Friday, December 3, 2010

Kirkuk Iraq's cultural capita

File photo
Kirkuk's arts, music and theater on display
Defying security and political problems, multi-ethnical Kirkuk holds varied cultural activities reflecting its diversity.

Kirkuk city, named Iraq's cultural capital city this year, produces numerous plays, concerts and other activities by Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen artists. Though the activities funded by different sides, hardly anyone even noticed they were beoing held. "The activities should have been noticed in the streets," said Rebaz Nuri, a university student. He explained that people have seen the activities widely. Officials say that the activities cannot be held in the streets because violence may erupt.

The city witnessed a week of theater starting on November 9 during which several plays were held. The productions will continue until December 19, announced Abdullah Kakayee, who arranges such activities.

During the month of November alone, concerts were held by Kirkuk singer Ali Zangana and Erbil singer Salah Najmaddin. "We tried to build a bridge between artists from the two cities," said Kakayee. A special concert was held for several singers to revive the songs of famous Kurdish singer Ali Mardan. And an art festival was held for children of all ethnicities of the city.

"For the first time, the Kurdistan Regional Government funded activities performed by the Turkmen Artists Union," Kakayee noted. The KRG paid 13 million Iraqi dinars for a two-day festival of Turkmen artisits in which they performed plays, put on exhibitions and held concerts. Also with the KRG funds, a forum will be held for Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen authors.

The Iraqi government gave ID 300 million for the activities, and the Kirkuk governorate and KRG have already given 150 million, said Kakayee, who is a member of a committee that supervises spending on KRG-funded projects. Out of the KRG's budget, ID 50 million was spent buying books for Kirkuk University's library.

Representing the Kirkuk branch of the Kurdistan Artists Union, Ali Zangana supervises the activities of Iraq's cultural capital city. He stated that money given by the Kirkuk governorate and the Iraqi government hasn't been spent transparently.

"The money given by the Kirkuk governorate was spent by the Kirkuk Cultural House, which is an institutue of the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. The House bought computers, air conditioners and furniture costing 115 ID million for their office," claimed Zangana. He said the House spent nothing on cultural activities, and he added that some of the money has not been spent yet. He commented on the projects funded by the Iraqi government, which include projects for artists coming from other provinces to perform in Kirkuk, and projects with a budget of ID 200 million for Kirkuk artists. Zangana doesn't have any idea how these projects will pan out, considering whre the money has gone.

The director of the Kirkuk Cultural House, Jafar Najim, replied to the allegations. "The money we received from the governorate is for our office, not for the activities. This is first time we receive money from the governorate in six years." He did wish that they would have kept some of the money to spend on activities for Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen artisits who are set to perform plays in the coming days. 

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