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Popular Art Center

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 25.02.2006:

This Week in Palestine

June 2005

Palestine International Festival 2005 Reviving a Distinguished Tradition of Art for Freedom in Occupied Palestine

The Popular Art Centre (PAC), one of the leading NGOs in the occupied Palestinian territory, is reviving its distinguished Palestine International Festival this year, after a lull of several years. The Festival will be held in Ramallah and several other West Bank cities between June 30th and July 9th.

The theme of this year’s festival is

”Another BREAK in the Wall!”The last day of the festival, in particular, pays tribute to the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion declaring Israel’s colonial Wall in the occupied Palestinian territory illegal and calling for its dismantle. Through international and Palestinian performances of dance and music, PAC is making a statement of cultural resistance to this grave monument of injustice.

Established in 1987 during the first Palestinian Intifada, PAC quickly became a leading cultural centre in the West Bank, organizing the annual Palestine International Festival, conducting a range of art programmes for children, establishing a cinematheque and promoting traditional Arab-Palestinian music and dance. PAC is a non-profit organization that upholds the values of volunteerism, community participation and the right of all to engage in the arts.

In 1993, despite all odds, PAC was able to launch the first Palestine International Festival for Music and Dance. The objective of the festival was, and still is, to promote international links and to break the cultural isolation of Palestinian society caused by the occupation. The Festival proved to be a huge success and, for the seven years that followed, became an annual national event attracting thousands of people each year. The Festival was the largest and most prestigious international event in Palestine hosting music and dance groups from all over the world, including Stomp from Britain, Intillimani from Chile, Chicco and the Gypsies from France, Lutfi Bushnaq and Saber Rubaie from Tunisia, Amandla from South Africa and others. Hundreds of volunteers participated in organizing the annual event, while numerous local businesses, foreign embassies, consulates and international organizations provided material and financial support, which greatly contributed to its success.

For the last five years, however, PAC was unable to organize the festival due to overwhelming conditions of military siege and repression. Palestinian cities have become isolated from each other. The Wall has clearly been the most devastating aspect of the occupation. Despite that, PAC decided to organize this year’s festival to prove once again that we shall continue to enjoy cultural performances, to communicate with the rest of the world, to hold on to our dreams of justice and genuine peace and to resist oppression with cultural activism.

Find out more about the Festival at www.popularartcentre.org

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