Thank You For Keeping Northwest Folklife Alive!

It is with a sense of deep gratitude that we can tell you that you – the community who attends and loves Northwest Folklife and the Northwest Folklife Festival – that when the final counting is done – and that takes a few more days – that we believe we will hit the $350,000 goal we set for donations at this year’s Festival.

We told you that the festival was in danger, that over the years, costs had been rising but revenue had not. We told you that we were worried that people had confused the complete accessibility of this festival – open to everyone in the community without a ticket price or financial barrier – that this had been confused with the idea that the festival was free. We shared, as openly and candidly with all of you what it really takes to put on this festival – including a cash budget of $1.3 million.

We believed that if we were open with you – that if you understood that this treasure you value so highly was our collective responsibility, that you would understand and would become part of the solution. And you did.  We made the goal and now, the Board will meet at the end of June to initiate discussions on how Northwest Folklife should move forward in the future. A new process begins and we look forward to engaging with the community as an essential part of that process.

It is one of the great challenges of Northwest Folklife that so many of our donors are anonymous event attendees. They come to the festival, give their cash donation and we have no way of staying in touch unless they join our mailing list or give us their contact information. We are so glad that they are helping to defray the costs of the event itself but it is impossible to connect with them afterwards.

But we have this amazing group of supporters – our Friends of Folklife who give to us throughout the year because they passionately believe in our mission and vision and they understand that supporting Folklife all year long is necessary. We are so pleased to announce that our Spring Campaign Goal has also been met and we are so very grateful to all of those donors as well. You made it possible for us to get to the opening day of the Festival and the opening day of the Children’s Festival in October. Thank you.

There is the greater point to be made. For Folklife to continue for the next 46 years – it will take a continued concerted effort. It takes the deep conviction and support of the Friends of Folklife who give us the resources to work all year round. It absolutely takes the support of the community and audience that attends the events – that recognize that “Access for All” is not the same as “Free”. We made a good start on that this year and we must keep that message strong and always present.

It also takes the support of institutional funders in the public, corporate and foundation worlds who know that Northwest Folklife is not just a great “EVENT” that occurs once a year but that Northwest Folklife is a “CAUSE” committed to strengthening our communities through the sharing and experiencing of our arts, culture and heritage.

And yes, it will take the continued “daily donations” of the hundreds of thousands who attend the events who must come to understand that the continuation of Folklife will always depend upon their support as well.

So thank you to all who have made the future possible. We are so grateful and so excited.

Rafael Maslan

President – NWFL Board

Mark W. Crawford

Interim Executive Director

As We Head into the Festival….

For the last several months, we have been talking with all of you – our community – about the crossroads in front of us. After 45 years, what is the future of Northwest Folklife, why does it matter today, and how important do we think it is for the future?

Northwest Folklife is as important today as it was 46 years ago when it was founded, maybe even more so. The Pacific Northwest has always been and continues to be a dynamic and evolving place, an intersection of communities and their arts, cultures and traditions. The premise of Northwest Folklife, the joyous cause that underlies all we do, is the building of a more caring, understanding, just and empathetic society. We believe in celebrating the wonderfully unique ways in which all of us, each of our myriad communities, live life each day, how we dance, sing, and tell our stories. In this celebration, in our watching each other, in listening and participating, we come to better understand each other and we come to better understand ourselves.

We want to say thank you to all of the people who have already declared that we can Count Them In by giving to Northwest Folklife before the festival itself. Whether in response to our Spring Campaign or the Give BIG campaign or because you knew you wanted to contribute and didn’t wait to be asked, so many of you have expressed your support and made a contribution.

Thank you on behalf of an entire region that benefits from your support. Thank you for supporting more than 100 communities and over 5,000 artists who present their art, culture and heritage at the festival and thank you from the quarter of a million attendees who will celebrate, share and participate together during the Memorial Day Weekend Northwest Folklife Festival. You have made this all possible – thank you.

Now, we go into the 46th annual Northwest Folklife Festival. The weather forecast is perfect, the performers have been chosen and have spent months preparing. The stages are set. Sound systems are in place. Booths and vendors are setting up. Volunteers are signing up and being trained. The excitement is mounting, the anticipation growing. This is how it should be.

