Strictly Mundial Istanbul is cancelled

Istanbul, Turkey – The organizers of Strictly Mundial 2004 announced today
that the conference has been cancelled. Strictly Mundial is a spin-off of the
successful WOMEX conference and trade show. Strictly Mundial is held annually
in a different country. We reproduce here the news release by
Salih Yigit, Director
of Strictly Mundial Istanbul:

Dear music lovers, press members, and friends of Strictly Mundial Istanbul,

Over the past weeks and months, we have shared with you our enthusiasm in
organising Strictly Mundial Istanbul. Today we regret to inform you that we are
not any more able to make this event happen. This is because we need to put an
end to a situation that is going out of our control –and that even we are having
difficulties to understand. Strictly Mundial Istanbul is cancelled.

As you are aware, Strictly Mundial is an initiative of the European Forum of
Worldwide Music Festivals, which is based in Brussels. Artmaxx, of which I am
Director, was appointed to take care of the organisation of the 2004 edition in

In Turkey, Artmaxx received the support of many respected professionals,
organisations and firms, who all wanted to be associated to this great event. –
a first for my country.

Out of the 970 artist applications (a record number) that we received, our
Artistic Director Bernhard Hanneken elaborated a great concert and showcase
programme. Given the high quality of the applications we got, we decided that we
should try to invite 100 bands to perform, instead of the 60 originally planned.
We were eventually able to program 73 concerts, which was still above our
original expectation.

However, as we were drawing nearer the event, we received indications that we
were going straight into a problematic situation.

Here is a summary of what, I believe, has happened:

EFWMF, the European Forum, has boycotted their own festival.

After making the decision that Strictly Mundial 2004 would take place in
Istanbul, the Forum failed to gain the support of the European Union for this
project, despite our repeated request for assistance in the process.
They finally agreed, but only 3 weeks ago, to countersign the application we
made to the EU. Within one week, the European Commission informed their offices
in Ankara that the EU should provide moral endorsement to the whole event.
However, at this stage, it was already too late to apply for any financial
support from the Commission.

The Central Asia Project – an important part of the programme- had to be
cancelled due to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture withdrawing from the project at
a short notice, thereby not fulfilling the commitment they had made, through the
EFWMF, to Strictly Mundial Istanbul;

Despite all the efforts we put into the organisation, registrations from abroad
were lower than expected, which I see is a direct consequence of this let-down
by the Forum. For instance, we offered 100 free accreditations to the Forum
members, but only 26 did apply. Very few of the 50 festivals in the Forum booked
a stand at the fair. We could not even get access to the complete list of Forum
members, because the Forum delegate working in our office here in Istanbul had
received the instruction not to pass it onto us;

Despite this lack of support, we did our utmost efforts to carry on with the
organisation, because of our responsabilities towards the artists, registered
participants, music lovers, and all those who lent us their support.
However, the press statement which was sent last Wednesday the 7 th of April by
the EFWMF was a blow impossible to overcome. This statement was sent not only to
the Forum members, but to many related and unrelated people in Turkey and around
the world, and this without us knowing. The contact database used for this
mailing was taken without permission from our Project Manager’s office computer
by the Forum delegate, who forwarded it to the Brussels office.

In this statement, it was said that Bernhard Hanneken had resigned from his
position as Artistic Director. This was inaccurate and the Forum sent me an
apologetic email on the 8 th of April to acknowledge this and to confirm that
Berhnard was still in position. Unfortunately, this apology was sent only to me
and noone else from the contact database that had been used beforehand.

I would now like to insist on 4 important points:

• Bernhard Hanneken had never resigned;
• According to the written agreement between the EFWMF and Artmaxx, the Artistic
Director works under the direction of Artmaxx. Only Artmaxx is entitled to make
statements about his situation;
• The database used by the Forum without our permission contained hundreds of
professional contacts that belonged to our sister agency, which has no working
agreement with the Forum. Many of those contacts where unrelated to Strictly
Mundial. Under European Law it is not legal to use personal information without
the express consent of its owner, and we intend to take appropriate legal
• As a result of the Forum statement, Artmaxx suddenly lost the confidence and
support of many of its local partners and service providers. The office’s
telephones were overflowed by calls from partners asking for clarification and
expressing their hesitation to carry on supporting an event in crisis and
without Artistic Director.

We can not afford to organise a EFMWF event without and against the EFMWF.

For the turkish artists on the program, all of whom agreed to take part without
cachet, it is of little interest to perform in front of an audience devoid of
festival directors from abroad. This is also true for the foreign artists.

I believe that the Forum’s course of action does not reflect the position of the
whole of its membership. I also suspect that some of the Forum Board members did
not wish, from the outset, that Strictly Mundial 2004 be held in Istanbul.

As someone who spent 30 years in Europe, I can not forgive myself for not
foreseeing this crisis. Deciding to cancel was a painful decision but I believe
that going ahead in those conditions would have been an even greater mistake.

I am now considering to take this case to the court of Brussels which is the
place of jurisdiction for all the financial disputes that will arise from this

My 18 people-strong team and myself had been working very hard for months to
make Strictly Mundial Istanbul a great event and on their behalf, I would like
to thank all the artists, individuals, companies and institutions who have
trusted and supported us throughout these months.

Today is for them and all of us a day of great disappointment and sadness.

Salih Yigit, Director of Strictly Mundial Istanbul

[To read the version of the European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals (EFWWF),

click here