We have interviewed with the CEO of Pasion Turca Sinan Ufuk Nergis about Turkey’s place in world music, festivals and arts and culture tourism and the contribution of music to tourism.
You have been bringing the audience in Turkey with many world-famous names for 20 years. How did this journey begin?
I am a graduate of Boğaziçi University Mathematics Department. I made radio programs with about 400 Turkish artists for 5 years at the university. At a time when I questioned what I wanted to do, wanted to get away and isolate myself, I opened the world map, closed my eyes, and picked a random country. When I opened my eyes, my finger was pointing to Spain.
Have you decided to start a company in a country where you went as a tourist?
It was not a conscious choice, but I later realized that I actually drew my own destiny without knowing it. While spending time in Spain, I found the business card of the manager of a Flamenco ensemble that I watched while I was in Istanbul in my wallet. Vito Montaruli was working with dance groups at that time, and I thought that we could do something common thanks to my relations with the music world, and we laid the foundations of Pasion Turca. I wanted the company name to be a well-known name in Spain Antonio Gala’s Pasion Turca book and the movie starring Anna Belen, which was shot on the book, was very well known in Spain. We called the author of the book, asked “can we use this name?”.
You have been carrying out PR works for Turkey. What kind of a mission is it to promote a country?
I was scared when they first came to me with this offer. I had a circle in Spain, but that was a huge responsibility. I succeeded by processing an industry I do not know with the truths I know. Let me also take this artist, I introduce Turkey with his image, but then let him mention about himself, and let’s use these experiences in different places. We brought the divas of Spain such as Marta Sanchez, Ana Belen, Paloma San Basilio, Monica Molina, Lolita. And we gave these interviews to the Spanish press. Since these names are also famous in Latin America, it was like killing several birds with one stone. As a result of these studies, the number of tourists increased from 100 thousand to 400 thousand. But most of all, an amazing image was formed for Turkey. Geo Special Spanish edition, dozens of monographic editions, Lonely Planet special Istanbul edition, Conde Nast magazine made a Turkey edition in Spanish and Javier Sierra put Piri Reis map in the book.
How do you evaluate the relationship between Culture, Art and Tourism?
The successes you have achieved with Music and Culture and Arts also contribute to the promotion of that country in terms of Tourism. The artists also become voluntary cultural ambassadors. During the period we have assumed Turkey PR works, we have pictured the beauty of the Bosporus with Monica Molina in Hola magazine, one of the most important magazines of Spain. We liked the photos so much that we used them as the cover of the Best Of album.
Which country do you feel closest to?
Of course, it is Spain after my own country. It is also the country where my story begins. Apart from my personal connection, as a Mediterranean country, it is among the countries that attract me the most with its geography, history and culture and art life.
How do you evaluate the festival culture in our country when you compare it with Europe?
We do not have as many big festivals as Europe, but we have dozens of festivals as a result of different and rich cultures of our cities. Although the main festivals are held in Istanbul, our major cities host many international festivals. Antalya Piano Festival, International Mersin Music Festival, International Ankara Music Festival, Opera Ballet’s Aspendos Opera and Bodrum Ballet Festival, International Izmir Festival are some of them. Of course, state policies that support this culture are also important. Very beautiful halls were opened in Konya, Eskişehir and Denizli. Izmir Opera House is being built, Presidential Symphony Building is opening in Ankara. In this sense, I believe that more beautiful events will be realized. Every city in Turkey needs to carry out their individual PR works. Each city has a gastronomic power and a separate history. You have to create the request first.
What feelings do you have in the idea of “Journey”?
Journey inspires me. Meeting and discovering new people and sharing beauties in different countries enriches me both personally and professionally.
Have you made a Cruise travel before? What does it mean to be at sea?
I have traveled to many parts of the world. I have also made a Cruise travel to the Greek Islands. Cruise travel, to be at sea and explore different beauties at different stops was always very attractive for me. I hope to make a Cruise trip again soon. After the Aegean tour, I think I would start with a beautiful Mediterranean tour.
Is Turkey sufficiently known abroad for its music? As a country, can we export art to the world?
In 2005, we held the La Marda Musicas festival in Spain. We have sent many singers and groups to Spain from Turkey such as Sezen Aksu, Mercan Dede, Sister Folk Songs, Burhan Ocal, Harem, Galata, Erkan Ogur, Kutsi Ergüner, Baba Zula, Orient Express and Galata Mevlevi Lodge. We held festivals where Fatih Akın presented the movie Crossing The Bridge. Years ago, we had great success with the Harem group worldwide. Turkey is a country that giants such as Mina recorded four songs in Turkish in the 60s. We are not fully aware of our potential. We had a tour with Galata Mevlevi Lodge in America years ago. Before Rumi books are among the bestsellers in America… Of course, Spain is one of the 4 – 5 markets where the heart of music beats as a country. The language factor – Spanish – is very important. Everyone knows what Flamenco or Fado is. But how many people know Turkish Music? Hats and ponchos come to your mind when you say Neapolitan, Italy or Mexico. These are due to the fact that both the culture and the music of the countries image themselves.