European agenda hard. Those of us who have not experienced such a situation in their thirty years in the business were trying to foresee the future of their organizations, obtain knowledge and make decisions in panic, especially during the first few weeks. I stepped into the limelight after observing the area of action a bit, realizing I have a black belt concerning such topics in this situation. I found myself explaining what kind of language should be used in communication during such situations to firstly our own organization, and then the venues we are in constant contact with and other organization companies. I advised them to stay calm while explaining which business bullet points to cancel first, how to talk to people ranging from artists to technical rental companies.

The moments of crisis are very educational. You are influenced both by your own reactions, and by the choices of those around you and transform these into sectoral reactions as a collective consciousness. The reactions and stances of some people and structures left a lasting impression on me. I will continue the article with these positive examples.

Getting organized, unity, networking… The want and need to “move together as a whole” that almost all businesses are getting to realize the importance of with the pandemic… I had the opportunity to observe how fast the energy levels of professionals, who lacked the reflexes required to cancel their organizations when caught unprepared when the pandemic hit, changed. Of course, these comments are made specific to countries with stronger economies and more founded and stable culture-arts ecosystems. I have experienced the unifying steps taken by familiar formations such as Musicboard Berlin, Clubcommission and Europe Jazz Network, their raising voices and the ways they chose to share information with us cultural professionals in Germany following their recovery from the first shock wave caused by the crisis. These organizations advised us on the timings of the government funds that are to be given to artists and professionals, their amounts, who they encompass, how they will be carried out and how to apply for them. We worked on support programs with friendly formations that are members of these networks.

I am not implying that everything works perfectly in Germany and in some parts of Europe, there is no one who can claim as such. However, one understands how critical this topic of being organized is when the different situations of the industry in different geographies are witnessed. We need to defend what we create, look for what is just, be close to government mechanisms and most importantly be unified. The sustainability of the ideas that took much effort and many years to come to fruition depend primarily on this.

We came to a decision in December 2019, before the pandemic, to come together and form a structure as venues and festivals which have been active in jazz and improvisatory music in Turkey. It is a great coincidence and joy to share that Turkish Jazz Network (TCA) is now active in one of the first articles of TURQUAZZ, another great initiative whose success I believe in. It is my luck to be the one to do so. This formation takes its idea and influence from its sister organization, the European Jazz Network. It consists of 16 founding members that support the idea of unity and the sharing of knowledge and experience.

These founding members, both competitors and supporters of each other, are:

The first physical meeting will take place in July 2021. TCA is currently governed by a temporary board of management and will be appointed its first official board of management during the 1st Turkey Jazz Conference. I believe this is an especially important step for Turkey. The network brings together old and new generations while its high energy enables fundamental sharing. The member structures are all directed towards international communities. All these members aim to improve their own area of business as well as expand the general activity chart. It will not be a difficult goal for these international bridges to create a productive ecosystem for firstly the audiences, then the artists and cultural professionals, given that activities to improve the capacity within Turkey increase.