Putting out a contract on art

by Yitzhak Laor

...Below is the text of the contract that authors and artists sign with the Foreign Ministry in exchange for funding for the most important component in their international career: their trips to cultural and literary events, including film, theater, and dance festivals. ...

"Contract

Between the State of Israel, via the Foreign Ministry, Division for Cultural and Scientific Affairs, by the deputy director of the CSA division and the Ministry's accountant (hereinafter, 'the Ministry'), on the one hand, and Mr./Ms./Company/Organization ... (hereinafter, 'the service provider'), on the other hand."

Right in its introduction, the contract states:

"The service provider undertakes to mention the name of the Ministry and/or Israeli representation in the abovementioned countries in any publication concerning the services provided by him, in Israel and abroad. He must also undertake: To provide the Ministry with a detailed report of the provision of services by him, including samples and evidence, as stated in subparagraph C, below (hereinafter, 'the services')."

Now that the relationship between the Israeli government and the artists it sends abroad has been defined, the contract continues:

"Whereas the Ministry is interested in acquiring from the service provider the following cultural/artistic/educational/scientific services ...

"The service provider hereby declares that he has the experience, expertise, qualifications and knowledge to execute the services."

Now comes the main part:

"He is interested in providing services to the Ministry." (The service provider must be equipped, of course, with all the legal documents, so the state will not be paying someone who is deceiving the income tax authorities, for example, or the Registrar of Nonprofit Organizations.)

Paragraph 5:

"In consideration for the provision of services by the service provider as detailed in this contract, and in keeping with the laws, the Ministry will pay the service provider the sum (hereinafter - 'the consideration') of up to [this figure varies, depending on the contract], for the following matters. The consideration will be paid by the Ministry, in part directly to the service provider, and in part directly to third parties [these include the foreign organizations issuing the invitations, such as film festivals and publishers], as specified below:

"A. The purchase of tourist-class airline tickets for the service provider, by the Ministry, via a travel agency chosen by the Ministry; alternatively, with the advance approval of the Ministry, the reimbursement of expenditures for the purchase of the abovementioned airline tickets by the service provider, against the presentation of acceptable receipts.
B. The reimbursement of food, beverage, and lodging expenses, up to a sum of - NIS/$US/euro, in keeping with the Ministry's practices and against receipts (here, too, the sum varies depending on the specific contract.
C. Master artist's fee, in amount of - NIS/$US/euro, including VAT..."

A contract is a boring read, so I will jump ahead to Paragraph 12 and the crux of the matter:

"The service provider undertakes to act faithfully, responsibly and tirelessly to provide the Ministry with the highest professional services. The service provider is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel."

In order to conceal the above - after all, culture is "culture," without intervention, without mechanisms, without state-sponsored translation machines - Paragraph 13 stresses:

"The service provider will not present himself as an agent, emissary and/or representative of the Ministry."

Paragraph 15 even contains a warning:

"The Ministry is entitled to terminate this contract, or a part thereof, immediately and at the Ministry's sole discretion, if the service provider does not provide the Ministry with the services and/or does not fulfill his obligations under this contract and/or does not provide the services and/or fulfill his obligations to the Ministry's full satisfaction, and/or provides the services in an inadequate fashion and/or deviates from the timetable, and/or if the Ministry does not need the services of the service provider for any reason and/or for budgetary, organizational or security and/or policy reasons, and the service provider will make no claim, demand or suit based on the termination of the contract by the Ministry."

It goes without saying that the artists are presenting our democracy in total freedom.

Full article in Haaretz 31st July 2008

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