What does MİRAS do?

MİRAS Centre for Cultural Sustainability seeks to build greater social cohesion and individual wellbeing by (re)connecting people with their cultural heritage and creativity through educational activities, community engagement, and supporting critical infrastructure. It aims to benefit particularly those that are at risk of losing -through natural disasters or human intervention- active engagement with art and culture, with the well-documented individual and societal benefits that flow from such experiences.

MİRAS is committed to working with the highest levels of integrity and transparency, without discrimination on the basis of language, religion, nationality, race, cultural background, or gender.

Working directly with affected communities on revitalizing their cultural practices and, through that, increasing their sense of wellbeing and belonging;

Developing educational activities, programs, and materials to engage learners from young to adult with the benefits of their cultural heritage and creativity;

Collaborating with local, national and international partners across different fields to ensure synergy between activities leading to well-informed and effective interventions;

Promoting the works of the Association and securing funds from individuals, foundations, corporate donors, and public authorities to realize its goals.

Conducting and publishing research of the highest international standards to inform and evaluate the integrity and effectiveness of projects in this realm;


MİRAS was legally established in May 2023 as a non-profit Association in Istanbul, Türkiye. As such, it has a transparent structure to receive and process donations and account for all expenses. Three members of the Board form the Executive of MİRAS: Olcay Muslu, Ali Ergur, and Hande Varhan Musaoğlu. Olcay Muslu also serves as Director of MİRAS. In addition, cultural sustainability expert Huib Schippers is involved pro bono as Chair of the International Advisory Board and principal strategic advisor. In its Istanbul office, the Executive will be assisted by a project assistant, who is the first point of contact for the Association, streamlines donations, supports projects, and is responsible for website maintenance. The Association sources legal advice and IT support through free or reduced-fee contracts with professionals in those fields.

Board of Directors

The Board members of MİRAS are committed individuals from different walks of life, ranging from law to sociology, from business to architecture, from performing arts to psychology:

OLCAY MUSLU – Director

Olcay MUSLU is Founding Chair of the Board of MİRAS and its Chief Executive. Dr. Muslu completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Istanbul Technical University and her doctorate at Istanbul Technical University Social Sciences Institute Musicology and Music Theories Program. Over the last 25 years, she has served in various positions within and outside the academy as an educator, culture and arts coordinator, using formal and non-formal education models in the education of young musicians, dancers, music experts and industry professionals. Muslu worked as a founding faculty member of Hatay Mustafa Kemal University Antakya State Conservatory between 2017-2022. She became the first academician to qualify for the Visitor Scholarship Programme, jointly supported by University College London (UCL) and Ankara ‘British Institute’. Muslu, who has been carrying out cultural sustainability-focused projects in both Anatolia and the Southeast for the last ten years, continues her work in the fields of applied ethnomusicology, intangible cultural heritage, music in higher education, performance and sustainability at home and abroad. Olcay Muslu was elected as a Board Member of the International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance (ICTMD) in 2023. While Muslu continues her academic activities at KENT University in the United Kingdom, she gives conferences, lectures, and workshops both nationally and internationally.

“The goals of the MİRAS are in perfect harmony with my values: to mobilize the living cultural heritage and creativity of communities in an effective and sustainable way; to integrate them better in society; and to improve individual welfare. I have always been passionate about working in this field: for my own country, and for all other societies that face losing their culture. As someone who has been working in the field of culture for many years, I believe that I can contribute to the mission of our uniquely important city like Hatay being reborn from its dust and ashes.”

ÖZLEM TAŞKAPILIOĞLU - Associate Director

Özlem TAŞKAPILIOĞLU was born in 1974 in Komotini, Greece. She graduated from Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine in 1998. In 2004, she completed her specialization training at Uludağ University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neurology. She worked as a neurologist at the same university until 2011. She became an assistant professor in 2011 and an associate professor in 2014 and worked as a faculty member at Uludağ University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neurology between 2011-2017 and as a neurology specialist at Private Acıbadem Bursa Hospital between June 2017 and July 2022. She has been working in her private practice since July 2022. She has completed Art Therapy and Creativity Training Modules and is in the writing phase of the thesis titled “Providing Support with Expressive Art Therapy and Creativity Techniques in Groups in Multiple Sclerosis Cases with Attacks and Improvements”. Her special interests are in improving the quality of life of those who suffer from multiple sclerosis, headache, epilepsy, stroke and neurological diseases.

“What motivates me to be part of MIRAS is my desire to contribute to the survival of Anatolian culture, which serves as a bridge from past to present for humanity, and towards the future. I’m proud to be part of a team where everyone is excited to work for this.”


