GENCO ERKAL AND DOSTLAR TIYATROSU, FOUNDED BY HIM, RECEIVES THE 22ND VEHBİ KOÇ AWARD
Every year, the Vehbi Koç Foundation awards the Vehbi Koç Award to individuals and institutions that contribute to improving the quality of life, in order to encourage their efforts in the fields of culture, education, and healthcare. This year, the 22nd Vehbi Koç Award in the field of culture was given to Genco Erkal, a theater actor who has spent 64 years on stage, and the theater company he founded, Dostlar Tiyatrosu.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ömer M. Koç, Chairman of Koç Holding, said, “Genco Erkal and Dostlar Tiyatrosu, who have taken their honorable place in the history of theater, and have made significant contributions to the establishment of a love for theater in our country, and to the development of future theater artists, have received many valuable awards so far. On the 100th anniversary of our Republic, we are proud to present the Vehbi Koç Award, which is very meaningful for Koç Group, to the esteemed Genco Erkal and Dostlar Tiyatrosu.” Genco Erkal said, “It is a great honor for me to receive this coveted award from the Vehbi Koç Foundation, which has been carrying out important work in the fields of health, education, and culture since its inception, and which has a respected place in society. With this award, I feel like I have reached the pinnacle of my 64-year artistic career.”
The “Vehbi Koç Award,” presented annually to exemplary individuals and institutions that have contributed to the development of our country or made significant achievements in the fields of education, culture, and health, in order to keep alive the values that Vehbi Koç, the founder of the Vehbi Koç Foundation, made a principle throughout his life, found its recipient this year.
Genco Erkal and Dostlar Tiyatrosu, who were selected by the Selection Committee, consisting of Prof. Dr. Filiz Ali (Chairperson), Prof. Dr. Dikmen Gürün, Ersen Gürsel, Prof. Dr. Ahu Antmen, and Alin Taşçıyan, among the candidates recommended by the committee, received the 22nd Vehbi Koç Award. Genco Erkal received the award from Ömer M. Koç, Chairman of Koç Holding.
Ömer M. Koç began his speech at the award ceremony held at Divan Kuruçeşme by saying, “I would have liked to address you without feeling any bitterness at this meaningful ceremony that we have organized three years later after the pandemic. However, the pains of the great earthquake disaster we experienced in February are still very fresh. Once again, I wish mercy to those who lost their lives in this painful incident, patience and condolences to their loved ones, and speedy recovery to our injured.”
Ömer M. Koç continued his words as follows: “Vehbi Koç, throughout his life, served the ideal of a contemporary and prosperous Turkey with the slogan ‘If my country exists, then I exist. If there is democracy, we all exist.’ The charitable works that he did with pleasure, which he considered as a human and national duty, are being carried on even bigger by Vehbi Koç Foundation, which he established 54 years ago on very solid intellectual and economic foundations as the first private foundation of our country. Within our foundation, we continue to contribute not only to the economic growth but also to the social development of our country, with our education, health, and cultural institutions, each of which is considered a center of excellence in their respective fields, as well as the projects we support in these areas.”
Ömer M. Koç said, ‘2023 is an extraordinary special year… We will celebrate the 100th anniversary of our Republic, which was founded by our great leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk with a modern vision that is far beyond his time and still the only valid way for Turkey.’ The aphorisms of the Great Leader, ‘You can all become deputies, representatives, or even the President, but you cannot be an artist’ and ‘A nation deprived of art and artists cannot have a complete life,’ clearly demonstrate his contemporary civilization perception and the support he gave to art, artists, and culture in line with his Republic values. We are delighted and proud to present the Vehbi Koç Award to a patriotic person who is considered a doyen in the field of culture and art and to a very valuable art institution that he was also a founder of, in such a meaningful year. Our selection committee has deemed the valuable theater artist Genco Erkal and Dostlar Theater worthy of our award this year. I sincerely congratulate them.’
Ömer M. Koç also stated that ‘Genco Erkal, who has amazed us all with his 64 years of artistic career in addition to his theater acting, has also been one of the champions and standard-bearers of democracy, human rights, and freedom of thought. He never swayed from his beliefs, and he never compromised on his social perspective. The Dostlar Theater, which he founded in 1969 with many valuable theater actors like Mehmet Akan, Şevket Altuğ, Atilla Alpöge, Ferit Erkal, Arif Erkin Güzelbeyoğlu, and Nurten Tunç, has become one of our country’s exemplary art institutions. Despite all kinds of difficulties, the Dostlar Theater, which will celebrate its 55th anniversary next year, has continuously kept its curtains open, maintained its critical approach to oppression and censorship, and succeeded in bringing together large segments of society with the brightness of theater.’
In his speech at the award ceremony, Genco Erkal said, “Today, such beautiful things were said about me here that I felt proud, and all I have left to do is to say thank you. Thanks to my friends who praised me to the skies in the award presentation film more than I deserve. I owe a huge thank you to the selection committee members who nominated me for this award. Of course, the biggest thank you goes to the Vehbi Koç Foundation. I sincerely thank the Vehbi Koç Foundation for this valuable and prestigious award that they deemed me worthy of.”
About the Vehbi Koç Foundation:
The Vehbi Koç Foundation, founded by the late industrialist Vehbi Koç on January 17, 1969, celebrates the 54th anniversary of its establishment with the rightful pride of the many works it has contributed to Turkey and the support it has given to tens of thousands of students. Since its establishment as Turkey’s first private foundation, the foundation aims to contribute to a modern and developing Turkey by providing pioneering and exemplary services in the fields of education, health, and culture that will improve the quality of life of society. The Vehbi Koç Foundation, which has established many institutions in Turkey and supported hundreds of projects, has surpassed 50,000 students with scholarships. You can follow all developments about the Vehbi Koç Foundation at www.vkv.org.tr.
About the Vehbi Koç Award:
The Vehbi Koç Award, presented since 2002 in the fields of education, health, and culture, aims to promote and reward services that add value to society and serve as an example. The person or institution to receive the award is selected by the Vehbi Koç Foundation Board of Directors from three candidates recommended by a Selection Committee composed of leading scientists and experts in the field in question.
For detailed information and all award winners: http://www.vehbikocodulu.com
About Genco Erkal and the Dostlar Theater:
Genco Erkal, who celebrates his 64th year on stage, began his theater career with a youth group called Genç Oyuncular. He is also a founder of Dostlar Theater, which will celebrate its 55th anniversary next year. Genco Erkal and Dostlar, who do not compromise on their social discourse in theater life and stand on their own feet without government support, initially operated with a salaried team and adopted the “Production Theater” understanding during the 1980 coup period. In both conditions, Genco Erkal and Dostlar Theater, who never stop raising their curtains and always maintain their critical approach, will meet the audience with Polish writer Ryszard Kapuscinski’s anti-fascist play “Emperor (The Fall of an Autocrat)” in 2023.