Akbank Art Center

​​Akbank’s art center, Akbank Art, was established in 1993. Akbank Art began restructuring when it started to focus on modern art in 2003, mobilizing its dynamic by focusing on the local and international qualities of an increasingly global art movement. With this foray into capturing the developmental movement of art in every field, Akbank Art has become one of the most prestigious art venues in not only Istanbul or even Turkey but in the Middle East and Europe starting from the Balkans. Based in Beyoglu, which plays a significant role in Istanbul’s arts and culture scene, Akbank Art Center organizes over 700 activities and events throughout the year, including exhibitions, talks, conferences, film screenings and concerts. The center’s lithography and serigraphy. workshop is where artists are given the opportunity to make prints.

Providing young artists with an unparalleled environment in which they can freely express themselves, Akbank Art undertakes a broad repertoire of work, from guest theatre companies to Akbank Children’s Theater plays. Their operational mission defined as “the place where change never ceases,” Akbank Art Center is remarkable in the way it appeals to audiences from every segment of society. The Modern Art Gallery, which hosts both domestic and international exhibitions, features the work of world-renowned local and international artists. Hosting at least four exhibitions every year, the institution has become one of Turkey’s modern art hubs. Akbank Art Center fulfils its mission by giving young artists the chance to hold exhibitions through their Akbank Contemporary Artists Award project. As well as this, Akbank Art organizes mini festivals such as “Piano Days”, “Guitar Days”, “World Music Days” and “Jazz Days”, and its Dance Studio hosts modern dance performances featuring top dancers who are all internationally acclaimed. Akbank Art’s operations are not confined to their headquarters alone. The Center organizes events and activities in many cities across Turkey, most notably within the scope of the Akbank Jazz Festival, as well as Contemporary Istanbul and the Akbank Short Film Festival.​​​

Akbank Children’s Theater

​​It’s been 44 years since Turkey’s most enduring children’s theatre, the Akbank Children’s Theater, first raised its curtains. The Akbank Children’s Theater had a major role in the nurturing of a theatre-loving generation, and touched the lives of more than 2 million children over the years. The Akbank Children’s Theater featured in a number of social responsibility projects and expanded new horizons for thousands of children across the Anatolian region. After a long achievement-filled period, the Akbank Children’s Theater celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012 with the world-famous musical Shrek, for the first time with Turkish actors and in the Turkish language. Enjoyable performances of the extremely popular play were performed on the Anatolian tour and introduced m​any children to the magical world of theatre.

The Akbank Children’s Theater achieved another first in 2013 when it joined forces with the London Polka Theatre, which has been staging plays and different workshops for children and young people since 1979. Inspired by the writings of children who participated in children’s workshops organized by the London Polka Theatre, “Inside Out”, an entertaining, funny play that’s full of surprises, was staged in Turkey for the first time. In 2014 and the first half of 2015, the Akbank Children’s Theater aimed to increase children’s awareness about saving with “The Family Tree”, a play written by English playwright Rachel Barnett. In 2016, a new play will be taking children on one of the most famous adventures in world literature with an adaptation of Jules Verne’s “Around The World In Eighty Days.”​​

Akbank Jazz Festival

The Akbank Jazz Festival, which has supported the dazzling rise of future stars from the younger generation as well as hosting the world’s most prominent jazz musicians since 1991, continues steadily along its path today as a multi-faceted organization with panels, work shops, film screenings, recitals and social responsibility projects. With numerous new offerings for its audience every year, the Akbank Jazz Festival has been featuring in many cities across Turkey with its Jazz on Campus concerts since 2006. In addition to Jazz on Campus concerts in Istanbul, the festival travelled to 9 more Anatolian cities in 2011. Organizing new events for its audience every year, the Akbank Jazz Festival conceived the JAmZZ Akbank Jazz Festival Young Talent Contest with the aim to support amateur jazz musicians.​​​

One of Akbank’s most important symbols of its determination to create lasting values and to make these values sustainable, and one of Turkey’s most enduring festivals, the Akbank Jazz Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015. It has staged unforgettable performances and hosted the world’s most prominent jazz artists, including Max Roach, Art Ensemble of Africa, Cecil Taylor, Abbey Lincoln, Dave Holland, Archie Shepp, McCoy Tyner, Henry Threadgill, Abdullah İbrahim Trio, Steve Coleman & Five Elements, Stephan Micus, Roberto Fonseca, İbrahim Maalouf, Eleni Karaindrou, Rembrandt Frerichs Trio, Enrico Rava, Mare Nostrum, Jim Rotondi, Jamie Cullum, Christian McBride, Terje Rypdall, Manu Katché, John Scofield & Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell. With its quality musicians and ensembles, the Festival has become an eagerly anticipated event in not only Turkey but also internationally. Celebrating its 26th anniversary in 2016, the festival is once again introducing the city to an exciting variety of jazz between 12-23 October. A legendary jazz musician as well as one of the most prolific names in jazz having featured in almost 2500 albums, two-time Grammy award winner Ron Carter is among the stars to be featured in the 26th Akbank Jazz Festival; along with Imany, known for enriching contemporary soul music; drummer, composer and songwriter Nigerian Tony Allen, who represents a fusion of rock and hiphop with Afrobeat, which is a blend of jazz and funk strains; and one of the world’s greatest tenor saxophone artists, 75-year-old Pharaoh Sanders. Music lovers will also be treated to many Turkish jazz musicians including Fatih Erkoc, Ilham Gencer, Onder Focan, Okay Temiz and Ferit Odman.​​​

The Good State of the City

Akbank endeavors to add value to our society with the Akbankers’ “Akbank Volunteers” volunteer system, which includes our families, customers and business partners. Our “The Good State of the City” volunteer project expands the scope of the volunteer work that we have been doing with Akbankers for years. Organized for the first time in 2015, this project invited university students to participate in our public benefit initiatives across the country, and subsequently to be our guests at the Akbank Jazz Festival’s most popular concert. “The Good State of the City” generates huge interest among university students every year, and the participant quota is filled within days of the initial application announcements on social media. In 2016, the project’s second year, we invited 500 students to take part in public benefit projects and our applicant quota was reached within two days.​​

The project was carried out in partnership with the Community Volunteers Foundation, the Friends of Yedikule Animal Shelter Society, and the Clean Sea TURMEPA Association. The project offers young people the opportunity to choose and shape the social responsibility initiatives they participate in, based on their interests, as well as to be introduced to civil society organizations operating in different areas and to learn more about these civil society organizations.

