Anna Buxton

Meet Anna Buxton!

Anna BuxtonFolklife is thrilled to be welcome our new Programming team member, Anna Buxton. Anna has just returned to Seattle from Montana where she worked at the Missoula Art Museum. We are delighted to have her aboard as she brings 8+ years of arts administration experience to the organization.

“I’m thrilled to be joining a team which celebrates the multicultural makeup of the Northwest through such a dynamic assortment of art forms. I’ve always been impressed with the caliber of artists and performers at Northwest Folklife representing a wide array of cultures and traditions, and have many fond memories of attending the Festival with my family as a child. I’m looking forward to working with this talented community to create a spectacular Festival in 2016!”

Photo Credit: Piper Hanson

Why give? Discover Northwest Folklife

Joyas Mestizas t the Seattle Children's Festival

Joyas Mestizas at the Seattle Children’s Festival

“I believe that the cultural arts are essential to building vital, healthy communities. Northwest Folklife offers rare opportunities for musicians and artists to showcase their work in an accessible, intimate way. Folklife combines the very best of community spirit, creativity, friendships, music, dance, and arts and crafts. Northwest Folklife gives a lot to me. I feel it’s only fair to give back to Northwest Folklife.” – Catherine Lenox

Thanks to donors, volunteers, communities, performers, Festival sponsors and vendors, and participants, Northwest Folklife touches many lives. Since our humble beginnings, we have:
• Engaged hundreds of regional cultural groups in our year-round and Festival programming
• Delivered Cultural Focus programs that delve into an art form, exploring a topic in depth, through special performances, panels, workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations, and activities
• Created the largest community-powered arts & culture Festival in the country

Photo by Piper Hanson

Photo by Piper Hanson

Your gift makes the Northwest Folklife magic happen. Here are some examples of where your money goes:

Your gift of $150 brings musicians, dancers, community groups, artists, storytellers, and workshop instructors from the Northwest region, including Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana to perform and participate in the Northwest Folklife Festival. Did you know that all performers on Festival stages donate their time and energy in this remarkable community-powered phenomenon? Your donation of $150 provides resources for Northwest Folklife to offer travel reimbursements to performers and artists from the greater Pacific Northwest: the key to unlocking the wonder that is folklife throughout the Northwest.

Photo by Piper Hanson

Bahia in Motion. Photo by Piper Hanson

Your gift of $250 or more amplifies Northwest Folklife’s multi-cultural initiatives and programs throughout the year. Folk Starters’ support provides resources for Northwest Folklife to connect with artists and cultural communities all throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana. For example, in 2015, we worked with 20 partner artists and organizations to develop the 2015 Cultural Focus: Beats, Rhymes and Rhythms: Traditional Roots of Today’s Branches. We engaged with more than 80 communities throughout the year to plan and present 63 genres of music and dance at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Basque, Tahitian, Vietnamese and Filipino communities had a new presence, due to enhanced outreach. We also expanded our hands-on showcase of fiber art and visual art. Northwest Folklife’s Seattle Children’s Festival and ‘Folklife Presents’ programs provide even more opportunity to showcase the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Folk Starters support year-round multi-cultural programs!

Thank you for building such an important tradition in Northwest Folklife, one that breaks down barriers between people and creates a path to peace through understanding.

Make a gift today. Learn more about how your donation supports Northwest Folklife.


How Do We Make Northwest Folklife Strong for the Future?

It’s Community-Powered!

1,000 Cellos, Northwest Folklife Festival 2015. Photo Credit, Piper Hanson

Your gift makes the Folklife magic happen. Here’s where your money goes:

$10,000 sponsors a stage, sound engineer and stage manager. $5,000 creates opportunities for children and families to learn and grow. $2,500 supports year-round Cultural Focus programs. $1,000 provides professional production values to Community Coordinated showcases. $500 invests in strong communities through arts and culture. $250 amplifies our multi-cultural initiatives. Gifts in all amounts make Northwest Folklife community-powered and sustainable into the future.

“I support Northwest Folklife so that everyone can continue to enjoy this wonderful, community-building event. To keep the Festivals ‘free’, especially so that young families can experience this vivid display of cultures and traditions. Traditional folk music is the most profound reflection of the heart and soul of a people. It connects us with our past and provides the grounding for the future.” – Chuck Treser

Please make your year-end gift today, and consider becoming a Friend of Folklife.