Ali ERGUR was born in Athens in 1966, Ali Ergur graduated from Galatasaray High-School in 1985. He gained his B.A. degree in 1989 from the Public Administration Department in Marmara University, Istanbul,as well as his M.A. degree in 1992. He received his Ph.D. in sociology in 1997 from Middle East Technical University, Ankara. Most of his published works consists on media studies and the social impact of new technologies. Ali Ergur works also on sociology of music, particularly on the modernization of Turkish music and changing tendencies in contemporary musical milieu. Ali Ergur is Professor in the Department of Sociology at Galatasaray University.

“I joined MİRAS because my multidimensional and non-essentialist conception of the concept of culture and MİRAS’s understanding of culture are fully integrated. A society can only stand firm in the storm of history when it can produce its original culture. Culture is not a secondary, but a vital resource for social life. It is the soul of any society. Places where different cultures meet and interact, establishing a basis for peace, are of particular importance. Hatay occupies a privileged place within this history-geography intersection. MİRAS not only protects Hatay’s cultural heritage, but more importantly, proposes to defend Türkiye’s plural cultural world as a whole. Thus, it adopts an inclusive understanding of culture that extends from local to global. The main feature that distinguishes MİRAS from similar local culture advocacy can be summarized as providing a mentality environment in which this consciousness will flourish.”


Hande VARHAN MUSAOĞLU was born in Bursa in 1976. She graduated from Marmara University Faculty of Law after completing her secondary education and high school in Bursa Anatolian High School. After completing her master’s degree in International Commercial Law at Kent University in England in 2001, she started to work at İplikçioğlu Law Firm in Istanbul. She was licensed by the Istanbul Bar Association in December 1999, and has been working in Arıkanlı Holding A.Ş. and Sabah-ATV media group. During her 6 years as associate attorney at ELIG Joint Solicitor Office, she represented many multinational companies as a lawyer, such as ExxonMobil, Google, 3M and L’Oréal. For the last 13 years, she has been working as the legal director of Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical companies in different countries, including Türkiye.  Hande has been riding horses since the age of 13 and is a licensed rider.


Born in 1973, Engin TUZCUOĞLU studied business administration and law, and has been working as a lawyer since 1997. He provided consultancy to several federation and Ministry institutions, as well as the Istanbul Bar Association Sports Law Commission, the Turkish Football Federation Arbitration Board Presidency, and was the Chief Legal Advisor of the Turkish Basketball Federation. He prepared or worked on amendments to the bills and bylaws of many foundations and associations, especially İBTAV, TÜDEV, Türk Loydu, and Sports Law Institute. He currently continues to work with foundations and associations and pursues his philosophy education.


Can ADIGÜZEL was born in 1973 in İzmir / Selçuk, and graduated in Biology from Istanbul University’s Faculty of Science. He is one of the founders of the Istanbul Toy Museum, which was opened on April 23, 2005. Can Adıgüzel, who has produced many television programs and documentaries in Türkiye, has continued his work in the field of culture and arts for many years together with Sunay Akın. Can is married and has a son; he is a sea lover, diver, and yogi.


Özgür Deniz EMİR was born on 28.07.1973 in Muğla. He completed his primary, secondary and high school education in Samandağ District of Hatay. He started his undergraduate education at Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Architecture in 1991 and completed his education in 1995. In the same year, she started her master’s program at Izmir Institute of Technology and graduated from this program in 1999 by completing her master’s thesis titled “Architectural Reflections of the Political Thresholds During Interwar Years.” Since 2000, he has been continuing his architectural studies in his own architectural office in Antakya. Within the scope of the works, there are private housing projects and applications, health and commercial facility structures projects, civil architectural structures and mosque restoration projects, landscaping in archaeological areas, projects, and applications aimed at developing housing and tourism in rural areas and mainly in Antakya Historical City Center. In addition, he made poster and paper presentations at many conferences at home and abroad.

“I have been carrying out restoration work in Antakya Historical City Center since 2000. Our experiences after the February 6 earthquakes show that continuing these works for the rest of my professional life will mean paying our debt to this historical city. In this sense, I think that taking part in platforms such as non-governmental organizations and professional chambers will be very valuable in terms of making Antakya’s voice heard regarding our professional activities and efforts.”


