03 August 2023
Levent Kömür, the General Manager of Mey|Diageo, who emphasizes their goal of supporting artists, says that they will continue to say, "A company that supports culture and arts is possible", just as they have done so far.
Mr Kömür, could you please evaluate the first half of 2023 in terms of Mey|Diageo's cultural and artistic support activities? Can you tell us about some of the recent projects you have been involved in?
We all must strive to bring forth a hope nourished by science, art, and dreams, both individually and institutionally. While artists who shine their light on the world provide hope for all of us, we try to support the sustainability of art in order to accompany those who give us hope, namely artists and the world of art.
In the first half of 2023, we continued our efforts at full speed. We organized a digital marketing training program for theater professionals in collaboration with the Theater Cooperative. We are the first corporate member of Arter, which works to promote art in all its dimensions. We support Istanbul Modern, Turkey's first modern and contemporary art museum. We are the cultural and art name sponsor of Plumemag. We support projects like Harbiye Open-Air Theater Star Seats, Zorlu PSM Writing Workshop, Deniz Yüce Başarır's podcast series "Elim Kadeh de Tutar Kalem de”, IKSV Istanbul Jazz Festival, the theater play "Eksik," and the exhibition "Başka Kayda Rastlanmadı: Reşad Ekrem Koçu ve İstanbul Ansiklopedisi Arşivi".
How do you choose the cultural and art projects you support, and what are your criteria?
Actually, our goal is to support artists rather than projects. Projects are just a means to that end. Therefore, the most important criteria are human-centric, such as the contribution of these projects to the artists and the impact of artists on the project. We don't really engage in a selection process. After all, our aim is to be a companion to artists. Therefore, during our journey as a company, we cross paths with artists who are on their own journeys
You have been supporting various forms of art, from cinema to theater, exhibitions to art spaces, in order to promote art's reach to a wide audience. Why is supporting art so important for Mey|Diageo?
Our goal is to renew the tradition of sharing the joys and sorrows of this land, in other words, socialization, by supporting the sustainability of art. In this context, we feel close to art and artists and immortalize our respect for art and artists by incorporating microphones, musical instruments, paper, and pencils into the bottles of our flagship brand. In our journey of "passing on the heritage from the past to the future," it brings us endless joy when our path intersects with art and artists. Our solidarity with the art ecosystem will continue to strengthen.
In your opinion, how does a company's involvement in art affect its brand and customer relations?
I believe the correct term is not "involvement" but rather "intersection of paths." Because, like everything else, art should be free and able to reach its intended meaning without being influenced. Therefore, when companies intersect their paths with art and turn it into a form of collaboration, they will end up with a healthy communication with their brands and consumers
I would also like to share a personal observation: Consumers have become increasingly sensitive in the past century and started making choices based on criteria beyond the benefits of a brand or product. When I buy cheese, I prefer the brand of a company with a majority of women on its board of directors. When I buy fish, I prefer a brand that contributes to nature and the environment. I shop at a grocery store that respects the right to life of neighborhood cats and dogs. The reason for all of this is that they align with my life stance. Consumers now want to see brands alongside them in terms of gender balance. They distance themselves from brands that use a masculine language. They are aware that there has been a delay in environmental matters and are conscious of the seriousness of the situation; therefore, they prefer brands that not only have a neutral impact on the environment but also make a positive impact. They find brands that genuinely support art, the environment, and workers close to them. We are working to ensure that the brands we serve are pioneers in these areas. For example, Tekgıda-İş Sendikası (Labor Union) is organized in our factories. As far as I know, this is an exception among rakı producers. In our oldest brands' bottles, we pay our respects to many artists by incorporating microphones, musical instruments, paper, and pencils. We make an effort not to use masculine words in the names of our brands. Our brands are taking activist steps in gender equality.
We see you once again side by side at the KüçükÇiftlik Bahçe Theater, which was launched in the summer of 2020 to support theater under the challenging conditions of the pandemic and continues its 4th season this year. In addition to this, Mey|Diageo supports the Theater Cooperative by saying, "A company in solidarity with culture and arts is possible" and you also appear as the corporate supporter of some workshop projects aimed at bringing new talents to the theater. Why is theater so important to you?
As a company, we have a mission: to renew the tradition of sharing the joys and sorrows of this land, in other words, socialization, and pass it on to future generations. When we talk about joy and sorrow, the smiling and crying faces on theater masks immediately come to mind. So, it's quite natural for our paths to intersect with theater.
Let's start with the first half of 2023 and finish with the second half. What can we expect from Mey|Diageo in the field of culture and art in the upcoming period? Which projects will you be involved in?
We continue our efforts regarding our supports in culture and arts in the second half of 2023. One of them is the Marmaris International Culture and Arts Festival. We are delighted to support this festival organized by the Marmaris Culture and Arts Association (MAKSAD) in collaboration with Marmaris Municipality. We are the sole corporate supporter of the KüçükÇiftlik Bahçe Theater event; we have been supporting it since day one, continuing since 2020. We will also support the Bergama Theater Festival, which will be held from August 11 to 13, the Bozcaada International Ecological Film Festival from October 11 to 15, and the Ayvalık International Film Festival from September 14 to 19. Just as we have done so far, we will continue to say, "A company that supports culture and arts is possible".