by Heidi Trautmann
Activities to go on with a programme in aid of the Turkish Cypriot community by Heidi Trautmann There were great activities going on downtown Nicosia on last weekend with music, dance and exhibitions, all about Cyprus traditions. I have to confess I missed it but friends told me about it. It was to celebrate the completion of the first ‘Bandabuliya Fund’ (European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme - Partnership for the Future (UNDP-PFF) in partnership with the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC)), a programme to revitalize the renovated Bandabuliya Market.
The news is that the programme had shown great success and acceptance by the public, so the fund is renewed for further activities between March and August 2013, included are also Famagusta Bandabuliya and 11 villages in the North of the island. It is about high time that downtown Nicosia gets some life pumped in. I remember the evenings when I came from an exhibition in the Old City either in the South or the North and I had to go through deserted streets to find my car, the only noise being made was by the wind or some cats playing with tins. Ghastly, but somehow I was never ever afraid.
Now that restorations are going on - Bedesten and Bandabuliya being the last projects finalized - and the Gamblers Inn nearly finished, with concerts and exhibitions taking place in the renovated market and all around it, hopefully we will soon have a lively Old City in the Northern part as well. It is not a problem during the day, there is much to see and do, around the Büyük Han, in the Arasta Street which is our Bazaar Street we could say. Have you ever visited the old established fabric stores or the haberdashery stores where you still find all kind of buttons, material for knitting and all kind of needle work, beads for making jewellery etc etc., this street is a treasure trove.
I have furthermore observed that due to private initiatives, interesting things are happening: In the Naci Talat Peace and Guest House, newly renovated, a beautiful traditional house near the Selemiye Mosque, with regular art and literature meetings, with Tango and Jazz events, a nice courtyard to enjoy a drink and the atmosphere of many cultures. Close by is the new art gallery ESKI, the organisers of which plan to do young art exhibitions, performances, creative activities; this kind of exhibition space is IN, it could be in Paris, I am told. I haven’t been to Paris for many years but they say that art exhibitions are held in such places as weird underground halls, parking houses, public places, not the kind of sterile exhibitions temples with white walls we are used to visit. Interactive spaces, that is the thing today. Art has to identify itself with normal life scenes, that is the message.
The streets of the Old City with its forgotten and derelict houses, old workshops, closed down for many years, would be just the stage scenery for such art and cultural events, where the visitor is taken on a tour between past and future. Only a couple of days ago I visited the ‘Know Now’ exhibition in Nicosia South held in the basement of the Sartirico Theatre, south of the walled city; a place like an underground city, rough and open; (see my separate review). A huge programme of revitalization, planning and initiatives still, but most interesting and well worth it. It needs the willingness of all people, young and old, Cypriot and non-Cypriot by acting and appreciating.