Creative Çukurcuma is a non-profit art initiative based in Istanbul, Turkey. It was founded by Naz Cuguoğlu and Mine Kaplangı in March, 2015. Its main methods for funding are self-funding and local and international grant applications. Therefore, its budgetary resources available in a year changes from year to year.
Initiative works with partners such art centers, project-based spaces, art galleries and all other kinds of collaborative creative working spaces both in the neighborhood (such as BLOK art space, maumau art residency, REM art space, PRIZMA, etc.) as well as out the neighborhood (such as COOP Gallery, Nashville and bi’bak, Berlin, etc.), thanks to its constantly growing local and international network. Its main modalities of action are periodical seminars, exhibitions, talks and performances and regular announcements about projects taking place in and out the Çukurcuma neighborhood.
Founded in response to a need for building a platform generating progressive dialogues and discussions on contemporary art, it aims to rebuild the nearly-forgotten ‘neighbor’ experience among the new generation through forming collaborations locally and internationally.
It focuses on providing its members and networks with an opportunity to learn about each other’s ongoing projects, exhibitions and activities, also to collaborate and expand their horizons. Initiative is a cumulative announcement board open to everyone as one of its main principles is to ‘connect’ individuals and communities.
Through exhibitions, performances, and community projects, Creative Çukurcuma aims to provide a gathering place for conversations and exchanges of ideas open to everyone. As a local art initiative, it seeks to find a greater understanding of the community in the neighborhood and their surroundings with the use of creative and performing arts.
First activity of the initiative was to bring all creative partners in the neighborhood together to create a sense of community through dinners, meetings and get-togethers. Later, “Long Thursday” event took place to make all partner spaces open until late at night so that the working audience can enjoy the creative atmosphere in the neighborhood as well. By the ending performance by ÇATI Contemporary Dance Artists’ Association at an abandoned garage in our neighbourhood, it mainly aimed to suggest a new understanding of art spaces and introduce the initiative to the audience.
At the first event of ‘’Window Talks’’ (as the local neighborhood members still enjoy to talk to each other from their windows), initiative invited three different performance artists to talk about the weak situation of performance art in Turkey and what could be done in the future to make this discipline stronger and broader.
Organizing “Neighbor” exhibition in the small markets of the neighborhood (antique shop, the meatball restaurant and small market), initiative aimed to create a sense of belonging and conversation between the locals and the artists. As part of Urban Series Symposium organized by the Hungarian Cultural Centre and founded on the basis of neighbourhood concept, show included works by three Turkish artists (Cansu Çakar, Gözde İlkin and Can Sungu) and not visible from the outside, the installations invited visitors in; allowing for a simultaneous discovery of art, space and neighborhood.
“Reading Group” project initiated by Creative Çukurcuma aimed to bring participants working in the art field together to form a community to read, discuss and collaborate with each other. And “Plugin Walks” organized as part of Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair’s new media section “Plugin”, focused on reaching to a wider audience to discover the art works and build a conversation about them.
Initiative will have a screening by Culture of Resistance Documentaries about Western Sahara by Lara Lee (the founder of the Cultures of Resistance Network) as part of its aim to advance public awareness about issues of social and economic justice and will produce shows and seminars in collaboration with bi’bak (Berlin) and COOP Gallery (Nashville) in near future.
As our main aim is to build a platform for dialogue for creative spaces and civil society, being part of Anna Lindh Foundation will be great for us. As the new-generation member of this community, we do believe that we can make contributions through bringing a new fresh perspective, reminding about the nearly-forgotten neighbor relations and bringing our new-generation local and international partners into the conversations. We find it very efficient that Anna Lindh brings the members of the network together from time to time so that we can talk, learn and grow all in one.
Joining ALF network will help us to improve our initiative and personal careers as culture managers in many different ways. Along with wide AFL network, we can share our experiences with other initiatives and learn from them at the same time. Through attending seminars and meetings, we can become part of a bigger community with different partnership opportunities and possible future collaborations locally and internationally. We are sure that we will increase our knowledge and skills about methods for cultural managers. Also, as we are a non-profit art initiative, being part of such community will be very helpful in terms of grant applications to support our activities and projects financially.