The director and artistic manager of the Hamburg theatre MUT!, Mahmut Canbay, was arrested on his arrival in Turkey for suspected terror. The Yeni Kapi Tiyatrosu in Izmir invited Canbay with a group of young actors from MUT! theatre for two workshops. Canbay had been interrogated for eight hours and received unlimited ban from entering Turkey on Thursday evening. He was denied a lawyer. All emails, contacts and chats on his smartphone were checked. Among other things, he was questioned about a satiric cartoon of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that an acquaintance had sent him by Whatsapp. He was asked why he had not deleted them. With the accusation of terror propaganda, he was finally put back on an airplane to Germany late in the evening of August 8th. The young actors were picked up by theatre members at the airport and could continue the travel to Izmir. They will return on August 15th.
MUT! was founded by Mahmut Canbay and has existed since 2005. It plays multicultural projects and receives public funding from the city of Hamburg.
Several Germans with a Turkish or Kurdish background have been refused entry into Turkey or were arrested. Seven German citizens are currently being detained in Turkey for political reasons. Meanwhile, the German Foreign Office has warned against publishing criticism of the Turkish government in social media.
On 24 July, the President of Albania, Ilir Meta, submitted the complete dossier on the subject of the National Theatre to the Constitutional Court. During his visit on July 25th the Secretary General of the OSCE, Thomas Greminger has stated he believes that “all parties” should wait for the decision of the Constitutional Court before proceeding with the issue of the National Theatre. Albania’s Constitutional Court has been defunct for over a year and has a backlog of tens of thousands of constitutional cases, many of which are by citizens against the government. On the same weekend, the first performance took place again on the stage of the National Theatre. At the beginning of the performance the audience shouted “Long live the theatre”, “Down with the dictatorship”, “Long live freedom”.
Alternative for Germany, known as AfD, has intensified its political activities against public cultural institutions, mainly the city theatres. In many city parliaments the AFD has used the instrument of Parliamentary Inquiries, to question the work of the theatres and the public funding . AFD fuels also prejudices and moods against migrants. The New York Times (July 19th) has a report.
Albanian authorities decided to demolish the National Theatre, one of the most prominent cultural centres in Tirana and an important social and public space in the city. Artists and citizens from the Alliance for the National Theatre have been protesting against its demolition for over a year and have created a human barricade in and around the building. As part of a police raid today, for the first time ,violence against the protesters was used. Read and share their manifesto and sign the petition at change.org.
Already in June 2018, the cultural heritage network Europa Nostra expressed its sincere concerns regarding the decision to demolish with the National Theatre a heritage site of great cultural and architectural importance in Europe.
See also the report from December 2018 about the the Alliance for the National Theatre in Tirana at nachtkritik (German)
On 19 May 2019, artists*, members of the cultural landscape and cultural institutions called for the demo “UNITE & SHINE” in Berlin and several other cities in Germany. More than 5.000 people marched for artistic freedom, an open and democratic society, solidarity, diversity and tolerance. The artists demo, organized by the network DIE VIELEN (The Many) joined with the European wide march ONE EUROPE FOR ALL.
“Nous ne sommes pas doupes!” – in France, 1.400 artists and creative workers signed a solidarity address to the Yellow Vests movement: “What they ask for, they ask for it for all. Yellow vests are us.”
By invitation of the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts, ACAR organised together with ITI Sweden the seminar “Silencing the others – Censorship and self-censorship in the Performing Arts in Europe” . Moderated by Ann Marin Engel (ACAR, ITI Sweden), Sirak Plipat (Freemuse), Tamás Jászay (critic, editor, professor, Hungary) and Thomas Engel (ACAR, ITI Germany) introduced and discussed on May 15th with Swedish Theatre makers the increasing censorship and self-censorship in Europe in the performing arts. The rise of right wing parties and populism, pressure via social media, economic censorship and religious campaigns have brought Europe in an equal relation to the rest or the world in terms of reported attacks against freedom of expression. New alliances between artists and the civil society are needed. Gad Kaynar, the president of the Israeli Center described via voice message the resistance of the theatre sector in Israel against a radical nationalistic and conservative cultural policy in his country.