Forging Culture from Conflict: The Healing Power of Art in Sderot

Mention the Negev city of Sderot, and most people think of rockets. But when Liron Max and Sharon Ken-Dor moved to town, they saw something else: a city thirsty for art.

So they gathered 18 artists and formed Umm Culture House with the goal of creating a truly local art for Sderot. Displayed in local businesses and public spaces, their work sparks conversation among locals, newcomers and tourists about life in the South. “It seems like people in Israel can’t speak civilly to each other anymore. As artists, we wanted to challenge that by creating art from a war zone as a way of bringing people together,” says Limor.  “Now, when people see our art, it touches them very personally. They cry, they are euphoric.”

Winning a grant from Federations’ Negev Now initiative has taken Umm and Sderot to the next level. A project of Federations’ Negev Funding Coalition, Negev Now works to increase the vitality of Israel’s south for current and future residents, driving both innovation and economic growth.

With this investment, Umm artists are now free to continue to transform the culture of their city. “Federation gave recognition and resources to the Negev’s artists and its public, allowing us to support the community, reach more people and make great art like Sderot has never seen before,” says Sharon.