Tell us why you give to Northwest Folklife!

Northwest Folklife creates opportunities for all to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Your gift creates strong communities, united by arts and culture. Thank You for Giving.


Posted by Sheila

Folklife 2014 - Monday

Folklife Defined

The next time you put out a pumpkin for Halloween, cut scraps of fabric for a quilt, or sing Happy Birthday, you will be practicing folklife.

Somali showcaseFolklife is a word with a past and a future. Much more than just folklore and folk music, “folklife is the everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation.”

Northwest Folklife creates opportunities for all to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Everyone is a bearer of folk arts; and participation in the arts is as important as observing them.

In 1976, as the United States celebrated its Bicentennial, the U.S. Congress passed the American Folklife Preservation Act (P.L. 94-201). In writing the legislation, Congress had to define folklife. Here is what the law says:

“American folklife” means the traditional expressive culture shared within the various groups in the United States: familial, ethnic, occupational, religious, regional; expressive culture includes a wide range of creative and symbolic forms such as custom, belief, technical skill, language, literature, art, architecture, music, play, dance, drama, ritual, pageantry, handicraft; these expressions are mainly learned orally, by imitation, or in performance, and are generally maintained without benefit of formal instruction or institutional direction.

buttoned hatIn her article American Folklife: A Commonwealth of Cultures for The American Folklife Center, Mary Hufford’s synopsis is ‘Folklife is community life and values, artfully expressed in myriad interactions. It is universal, diverse, and enduring. It enriches the nation and makes us a commonwealth of cultures.’

Please join Northwest Folklife in celebrating, sharing and participating in the evolving traditions of our richly diverse communities’ folklife.

‘Folklife’ is arts and culture as a way of life.


Donate your Lightly Used Clothes and Housewares and Benefit Folklife!

150609_Savers-0781_Muneca_Max_PaulNorthwest Folklife is teaming up with 2015 Festival Sponsor Value Village to host a donation drive running through December 11th, 2015.  Bring in your gently-used clothing, shoes, accessories, books, linens, and small household items (no furniture) to the Northwest Folklife offices located at 158 Thomas Street (right next to Seattle Center) and Value Village will pay Northwest Folklife for each pound donated.  This is a great way to recycle clothing and goods that you may no longer need while supporting Folklife!

Learn more about how your donations will be used here.  Tax receipts will be available for goods donated.  The Northwest Folklife offices are open Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm – feel free to give us a call if you plan on dropping goods off and we will have someone ready to assist you.   Please contact Katie McColgan at or call 206.684.7043 with any questions.


Draze Maraire and friends, NW Folklife Festival


Northwest Folklife invites musicians, dancers, community groups, artists, storytellers, and instructors to participate in the 45th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, which will take place May 27-30, 2016, at Seattle Center.

If you or your group is based in the Northwest region, including Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana, this is a great opportunity to share your music and traditions!

The annual Northwest Folklife Festival is the largest community-powered arts festival in the United States. It is presented each year in Seattle by Northwest Folklife, a year-round nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for all people to appreciate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Folklife 2014 - SaturdayLast year Northwest Folklife programmed over 5,000 performers in 65 different genres of music, from Hawaiian to hip-hop. We presented dance performances representing cultures from Ireland to India. We believe everyone is a bearer of folk arts, and we encourage communities to share their cultural traditions, in the hope that interaction with new audiences will enrich the community as much as the audience.

Click these links to be redirected to our online applications:






If you need a paper version of our performer application, please email us at programming at

Interested in how we select bands and performance groups? Click here to read our Programming FAQ.

Still have questions? Email our programming team now.


Thank You

Thank You for a Successful 2nd Annual Seattle Children’s Festival

Thank You


Kids explored hands-on activities at two Discovery Zones


Miss Melba from NW Tap Connection teaches the crowd a few tap steps.

This year brought many new faces from around ‘Our Big Neighborhood’ that we call the Northwest. Kids of all ages – including caregivers too! – experienced a day of programming that included Taiko drumming, Caribbean Steel Pan music, Vietnamese Lion Dancing, Hip Hop dancing, Origami, Square Dancing, Tap Dancing, and robots…and that’s just a taste from a full day of fun.


