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It's rare for a festival offering major musical acts to take place in an out-of-the-way town. It's even more rare for admission to such festivals to cost just one shekel. But as its name and venue imply, Festival B'Shekel (Festival for a Shekel) does just that.
The festival was founded in 2001 by a group of young community activists in the Jerusalem music scene. Shanan Street, lead vocalist of hip hop group Hadag Nahash, says he's pleased the festival has become a tradition. "I am very proud and excited that the festival has reached the age of five," he says.
As in previous years, Festival B'Shekel will take
place in towns on the "periphery" rather than the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem venues where most similar events take place. This year the first of three shows is scheduled for Migdal Haemek, where Dana Berger, Hadag Nahash, and Funkenstein & Tipex are among the performers. The southern town of Kiryat Gat is the site of the second show, and has attracted major acts including MC Carolina, Shy Nobleman and Mosh Ben Ari, along with a surprise guest. The third and final venue is the Armon Hanatsiv neighborhood of Jerusalem, where MC Carolina will take the stage once again, along with a line-up including Mika Karni, Amir Lev, Mercedes Benz and Beit Habubot. On all three nights, the festival atmosphere will be enhanced with multiple street-theater performances, while local bands will be incorporated into the show.
To provide what it does at such a price, Festival B'Shekel is registered as a non-profit organization. In addition to private donations, its funding comes from various sources, including the Jerusalem Foundation, Pratt Foundation Israel, Omanut Laam, author David Grossman and musician Kobi Oz.
Festival B'Shekel's mission goes beyond providing a major, high-quality production for such a minuscule fee. Besides bringing music and culture to places and people that might not otherwise have access to such events, the festival hopes to encourage social and cultural growth across all of Israeli society. To help bring this about, activists head into communities on the periphery months prior to the festival to work with local youth, offering workshops on the array of skills necessary to produce such a huge event.
The wandering festival will arrive at Migdal Haemek's municipal stadium on June 26, with the show starting at 6 p.m. Two days later, on June 28, the venue is the municipal stadium of Kiryat Gat, beginning at 5:30 p.m. This year's Festival B'Shekel makes its last appearance July 3 at 5 p.m at the sport fields opposite Slicksburg High School in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatsiv neighborhood.
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