The “Policy or Culture” Online Conference—which was held between September 15-16, 2020—was a collaborative effort between the Israel Democracy Institute and the Department for Cultural Studies—Creativity and Production at Sapir Academic College. Its objectives were to create a space for academic and professional discussion combining local and international knowledge and experience, and to position cultural policy at the heart of the Israeli academic and professional discourse as an urgent and important topic motivated by the desire to impact the way in which professionals in the culture sector and the Israeli public at large perceive cultural policy. Conference participants included leading experts, researchers, and professionals representing a wide range of views on the field of cultural policy. The program included plenary sessions alongside workshops offering experiences in the practical application of theories discussed in the sessions, and in rendering new knowledge and working models accessible to professionals in the culture sector.
The conference also marked the launching of “Public Responsibility and Cultural Policy,” a new study on policy by advocate and research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, Ms. Edna Harel Fischer. This study outlines the basic principles of a cultural policy operating within the framework of democratic-liberal governance. It lays the groundwork for discourse on cultural policy in Israel against the background of a vibrant public debate in recent years on the issue of cultural freedom of speech and on questions dealing with the state’s obligation toward the culture sector. The right to culture, pluralism and multi-culturalism, public funding and its justifications underpin this study’s main arguments, and based on the principle of public responsibility, this study formulates policy recommendations for the extant Israeli method.
This was the third in a series of conferences in the field of culture management and cultural leadership held by the Department of Cultural Studies-Creativity and Production at Sapir Academic College. Through these conferences, we aspire to centrally position present-day issues pertinent to Israel’s cultural field. The current conference was held as well to mark the commencement of the department’s M.A. program in Cultural Studies, a young and vibrant academic framework for the advancement of cultural leadership amongst students and in the cultural field at large. This conference was made possible thanks to the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation’s generous support of the leadership development component of the MA program.
Sapir Academic College
Sapir Academic College is an Israeli academic institution located in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council in the north-western Negev, nearby the city of Sderot. With an enrolment of 8,000 students, it is the largest public college in Israel.
Sapir grants B.A. degrees in seventeen academic fields, including Communication, Audio and Visual Arts, Software Systems, Marketing, Public Administration and Policy, Industrial Management, Law, Human Resources Management, Cultural Studies, Logistics, Economics, and Social Work, as well as a multidisciplinary B.A. in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The college also offers M.A. programs in Public Administration and Policy, Social Work, Audio and Visual Arts, and Cultural Studies, and facilitates practical training and special programs, such as a unique curriculum for the advancement of young Bedouins in higher education.
Sapir College opens its gates to students, employees, and lecturers from diverse cultural, economic, and geographical backgrounds and provides them with rich intellectual, social, and cultural experiences. Based on innovation and excellence in teaching and research, Sapir offers academic and technological educations at the highest level while broadening its graduates' opportunities to become leaders in all aspects of Israeli society.
As an integral part of its environment, Sapir is an academic, economic, cultural, social, and technological anchor in the Negev that fosters leadership based on social responsibility and deep civic awareness.
IDI works to bolster the values and institutions of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. A non-partisan think-and-do tank, the institute harnesses rigorous applied research to educate decision makers and help shape policy, legislation and public opinion. The institute partners with government, policy and decision makers, civil service and society, to improve the functioning of the government and its institutions, confront security threats while preserving civil liberties, and foster solidarity within Israeli society. Israel recognized the positive impact of IDI’s research and recommendations by conferring upon the institute its most prestigious award, the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
Department of Creative Culture and Production, Sapir College
Our undergraduate and graduate (M.A.) programs were established in response to a need arising from the field—a need for Cultural Studies with a strong emphasis on practical training aimed at cultivating professionals of the highest standard. Our programs are designed to prime students for a wide range of positions in a variety of frameworks—from academic researchers, managers of cultural events and institutions, and cultural entrepreneurs, to writers, critics, and commentators in all forms of media.
The Department of Cultural Studies – Production and Creation is situated at the heart of an intersection of enterprising, challenging, and versatile activity. During their studies, our students develop and operate innovative projects in the cultural field, projects which transcend academic boundaries and appeal to a wide public.
The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation (Israel) works to create a just, cohesive and participatory Israeli society, and prevents deep processes of social change in order to promote excellence, diversity and leadership through higher education. As a continuation of a philanthropic heritage of over 130 years, the foundation fulfills the Rothschild family's long-standing commitment to the pioneering spirit of the State of Israel and invests in agents of change and the promotion of its new pioneers.
The foundation, which operates within the international network of Edmond de Rothschild funds around the world, is initiating dozens of innovative projects around the country that aim to reduce gaps in society and foster young leadership.
The actions of the Foundation for the Execution of Higher Education among as many communities as possible, to promote innovative academic research, to promote influence and social involvement through art, to invest in groundbreaking socio-economic models and to cultivate young and committed leadership, impact the lives of tens of thousands of people. Israel and its entrepreneurs.
Director of MA Program, Associate Professor of Practice, Department of Cultural Studies, Creativity and Production, Sapir Academic College
Ms. Yeala Hazut Yanuka
Researcher, lecturer and Curator, Department of Cultural Studies, Creativity and Production, Sapir Academic College, and PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology, Haifa University
Dr. Tal Feder
Sapir Academic College
The research report
The study "Statehood in Cultural Policy"
In Israel, the relationship between the state and the domain of culture
and the arts has been badly shaken in recent years: the validity of the
fundamental axioms and principles that shaped this relationship for
decades has been called into question, while alternative approaches
and principles are advanced in their stead. The public discussion of the
topic raises various issues associated with Israeli governments' cultural
policy. Its focus, however, is on state funding as a key element of the
authorities’ involvement in the cultural domain, exemplified chiefly
in the relationship between the state, as the financial prop of cultural
institutions and artistic activity, and freedom of expression in culture
and the arts, and the tension between the two. Mamlakhtiyut is often
understood to refer to the view that the actions of state institutions and
agencies and implementation and fulfillment of their obligations to the
public should be in accordance with the fundamental principles of Israel
as a Jewish and democratic state and not be conducted on the basis
of partisan interests or ideology. How that should be understood with
regard to culture policy is a central concern of the present study.These and other questions are discussed at length in the study of state policy in cultural policy by Adv. Edna Harel Fischer, a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute.
The study seeks to lay the groundwork for a public debate in Israel on the subject and to address the shortcomings that exist in the field. The importance of the study becomes even more important after recently elected officials and opinion leaders questioned key assumptions that in recent decades have served as basic conventions in relations between the state and the cultural sphere and which have laid the foundation for the design of the institutions operating in it.
Based on the principles of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and on the basis of justifications for the importance of the field of culture and artistic freedom of expression, the study seeks to offer an outline of guiding principles for state involvement in culture, including cultural funding. In its summary, recommendations are made to policy makers and public bodies operating in the field in favor of establishing a cultural policy and updating it from time to time with the participation of the public.