Arts in Brief: J'lem gets a cultural boost

Also, actress Lea Koenig honored; Tuesdays with Morrie author Mitch Albom heads to Israel.

Jerusalem gets a cultural boost
The Jerusalem Season of Culture (TJSC) is a new annual program funded by serious money – much of it from the US-based Schusterman Foundation, although they are coy about the amount – that will be launched officially in summer 2011. This year’s events are a trial run.
These include Under the Mountain, a festival of cutting-edge, from exhibitions to master classes to performance art, in a variety of venues sponsored by the more sedate Israel Festival, and the closing event of the International Writers Festival at Mishkenot Sha’ananim on May 5 that brings together US author Paul Auster and his author wife Siri Hustvedt, among others, with balladeer Shlomi Shaban.
Under the Mountain offers Musrara Mix, an international multidisciplinary event put on by the Musrara School comprising video art, dance, experimental film and more, the 2010 International Video/Dance Festival from the School of Visual Arts, and Dissolving Localities, an audio/visual concert mounted by the Ma’abada space.
TJSC’s aim is to channel and showcase the diversity and vitality of the capital’s cultural and artistic life in collaboration with the various cultural institutions in the city and the country and some from abroad. The aim is to encourage and promote cultural tourism. The artistic director for the project is Itay Mautner and its strategic consultant is Naomi Bloch Fortis, who until recently ran Batsheva Dance.
Actress Lea Koenig is honored
Bar Ilan University will award an honorary doctorate to veteran actress Lea Koenig, long a beloved pillar of both the Habima National Theater and the Yiddish Theater. She receives the award for her contribution to Israeli culture and “for 50 years of masterful dramatic performance on the Israeli stage.”
Born in Poland, Koenig immigrated with her family to Romania after the end of WWII. There she decided on a stage career and, at age 17, began acting with the Bucharest Jewish Theater. She made aliya on her own in in 1961 and Habima sensibly grabbed her. Koenig is equally at home in drama or comedy, and her warm humanity and wry humor have adorned roles in such plays as Blood Wedding or The Traveler’s Guide to Warsaw. She received the Israel Prize in 1987. 
Tuesdays with Mitch Albom
US author Mitch Albom, who rocketed to fame with the publication of hismoving memoire Tuesdays with Morrie, will attend twogala performances of the play he co-wrote with Jeffrey Hatcher at theHaifa and Cameri theaters on May 5 and 6, respectively. Albom arrivesMay 3 for a week during which he will also lecture at Tishkofet (Life’sDoor), a volunteer organization that works with those suffering fromserious illness such ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a fatalneurodegenerative disease.
Tuesdays with Morrie, the play and the book,chronicles Albom’s Tuesday afternoon meetings with the charismaticProf. Morrie Schwartz, his former teacher at Brandeis, who died of ALS.The book was a worldwide best-seller.