New Jerusalem Arts Festival must be Boycotted (including participating artists)

New arts festival aims to put Jerusalem on global cultural map
By Danielle Zilberberg

Tel Aviv may be considered Israel’s cultural capital, but a new arts festival scheduled to kick off in Jerusalem next month aims to draw attention to the city’s “artistic atmosphere,” one of the event’s organizers told Haaretz on Monday.

The organizers are planning a pilot event scheduled to take place May 3-6 that features multidisciplinary programs combining literature, music, cinema and theater.

(The official event, scheduled to last two months, opens in the summer of 2011. It was initiated by the Jerusalem municipality and the Schusterman Foundation, an American Jewish philanthropic organization.)

“Jerusalem’s social, ethnic and religious diversity has fueled the imagination of generations of artists,” Itai Mautner, the festival’s artistic director, told Haaretz.

“We want to find the city’s cultural DNA and bring the international arts community to Israel not only to experience the sexy, and upbeat scene in Tel Aviv, but also to be exposed to the unique and diverse artistic atmosphere in Jerusalem,” he said.

Mautner, and the event’s senior strategic adviser Naomi Fortis, have organized a series of alternative events for the as-yet-unnamed festival, including performances and panel discussions with local and internationally acclaimed writers.

Paul Auster, Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Safran Foer and local novelists David Grossman, Sayed Kashua and Etgar Keret are scheduled to take part in one of the festival’s events called “Between the Lines,” which will take place alongside the International Writers Festival in Jerusalem (May 2-6).

“Jerusalem is different from Tel Aviv,” Mautner said, adding, “It has a different appeal, and we want to find it, and put it forward to the world, which, of course, means that we will relate to the spirituality in the city.”

While next month’s event is only a pilot, “the event will be tested this year in several venues and focus on the city’s thriving alternative creations which remain unknown to the international audience,” Mautner said.

He added that joining artists from Israel and abroad will help establish Jerusalem’s reputation as a draw for international art enthusiasts. “We want to help in establishing the city as a global center of creativity by bringing artists such as Siri Hustvedt together with Israeli singer Rona Keinan for a talk on feminism,” Mautner said.

The event is scheduled to close with a musical finale featuring singer-songwriter Shlomi Shaban, who will host Auster, Krauss, Safran Foer, Grossman and others in a concert at the Western Wall

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