Ahmet Kocabıyık Given Kennedy Center Honor

08 June 2009

Sponsor of artistic activities and artists worldwide, International Committee on the Arts of the prestigious Kennedy Center convened in Turkey this year. Kennedy Center's annual "Gold Medal," awarded since 2005, was given to a person from Turkey this year. This year's recipient of the award was Borusan Holding Chairman of the Board Ahmet Kocabıyık for his efforts in promoting Anatolian cultural heritage in international platforms, his support to arts and classical music, and the innovative approach he introduced in the field.
June 8, 2009, Istanbul- Renowned for its worldwide support for performance arts, young artists and arts education, Kennedy Center awarded a name from Turkey for the first time this year. Borusan Holding Chairman of the Board Ahmet Kocabıyık was the recipient of the annual Gold Medal awarded by the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts, which convened in Istanbul on June 2-6, 2009 in Istanbul. Providing 11 million students with arts education and sponsoring around 2,000 cultural and artistic events every year, Kennedy Center also awarded cellist Cihat Aşkın and pianist Cana Gürmen together with Ahmet Kocabıyık.

Kennedy Center started giving the awards in 2005 at a ceremony in St. Petersburg. One of the first recipients of the award was the two-time Academy Award winner actress Olivia de Havilland. In 2006, actors Michael Caine and Jeremy Irons were awarded with the medal. Kennedy Center hosted the 2007 and 2008 awards ceremonies in Beijing and Buenos Aires, respectively. Legendary Latin American singer Mercedes Sosa was also among the award recipients at the ceremony in Buenos Aires.

The names determined by the members of the committee including a former World Bank President, former President of the American Red Cross, many retired ambassadors and business leaders, were given their awards at a ceremony held at the Esma Sultan Yalısı on Saturday evening, June 6, 2009. Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser noted that Ahmet Kocabıyık was awarded the medal for his support to arts and artists through innovative practices and projects, and added:

"Art is the basic force that will carry the humanity to a more civilized and peaceful world. The Kennedy Center, has been striving to develop this force since its inception. This year's meeting was held in İstanbul, because as a city with a unique cultural heritage, it hosts a diverse set of cultures that coexist in peace and harmony, nurtured by each other. While promoting this heritage and culture on an international level, Mr. Ahmet Kocabıyık has also led educational and aid efforts to introduce younger generations to culture and arts. Institutional contributions including, among others, the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Borusan Art Center and Music Library will both strengthen and encourage Turkey's development in performance arts. This award demonstrates our appreciation of Mr. Kocabıyık and Borusan for their support to arts and culture."

Borusan Holding Chairman of the Board Ahmet Kocabıyık said that the award was a source of immense joy and pride for him and continued:

"It is among the primary social responsibilities of Borusan to contribute in the development of arts and culture in our country and to strive to ensure that classical music is embraced and enjoyed by wider segments of our society. We believe that arts and culture are fundamental components of Turkey's journey towards modernization and that music can serve as a bridge among cultures with its universal language. In this sense, I believe that we hold the same values and goals with the Kennedy Center. Kennedy Center is a prestigious institution that contributes in the development of performance arts, supports young artists and works towards the spread of arts education worldwide. I am most happy to be deemed worthy of this honor given by the institution."

Institution that provides more than 11 million students with arts education worldwide

The idea to create a national center for culture and arts in the United States first emerged during the term of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but was adopted later by his successor President John F. Kennedy who allocated considerable funds for the cause. In 1963, two months after the assassination of President Kennedy, the Congress approved a budget of USD 23 million for the planned national center for culture and arts, underlining its importance as the greatest living memorial to President Kennedy. The center was opened on September 8, 1971 as the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts was established in 2001 to support the international efforts and international artistic relations of the Kennedy Center.

Today, Kennedy Center supports the arts education of more than 11 million students in over 60 countries, sponsors over 2,000 performances every year, holds international festivals, and helps international artists give concerts on various stages. It also reaches millions of art enthusiasts throughout the world through the TV programs it produces.

Kennedy Center also holds major festivals that promote different cultures and arts in various countries. These include the Festival of China held in 2005, "JAPAN! Culture + hyperculture" festival in 2007 and the "Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World" festival held with the participation of over 800 artists from the 22 members of the Arab League. 

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