Thursday, September 27, 2012


This article was written for the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture blog, and published on September 19th, 2012. Thank you Ms. Kayim for sharing her wisdom and NAMAC for permission to repost this interview.

Q & A with Gulgun Kayim:
Gülgün Kayim has always been acutely aware of place. War erupted four days after her birth on the island of Cypress and her hometown is now located in the demilitarized zone. Her family fled as refugees to England. The deeply resonating theme of mapping spectral places has motivated her to create site-specific performance art. She focuses on telling the stories of a physical location as it intersections with memory and emotion.

Gülgün is currently working on a piece for the Cypress Demilitarized Zone to promote community healing and build peace by providing a narrative of people who lost the war. She has been drawn to dealing with traumatized communities, including the coordination of a five-year anniversary event for the 35W Bridge Collapse.

Gülgün began her position as the Director of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy with the City of Minneapolis in July 2011. She coordinates arts and creative economy activities within the complexities of a governmental organization; works with Minneapolis Arts Commission; and, develops arts, culture and creative industry policies around economic development and programs for the city. In October 2012 her department will be releasing a Creative Vitality Index.

Gülgün has an extensive background and professional experience in performance, public art and art installation, producing and creating large-scale public art works and theatrical performances in dance and theater. She has been awarded a number of prestigious honors. She also enjoys hanging out with her growing family, running, gardening, and canine companionship.

Define “creative place-making." Why is creative place-making of relevance to the media arts community?

I think of creative place-making as place specific. It is arts driven, cross-sector, urban development based on the idea that arts activities when engaged with the neighborhoods are attractors for other activities.

Creative place-making is of relevance to anyone in the arts community only in so far as that community is interested in engaging with the world around them. Arts organizations and artists can choose to work in their own communities without intersecting with the greater world. But when they go beyond the confines of the studio or the stage, they can have broader and more profound impacts.

How does your artistic background assist you while working within government public-policy development?

Space is subjective; the same physical location co-exists with different meanings based upon the experiences of each person. My job is to get the conversation going and discuss how to partner to value-add to the project. It is important to find allies, have specific goals, and talk with people. It is a complicated process, don’t get discouraged, and just keep trying. The end goal is to show how arts influence every part of the community. Artists are change makers in society.

What can an individual person do to help one's community’s economy benefit from the arts, beyond being a consumer?

People can support the arts economically by sending their kids to art classes and insisting that their school provides arts education. They can also volunteer, vote arts supporters into office, donate (to an artist or arts organization), get informed about the debates in the arts disciplines they care about and participate on a citizen board, advocacy group committee or commission.

Arts are vital!
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

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