Heidi Trautmann

602 - Baraka Cultural Centre calls citizens to protest

Is the renting of a public building the first step to privatisation?


By Heidi Trautmann


The Arabahmet Cultural Centre is – according to the information that was given during the protest event – property of the City of Nicosia, i.e. the Municipality; it was in their range of duties to maintain the building and see to it that it is kept available for the use of art groups in the wider sense.  I have been there several times for poetry readings and bi-communal music events. The information I found in the internet by local organs on the building is the following:

“The Culture and Arts Centre is located in Sehet Mehmet Hussein Street in the Arabahmet area.

This listed building retains features dating back to the Lusignan period. Over the centuries it has had many facelifts, including its magnificent wooden ceilings from the Ottoman period. The theatre hall was originally built by the British. More recently, the building has been restored as a cultural centre for the area, and houses a theatre with a stage and changing rooms, an exhibition hall and offices. The restoration of this building as part of the Nicosia Master Plan, aimed at improving the social and cultural aspects of the area of Arabahmet, and has been proved to be one of the most successful of the Arabahmet Rehabilitation projects.”


Lately it so happened that the Municipality of Nicosia is no longer able to meet their duties due to known difficulties – the place became neglected and no longer usable – and so they have now rented the place out to a private enterprise which stops the use for art and culture as actually intended altogether.

There is not much that can be done but protest. I have talked to a young lady from Baraka who explained to me that they have already succeeded once in stopping the renting out of the place some years ago and they hope they will succeed again….. “because”, she said, “we must prevent that public places are eventually sold into private hands and thus lost forever to our society. Behind Baraka stand "Pir Sultan Community Centre", "Lefkoşa Sanat Tiyatrosu", "Surlariçi Asilzadeleri Doğaçlama Tiyatro Topluluğu", HASDER.

I also spoke to the artist Ismail Işılsoy, who is well known for his legendary wooden sculptures  and was present in his function as representative of “Slow Theatre Movement Lefke”; he brought greetings of sympathy and solidarity from artists and organisations from Europe and Turkey and others. “We must put a stop right at the beginning to the sellout of our heritage. It is a sickening thought to imagine what would happen when they get through with it.”



Ismail Isilsoy speaking
Ismail Isilsoy speaking

Recital of a song created for the occasion
Recital of a song created for the occasion

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