The Festival was founded by educator and theater director Bev Meyer to teach the lessons of racial tolerance and collaboration to students through the arts.
Students work in an atmosphere of acceptance and mutual trust. They demonstrate that people of diverse national, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds can not only live and work together, but can also jointly use the arts to communicate their experience.
Students and teachers explore the camp and visit the restored Magdeburg Barracks and the Terezin Memorial Museum. They take a guided tour of the Terezin ghetto, exploring such sites as the “secret" synagogue, the town square and the memorial at the River Ořze.
Although set in a former concentration camp, the Festival is a life affirming experience. A highlight of experience is the interaction of a Terezin survivor with the students.
Between 1998 and 2011, there were 16 Festivals involving over 600 participants from 50 schools in 17 different countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, & USA. Participants at each Festival represented, on average, 15 nationalities and, among them, spoke at least a dozen languages
In examining the darkness and tragedy of Terezín’s history, the lessons learned are about life and hope. The art and music created at Terezín, as well as the stories of the artists and teachers imprisoned there, truly serve as testaments to the survival of the human spirit. The Festival emphasizes the inspiration and hope that can be drawn from these examples.