Idea #3 - Establish a fund for the Jewish arts


By Miriam Shaviv
March 2, 2010
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During the month of March, I will be publishing a daily proposal to transform the British Jewish community. Email your own idea (up to 350 words) to miriamshaviv@thejc.com

Today's idea comes from Julia Pascal: Establish a fund for the Jewish Arts

Between the Bible and the Holocaust – did anything happen? Not much if we are to look at media and popular culture.

How many of us know anything of our history apart from expulsion, deportation, pogrom? What does it mean to be Jewish if you are not religious? Is there a new wave of Jewish arts which parallels the flourishing of Black or Indian creativity? Where do the next generations of secular Jews, and children of mixed marriages, connect with their own Jewish identity?

There is a hunger for works on Jewish history and culture.

Whenever I produce a new play Jewish parents ask me, What can you offer my children? They have no interest in the religion but want to be involved in Jewish arts.

My answer is, Sorry, I have no funds to generate the workshops, artistic experiments and collaborations that would develop this curiosity.

I know that the Arts Council won’t put Jewish arts at the top of the list and I know that most benefactors to Jewish causes give money to the elderly, Israel, religious education or the poor. Bravo for that, but why do they ignore funding to nurture Jewish arts?

Happily there are now many more platforms for displaying a diverse range of Jewish art. There is the new JCC, the refurbished Jewish Museum, the Spiro Ark and the LJCC. The problem is not at the level of accommodating Jewish theatre or performance, the problem is that there are no seedbed funds to encourage mentoring or a laboratory for development.

Lena Stanley-Clamp has been instrumental in starting the European Association for Jewish Culture, which has initiated many stimulating projects, but this model needs to mushroom and more benefactors need to give to help nurture the creativity latent in the new generations. In the US the Foundation for Jewish Culture is constantly supporting artists in all media, whereas here there is no equivalent.

If it’s cool to make Black and Indian art in Britain why are Jewish artists so neglected?

Julia Pascal is a Jewish playwright. Her plays are published by Oberon Books and her version of The Dybbuk will have its US premiere at the Theater for the New City in August. Her website is www.pascal-theatre.com

Check out our previous ideas:

2 - Pay membership fees to your community, not your shul

1 - Make 2010/11 the year of synagogue renewal

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