The Israel Festival is an international contemporary event showcasing a wide range of performances in dance, music, theater, performance art, video art, and installation. Every year the festival offers its audiences a rich selection of fine art productions from around the globe, alongside original Israeli productions from leading groups and independent artists, and street performances open to the public.
Over the 60 years since its founding, the festival has gained a reputation of being a prestigious, groundbreaking and innovative event. The rich artistic program features performances by iconic artists, alongside works by younger artists – who stage new, original forms and trends, that challenge common artistic practice and conception while simultaneously enriching them.
Artists previously featured in the festival include Robert Wilson, Romeo Castellucci, Jan Fabre, Maurice Béjart, Alvin Ailey, Peter Brook, Daniel Barenboim, Merce Cunningham’s dance troupe, Trisha Brown & Lucinda Childs, Angélica Liddell, Marlene Monteiro Freitas, Xavier Le Roy, Thom Luz, Lia Rodrigues, and more. Among the Israeli artists featured over the years are Kaveret (the reunion), Shalom Hanoch, Yossi Israeli, Ohad Naharin, and many others.
Being a central stage for artistic dialogue and professional enrichment, the festival holds small conventions, seminars, and a series of professional encounters and workshops with guest artists. Throughout the year the festival maintains contact and connections with students and leading art institutions such as the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Musrara – The Naggar Multidisciplinary School of Art and Society, The Nissan Nativ Acting Studio, The School of Visual Theater, and The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, as well as with creative collectives and groups such as Hazira, Machol Shalem, Muslala, Between Heaven and Earth, and many others. This large number of ongoing relationships leads to many substantial artistic collaborations.
The festival holds a high standard of social awareness, and emphasizes educational and community values. One of its main goals is making the program accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
Many of the festival’s events and performances are open to all audiences, free of charge. Other events are subsidized and offer discounts for active-duty soldiers, students, seniors, special-needs audiences, people with disabilities, and more. The program is built to allow large numbers of people to experience as many of the performances as possible, and to transition easily between the familiar and the contemporary.
The climate crisis has forced us to rethink our organizational practices, and how we can minimize the festival’s ecological footprint. The Israel Festival is determined to reduce the use of single-use plastics, plastic bottles and paper; to offer public transportation; to minimize waste and littering, and to balance carbon emission.
The festival hosts over 30,000 visitors – arriving from Jerusalem, around the country, and the entire world. The event is one of Israel’s most important cultural events, and is essential to the progress and multi-cultural character of Jerusalem as a city.
The Israel Festival is supported by the Culture Administration of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, The Municipality of Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Foundation, The Jerusalem Development Authority, Eden – The Economical Development Company, as well as many embassies, public and private foundations, and business sponsorships.
The Israel Festival is an active member of the Israel Cultural Organization Forum, the Silk Road Festival Association and the European Festival Association.
In 2020, under the limits created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival focused on original Israeli productions, that were performed before limited audiences and streamed online.
The 2021 edition of the Israel Festival will be held before live audiences, marking 60 years of multi-disciplinary Israeli art and the encounter between arts and the community.
In the first festival program, in 1961, the Israel Festival founder, Aharon Tsvi Propes, wrote: “Today we join the family of nations who, thanks to their festivals, have enriched their musical lives and made a great contribution to strengthening ties between nations through the art of sound.” Indeed, in its 60 years, the Israel Festival has offered a rare window to cultures around the world, and a unique platform for a dialogue and an encounter with the other.
“Music, that wonderful and universal language which is understood by everyone, should be a source of communication among men” wrote the legendary pianist Pablo Casals in the 1970 program, the festival’s 9th year, adding “I once again exhort my fellow musicians throughout the world to put the purity of their art in the service of mankind in order to unite all people in fraternal ties.” These wishes have accompanied the festival throughout its years, and continue to resonate today, as we mark our 60th Anniversary.
