Israel's Culture Budget to Increase by NIS 100m Over Two Years

Big winners include programs to promote the arts in underserved communities.

The state budget for culture is slated to increase by NIS 100 million for this year and next, with the additional funds going to promote projects, to bolster institutional budgets and to the renovation of venues.

Programs that will get more funding include Notnim Bamah (“providing a stage”) and Tarbut Leyisrael (“Culture for Israel”), both of which support culture and the arts, particularly in underserved communities.

A 2010 agreement among the Finance Ministry, the Culture and Sports Ministry and the Forum of Cultural Institutions set basic culture budgets for five years, through 2014, and included a commitment not to cut them. That basic budget grew by some NIS 9 million annually for the years 2013 and 2014.

In addition, the agreement calls for targeted budgetary increments, to encourage culture in outlying communities or for renovations. This new supplement constitutes fulfillment of this part of the agreement.

Thus, for example, Notnim Bamah will receive an additional NIS 37 million for 2013-14. This project, which was launched in 2011, helped establish film incubators and centers for fringe performances, fund “white night” events in 11 communities and hold film festivals in outlying towns, among other activities.

Tarbut Leyisrael, a nonprofit corporation that grew out of the now-defunct Omanut La’am program, will receive an additional NIS 18 million to subsidize cultural events in underserved communities, most of them outside the central region. Under this initiative, the residents of these communities receive a NIS 40 discount on individual tickets to plays and concerts as well as discounts on season tickets.

Under the program, cultural events in some 200 communities, including Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jewish as well as Arab communities in the Negev and the Galilee, are subsidized to the tune of NIS 150 million a year in cooperation with the local governments. This includes more than 150 performances in the Arab community, as part of the Masarhid project.

The budget for museums, which in 2012 was NIS 40 million, will also increase by NIS 7 million for 2013 and 2014. An additional NIS 13 million will be allocated for the renovation of cultural venues, and from NIS 3.5 million-NIS 5 million will be added to funds earmarked for creating an Ethiopian Jewish heritage center.

The basic budget addition for 2013 will be distributed soon. It includes NIS 2.5 million for mainstream theater, NIS 1.25 million for fringe theater, NIS 500,00 for the visual arts and an additional NIS 2 million each for music and dance programs.

Amir al Chai