The İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) has been organizing the Istanbul Biennial since 1987. The biennial aims to create a meeting point in Istanbul, in the field of visual arts be- tween artists from diverse cultures and the audience. The fifteen biennials İKSV has organized up to now have enabled the formation of an international cultural network between local and international art circles, artists, curators and art critics by bringing together new trends in contemporary art every two years. Considered as one of the most prestigious biennials alongside Venice, São Paolo and Sydney, the İstanbul Biennial prefers an exhibition model which enables a dialogue between artists and the audience through the work of the artists instead of a national representation model. The curator, appointed by an international advisory board, develops a conceptual framework according to which a variety of artists and projects are invited to the exhibition.
Contemporary İstanbul is the leading annual art fair in Türkiye, situated at the meeting point of Europe and Asia in one of the great cities of the world. Contemporary İstanbul takes place each September and offers a platform for the city’s thriving art scene, growing art market and col- lector base, as well as an access point to the best contemporary art from the wider region. CI is also conducting activities throughout the year to develop contemporary art and culture and to increase awareness in the field and to promote them both inside and outside Türkiye as well as to strengthen relations in the region by organizing inter- national events and programs.
The İstanbul Film Festival was first presented as a film week in the summer of 1982, within the framework of the Inter- national İstanbul Festival. The grand prize of the festival, the first ever Golden Tulip, was given this year to Michael Radford for his film 1984. Accredited by FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) in 1989 as a “specialized competitive festival”, the “film week” thus was renamed the İstanbul Film Festival. The festival awards the Golden Tulip to a film that reflects “new perspectives in cinema.” The Festival features an international competition, provides a broad showcase for recent Turkish film productions, and thus represents a rewarding medium where Turkish and foreign filmmakers get together. The Festival draws a special interest to world classics, presenting retrospectives, and curated sections included in its program which comprises close to 200 titles, making it the most comprehensive film festival in Türkiye. With an admission number of 110,000 in 2019, it is also considered the biggest film festival.
The İstanbul Music Festival is considered as the most prestigious and established classical music event in Türkiye. Throughout its history of more than 40 years, it has played a major role in building up an appreciation for classical music in İstanbul and Türkiye. In its 43 years, the İstanbul Music Festival hosted the most prestigious orchestras and ensembles such as Symphonieorchester des Bayeri- schen Rundfunks, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and more. A distinguished line-up of international soloists such as Elizabeth Scwarzkopf, Kiri Te Kanawa, Kathleen Battle, Cecilia Bartoli, Montserrat Caballé, Renée Fleming, Itzhak Perlman and Anne Sophie Mutter. Being the oldest of the İstanbul Festivals, which became landmarks of cultural life in Türkiye, the İstanbul Music Festival has also earned a reputation for its major role in encouraging research in musicology and in launching special projects on shared cultural values through its productions.
İstanbul Jazz Festival is organized every year in July since 1994 by the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV). İKSV chose to build this festival around jazz music because it believes jazz is one of the most innovative musical genres – open to new ideas, inclusive and accessible. Accordingly, İKSV organizes a broad-spectrum event that not only brings together music lovers and musicians, but also supports the work of jazz musicians in Türkiye and encourages new productions. İstanbul Jazz Festival features classical and modern jazz, Latin and Nordic jazz, works combining electronic music and jazz, and other music categories, such as rock, pop, reggae, funk and world music. Each year, the festival attracts thousands of people to more than 30 concerts held at various historical venues of İstanbul, such as Hagia Eirene Museum, İstanbul Archaeological Museums, Esma Sultan Mansion, as well as extra-ordinary outdoor venues and courtyards of land- mark buildings around the city.
An international event bringing together theatre companies and dance groups from Türkiye and abroad with the audience, The İstanbul Theatre Festival was first held in 1989. Organized biennially since 2002, İstanbul Theatre Festival returned to an annual cycle in 2017 after 15 years. Once every year, the festival hosts carefully selected companies and artists that open up new horizons for both the audience and the art world by bringing national and international, classical and contemporary renditions to the stage through its unique lens. The İstanbul Theatre Festival, together with the Avignon Festival, the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, the Grec Festival, has formed the European Network of Mediterranean Festivals entitled Kadmos.