Joyas Mestizas showing off their gorgeous dancing gowns

Did you visit the Seattle Children’s Festival this past Sunday? Let us know how your experience was by commenting below.

Stay tuned for for a Photo Gallery of incredible images from the day, including our first Seattle Children’s Festival documentary.


Photo by Piper Hanson

Help us grow the Seattle Children’s Festival!

Hula Hoops at the Seattle Children's Festival!


Help us grow the Seattle Children’s Festival!

The crisp air and falling leaves can only mean one thing, fall has arrived in Seattle. It also means that Northwest Folklife’s Seattle Children’s Festival is just around the corner. In its second year, the Seattle Children’s Festival is growing and evolving to bring our big neighborhood together through music, dance and cultural exploration. Right now, we have a unique chance for you to support the Seattle Children’s Festival and have your donations matched through the support of ArtsFund. If you believe that music, dance and multi-cultural play create strong communities for kids and families, now is the perfect time to make a donation to our Power 2 Give Campaign to help us fund our performing artists and stages at the Festival. Gifts can be made to the campaign through October 11 both before and during the Festival. ArtsFund’s power2give/PugetSound is an online Cultural Marketplace connecting donors with projects they are passionate about.

Your passion and support can inspire a child’s cultural IQ, and that can resonate for a lifetime. Northwest Folklife captures ‘living traditions,’ presenting arts and culture as a way of life. We believe that inspiring kids’ cultural intelligence will create a kinder world, and strong communities.

Your support helps us bring unique experiences to Seattle

Northwest Folklife’s  Seattle Children’s Festival engages kids and their families by bringing unique performers and workshops that represent cultures from across the globe in order to raise the cultural IQ of the children in our community.  Music, story-telling, dance, cooking, crafts and more spark curiosity and promote cross-cultural understanding, exploration, and acceptance. This year at the Seattle Children’s Festival we will have performances that range from acclaimed kindipendent artists like The Not-Its! all the way to traditional Vietnamese Lion Dance. Experiences like these are possible because of people like you who value investing in the cultural growth of our children.


Northwest Folklife’s Festivals are community-powered, charging no admission fee, thanks to your donations. By keeping our programs accessible to people of all ages and means, Northwest Folklife provides opportunities to all for self-expression and direct experience of the extraordinary and diverse big neighborhood of the Pacific Northwest.

Please donate todayYou will give kids the gift of community.

And to all of our Friend of Folklife donors, thank you.

One Logo copy

5 Tips For Navigating the Second Annual Seattle Children’s Festival

SCF Event Passport

October 11 at Seattle Center
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m

1. When you arrive, remember to pick up the Event Passport – this handy tool will take you on an adventure through the Festival.

2. Not sure where to start? Check the schedule (in your Passport!) and see what interactive program from the ‘Movement Series’ is happening next. Movement will get the juices flowing.

3. Next, create something! There are TWO Discovery Zones at this Festival, both featuring a variety of hands-on workshops and activity areas.

4. Take a load off and enjoy the culture around you. There are a wide variety of ethnic performances taking place at the event–pick something new to you, and enjoy its beauty.

5. Before you depart, consider offering a donation to support the future of this event so many more can enjoy the experience in the years to come.

Check out the full day schedule here – see you there!


Special Guest Arthur at Seattle Children’s Festival

ArthurOur friends and KCTS 9 invited their pal Arthur to join us at the Seattle Children’s Festival on October 11 and he agreed!

KCTS 9 will bring PBS Kids’ Arthur, everyone’s favorite aardvark, as a special guest for kids and families to take photos with if they wish.

Arthur will be available for photos for approximately 30 minutes at:
11:00 a.m.    12:00 p.m.    1:00 p.m.    2:00 p.m.    3:00 p.m.    4:00 p.m.

Visit the KCTS 9 table for a chance to take a picture with Arthur, crafts and fun giveaways (while supplies last).

