Boat-in theatre makes waves in Tel Aviv, not all welcome

Tel Aviv is creating new solutions for missing culture in the city like the “boat in theatre” instead of addressing the centers and culture that exists.

Perfect for Muskoka or Tahoe in the summer: the city of Tel Aviv has started a boat-in theatre this summer. Those with boats or dinghies can sail in within safe distance to other boaters to enjoy movies on the boat lake of Tel Aviv.

The coronavirus outbreak has proved particularly challenging for the cultural sector worldwide, with outdoor initiatives representing almost the sole solution for cultural events.The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality will now launch a “sail-in” floating cinema under the clear night sky from August 22 to 28, in partnership with Tel Aviv Cinematheque. 

A total of 70 socially distanced boats will be available to moviegoers seeking to enjoy a night of cinematic entertainment under the stars, the city writes in an announcement it sent Green Prophet. Boats will be distanced two meters apart (or 6 feet) at all times opposite a large screen allowing all ticketholders to float away and unwind from the daily grind for at least a few hours.

“The coronavirus crisis poses new challenges for Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, including bringing cultural life to a halt in the city. During recent months, we have been constantly examining ways of providing assistance. The initiative to screen movies at HaYarkon Park’s boating lake is another creative way to spend the hot August days,” says Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo.

The launch of the floating cinema joins a long list of municipal initiatives launched in recent months to support cultural activity in the city. Meanwhile people who own decades-old cultural centers in the city such as the East West House in Jaffa are drowning in a labyrinth of paperwork, with no one to speak with at the City Hall.

Yisrael Borochov, the founder of the East West House, one of the main cultural centers of Jaffa, runs the non-profit organization which supports local and ethnic music from the Arab and Jewish cultures. Borochov is very confused about the current situation and decisions of Ron Huldai.

East West House

The East West House in Jaffa could easily provide socially distanced shows outdoors. Instead the City Hall is giving money earmarked for it to venues that have no experience in music.

He tells Green Prophet: “I got a letter from the government, from the Ministry of Culture who sees our cultural center as foundational to the city of Jaffa and they said they earmarked money for our organization. We just have to apply to get it. We haven’t been operating normally since March and are used to sold out shows every week. Now we have zero income. The Culture Ministry told us to apply for the money coming to us from the city.

“I filled out the forms and called the City and no one is answering or acknowledging our requests,” Borochov tells Green Prophet. He continues: “The government is telling me to go to the city to start performances, an activity that the government is also forbidding us to do, while on the other hand the city is allowing new venues such as museums and bars to host the same musicians that used to come to my center to perform. Instead of addressing the problem they are creating a new flawed system that will devastate the cultural heritage of the city.

“While I think it’s important to social distance, and we could do this at outdoor performances at the East West House in Jaffa, the city is creating new projects that only put a colorful bandaid on the bigger problem: the collapse of real cultural activities in the city, for the centers, the artists and the supporting teams like the sound crew,” Borochov relates.”

Most of the demonstrations as of late have been related to the collapse of the cultural sectors and those demonstrating are artists and supporting professions who are now without work. Instead of operating like Berlin or London, cities that support existing artists Tel Aviv is operating to the beat of its own drum.

The city has started musical performances on the roof of the Eretz Israel Museum as a new activity while those at existing centers collect dust and foot the bill for their many years of cultural service to the community.

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