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Artas Folklore Center Snapshot – September 2006

Contributed by Artas Folklore Center on 28.09.2006:

September 28, 2006

(Archive of the Artas Folklore Center)

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The Artas Folklore Center is ready for take-off. The 2006 Lettuce Festival had a varied and interesting program last year and was well-attended, despite a very short planning period and limited funds, fulfilling our goal of jumpstarting our work after the death of our founder in January 2005. The 2007 Lettuce Festival, scheduled for April 12-15, which we are able to start planning well in advance, promises to be even more exciting and varied. We will spread out events over the village and relocate the main program to an area accommodating a larger stage and audience and offer special children’s activities as well. We expect participation of many respected organizations from near and far.

The Festival and our slow but sure introduction of the work of the Artas Folklore Center to interested parties have paid off and there are many positive developments. Local organizations such as Holy Land Trust, Open Bethlehem, and Bethlehem University and the Center for Jerusalem Studies, have arranged for hikes or visits this year. The people of Artas have become more involved in the work of the Center. A building has been renovated by the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation for the use of Artas’ women’s group, now involved in a project which gives them a kitchen to make meals and preserves, which will be supervised by the Ministry of Health, thus improving the capacity to offer meals to visitors. They are already serving 1000 hot meals a day to Artas school children.

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One of our partners, the Arab Educational Institute, has developed a very interesting three-day program geared to international visitors. Together, we are developing another which would greatly enhance the ability of the Artas Folklore Center to deliver exciting authentic tourism to locals and foreigners alike–whether for the three-day program, the day program, summer camps or the Lettuce Festival itself. Plans to develop a living museum are under way as well.

As a first step, we hope to type and print with a view of future publication, the manuscript of Musa Sanad, our founder, in which he recorded all manner of subjects related to the village. Being in Arabic, it will be more easily accessible to the villagers involved in the tourism program.

As you may have noticed, Artas Folklore Center is also a partner of Palestine-Family.net, an exciting, ground-breaking website serving as a cultural and historical archive for the Palestinian people. This website offers a creative solution to the current inability of the Artas Folklore Center to develop a professional website, highlighting the attractions of Artas and the work of the Center. By entering into a commitment to develop the site as a whole, the Artas Folklore Center has earned the right to a subsite with its own, externally accessible URL: www.artasfolklorecenter.net.

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Clicking on this address will lead to a page inside Palestine-family.net on which the Artas Folklore Center can upload material about its programs and activities, while putting other items, such as articles, photographs and so on, on the main site, making them accessible to browsers. The fact that Palestine-Family.net does not have a central webmaster, but relies on direct submissions is a great asset for Artas Folklore Center for a number of reasons. It allows easy updates to a center in rapid transition, and it will later serve as a centerpiece for youth involvement in collecting and communicating Artas and its heritage to the world in their own language. Its multilingual capacity—seven languages to date—allows it to accommodate some of the writings on Artas in various languages. At present there are over 60 entries on Artas submitted in the name of the center and by others on Palestine-family.net (which we encourage you to explore. The Artas subsite is currently under development and scheduled to be completed before the local launch of Palestine Family.net on October 21, 2006 at the Bethlehem Peace Center.

The Artas Folklore Center, which provides on-going assistance to students from neighboring Bethlehem University, within the last year has also lent cooperation to a Finnish Film Crew documenting the life of Hilma Granqvist, the Finnish Anthropologist who lived in the village during the British Mandate, Falestin Naili, based in France, who is doing her doctoral dissertation on the Collective Memory of Artas, and Samar Nazar based at Birzeit/Norway, whose dissertation deals with changes in the Cultural Landscape of Artas.

The Artas Folklore Center is recruiting local and international volunteers interested in deepening their knowledge of Palestinian life, thus providing them with an unforgettable experience and extending the capacity of the center. Two highly qualified international volunteers with relevant experience and training have already been recruited.

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