For sale?

Tel Aviv may allow commercial sponsorship of some of the sites expected to host next year's 100th birthday celebrations.

The city of Tel Aviv is considering allowing commercial sponsorship of some of the sites slated to host events in the city's 100th birthday celebrations next year after cutting the budget for the festivities in recent weeks, reports Mayor Ron Huldai told a business conference this week that the municipal and national funding for the planned celebrations was "not enough," and the city needed to form partnerships with commercial bodies. According to the report, the city originally budgeted NIS 70 million for the birthday celebrations, a sum which was later reduced to NIS 50 million. In recent weeks, that budget has been further cut to NIS 45 million. Huldai told the conference that Tel Aviv was important not just to its own residents, but to the whole country as the "capital of culture in Israel and the capital of businesses, the economy, the media and sport in the state." Huldai said that Tel Aviv spent five percent of its annual budget on culture, compared with the state of Israel's spending of just one-thousandth of its budget on culture. "Five percent of the municipal budget is a lot of money but is too little in relation to the (city's) needs and particularly its ambitions," he said. "The municipal budget and the tiny governmental support are not enough [for the 100th birthday celebrations] and we therefore need the momentum and the cooperation with commercial bodies, at whose disposal we would place some of the public spaces of the city for some of the time." Huldai said a "dilemma" existed over the question of whether to allow commercial bodies to use public lands and to what extent, but said that in his opinion this should be allowed and was "even needed" to make the most efficient use of the lands and to benefit the public. But he added that any commercial use of public lands should be done in a "considered" manner and sponsorship should not be granted automatically to the highest bidder. No response was reported to the idea.