By Heidi Trautmann
In May 2010 I reported on the inauguration of the new EMAA Art Centre in Nicosia:
There is a yellow stone building behind the Ministry of Education, a beautiful building freshly renovated with the support of the Mayor of Lefkosa Municipality and the United Nations. It used to be the old municipality building for many years. The members of the EMAA board have been after it for a time as they considered it very important to have a home for the growing association and its increasing activities.
The main focus is aimed at contemporary art and its understanding and acceptance by society, as well as at the improvement of relations between different art disciplines and encouraging communication between the artists themselves; therefore educational programmes are of great importance to EMAA including courses for adults, further education and information programmes for young artists and courses for children and disabled people.
The beginning of a new year is always a good occasion to pause for a moment and look in both directions. I went to see Özgül Ezgin, newly elected 4th President of EMAA, and Zehra Sonya, 2nd president and member of the board to discuss the situation.
Zehra Sonya comments: “If we consider for how many years and how many artists and art groups in the TRNC have been trying to bring to life the idea of a common arts centre or museum – efforts had already been made in the 60s – we can be proud that EMAA has finally achieved this goal. It has been a long struggle. Over the years, many buildings adequate for our needs were renovated but the initial purpose for which they were planned: to meet the demand for museums, art centres, etc. was never finally realized before.”
Have you come close to the goals you have set for yourself, I ask.
Özgül Ezgin: Within 8 months EMAA hosted eight art exhibitions, several two-month courses for nine different groups of various age groups, 2 three-day theoretical intensive courses on modern art, one two-week improvement programme for young artists, nine one-day workshops, and two interview sessions. The main objective of all these programmes was to encourage interest in modern art and help participants keep abreast of new developments in art, and to learn to acquire information and develop the skill in experimenting. During these eight months packed full with events and activities, an average of 1400-1600 people visited the centre.
The success of these projects in such a short period of time indicates that we are heading in the right direction. The feedback from children especially is more than satisfactory, and as we observed, they always have fun throughout the course, and look forward to the next course.
Zehra Sonya continues: Our ‘Young Artist Improvement’ course, a novelty in Northern Cyprus, is an accomplishment which the centre is very proud of. With the collaboration of experienced experts, the participants learn how to look at things in different ways, to examine various possibilities, to cooperate within the group, including discussion and criticism, encouraging experimental creativity, giving the freedom to experiment with a variety of techniques, concepts and creative processes. At the end of each course, the artwork created is displayed in our centre for the public to see.
Can anyone participate in the courses? Is it bi-communal? What must he/she do?
1. For children (6-12 age group): two months long (TC only)
2. For youngsters (13-17 age group ): two months long (TC only )
3. Bi-communal: one day workshop for children (6-12 age group)
4. Bi communal: one day workshop for youngster (13-17 age group)
5. For disabled (no age limit): two months long (TC only)
6. For adults (18+): two months long ( bi-communal)
7. Development of young artists programme (bi-communal): one week workshops with international instructors for young artists
We announce the courses through the press, our electronic networks, via radio programmes (BRT Radio 5) and TV (Channel T) programmes. Anyone who is interested in participating in any of the courses can call us and register. There are no fees for the participants.
(Note : EMAA has a weekly spot at BRT Radio 5 and a bi-monthly programme on Channel T)
How many members do you have at the moment? Can anyone become a member and what are the conditions?
Özgül Ezgin: We have about 140 members. Every TRNC citizen can become a member. We have a membership form that people can fill in to apply. (Can be downloaded from www.emaacyprus.org) These applications are subject to the approval of the board. People who are not citizens can become honorary members, but they cannot vote.
I see that EMAA concentrates on the further education of young people. But what about the activities of the past such as EMAA’s annual art exhibition or the Open Studios which was a welcome opportunity to follow up the state of the arts in Cyprus? Is anything of this sort planned in the near future?
Özgül Ezgin: “Unfortunately, we do not have anything planned for those events you mention, not for the next two years. We are very low in human resources at the moment. If there are any volunteers who are willing to take on the organizational responsibilities of these events, then we could re-consider reviving them again.”
Do you get any support in running the art centre? If you, the newly elected President of EMAA, had three free wishes, what would come to your mind first?
Özgül Ezgin: Do you mean financial support?
Currently, for all these courses, we receive 85% of our funds from the EU. We received a grant from the EU civil society strengthening programme last year. Other than the EU, Deniz Plaza is another sponsor of these events and the Nicosia Turkish Municipality supports us by providing the premises.
Other support such as organizing, translating and other tasks would be most welcome since there is only a handful of people doing all the work.
As for my first three wishes:
1. A modern TC state that realizes the importance of its local art and artists
2. That EMAA could take its place in the international contemporary arena
3. That the centre could continue its functions fully without having to worry about finance.
Visiting hours of the Art Centre: (Note: Since we are short of manpower, we advise calling before visiting!)
Monday: 16.00 – 20.00
Tuesday-Friday: 10.00 – 13.00 and 16.00 – 20.00
Saturday: 10.00 – 14.00
Belediye Sokak No. 1 Yenişehir, Lefkosa
Tel: 227 3864 – 227 3799
0533 847 5209
To be published in Zoom Magazine March 2011