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Turkey Dismantles State Theaters With New Decree

With a new presidential decree, Turkey’s authorities abolished the century-old Turkish State Theaters (DT), ending official sponsorship of art activities and play actors on stage.

The decree also contains confiscation of properties of DT and Turkey’s State Opera and Ballet General Directorate (DOB), which is also dismantled, and transfers all assets of the two institutions to the presidential office.

Both institutions have been beacons and driving elements of Turkey’s Western-oriented modernization and secularization, and enormously contributed to art life in Turkey.

Given the lack of enough private sponsorship, the DT was an indispensable actor to bring foreign productions and plays to Turkey’s stages, originally crafting and producing national plays with state funding.

Although actors are regarded as public servants according to the law, DT operated autonomously and actors and actresses renewed their contracts every year for productions of plays. The autonomous structure of the body, free of political interference, appeared to be a source of friction for Turkey’s Islamist-rooted government which¬†displayed its displeasure over the secular character of state-run art institutions.

Contracts of current actors and actresses have automatically been suspended with the presidential decree, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Whatever activities DT will organize in the future will be determined with a new agency directly under the authority of the presidential office.

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