This summer, Jerusalem is rocking to the sound of Ziggy Marley, tapping to the beat of Merce Cunningham, and interacting with local artists in as diverse venues as the Mahane Yehuda produce market and the Israel Museum. All this is part of an initiative of Jerusalem Season of Culture
(JSOC), a non-profit organization set up by the Shusterman Foundation—Israel
, to provide a " summer showcase of the city's contemporary cultural treasures."
JSOC was established in the wake of a JIIS research
, commissioned by the Shusterman Foundation, that showed a direct link between cultural activities and urban renewal.
In the course of the project, JIIS researcher Aviel Yelinek found that cities often find themselves competing with one another to display their human, cultural or physical uniqueness – that is, their exceptionality over other locales. "This competition might be seen in their attempt to attract high-tech and other specific industries, to invite private sector investment, and to make a name as a center of tourism and cultural attraction. Indeed, culture plays a key role in this competition," he says.
In his research, Yelinek reviewed different cultural strategies carried out in cities like Barcelona, Berlin, Bilbao, Liverpool and Edinburgh and the main outcomes of these strategies. His review served as the academic basis the Foundation needed to implement a cultural strategy in Jerusalem. Jerusalem boasts the country's highest concentration of art schools, yet it has a very low budget for cultural institutions in general, causing them to operate under a constant cloud of financial uncertainty. "Jerusalem's cultural sector for years suffered from real neglect, and this contributed to the harm done to the city's quality of life and image," Yelinek said.
The Shusterman Foundation used the JIIS research as a springboard for the new initiative, with the aim of hosting "a series of riveting artistic experiences" around Jerusalem. The fun continues until the end of July.