You've got a friend
By LAUREN IZSO
In an attempt to bridge the gap between youth and the creative arts of Israel, Jacob Bryce has taken things into his own hands.
They sometimes are portrayed in popular media as “geeks” or “losers.” In
modern television and films, young people who are interested in the
arts hardly end up being the most popular kids in the playground. This
has created a certain separation between being creative and being cool.
Jacob Bryce wanted to change this stereotype, at least from the Israeli
When Bryce made aliya in 2010 from Australia, he was
hoping to find a well-established artistic community that would fulfill
his passion for the arts. Instead what he found was a community rich
with talent, but lacking a connection to young audiences.
made him worry about the future of creativity in Israel. It wasn’t the
ticket sales that worried him, but rather the age of people filling the
seats. With audiences comprised “mostly of pensioners,” Bryce knew
something had to be done to ensure that Israel’s performing arts would
continue to flourish in years to come. That was when he decided to begin
a new endeavor called Young Friends of the Arts.
organization is based in Tel Aviv and is dedicated to “bringing young
professionals together to the classical arts in Israel,” explains Bryce.
Ahead of YFA’s ninth event in two years, Bryce says that they
always strive to collaborate with Israel’s most professional companies.
This list includes The Israeli Opera, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where
the next event will be held, and the Israel Ballet, the host of last
Each event consists of a pre-show talk with some
artists involved in the respective production, followed by a seat in the
audience at a discounted price, and a post show reception including
cocktails and mingling with artists.
The pre-show talks give YFA
participants an idea of what goes on behind the curtain, a rare look
into the professional arts. At last month’s event, the Israel Ballet’s
Romeo and Juliet, choreographer Berta Yapolsky told the YFA about the
difficulties of casting and the challenge of translating the classic
story into movement. She even spoke about the first time she
choreographed this ballet during the Gulf War, and their offstage
gas-mask storage for emergencies.
“Juliet is a dream part for every ballerina,” insisted Yapolsky during the pre-ballet gathering.
glimpse into the life of a dancer is exactly what YFA is about. “We
want young people to see a side to the arts that no one else can. It
helps them understand the reasoning behind it,” says Bryce.
the membership fee is NIS 85, YFA has arranged with various theaters
and art venues, to provide members with a discount any time they attend
an event, beginning from when they purchase their membership, as well as
a rarely seen backstage look.
The next event will be held at the
Tel Aviv Museum of art, and will offer attendees a lesson in Israeli
art. The sold out event taking place this Wednesday will give an
overview of “100 years of Israeli art,” something most Israelis do not
have the privilege of learning about.
Young people of Israel are
disconnected from the creative arts for one of two reasons, Bryce
suggests. Either they are simply disconnected and have no reason to
participate, or it is because “they are born in fire and war,” and think
that the arts shouldn’t be a priority. The organization does try to include Israelis, but since many of them feel this disconnection, YFA has a special interest in reaching out to new olim.
of Connect TLV, who works closely with YFA says that olim are more
inclined to attend these types of events because they want to get
involved any way they can. “We connect olim abroad so they can become
accustomed to Israel,” he says of the connection between the two
“We are not strict or exclusive about age,” says
Bryce, “but we tend to gear our events towards highly educated people.”
It’s not exclusivity that inspired this focus, but rather the belief
that these people are more inclined to be interested because they are
more exposed to this culture.
YFA does not expect to
automatically change the performing arts industry of Israel, insists
Bryce. “We make an introduction and hopefully people will continue to
The first event of the New Year will be the infamous
Greek tragedy Trojan Woman, produced by the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater
and will be held on January 5 at the Cameri Theater. The evening will
of course include a pre-show talk, and post-show cocktails.
Even though the theaters
have agreed to give discounted prices to YFA members, and they are
technically “losing money, this is an investment for the future,” says
Bryce. He insists that the only way to address this problem of an
uncertain future for the arts is to connect young people on a much
Tickets for Trojan Women on January 5 begin at the discounted price of NIS 90 and can be purchased at: http://yfatrojanwomen-JPOST.eventbrite.com/
For more information about Young friends of the Arts visit their website: www.yfa.org.il