In the shadow of the global pandemic with its long months of social distancing and isolation, and with the tragic conflict that continues to impact our region’s reality, the 2021 artistic program continues to explore the role of culture in our society, reflecting on trends that we identify and needs that we wish to meet. We invite you as always to join us for an engaging, captivating and inspiring artistic journey.
We hope to see you with us,
Parting has a smell. Sometimes it is the type of smell we hope will linger as a pleasant memory, and other times one that we cannot wait to go away without leaving a trace. But the wind will take the smell wherever it pleases.
Over the last year, the wind blew, as it does, carrying a small particle that sprouted new information, engendering a different reality in us. And while the wind is familiar, the scent is different. A strong scent of goodbye. Perhaps it will remain strong. Perhaps we will simply get used to the smell.
“Wherever arrogance of the intellect mates with the spiritual obsolete and archaic, there is the Devil’s domain” said Thomas Man about the personal and social blindness that leads to degeneration. All we can do is continue to challenge our position and our conduct. And the questions do resonate. Art has a new abyss to hover over and scream into. More than ever, it seems that art (and us with it) will benefit if it stands at the forefront of the contemporary’s constant renewal, push itself to be the generator of reality and reinvent the ways of fulfilling human life that is in such need of refining.
2021 is the Israel Festival 60th year. A long standing and prolific endeavor that encountered a small airborne particle. In its current iteration, born from an incomplete knowledge of future conditions, we try to offer a tentative path, one in which art wishes to position itself within life activities (“Routine 2.0,” “Home, Spirit, Hospitality”) on the one hand, and on the other hand to bring together on one stage artists from different fields (“Inspirational Connections”) for an open and unbridled dialogue about Israeli art and its social place in the past and today.
Perhaps in these very moments the entire world is becoming art… can you smell it? While there are no telling signs just yet, who knows, perhaps the scent that wafts through the air heralds the grand shift that is taking place.
What will the world look like when it becomes art? What will life look like once it becomes an artistic act? These are times that summon a new contract between art and the public. The wind calls for it.
2021 is my last year at the Israel Festival.
I am ending my shift after 7 eventful years of activity. I have had the great pleasure to engage in a dialogue with you, dear audience, and I am grateful for the exhilarating conversation that took shape. Without you, this would not have been possible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will carry the smell of this farewell with me. I wish us all an exciting festival, and hope to see you in other orchards…
The Israel Festival Team
Eyal Sher, General Director / Aviva Nir-Giladi, Assistant to the General Director / Itzik Giuli, Artistic Director / Miri Menirav, Producer / Vered Daya, Marketing Director / Merav Kedar, Sales Director / Shira Vitaly, Programming Associate & Artists Relations / Dina Ashkenazi, Account Manager / Gavriel Goodman, Acting Producer / Maayan Navon, Producer Assistant / Leah Stora, Content Coordinator
Board Members: Dan Halpern, chairman; Idit Amichay; Yehezkel Beinish; Yitzhak Ben Nissim; Yoram Braverman; Nili Cohen; Orly Doron; Hana Hertzman; Dr. Tal Kohavi; Jonatan Livni; Ziv Nevo Kolman; Ruta Peled; Barry Swersky; Anat Tzur; Micha Yinon;
Audit Committee: Prof. Leah Achdut, Adv. Ruth Horn
PR: Lapidot Public Relations – Ora Lapidot, Adi Tzoref-Feldman
PR Russian Sector: Sofia Nimelstein
Graphic design & branding: The League – Koby Levy, Ella Yehudai, My Arviv ,Noee Zahavy, Eli Khromov
Website: R2K – Rotem Tal; Khalil Jarban; Nof Harari
Social Media & Digital: 6 Degs – Eyal Bason, Saar Gamzo
Content Writing: Shira Vitaly
Copy editor: Gal Kusturica
English translation: Maya Shimony
Russian translation (website): Leah Greenspan, Anna Irovich
Arabic translation (website): Sectors – Howaina Hamdan
Tickets – Eventer
CPA: Avraham Bechar & Co.
Internal Auditor: Ofer Sasover, CPA
Legal Counsel: Adv. Tamar Fineberg