Only with the support of every person who comes through the entrances and has the means to give their daily donation in support, will we be able to continue to create the opportunities for all of our communities’ voices to be heard. It will only happen if the people who enjoy the Festival give during the Festival. If you do, together we will continue to create this uniquely Pacific Northwest community of communities.

So, welcome to your festival. Welcome to our community. Have a wonderful time. May your days at the Festival be filled with joy, exploration, and discovery.  May the days that follow be brighter and may all of us, as neighbors, be closer.

Mythbusters #1

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters

THIS IS NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE!

Over the years, certain myths, misunderstandings and/or misconceptions about an organization can develop. Every so often, it is important to tackle those myths and restate the Truths of an organization. For the past three months, Northwest Folklife has been tackling some of those myths.  Today, as we near the annual Northwest Folklife Festival, we are restating all of them together to reintroduce you to:

Northwest Folklife 

The Real Northwest Folklife 

Mythbusters #1

Mythbusters 2

Mythbusters #3

Mythbusters #5

These are our Truths. This is Northwest Folklife and this is the Northwest Folklife Festival.
 
This is your community. This is your Folklife.
 
In order to continue, to be here next year and for the years to come, Northwest Folklife needs your support. Please, make a donation each day you attend the Festival. Become a Friend of Folklife. This only happens with your support.
 
Can We Count You In?

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #7

 

Not long ago, the national landscape was filled with large scale regional arts and culture festivals. These festivals were NOT national commercial, “headliner” music festivals, but celebrations of local arts and artists. That landscape has changed and the Northwest Folklife Festival is one of the last remaining major community owned festivals in the nation.

Our own Northwest Folklife Festival is one of even fewer that remains committed to the idea that this experience belongs to everyone – not just to those who can afford the price of a ticket. This is only possible now and can only remain possible in the future if our VERY modest costs are supported by our community. Either we want our festival to continue or we don’t.

Over the past 11 years, revenue has remained stagnant but costs have risen. During that time, Northwest Folklife has prioritized the resources for programming and cut every else. No programmatic costs have been drastically cut over the past eleven years. There are no more cuts and indeed, too much has been cut already.

Our Northwest Folklife Festival is one of even fewer that remains committed to the idea that this experience belongs to everyone – not just to those who can afford the price of a ticket. This can only remain possible in the future if our community renews its support. The Festival will not continue without your support.

As you know, while no ticket need be purchased to attend, the Festival is not free. This year, we must secure $1,300,000 in revenue to offset expenses. There is no other arts and/or culture organization that has found a way to bring over 5,000 artists on 25 stages representing over 100 communities to about 250,000 people for such a small investment. We are efficient, effective stewards of every dollar we receive.

We are an independent not-for-profit. We are not a City program with all expenses already paid for We will earn about $600,000 in booth fees, vendor commissions and sponsorships to help pay for these expenses. We must raise $700,000 more to offset remaining expenses.

We raise funds from individuals in two major ways – through specific funding appeals during the year to those with whom we have an ongoing relationship and annually at the festival by appealing to those who love the festival and attend.

At this year’s festival, we have set a goal to raise at least $350,000 to pay for the costs.

We ask for a modest daily donation of $10 per person per day or $20 per family at the entrances.  Last year, we estimate that only 17% of the people attending the festival made any voluntary donation. We received $205,120 in donations at the festival. That is less than $1 for each person who attended over the four day period.

We also know and we celebrate that there is no economic barrier and that making a donation can be very tough for some.  We are so glad you are all here and we are grateful for whatever you are able to “chip in”. But 17% is not enough to sustain this event. If more people do not support the festival, the festival will not continue.

For those who have the means and the passion for what this festival is all about, we, the Board, ask you to consider what the VALUE of this festival is to you, BOTH as individuals attending and as members of this community who believe in this awesome event and believe it must be open to all.

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #6

For 45 years, Northwest Folklife has brought the Northwest Folklife Festival to Seattle Center and celebrated the incredible and diverse arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest.

