THERE is need to invest in arts and culture as it is a cornerstone that unites the country in times of social or economic challenges says Turkish Ambassador to Zambia Ahmet Arda. Mr Arda said that there was need for all stakeholders such as the State and the corporate world to come on board and fund music, dance and the arts as it was a uniting force of any country which brought people from different walks of life together. He said this in Lusaka on Saturday during a night of opera at the Alliance Francise’ as well as the celebration of its national day, explaining that during it’s time of economic challenges culture had continued to receive funds in the midst of austerity measures. Mr Arda challenged well-wishers and the corporate world to take keen interest to help grow culture and not leave it up to the Government alone. “There is need to invest in arts and culture as the cornerstone that unites the country during times of social or economic challenges. “Even during the economic recession of our country, culture continued to receive funds. Austerity measures did not affect the search for quality culture,” he said. The Ambassador said that in Turkey opera and ballet had taken centre stage and was performed in eight provinces where also numerous symphony and orchestra were performed. Mr Arda said that Turkey had to work very hard to reach the level of contemporary civilisation attained as a means of identification as well as history, and that culture was the key area that helped to foster unity after the country was ravaged by the world war. “Today, is a very important anniversary for Turkey. It is our national day. Ninety-three years ago the Turkish Republic was declared over the ashes and ruins of an old and failed empire that collapsed after years of Balkan wars,” he said. He said that the two artists who came to perform in Zambia were a witness of that country’s achievement in arts and culture. A pianist Nurser Ugan and soprano artist Seraf Ciftci performed several dances and songs much to the delight of the audience who gave them a standing ovation. The event attracted a good crowd who sang and clapped along to some of their music.