The Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF) was established in 2000 by Drs. Yalçın and Serpil Ayaslı. The mission of TCF is to support the preservation and promotion of Turkish culture and heritage worldwide. TCF is a U.S. tax-exempt public charitable organization supported by a Trust established by the Ayaslı family and private donations. It has offices in Boston, Washington, D.C. and Istanbul, Turkey. Since its founding, TCF has allocated $33,816,870 to pursue its mission.
The goal of TCF is to increase knowledge of Turkey’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage and highlight Anatolia’s contributions to world culture and humanity, while building people-to-people cultural bridges. For its work, TCF has been admitted into official relations with UNESCO and is one of a few cultural NGO’s worldwide to be awarded this privilege.
TCF and ARMAGGAN established the Cultural Heritage Preservation and Natural Dyes Laboratory in Istanbul that works to preserve and promote Turkey’s textile heritage through research and development. It holds the largest collection of natural dye materials in the world and provides free analytical services to museums in Turkey and elsewhere assisting preservation efforts of historical textiles.
TCF supports interactions between artists and other culture professionals through two Fellowship programs that help build artistic, cultural and scholarly exchanges across the globe. TCF has provided 195 such fellowships thus far, totaling $870,970.
Since its founding, TCF has focused on the educating the world about Turkish culture through its websites. The TCF websites on Turkish culture, Turkish music, Turkish cuisine, as well as its Image Archive on Turkish Art and Culture, Who’s Who in Turkish Culture and Art, online Turkish Music Dictionary have grown into the most visited portals on Turkish culture and have been visited by 24,656 million from all across the globe.
TCF also provides free public education about Turkish cultural subjects by leading experts and scholars through lectures at its Istanbul office and at prestigious institutions worldwide. Nearly 14,770 people have attended these lectures over the years. Over 100 such lectures are presented on the TCF Video Gallery and have been watched 80,441 timesby a worldwide audience.
In addition to implementing its own programs, TCF is the one of the largest private grant-makers and provides financial support to projects by other organizations and individuals that advance the TCF mission. Since 2000, TCF has provided a total of $5,238,780 in such grants. These grants have helped celebrate Turkish culture through culture, music and art festivals, exhibitions and many more.
Among the most notable long-term grants by TCF established the Ayaslı Research Center at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara and the Ayasli Lecturer in Turkish Language at the University of Chicago. Many TCF grants help the preservation of Anatolia’s historical and archaeological heritage. TCF grants established nationwide inventories on Anatolia’s Iron Age Settlements and Anatolian Seljuk Monuments, helped the preservation of the Neolithic era site of Catalhoyuk, restored and preserved 118 antique carpets at the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum.
Since 2007, the Turkish Cultural Foundation has partnered with the World Affairs Councils of America to educate American teachers on Turkey. 3,538 teachers participated in Teacher’s Workshops on Turkey, among which 575 visited Turkey on TCF organized and sponsored Teacher Study Tours. This program is estimate to have reached 367,350 American students thus far. The program is augmented by lesson plans on Turkey prepared by the visiting teachers and presented on the TCF Education Portal for free, downloaded nearly 6,000 times by teachers worldwide.
In 2010, TCF partnered with ARMAGGAN to inaugurate the Cultural Heritage Preservation and Natural Dyes Project DATU in Istanbul. The mission of this TCF project is to help preserve and promote Turkey’s textile heritage through research and development. DATU also contributes to the redevelopment of the natural dye production process by creating a scientific inventory of natural dyes, as well as by spreading the use of natural dyes in contemporary textile production through collaborative projects.
DATU holds the richest collection of natural dye materials in the world. The collection currently includes 652 natural dye plants, natural organic pigments and dye insects and provides an important reference database for the analysis of naturally dyed material. With progress made over the years, DATU is now counted among the top three laboratories worldwide in the area of cultural preservation and has become one of the world’s most advanced laboratories on natural dyes.
Since its establishment, DATU has provided free analytical services to museums assisting preservation and conservation efforts.
2016 saw a significant development for the laboratory as it received accreditation by the Turkish Accreditation Agency (TÜRKAK) under the TS EN ISO/IEC 17025 standards. With this accreditation, DATU has become an internationally certified laboratory under the standards of the European Cooperation for Accreditation (EA) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
The Culinary Arts Center (YESAM) was established in 2011 as a project by the Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF). The mission of YESAM is to enhance knowledge and help preserve Turkey’s culinary culture, past and present, through research and education. Accordingly, YESAM works to record foods and food-related traditions in Turkey and adjacent regions with which Turkey shares cultural and historical ties, recreate traditional dishes and develop educational models to pass Turkey’s culinary heritage on to future generations, as well as promote it to the attention of world gastronomy.
Some of the activities of YESAM are; a year-round lecture series on Turkish cuisine with a view to enhance awareness on the subject in Turkey. These lecture series are open to the public, and feature prominent Turkish culinary experts. TCF-YESAM also organizes culinary tours with a view to promote Turkish culinary culture while supporting local production and sustainability.