Turkish gov’t lifts ban on art activities upon protests of artists in Turkey amidst COVID-19

Artists in Turkey criticized the AKP government’s decision to prohibit artistic activities in the country while the ruling party continues to hold public rallies despite the raging coronavirus outbreak. Upon the protests, the Turkish government has removed the ban on Wed.
Thursday, 17 September 2020 09:26

The governmental decision taken at the emergency meeting held by Istanbul – Provincial General Sanitary Board prohibiting activities such as concerts, theatre performances and festivals in open-air areas as of September 12, had been cancelled by the governorship after another meeting held a few hours after the emergency meeting. Following the latest meeting, the governorship had announced that the bans would be valid from Monday, Sep. 14 on the pretext of increasing COVID-19 cases.

However, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Wed. decided to exclude the aforementioned bans on art activities, including theatre, opera and ballet performances to be staged in open and closed venues, from the circular upon the artists’ reaction against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s attempt to prohibit artistic activities in the country while it continues to hold public rallies despite the raging coronavirus outbreak.

The Ministry said in its statement, ‘‘As a result of the evaluations we made with our Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health, all theatre performances and opera and ballet performances to be staged in open and closed areas were excluded from the scope of decisions taken by the Istanbul – Provincial General Sanitary Board.’’  

The ban on concerts to be performed is still valid, the Ministry also informed.

One of the most negatively affected sectors during the coronavirus pandemic has been the world of art and show. Artists, who have not been able to take to the stage since the beginning of the pandemic, and sector workers behind the scenes, try to raise their voices and continue their protests because they could not get any financial support from the government during this period.

The lack of financial aid and government bans on art activities due to COVID-19 have forced most of the private theatres to bring down the shutters in this process in the country.


In Turkey, a major part of musicians and performing artists have not been able to work since March 2020 and they have suffered economic and moral devastation due to the government’s bans on concerts and other artistic activities.

Since most of the musicians and performing artists work uninsured and under precarious conditions in the country, they can neither receive short-time working allowances nor unemployment insurance benefits.

Even if artists want to find another job to earn a living at such a time when unemployment reached an all-time high, they cannot find it.

Although musical and performing artists are of the same mind about the necessity of prohibitions of mass gatherings during the raging pandemic, they strongly criticize the ruling AKP’s ongoing public rallies, reopening shopping malls, schools, bars and restaurants having a great potential to further spread the virus, and demand state-sponsored funds for their basic living expenses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.