About - The Israel Festival



Founded in 1961 the Israel Festival presents outstanding international theatre performances, contemporary dance and classical music, along with outstanding original Israeli works and open to the public street performances.  Attended by over 35,000 people, the Israel Festival is one of the city’s most important and beloved cultural assets, advancing education, empowering community and strengthening tourism and the economy. 

The eclectic programming of the Festival attracts varied audiences from Jerusalem and beyond, and is a dynamic hub for students, professional artists and culture lovers, greatly enriching the city’s cultural landscape.

Hosting leading international artists and engaging emerging and established Israeli artists, the Israel Festival provides an important platform for inter-cultural encounter and dialogue, and is vital to a modern, dynamic and pluralistic Jerusalem.  

Past festival participants include Bill Forsythe, the Kirov Ballet, Peter Brook, Complicité, Zakir Hussein, Daniel Barenboim, Laurie Anderson, Boris Charmatz, The Trisha Brown Dance Company, Robert Wilson, Lucinda Childs, Romeo Castelluchi, Jan Fabre, Philippe Quesne, Angelica Liddell, Ensemble Modern, Julien Gosselin, Xavier Le Roy, Doris Uhlich, Wang Chong, Marlene Monteiro Freitas.  Israeli artists featured in the past include the Kaveret Reunion, Shalom Hanoch, Eyal Weiser, Yossi Yizraeli, Yonatan Levi, Adina Bar-On and many more.

Beyond inspiring, memorable performances, participating artists conduct master classes and artist talks. As part of these encounters, the festival collaborates with leading art academies, professional guilds and independent artists.  The presentation of iconic and ground-breaking artists propels a lively local-global discourse amongst the artistic community, cultural consumers and the general public.

The Israel Festival is an active member of the Israel Cultural Organization Forum, the Silk Road Festival Association and the European Festival Association and is the recipient of the EFFE Label of Excellence.

The artistic program for 2020 reflects on issues of togetherness, community, empathy, aging, privacy and technology, democracy, emergency- values that have emerged with heightened relevancy and urgency during the current pandemic.

Performances will be held at the Jerusalem Theater, Israel Museum, Sultan’s Pool, City Hall Safra Plaza, Eden Tamir Music Center in Ein Kerem, and the Talpiot Cultural Center, creating an inclusive, unique and inspiring artistic landscape for both performers and audiences.

A Greeting from the Festival Director

Old and new friends, dear audience,

We are thrilled that the Israel Festival, originally scheduled to open on June 4th and postponed due to the restrictions imposed by the state following the Covid-19 pandemic, will take place this year between September 3rd-12th in a format tailored to the circumstances and the Purple Badge guidelines.

Like the navigation of life itself, including any and all commercial and artistic activity, holding the festival under uncertain conditions in a fluctuating reality poses an artistic, production, and managerial challenge. Nevertheless, in the face of the medical tragedy, social distancing, the financial crisis, and political rifts that overwhelm our lives, we see a great importance in maintaining continued cultural, social, and communal work for the benefit of the audience but also for the benefit of the artists, professionals, and workers in the cultural sector.

Curated before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, the artistic program touches on the issues that we are all facing these days as a society: community, encounters, touching, empathy, emergency and evacuation situations, individualism and technology, agism, democracy, acceptance of the other and more. Artistic interventions in the community and public institutions, artist talks and professional conferences will explore the place of culture and its role in the changing reality. We believe that touching on these values through live art is not only as important and inspiring as always, but even more relevant and urgent than ever before.

Alongside the Israel Festival, it was decided to bring forward and hold the International Jazz Festival in Jerusalem, producedby the Israel Festival, with the artistic direction of trumpeter Avishai Cohen and in collaboration of the Yellow Submarine and the Israel Museum. The Jazz Festival will be held in the Sculpture Garden and the spectacular galleries of the Israel Museum between September 8th-10th, and the two festivals will hold several joint events.
As we are relentlessly fighting alongside tens of thousands of others working in the cultural sector to get culture back on track in the shadow of Covid-19, we hope that by the time that the two festivals start, the halls will reopen and allow shows in front of a live audience. At the same time, we are making arrangements to film the shows and broadcast them on the festival’s website, complemented by enriching contents like documentation of creative processes, interviews with artists and performers, audience participation and more.

