Suppressing urban creativity: displacement of the art spaces out of the mainstream cultural scene of Istanbul

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Istanbul’s contemporary cultural scene has been struggling with the displacements of long-establıshed cultural assets due to the applications of top-down urban redevelopment and renewal projects. In particular, the stigmatization of the city’s long-established cultural spaces as a non-profit places and the de-functionalization of their buildings through long-term closures and neglect have appeared as a political strategy of urban policy makers to legitimatize the replacements of public spaces by profit making private spaces. In this paper, as focusing on one recent case of the displacement of the Emek Movie Theatre that has symbolically important place for Turkey’s local cinema scene through the application of urban renewal project, I investigate the reasons that the survival and resistance tactics of the bottom-up agencies failed to evolve planning processes into a communicative and collaborative structure. It is aimed to evaluate the drawbacks of the noncommunicative and non-collaborative governance structure arising in the urban policy scene of Istanbul in the generation of urban creativity. The study will underline the importance of nonmainstream cultural scene in the development of Istanbul’s creative and innovative capacity along with contributing to enhance the status of bottom-up urban players in the public spaces of cities. Thus, it draws an attention towards sustaining urban environments with the vision of innovative and positive nature of bottom-up urban practices, and contributes the debates on how the urban processes in Istanbul are democratized by the participation of bottom-up urban actors in formal planning and urban development processes.
bottom-up urban actors, urban regeneration, top-down urban planning, urban governance