Through Akbank’s partnership with civil society organizations, young university student volunteers clean shores, paint schools, help stray animals and organize activities for children in care. Every year over thirty social responsibility projects are implemented in Istanbul as well as in 25 other cities. The young volunteers then let off steam after all their hard work at the Akbank Jazz Festival’s most in-demand concert. The concert is also attended by representatives from Turkey’s top civil society organizations and Akbank volunteers.

Now a tradition, the “Good State of the City” project continues this year to work with young volunteers.

You can visit http://www.akbanksanat.com/sehriniyihali​ for more details.

Rodin Exhibition

Akbank undertook the sponsorship of this huge event that aimed to introduce the art of sculpture to a broad audience with the works of a great master, organized in the Sabani University Sakip Sabanci Museum. Featuring 203 works of art from the Paris Rodin Museum collection, this Rodin retrospective showcased bronze, plaster and marble sculptures as well as archived photographs and pieces from his antique sculpture collection alongside many of his designs. With conferences, sculpture workshops and children’s educational programs within the scope of this exhibition, which was attended by hundreds of art enthusiasts, this comprehensive project shone a spotlight on the life and artistic journey of Auguste Rodin.​​​

A Surrealist in Istanbul: Salvador Dali

Sponsored by Akbank, one of the Surrealist movement’s most important artists, Salvador Dali, was presented to art enthusiasts at the Sabanci University Sakip Sabanci Museum from 20 September 2008 – 1 February 2009. The exhibition was distinguished by the fact that it was the largest Salvador Dali exhibition ever to have been held outside of Spain, with a total of 385 works of art, including not only the artist’s oil paintings but also his drawings and graphic art work. Akbank is proud to have achieved a first by bringing together art enthusiasts with Salvador Dali, one of the 20th Century’s greatest artists, a pioneer of the surrealist movement, and a unique, innovative, talented, epochal and unusual personality.​​​

Anish Kapoor in Istanbul

​​One of the first names to spring to mind when international contemporary art is being discussed, the works of Anish Kapoor were presented to art enthusiasts for the first time in Turkey, with Akbank’s support. Internationally renowned artist Anish Kapoor’s first comprehensive exhibition in Turkey was brought to Istanbul through the sponsorship of Akbank, on the occasion of Akbank’s 65th anniversary. The exhibition is noteworthy for being the first to focus on his stone works, made from materials like marble and alabaster, most of which had not previously been exhibited. Also featuring his iconic works such as Sky Mirror and Yellow, which incorporate a blend of sculpture, architecture, engineering and technology, the exhibition was held in the galleries and gardens of Sakip Sabanci Museum. Art enthusiasts were treated to the works of Anish Kapoor at Sabanci University’s Sakip Sabanci Museum from 10 September 2013 t 2 February 2014.

ZERO. Countdown to the future…

​​A huge art movement that emerged in the middle of the 20th century, the innovative and dynamic spirit of ZERO was in Istanbul. As one of Turkey’s greatest supporters of modern and contemporary art, Akbank Art Center has collaborated with Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum to present Turkish art enthusiasts with the works of world-renowned painters and sculptors like Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dali, and Anish Kapoor. As part of these initiatives, Istanbul hosted Turkey’s first comprehensive exhibition of ZERO, the art movement that made its mark on the 20th century. An art movement that came about after the physical, emotional and cultural destruction following World War II, when a group of artists came together and began producing individual as well as joint works with the philosophy of “starting over”, ZERO was showcased to art enthusiasts between 2 September 2015 and 10 January 2016 through the collacorative efforts of Akbank Art and Sabanci University Sakip Sabanci Museum. The exhibition included over 100 works in various media by founders of the ZERO movement, Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Gunther Uecker, as well as important artists who contributed to the movement such as Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana.​


With the support of Akbank, Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum will host Ai Weiwei’s first exhibition in Turkey. The exhibition, to be inaugurated on 12 September 2017, will showcase an extensive selection from the artist’s oeuvre alongside new works. Focusing on Ai Weiwei’s wide-ranging production in the medium of porcelain, the exhibition will present a narrative informed by the artist’s life story and his approach to both the tradition of craftsmanship and art history.

Within the scope of the exhibition, each stage of Ai Weiwei’s prolific journey in porcelain will be presented with his iconic works. Transferring his contemporary message through the language of traditional Chinese craft, Ai Weiwei’s art practice provides the viewer with a perspective on the paradoxes of our time.

The exhibition offers a comprehensive view of Ai Weiwei’s art practice through a structure built through recurrent themes in his works. Dealing with the concepts of authenticity, the transformation of the value systems throughout different eras and cultural history, Ai Weiwei’s works call the viewers’ understanding of cultural, artistic and historical values into question.

With its wide-range and extensive selection of works in the medium of porcelain—the earliest work dates back four decades and the exhibition contains over 100 art works—this exhibition at the Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum stands out as one of the most unique explorations into this singular artist’s practice.