We invite you to an exciting encounter with art and with ourselves. This is an invitation to experience shows that wish to illuminate our world and transport us to distant worlds, to present different perspectives, to generate a dialogue, to touch, to fascinate, and to move.

The 2020 Israel Festival is dedicated to all the creatives who make our world better. It is not that there is no life without culture; culture is life and cultural activity is our protest.

We are looking forward to seeing you all.

Eyal and the festival team

A Greeting from the Artistic Director

Dear audience,

Making plans and trying to write about them in these uncertain times are accompanied by complex emotions. On the one hand, there is a strong desire to act urgently in the face of the crisis. On the other hand, the volatile situation constantly alters the possibilities we have at our disposal.
Here and throughout the world, the social distancing that has been imposed on us and the difficulties it has brought with it have given rise to a rethinking of closeness and solidarity. Suspicion towards the other, who may be potential carriers, goes hand in hand with the understanding that without working together we will not be able to move forward in finding a solution. And the coronavirus crisis? It curbs our – and the world’s – ego, whispering in our ears to start thinking differently – to put the other under our light.
The materials you will encounter at the Israel Festival contain a search for art that wishes to step out of its familiar surroundings, meet the public, and establish – together with it as its co-creator – a space that explores how to “infect” one another other with new ideas, empathy, and creativity.
The works and artists who survived the upheavals of the crisis along with us and even adapted to the required restrictions were joined by new projects that focus on close interactions with diverse communities (Institutional Routine and Soft Resistances) and the question of art’s relevance (Concoction – a day of activities, thinking, and creation).
We have no choice but to act from an acute and open attentiveness which, while aimed at the short term, is essential for the existence of the artistic act. At the same time, it is important that we cultivate a dialogue that identifies the possibilities that exist in these fluid circumstances, and with joint forces imagine the future.
Join us – the artists and communities who look for closeness in times of oscillating between a familiar reality and a new one.

Itzik Giuli
Artistic Director

The Israel Festival Team

The Israel Festival Team:

Eyal Sher, General Director / Aviva Nir-Giladi, Assistant to the General Director /
Itzik Giuli, Artistic Director / Miri Menirav, Producer / Adi Sheffi, Marketing Director / Merav Kedar, Sales Director / Shira Vitaly, Programming Associate & Artists Relations/ Dina Ashkenazi, Account Manager / Gavriel Goodman,  Acting Producer / Mica Kupfer, Content Coordinator

The Israel Festival was founded by the late Aaron Zvi Propes. The Festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Jerusalem Foundation, embassies, private and public foundations and corporate partners.

Board Members:

Dan Halperin, chairman; Idit Amichay, Yehezkel Beinish, Yitzhak Ben-Nissim, Yoram Braverman, Nili Cohen, Orly Doron, Hanna Hertzman, Jonathan Livni, Dr. Tal Kohavi, Ziv Nevo Kulman, Barry Swersky, Anat Tzur, Micha Yinon

Audit Committee:  Prof. Leah Achdut, Adv. Ruth Horn

Public Relations: Ora Lapidot, Adi Tzoref-Feldman  
Public Relations Russian Sector: Sofia Nimelstein
Graphic Design: The LeagueKoby Levy, Rony Karadi, Maya Vaspi
Website: R2K – Rotem Tal, Khalil Jarban, Nof Harari
Digital Media & Social Media: 6 Degs – Eyal Bason, Saar Gamzo
Writing: Shira Vitaly
Copy editor: Gal Kusturica
English translation: Maya Shimony
Russian translation (website): Leah Greenspan, Anna Irovich
Arabic translation (website): SectorsOla Badin
Box office: Eventer
Livestream: Screenz
Accounting: Avraham Bechar & Co. / Internal Auditor: Ofer Sassover, CPA / Legal Counsel: Adv. Tamar Fineberg

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