BUDAPEST, Jan. 27 (JTA) — Enrico Fink is a Florence-based musician, singer and theater director working on a stage production based on the biblical book of Jonah. Mira Zelechower-Aleksiun is a painter in Wroclaw, Poland who is preparing an exhibition of works exploring the loss and rediscovery of Jewish life in her country. Hannah Spliid is a painter and stage designer in Copenhagen working on a project that will use the life of Bezalel, the first artist mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, to explore the quest for meaning. The three are among more than 30 artists, writers, musicians and performers who have won the first grants from a new foundation set up to promote Jewish cultural creativity in Europe. The European Association of Jewish Culture, an independent body established last year by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London and the Alliance Israelite Universelle in Paris, has just announced 33 grants totaling more than $200,000. Individual grants range from $3,330 to $11,000 and have been awarded to artists and projects in 12 countries across the continent — Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain. Selected from scores of applications, the winning projects "demonstrate that it´s possible to recruit a new generation of artists and cultural producers from among European Jews," said the treasurer of the EAJC, Barry Kosmin. "These grants represent an investment in creative talent." Winning projects include 14 plays and works of choreography dealing with the Jewish experience; 13 exhibitions in painting, sculpture, photography, installations and video art reflecting the Jewish experience; and six European Jewish periodicals that received grants to finance new and translated articles, essays and short stories. One such winner was the Budapest Jewish monthly Szombat, which received a grant to produce a special issue on Central Europe. "The issue will explore what happened after the fall of communism, what kind of Jewish cultural revival has emerged in the region," Szombat´s editor, Gabor Szanto said. "We could not publish such an issue without a grant." One of Szanto´s short stories will be published in another grant-winning publication, the quarterly Italian Jewish scholarly journal La Rassegna Mensile di Israel, which received an award for a special issue on European Jewry since the fall of communism. Lena Stanley-Clamp, director of the London office of the EAJC, said she is particularly pleased that a large proportion of the grants were made to artists, performers and writers in former communist countries, like Hungary, where Jewish expression was stifled for decades after the Holocaust. "It´s significant that the number of grants going to Hungary — six — is matched only by the number of awards in France and the U.K.," she said. "What this tells us is that Budapest has re-emerged as a major center of Jewish cultural life," she said. "Being able to support the Jewish cultural re-awakening across the European continent is extremely rewarding."
SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING