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First Annual Jerusalem Season of Culture to Launch Summer 2011
Members of Merce Cunningham Dance Company perform "CRWDSPCR", 2008. Photo by Anna Finke.

JERUSALEM.- This summer, Jerusalem will be home to one of the most ambitious cultural projects in the history of the Israeli arts scene. Unveiled in Jerusalem by Artistic Director Itay Mautner, the Jerusalem Season of Culture (JSOC) will produce an annual artistic summer season beginning this May in full partnership with the city's cultural institutions and in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality.

The season, which is being sponsored by a new independent non-profit and supported by the Schusterman Foundation–Israel, the Jerusalem Foundation and a growing list of funders, aims to make cultural programming more accessible to a wide range of audiences, and to celebrate Jerusalem's arts and artists in a way that reflects the city's complexity and diversity.

JSOC was formed as an initiative of the Schusterman Foundation–Israel and its founder, philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, who is closely connected to the city and is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts. Modeled on other prominent international cultural festivals and seasons, JSOC will highlight Jerusalem's flourishing arts scene, and unleash local and international cultural events rooted in the city's unique cultural DNA.

Among the scheduled events scheduled for the 2011 season are:

● A trailblazing festival on philosophical thought;
● Performances by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the Israel Museum as part of the troupe’s final world tour;
● A series of evening cultural performances and celebrations at the Machane Yehuda Market;
● Unveiling of a commissioned work by world-renowned video artist Kutiman inspired by Jerusalem;
● A three-week run of the Jewish Theater of Sweden’s production of Steve Reich’s “Different Trains” in a previously unused ancient site at the Tower of David Museum;
● A performance by the celebrated soprano, Renee Fleming, with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Zubin Mehta at Sultan’s Pool.

Founding Vision
The season's thumbprint was made apparent last summer through a series of successful pilot events. These included: Contact Point, which brought over 8,000 people to celebrate the 2010 inauguration of the Israel Museum's renewed campus, featuring artists who interacted with the Museum's collections, architecture, landscape and audience throughout the night; a series of special encounters between authors and a diverse range of artists at the International Writer's Festival at Mishkenot Sha'ananim; and Under the Mountain – an alternative cultural festival held in cooperation with the Israel Festival that brought together three of Jerusalem's leading art institutions-the Musrara School of Photography, the Ma'abada (Lab Theater) and the School of Visual Theater.

"These events reflect our general artistic direction," says Mautner. "There is a wealth of cultural activity here and our goal is to place it center-stage. The primary objective of the season is to create a one-of-a-kind cultural dialogue that is generated by the city itself, its unique status and all that comes between."

The season is being curated by Jerusalem native Mautner and Naomi Bloch Fortis. Previously, Mr. Mautner co-founded two of Israel's most successful new arts events: ARTTLV, the international art biennial in Tel Aviv, and Pecha Kucha Nights. Bloch Fortis, JSOC senior strategic advisor, is the former executive director and co-artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company.

Among the events slated for 2011 are:

Contemplation – a Unique Intellectual Event

Jerusalem has been the focus of original and groundbreaking intellectual dialogue for thousands of years. This illustrious past will be integrated into a new take on philosophy, inviting leading philosophical thinkers, artists and cultural figures from Israel and abroad for three days of festivities and extensive contemplation.
Produced in cooperation with Mishkenot Sha’ananim.
May 18, 19, 20

Under the Mountain
Jerusalem's diversity and complexity provide fertile ground for cultural endeavors and alternative arts. Returning for a second season, Under the Mountain celebrates the city's alternative culture. Produced in cooperation with a number of cultural organizations in Jerusalem, including the gallery Yaffo 23, which is affiliated with Bezalel and is one of the hottest new galleries in Israel.
June 1-6

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is joining the world at large in saluting and bidding farewell to one of the great artists of the twentieth century, the father of post modernist dance–Merce Cunningham. The company is coming to Jerusalem as part of its final "Legacy Tour," before the company disbands. They will stage two types of performances–one, performed at the Jerusalem Theater, will be drawn from the company's repertoire; the second, performed six times, will be the company's world famous "Events," which juxtapose movement with museum spaces. Produced in cooperation with the Israel Festival, the Israel Museum and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.
June 6-11

"Different Trains" at the Tower of David Museum
The highly acclaimed and multi-faceted concert based on composer Steve Reich’s composition, “Different Trains,” will be performed by the renowned Swedish ensemble "Fleshquartet" and staged by the Jewish Theater of Sweden. The local debut will take place in the Tower of David Museum's "Kishle," an abandoned ancient Turkish prison in Jerusalem's Old City, which will open for the first time as a performance space especially for this production.

The audience, which will be limited to a 120 people for each performance, will encircle the entire stage, thus turning the spectators and the artists into one unit in one of the most fascinating spaces in the city. Produced in cooperation with the Jewish Theatre of Sweden and the Tower of David Museum. Performances from late June to late July

"Balabasta" – Evening Culture in the Mahane Yehuda Market
Balabasta, which takes place in one of the most famous open-air markets in the world, features unique interactions between select Jerusalem artists and the market's legendary vendors. Last year’s Balabasta preview drew record crowds. Here is a video of last summer's pilot at the market: Produced in partnership with the Lev Ha'ir Community Association, the Merchant's Committee, and local cultural organizations. Monday evenings throughout July.

Contact Point at the Israel Museum
This conceptual evening will feature one-time-only interactions between artists deriving from multiple disciplines and works of the museum. Each artist will be asked to choose a piece of art and to perform a live interaction with the artwork.
Produced in cooperation with the Israel Museum. Watch this video from last year's pilot: July 14

Renee Fleming with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Zubin Mehta
Renee Fleming, the celebrated soprano known as "the diva of the people," is coming to Israel for the first time for a single performance in Jerusalem. Among her repertoire will be special arrangements of songs about the city. Fleming will perform at Sultan's Pool beneath the walls of the Old City with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta. Produced in cooperation with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. July 28

Artist of the Season – Kutiman
Each year, the Jerusalem Season of Culture will commission an artist to create a new artistic work inspired by the city. JSOC’s first season will open with Kutiman, an Israeli artist whose work "Thru-You" was one of the most important and groundbreaking musical creations of recent years. The piece was based on a series of short video clips from YouTube that were strung together to create a new musical mash-up. Described by Time magazine as one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2009, it was exhibited in a number of international venues, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

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