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JERUSALEM (February 12, 2020) – Musrara, the Naggar School of Art and Society is pleased to announce it has received a grant through the Communities Connecting Heritage (CCH) program to carry out a cultural heritage project in partnership with the U.S. organization Wisdom of the Elders, which will explore the power of cultural arts for healing trauma and strengthening cultural identity. CCH, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by World Learning, empowers youth to protect the cultural heritage of underserved communities around the world.

“This project will provide a special and exciting opportunity for interaction between peoples from different cultural backgrounds, allowing sharing of thoughts, feelings, ideas, and especially human encounters where each participant brings their world and life experiences that are woven into the fabric of deeply rooted cultures,” said Dr. Avi Sabag H.C., Founder and Director of Musrara, The Naggar School of Art and Society. “We are bursting with curiosity towards starting this amazing journey. We feel it is a wonderful gift that will resonate from us to the world and hopefully for a beneficial and optimistic future.”

The program consists of a five-to-six month virtual exchange; two reciprocal, two-week in-person exchanges; and a culminating exhibition showcasing the material developed between the two groups.

Musrara is one of six international organizations selected for the program and each international organization was paired with a U.S. counterpart. Musrara’s partner, Wisdom of the Elders, is a Native American organization from Portland, Oregon, which aims to preserve Native American history and cultural heritage through media productions and green Native agriculture.

This collaborative project, The Hero's Journey of Transformation, will engage students and artists in Israel from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities and multigenerational Pacific Northwest Native American storytellers, artists, and other cultural leaders. Musrara will apply its use of phototherapy and photography as healing tools to the project, while Wisdom of the Elders will share Native American traditions of storytelling and other methods of spiritual healing.

The first in-person exchange will take place in February 17-29, when Musrara's team will visit Native American reservations in Oregon and Washington State. During the exchange, Musrara will conduct phototherapy and photography workshops and engage with the local communities. For the second exchange, Wisdom of the Elders will visit Jerusalem during the annual Musrara Mix Festival in June. In addition to meeting Musrara’s students and visiting cultural establishments, Wisdom of the Elders’ team will also share their traditional tools of healing and share performances by artists including Kunu Dittmer-Bearchum, a Native American rapper.

The project’s culminating exhibitions will include photo displays, video recordings, sound installations, and stories, which will initially be developed into art pieces during the Musrara Mix festival and later in Portland, Oregon.
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