Election platforms devoid of music

The country is in full election campaign mode. I wait with excitement, every time there’s an election, to listen to party election platforms and manifestos. One particular point of curiosity is whether any political party will make any promises in relation to culture or the arts. And each time, I wind up being disappointed. Just like this time around.

Music is relegated — not unlike the many other branches of the arts — to a couple of vague sentences in candidates’ speeches. And so it is that this topic — with its business component, its singers, its musicians and its millions of listeners — is passed over, as always.

Unfortunately, it appears that no party out there has any general roadmap where music is concerned. Never mind roadmaps, not even any small promises. No mention of music in education, no mention of copyright problems, no mention of problems that plague the industry. No one is even thinking about these things, apparently. Upon examining of the sections of the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) election platform manifesto that mention music, here is what appears, “We will continue to encourage the local production of theater, cinema, opera, ballet, and music, on the level of universal standards.” Also, we see, “We will ensure that cultural centers continue to provide education and training to amateur and professional artists involved in theater, painting and music.”

In the election platform of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the sentence “We will ensure and oversee the continuance of, protection of, and development of Turkish architecture, music, theater, cinema and literature, for the inheritors of Ata’s legacies.” And in the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) election platform, we find these words concerning music: “We will build schools with sports facilities, fine arts workshops, music studios, as well as spaces for theatre and meeting salons.” In the meantime, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) promises to continue working to ensure that artists can create and showcase their work more freely. The real truth is that music, which needs to be treated individually, as does each branch of the arts, is treated instead as just one word, buried in a sentence. And so it is that music education, which is imbued with values that are so vital for every country, is still a serious problem for Turkey. Why, you ask? If we had truly serious and smart policies in this area, and people who really sat around and thought about this topic, by now Turkey would have world-famous artists in every genre of music.

Also, an education in music, especially for school-aged children, can have the vital effect of saving young people from bad habits. At the same time, it is clear that the pressing topic of copyrights within the music industry is a question that does not even come up on our politicians’ radar. This topic, which concerns so many thousands of people, has been waiting in the wings, not being dealt with. With the exception of a few small changes, what still determines national policy and affects the practice of making and producing music is the 1951 Idea and Arts Works Law, but this law has no stead within the modern world around us. Whether or not you appreciate it, the Turkish state did used to have policies regarding music. Students would be sent abroad, with state grants, to study. In schools, students would learn to play at least one instrument. Musical projects and musicians received state support. Just out of curiosity, is there any explanation for the lack of support for musicians today, in comparison to the support received by theater and cinema? Unfortunately, politicians today seem to have neither ideas nor any even general plans where music is concerned. And sadly, the world of music — with all its many members –does not unite to express its needs or demands to the political arena. If things don’t change soon on this front, and awareness is not raised, the music industry will disappear, taking our music with it.

The Beatles and high school provocateurs

One of the most significant topics last week in Turkey was reflected in the Vahdet newspaper’s headline about “May 1 provocation.” The article essentially accused youth from the Birleiik Haziran Hareketi (BHH) group of wanting to head to Taksim to engage in provocative actions. Here is what was written about the photograph of The Beatles that was used in the May 1 poster, “These posters, clearly prepared by Gezi supporters, for the purpose of provocation, show uniformed high school students heading to Taksim, getting ready to protest.” These words actually wound up becoming a topic for speculation on social media and discussion for days afterwards. The pro-government media has become expert at turning everything into potential ingredients for planned coups or other provocation. But the real truth is, even someone with the most basic knowledge of music would have recognized the iconic photo used in the poster, or at least recognized one of the people in the photo. These days, there are barely any uniformed students left in high schools. So that which is not explained, or understood, is joked about. Which is why education is so vital.