Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev received a rough reception at the opening of the Israel Festival in Jerusalem on 1 June, with the audience booing during her speech. Earlier in the week Regev had threatened to cut the festival’s funding unless it removed two shows that contain nudity from the programme.
In a letter sent to festival directors on 30 May Regev wrote: “The state’s budget cannot be used for activities that harm society’s values and identity,” and added that shows containing nudity are “detrimental to the basic values of the Israeli public and Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Festival director-general Eyal Sher defended the inclusion of the shows. “We emphasise that such performances take place in auditoriums and are only available to those who buy tickets. In other words, they do not take place in the wider public sphere…we are sensitive to those who might not be interested in such shows.” He added that the pieces are an “integral part of the artistic programme.”
The 56th edition of the Israel Festival runs until 18 June and includes work by Robert Wilson, Christian Rizzo and Olivier De Sagazan.