This fall, Israel is exporting not just chocolate or electronics, but a different sort of commodity: artists.
The Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program has sent about ten Israeli artists each year (since 2008) to residences at universities across America, from New Jersey to Kansas. Past and present participants (there have been nearly fifty) have included recipients and nominees of Israel’s top awards in their respective fields, including the equivalent of the Oscars and the Israel Prize. The artists are a diverse group, and their specialities range from illustration, to film and television, to dance.
“There’s so much going on in Israel now that this is just a fabulous time to be presenting Israeli culture on college campuses,” explained the program’s director, Marge Goldwater. “We feel that we gathered some of the best and the brightest in Israel today, and so we’re absolutely thrilled to present their work on american college campuses across the country.
The Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program is a product of the Israel Institute, a Washington DC-based organization that supports exchanges to publicly explore the complexity and diversity of Israel.
This year’s ten participants include writer and poet Almog Behar, illustrator Gabriella Barouch and Talia Beck. Beck is a Tel Aviv based choreographer who has now been the University of Kansas for two weeks. Beck considers Israel to be one of the most important centers of modern dance, and is excited to share that with her new students.
“I’m so happy for the opportunity- I almost can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s too good to be true!”
Indeed, Jewish arts funding is not always so forthcoming. The Foundation for Jewish Culture, one of the Jewish world’s preeminent arts groups, announced earlier this week that this will be its final year due to lack of funds.