  • We have brought the four-day Northwest Folklife Festival to about 250,000 people, a quarter of a million, to celebrate the incredible and diverse arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest.
  • We present about 5,000 artists, who volunteer their performances on 25 stages. Over 100 communities, representing the rich diversity of our community – artistically, ethnically, and culturally – work all year round to bring these performances to you at this Festival.
  • We have done all of this WITHOUT CHARGING ADMISSION, not even once.  We are committed to not having the economic barrier of a ticket prices, we are committed to making this celebration as accessible as possible to the greatest number of people.

While there is no admission charge, the Northwest Folklife Festival is not free. It takes a full year and a $1.3 million budget to produce the Festival and other programming. This is NOT a city program it is not all paid for in advance. It has only been made possible and can only continue with the support of those who come to experience it. 

What is the value of a day (or two or three or four) of music, dance, storytelling, crafts and food? What does this experience mean to you and to your family? Your children?

This year, we need to raise $700,000 to pay expenses and we need to raise at least half of that – $350,000 – at this Festival. We depend on individual donations at the Festival.

Sadly last year, less than 17% of all attendees made a donation. That is not enough and this lack of support puts Northwest Folklife at risk. Without your support, we cannot continue.

There will be between 200,000 and 250,000 people who attend the festival this year. It is your Festival. This is not up to someone else. It is up to you.  Help keep Northwest Folklife alive.

CAN WE COUNT YOU IN?  

Mythbusters #5

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #5

 

Since its inception over 45 years ago, Northwest Folklife has been and remains dedicated to the creation of a public forum where the traditional and ethnic communities and the artists of the Pacific Northwest can present their music, dance, performances and crafts.

Folklife works with more than 100 communities and Community Coordinators to bring over 5,000 artists to 25 stages representing the full range of artistic and cultural expression found in this region. Yes, there are hippies and yes there is fiddling and we love them all! And there are hula dancers, spirituals, gospel and sacred music, Indie music and yodeling, Hip Hop, drum circles, powwows, contra dancing and Coastal Salish dancing. And so much more – there is not space here to describe the half of it! The variety and the opportunities for new experiences are so varied and plentiful, you simply cannot see it all.

Folklife is NOT just one style of art or culture. Folklife is ALL folk living – each in their own unique way and yet, each in a way that connects us all together. The steps of our dances may vary – but we ALL dance. The tempo, arrangement, and notes of our songs sound different but we ALL know that deep inner response to the sounds of our own cultures being played on instrument and in voice. Our foods, the spices and ingredients we use, the style in which we cook them, all have unique characteristics that speaks deeply to us of our heritages but we ALL know the joy and deep contentment of gathering as family, neighbors and friends to break bread and be in community.

Northwest Folklife’s roots are deeply embedded in cultural inclusion. Recently, Phil Williams, one of our founders passed on. His widow Vivian shared with us that “Phil figured everybody should have a chance to get to know people from other communities, whether it was quilting or playing bluegrass or Japanese koto. His resistance to fences included a sensitivity to refugees in Seattle who’d had their fill of barbed-wire fences and being closed in. He thought some people wouldn’t be comfortable with that. He was very, very inclusive.” Folklife’s original vision remains as relevant today as it was in 1972.

Folklife is really a way to describe how people are living. The Festival is how we offer and share ourselves with others. It is a time and place where we can learn from one another. It is your Festival – it belongs to everyone. It is as diverse as the Northwest itself. It is the one time that all of us, from our own unique communities come together and create a new community together – a community of music, dance, storytelling, craft and food. It is a brilliant, diverse, welcoming community.

Join us.

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #4

Co-creating and co-curating an annual festival with more than 5,000 artists, more than 800 performances on 25 stages with more than 100 community coordinators, while simultaneously managing the logistics of crafts vendors, food merchants, and sponsors AND making sure 250,000 visitors are safe, well served and have a great time is an enormous undertaking. It can really be boiled down to two words – Relationships and Logistics.

