A Trailblazing Arts Festival Changing Global Perceptions of Turkey

How Alphan Eseli and his wife Demet are shifting the paradigm with the Istanbul Arts & Culture Festival.

Courtesy of Istanbul '74

For centuries, Istanbul, Turkey has been a cosmopolitan port attracting global citizens from all walks of life, and an incubator for thought-provoking discourse, inspiring everyone from Rumi to Rimbaud. Despite this legacy of sophistication, many evening-news watchers tend to lump Istanbul, and, for that matter, all of Turkey, under the misleading title of “conflict area” due to its proximity to several embattled neighbor-nations. Situated perfectly between Europe and Asia, with Syria to the South and Iran to the East, many in the West, particularly those unfamiliar with the region, are worried that the country will be next in line to fall prey to ISIS, which in the last year has grown from fringe movement to formidable force.

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