11th One Love Festival in a cloudy agenda
Efes Pilsen had to withdraw its name because of the heavy pressure
Efes Pilsen beer company has been the sponsor for One Love Festival (a 2 days long music festival) for the 11th time, which means a lot if we consider that a sustainable sponsorship is really rare to find. This year, at the last minute Efes Pilsen had to withdraw its name from the festival because of the heavy pressure from the local district municipality and the Turkish Green Crescent, Yesilay.
One Love hosted highly reputable musicians and bands as Pulp, Kaiser Chiefs, Selah Sue, Kimbra, and Damien Rice. Eventually, no alcohol was sold at the event even though there are 2 cafes having the alcohol-serving license at the campus.
Freedom to choose?
Eyup neighborhood, where Bilgi University campus is located, is known to be a conservative area yet the festival was taking place for ten years and it never caused any problem between locals and festival attendants. So, one cannot help himself but ask the question: “If the drinking is not an illegal action over 18, what is the government protecting youngster against?”
This year, with the right-wing government getting more powerful and local authorities setting apart the non-voting minority, plus the fragile month “Ramadan” approaching, unluckily One Love Festival was the target for emphasizing the diversity and raising the voice of conservatives in the country.
Finally, on the festival day, there was far-right groups hanging banners like “Alcohol is the mother of all evil” and “Don’t pollute Eyup.”
“Alcoholic beverage firms target the youth and aim to gain new alcohol consumers with such events,” the head of the Green Crescent Muharrem Balcı said in a written statement. Obviously, the government has the idea of alcohol as an extreme addiction but nothing else.
Pressure also from high ranks in politics
The Prime Minister also made a declaration about the festival: “For God’s sake, could it be permitted to give permission for selling alcohol in a restaurant located in a university campus? Shall the students come to school to get drunk or to learn things for finding themselves? I called the administrative at the university and asked ‘What is this situation? We are really upset about that.’ I believe some columnists wish our young population to be alcoholic.”
Obviously, government’s perception of alcohol is not drinking but only getting drunk and driving crazy. These statements created a buzz on social media and people expressed their fear after all these restriction of freedom cases under the topic “Protect your festival, your music, your voice”. The debates are still being discussed on TV and newspapers yet the authorities do not step back. The question is now: Will the alcohol ban spread as smoking ban and would that demotivate the festival attendants, invited bands and discourage sponsors as in One Love case?
Here are some views from columnists sensitive to the issue:
Cagdas Ertuna, 23 July 2012, Milliyet
“No one has to use the products just because a brand is sponsoring a music festival. If you like the musicians and the bands, you simply go listen to their music and if you do not like the names that the festival is featuring, you do not go. That is enough protest.”
Melis Alphan, 16 July 2012, Hurriyet
“They all know very well. That they cannot prevent alcohol consuming with bans. If it would be that way, a great amount of people in Iran and Pakistan would not drink at all. But well, there are a huge variety of narcotics consuming. As everyone knows bans are to break. And what we do now is to ghetto the other and spit up people who likes to drink.”
Görgün Taner, General Manager, İstanbul Culture and Arts Foundation
“In the first place One Love not a beer festival yet a cultural event that hosts important contemporary music bands. The main sponsor is a beer brand but no one has to drink. These kind of contributions to arts should be supported not dissuaded.”
Tolga Akyıldız, music columnist
“Efes Pilsen has been sponsoring theatre, music and sports. If you say that the brand needs the sales at the festival or increase the brand awareness, you just make me laugh.”
Mehmet Tez, music columnist
“This is not just one single case. I see this as the general state of affairs in the country and a sign of wishes to recreate a conservative country and life-style. In the last 10 years, some might think that the economy is going well but it does not apply to everything. Neither the will for common living nor tolerance is alive. Moreover, that region was completely abandoned that no one would ever go before Santral Istanbul. I wonder how it would be without these festivals and exhibitions. Economy is good, pockets are full yet the heads are empty”
11 July 2012, Erkan Aktug, Radikal
One Love Festival Istanbul Photo by Gokhan Kali
Kimbra Photo by Gokhan Kali
Pulp Photo by Gokhan Kali