In Istanbul’s strikingly colourful Balat neighbourhood, a young Syrian couple decided to add their own touch – an Arab cultural centre and cafe called YoloArt.
The building, which opened in May, includes a cafe, a performance stage for concerts, a 75-seater theatre, and a training centre for workshops and discussions.
Syrian architect Bayan Agha told Al Jazeera that she, along with her husband, film director Jihad Bakr, hopes to cater to the ever-increasing Arab minority in the Turkish city, who they say lack similar social, artistic and communal spaces.
Millions of Arabs live in Turkey, constituting one of the largest minority groups in the country. The number of Arabs has drastically increased in recent years, particularly due to the influx of Syrian refugees after the 2011 uprising and subsequent war.
Agha and Bakr have lived in Istanbul since 2013.
The couple’s interest in art and previous experience in the field created a desire to have a space designed for creativity, expression and community.
“YoloArt Center provides an integrated environment for people to produce, train and perform for others in a small space that Arabs lack in Istanbul,” said Agha.
“The idea of YoloArt came at a time when Bayan and I were searching for an Arab space to meet others, to talk, to learn, to see theatre. So we decided to create this space to offer these things to the audience,” Bakr told Al Jazeera.
“Some 1,800 people have visited our centre since we opened,” he added.