Power 2 Give

Power 2 Give: Your Gift Doubles

Power 2 Give

Your gift brings Northwest Folklife’s Seattle Children’s Festival to life! Help fund performing artists and stages. Here is the stellar line-up, including Northwest Tap Connection, Kaze Taiko, The Miho and Diego Duo, and much more.  Your dollars go twice as far through the support of ArtsFund. Your gift will be matched during our Power 2 Give Campaign, an opportunity that is available until the Seattle Children’s Festival on Sunday, October 11. ArtsFund’s power2give/PugetSound is an online Cultural Marketplace connecting donors with projects they are passionate about. Ignite your passion for our big neighborhood, celebrate our Pacific Northwest Folklife, see our children grow.

Counting down to Sunday, October 11. Northwest Folklife staff pictured above are Corin Shelley-Reuss, Sheila Siden, Rob Townsend, Beth Schlansky (aka Squeeks =^+^=), Kelli Faryar, and Vanessa Snyder.

See you at the Seattle Children’s Festival!

Your Gift Makes Seattle Children's Festival Stages Come Alive!



The Onlies

Have You Met The Onlies?

Hailing from Seattle, Washington, The Onlies’ eclectic assortment of fiddle-driven music bridges Celtic, traditional bluegrass, and contemporary Canadian and American tunes to create a sound all their own. Multi-talented members Leo Shannon, Riley Calcagno, and Sami Braman are Garfield High School juniors who’ve literally played together since they were two years old. These young talented musicians bring powerhouse vocals and a variety of instruments to the table in their performances, and the Northwest Folklife is honored to share more about this dynamic trio, so read the Q&A below!

The Onlies


Tell us about yourselves!

(Sami) We are a Seattle-based trio with our hearts rooted in old music from Appalachia, Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. We also write fiddle tunes and songs, creating a contemporary, original sound. By entrenching ourselves in authentic music traditions, we can move that music tradition forward. We started fiddling at five and would set out our cases at Folklife to busk. Since then, we’ve played with musicians as cool as Elvis Costello and as un-cool as old, toothless Kentucky banjo-pickers (who, we realized, are actually the coolest of all).


Why do you do what you do?

(Leo) The three of us have grown up surrounded by American, Irish, and Cape Breton traditional music and going to various folk festivals in the Northwest, so playing the music was a natural next step. As we encountered more people in the trad music community, we all were inspired to dedicate our lives to playing this music. Now, with strong connections formed (both to the music and to the people who we’ve met through it), traditional music is such an integral part of our lives that we couldn’t ever imagine stopping.


If you could explain your work in three words, what would they be?


  • Traditional
  • Joyful
  • Real


How have you been involved in your art form’s practice or evolution?

(Riley) Traditional music is a living and oral music. We have been fortunate enough to proverbially and literally sit at the feet of the masters of the traditions we are part of and soak in the music and culture just as people have been doing for hundreds of years, elder to youth. It is festivals like Folklife that have enabled us to do this.At the same time, we have also collaborated with many musicians to take tradition in new places, combinations of music and ideas that are now part of this living music.


We know you have been involved with Northwest Folklife for some time now – what do you think you have you learned or discovered by participating in Northwest Folklife?

(Leo) That there is a local community of people who have dedicated themselves to playing and preserving traditional art forms, and will support and encourage, and best of all, play with us!


Do you think Northwest Folklife has an influence on our greater community? 

(Sami) Whenever a city holds a massive festival geared toward sharing music from different cultures and traditions, the inspiration, community, and music will permeate the barriers of the festival and into the greater community. This is exactly what we’ve seen happen with our experiences at Folklife. When we leave Folklife, we know we’ll see that community of folk artists and musicians outside of Seattle Center. We know that we’ll come across them at different local events and the inspiration will continue. Northwest Folklife makes Seattle a hub of folk culture, music, and creation.


With the fast-approaching second annual Seattle Children’s Festival in-mind, do you think kids need Northwest Folklife arts and culture programs?

(Riley) We don’t think we can speak for all kids, but we can say that we needed Folklife (and still do). It was a place to learn about cultures entirely different from our own and watch musicians we looked up to play music we found out that we loved. Folklife is a place for all ages to learn about the world in a way that goes so far beyond sitting in a classroom. If every kid in Seattle got to take part in Folklife, those kid’s lives would be deeply enriched.


For more about The Onlies, visit them online or on Facebook.