Mehmet Ali BOĞDAY started his career in hospitality at the age of 9. After working in the gastronomy sector for many years at home and abroad, he created an Arab Turkish brand named Sultan’s Steakhouse, in 2016. This restaurant became a new brand in the field of gastronomy, which has a staff of 180 people. It was named restaurant of the year twice by Dubai CNN. Mehmet Ali then founded and managed Truvalife Hotel and Truva Restaurant in Samandag. Since 2019, has been the manager of Sam Franss Boutique Hotel and Mali’s Cups Cafe in Kurtuluş Streetin Antakya, once the world’s first illuminated shopping street. Now, he continues to rebuild and serve in the tourism sector in Antakya-Hatay.

“We need to work together to get Antakya back on its feet. Working with MİRAS means being present to join hands and support what is necessary. Antakya is down now, as it has been down many times before. But we will return and rebuild it, and we will rebuild it better than it was before. For this reason, MİRAS.”


Özge VARHAN DENİZ was born in Bursa in 1980. She completed her primary, secondary, and high school education in the same city. In 2002, she graduated from Anadolu University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of Business Administration. She then started her business life in Istanbul and worked in the field of human resources. After four years of management experience in the service sector, which she later switched to, she chose to work with children and took creative drama, dyslexia training and child development trainings. Having gained experience in kindergarten management and creative drama teaching, Varhan Deniz, who later took her third undergraduate degree from Istanbul University AUZEF Child Development Department, is still a dyslexia trainer.

“What brought me together with MİRAS Centre for Cultural Sustainability is my conviction that children are the most fundamental element in the transfer of cultural heritage, and that intergenerational cultural transfer will achieve its long-term goals with sustainability.”


Ufuk AKILLI was born in Hatay in 1980 to a prominent business family. He completed his primary, secondary, and high school education in Hatay. After dropping out of business education at Bilkent University in 2001, he worked in Michigan, United States, in the field of business for five years. Ufuk Akıllı, who continues to operate as a board member in the family company İnci Bulgur, which has been operating successfully in the energy, food, export, and construction sectors in Türkiye for many years, is married and has two children.

“I am motivated by the potential of MİRAS to keep the city’s culture, lifestyle, habits and cultural texture alive.”

International Advisory Board

As MİRAS’s scope of work encompasses complex issues faced in myriad ways by communities in many different parts of the world, we have asked an international panel of experienced academics and practitioners to guide our activities, chaired by senior applied ethnomusicologist and cultural sustainability expert Huib Schippers. Initial members of this important advisory body include:

Huib Schippers (Netherlands/Türkiye; Chair)

Huib Schippers has over 30 years of experience in senior positions and major projects in arts and academia across three continents. His work focuses on innovative projects featuring organisational transformations, the music industry, cultural diversity/EDI, community engagement, and applied research.

Tan Sooi Beng (Malaysia)

For the past three decades, Tan Sooi Beng has been actively engaged in community place-based arts projects with the aim of creating a sense of place, promoting racial integration, and revitalizing intangible cultural heritage among the young people in Penang, Malaysia. She hopes to share her experiences and the participatory action research methodologies she developed in these projects.

Anthony Seeger (USA)

Anthony Seeger is probably the most widely ethnomusicologist of his generation, with a broad experience in applied work, particularly in the field of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Indigenous communities, copyright, and the music industry.

Patricia Opondo (South Africa)

Patricia Opondo has an extensive track record in cultural leadership – developing interdisciplinary work for inclusive multicultural societies that promotes cross-cultural collaboration, and establishing youth programs that revitalize and promote cultural heritage.

Svanibor Pettan (Slovenia)

Svanibor Pettan is an ethnomusicologist with long experience in applying disciplinary knowledge, understanding, and skills for the betterment of human conditions in various challenging situations. As President of the International Council for Traditional Music, he aims to further encourage an engaged, responsible, and active stance among the members in “the times of trouble”.

Patricia Shehan Campbell (USA)

Patricia Campbell has been a leading thinker and practitioner on the crossroads of music education and ethnomusicology for four decades, publishing prolifically and working with educators and communities in the US, Asia and Africa.

Lee Higgins (UK)

Lee Higgins is a leading voice in community music practice and research. He directs the International Centre for Community Music in the UK, and recently concluded an extensive research project examining Ethno, a thirty-year project bringing together musicians from different cultures through peer-to-peer learning.

Gillian Howell (Australia)

Gillian Howell is a specialist on music initiatives in post-conflict environments. She has worked as a community musician across three continents. In her research, she developed a refined critical but constructive approach to plan, understand and evaluate music interventions after communities are severely disrupted.

Partner organisations

Miras believes that the effectiveness and impact of projects increases through partnerships with likeminded organisations. Therefore, it collaborates with organisations in Türkiye and abroad:

Istanbul University

The International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance (ICTMD)

Intangible Cultural Heritage Conservation and Research Centre

Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China


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