In a historic first, Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle presided over the signing last week at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv of a three-year cultural budget agreement with the Finance Ministry. It provides an incremental annual increase to the country's budget for culture. For 2009, the budget will be NIS 456 million, an increase of NIS 11 million from 2008. In 2010 it will rise to NIS 461 million and in 2011, NIS 466 million. These budgets are protected against future cuts. The agreement was hammered out in cooperation with Majadle, treasury officials, representatives from the 150-member Cultural Institutions Forum and MKs Michael Melchior and Avishai Braverman. The two MKs are pushing the Culture Bill through the Knesset; if passed into law, it will mandate 0.5% of the national budget be allotted to culture, irrespective of future funding cutbacks. The Cultural Forum was created in 2007 as a response to projected budget cuts of NIS 53 million to an already tiny NIS 445 million budget.