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Raiders of the lost arts get £1.5m grant

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A team of researchers have been awarded a £1.5 million grant to unearth lost treasures from the Jewish cultural past.

Performing the Jewish Archive is an international project led by the University of Leeds which aims to seek out lost or damaged music scores, theatre scripts and literature by Jewish artists so that they can be seen and heard by modern audiences.

The works may be hidden in attics or filed away in forgotten archives.

Project leader Dr Stephen Muir, senior lecturer in music at Leeds, said: "We are revitalising these works so we can gain new currency from them.

"What is most important is bringing them back to life."

Dr Muir described how scores by an unknown Russian Jewish composer killed in the Warsaw Ghetto were uncovered in South Africa.

Manuscripts written by Dowid Ajznsztadt were smuggled there by a friend whose grand-daughter eventually found them in an old carrier bag in her house. The grand-daughter got in touch with Dr Muir. The find was a "cultural goldmine", he said.

The grant - from the publicly funded Arts & Humanities Research Council - will pay for 11 researchers based in Leeds to work on the project for three years.

They plan to hold festivals to showcase works they discover, with one expected to take place in the former concentration camp at Terezin.

Dr Muir said many of the pieces had disappeared when the artists who created them were killed during the Holocaust.

"My job is, as far as possible, to piece together a picture of these people so we can celebrate them," he said.

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