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While this issue mainly includes independent initiatives, corporate organizations that also take initiatives need to be examined, too. By corporate organizations, we mean the organizations that have the legal personality and sustain themselves by generating an income through the sale of a service or product. The first question is common for all organizations, so we wanted to ask you, too: When we say independent art organizations, one of the main concepts is, of course, "independence". What does independence mean to you? As an art formation, what do you feel like you are dependent on, and what do you think you need to look out? 

For those of us who established and maintain Ka, independence means -as we have always mentioned- to offer alternatives to stereotypes and cliche ideas, to go towards the fields that we need, to cut off the branches that do not work, to do things in the way we know and after our hearts. From the very beginning, it was a place that would lead us to the fields we have starved for. A place where people have the courage to create and freedom to make mistakes while producing, a place that hosts a collective soul, and a place which can change, transform and mind the needs and curiosities of people who companion it. We have been working on this for the last ten years… On the hand, the most important thing that we have to pay regard at the end of these ten years is our community: Other initiatives, artists, collectives, institutions, and of course, audiences that we work with. 


While working on this issue, we often had a chance to think about the titles such as initiative, collective, and corporate structure. Independent initiative is generally perceived as a structure where artists come together. Initiatives taken by a single person, publications, and associations are excluded from this definition. A corporate institution can be easily labelled as a business enterprise. You probably encounter similar perceptions. How do you define yourself, where do you position yourself?

First of all, thank you for bringing this issue back to the agenda. We were struggling a bit with this perception ten years ago, but over time, the art form in Turkey could overcome this discussion. Yet, to make it clear, Ka has never been operated with a profit goal. In fact, Ka has used all of its earnings to invest for itself so far. Things like growing our library, improving the inventory stocks, taking care of the place we reside in have always been important to us. In addition, some expense items per month are valid for every model with a venue, and these are not small costs. So, such things have always been our priority: Keeping to do what we believe and provide, and continuously improving our conditions... The system we have established so far has made this possible. We have a system established in such a way that everyone in Ka, from its founders to volunteers receive a return for their efforts. Sustainability is at the core of current debates about initiatives. Maintaining without straying from the intended path and preserving the principles have a certain rhythm and costs for everyone who is a part of this issue. If you have a structure with a venue, you have to consider the periodic costs. We manage to overcome these costs with this model, and we learn and transform every day. We review our opportunities and energy to be more functional for ourselves. For a while, we have been at a turning point where we have reevaluated our position, embraced our institutionalization, and prepared to transform it. 


The general perception that institutionalization requires much hardship and bureaucratic effort cause independent initiatives to avoid being a legal entity. How did you make this decision?

This is just a business model. Each model has certain obligations and possibilities. Everything starts with accepting them. What is our aim, what can we achieve, would we give up if we cannot achieve them, what do we want to do in the long term, how can we sustain it...These are the basic questions that form our model. In Turkey, "independent art initiative" definition has started to be widely used through the collaboration of the artists and people working in this field who are outside of this system and come together without being dependent on the market and or state. This definition has a place in our language now. As a matter of fact, this was our motivation when establishing Ka; however, the business model we chose, the way we do things was to establish a company. The reason for this was to find a solution to the obstacles that might prevent what we aim to do from the very beginning. As everyone who thinks about and works in this field imagines; there are tons of invisible labour, bonds of communion, financial difficulties, a system that you want to change and a perspective where everything starts… Unfortunately, sometimes your efforts for sustainability can take precedence over what you want to do. For us, the way to be independent, to act independently was to be institutionalized and we made such a decision. In order to survive and maintain its independence, Ka has been earning money from the beginning and spending a large part of this earning on its sustainability and free-events. In this way, it can be independent of the market, funds or any other point of view. Besides, what you do is as important as sustainability; how you do things, what effect you have in your field… I mean, forever sustainability may not be a perfect aim :) That has its troubles. One thing we always remind ourselves is that if the Ka completes its mission for us, turns into an imposition, it is possible to terminate it. In other words, as an addition to the question of independence, it is also crucial to be independent of yourself and to avoid the impositions of the structure you have established. We are not at this point, for now, there is a lot we want to do. But institutionalization does not apply for and necessary for everyone. One initiative does the things that they aim in a year, while the other acts slowly. This point should be flexible… So we did not decide on institutionalization for turning our work into money. It is a solution for independence and sustainability. 


Although it contradicts the previous question, many funds and sponsorships lay down to be a legal entity as a condition. Sometimes this situation affects the decision of establishing an association/company. What kind of advantages that institutionalization provides you or what kind of disadvantages it causes you? 

We experience the complete opposite. Are we not aware of funding opportunities seeking legal personality? :) 


The organizations arise from the individual desires and needs as well as the needs of the art environment. Therefore, the wishes and opinions of individuals become a significant factor in the structure of an organization. How much did your organization depend on the individuals part in and how did you balance between these two?

We were four people founding Ka (Oğuz Karakütük, Nazlı Deniz Oğuz, Fazlı Öztürk, Serhat Şatır) but now, we are two (Nazlı & Oğuz). We have always taken care of each other's sensitivities, curiosities and goals as much as possible. This brought some sort of balance. Our common goal was to create an environment to freely produce, to be open to possibilities for mutual learning, and to meet with people who have similar approaches to us and who are open to sharing and learning, like us. In everything we have done so far, we have taken care of our own needs and what we find meaningful, and we invited people to participate. Therefore, Ka is a reflection of its founders. Maybe that is the reason we do not need to use our own names instead of Ka. When looking back, Ka is like a pseudonym for us.  Ka is like a pseudonym for us. In addition, constantly taking care of people who join us (everyone who decides to participate in us, feels that they belong here, believes that they can generate value here) provides us to speak refinedly and ruminate about the things before taking action. That is the point that keeps the balance. 


Sustainability is not only related to economic factors but also the organizational model. How many people does your team consist of, and how are the division of labour and job definitions? 

As I mentioned above, Ka was founded by four people. It is currently run by two founders (Nazlı Deniz Oğuz and Oğuz Karakütük), but there are several people working with us. Our coordinator Ekin (Kula) has been with us for a long time, our assistant coordinator Hazel (Kılınç) has been contributing to us. Moreover, we have lots of workshop consultants, lecturers who share their knowledge in events, people who create content for and produce projects in Ka, volunteers, our assistant team… We are actually very crowded :) We have certain models so that everyone involved can get the return for their effort. This can be financial return, to share opportunities… We have different solutions based on mutual consent. 


What are the effects of independent organizations in the current economic and social conditions of Turkey?

They take on the mission of changing and transforming independently of political authority. This is much more valid when you are not a legal entity. Besides, it gives a room for a new experience by making more artists visible. It makes room for young artists and thus transforms the market and large-scale institutions. We can also say that they create new ground in terms of solidarity and discussion. They create a useful snowball effect altogether. 


We are curious about your opinion on the future of independent initiatives. What do you think about this subject, and do you have any concerns? 

Each of the associations that are nurtured by the spirit, needs, excitements and hopes of this strange period we are going through is precious and transformative. As all the actors involved in this discussion, whatever model we follow, we form a story, create a communication channel with what we do. Whether it is long term or short term, we change and transform something in this story. We can predict that this will be quite effective in the long term. In this sense, I believe that each of us should work on creating archives. Ka is not good at this issue either. The workload is heavy, the days are short, and there is a lot to do; but one of the primary things should be to create an archive because we have a concern about the sustainability of our legacies.