Relationships – Northwest Folklife works all year round with more than 100 community coordinators. These amazing volunteers represent the range of artistic genre, cultural influence and demographic origins that make up the Pacific Northwest. Coordinators provide the insight and experience within their coordinating areas to help staff make the most representative and balanced programming choices. It’s a big job and we are so grateful for their partnership.

Logistics galore!!!! Imagine setting up a system that allows anyone and everyone (remember – no barriers) to apply to perform or vend their wares that accurately gathers the information necessary to support their needs such as space, time, equipment, etc. Imagine the logistics involved with then coordinating all of those applications into the broad, cohesive festival that occurs each year. On top of that, there are all the logistics for vendors, security, volunteers, and facilities to support a quarter million guests. The list goes on and on (and on)!

Building and planning this event each year is a labor of love by an enormous group of dedicated staff, volunteers and partners. It is a vast undertaking, full of details and efforts that are invisible to most of us when we walk onto the grounds Memorial Day weekend. But, this labor of love is there when we experience the amazing breadth of the art and culture of the Northwest, become neighbors with strangers and go home with new experiences and perhaps, a little bit changed. For you – the magic happens in four days.  But it takes a year to make it happen!

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #3

We sing, dance, play music, tell stories, teach our children, remember our ancestors, and share our meals all year long. Folk live life every day and Northwest Folklife creates opportunities for all of us all year long to celebrate, share, to be included and participate in the arts and culture of the Pacific Northwest.

Northwest Folklife has programming all year long – the Seattle Children’s Festival in October, the Cultural Arts Series and Folklife Presents. We work all year to support many of the 23 regional community organizations who compose the Seattle Center Festal Cultural Festivals. We work all year with over 100 Folklife Community Coordinators representing the unique needs of each community, their artists and culture bearers, and their audiences. And all year long, we celebrate with different communities with Nights for Folklife events.  And of course, the annual Memorial Day Festival.

Join us, join each other – every day.

Edible City Family Day with Festál this Saturday

Uncover the rich cultural diversity of food in the Pacific Northwest with Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) and Seattle Center Festál at Edible City Family Day with Festál, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., this Saturday February 18 at MOHAI. This all-ages event is presented in collaboration with cultural partners from across the Puget Sound region.

The packed day includes many elements for which the Festál series is known for, including a dance workshop series in collaboration with Northwest Folklife. Here is the full schedule:

  • Festál Turns 20 documentary, 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.–5 p.m.
  • Ragdoll making with Marita Dingus and other hands-on activities, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Spirit of Africa presents African Dance with Gansango, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Ethnic beverage making demonstrations and Pierogi making and eating with Seattle Polish Festival, 12:15 p.m.–1:15 p.m. and Festál cookbook drink highlights with chef Kristi Brown, 3:15 p.m.–4:15 p.m.
  • Panel discussion on, Food and Culture, the food connection 1:45 p.m.–2:45 p.m.
  • Festival of Lights presents Bollywood Dance with Katrina Ji 1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
  • Pagdiriwang presents Filipinas Performing Arts of Washington State, 3 p.m.–3:45 p.m.

Edible City Family Day with Festál augments the 20th anniversary of Seattle Center Festál, a series of 24 ethnic cultural festivals held on weekends throughout the year at Seattle Center. In 2017, Festál celebrates 20 years of global music, dance, art, crafts, history, food and insight made possible through a unique partnership among community organizations and Seattle Center culminating together for the Northwest Folklife Festival on Memorial Day Weekend. Festál seeks to connect people in ways that build understanding, dispel stereotypes and generate pride among the generations as they experience the distinct cultures that shape the character and course of our broader community. Edible City Family Day is free for MOHAI members and included in museum admission for others.

This is Folklife Spotlight: Kristi Brown

Also known as ‘Chef Goddess’, Chef Kristi Brown-Wokoma has been serving up soulful deliciousness since 1986. Her brand focuses on the art and experience of food through Culinary Activism, or the cultivation of fresh food and cooking as a means to bring people together and help heal communities through the love and medicine of food.

With 23 years of cooking experience under her belt, the Chef Goddess has worked her way up from working front and back of house to creating a Seattle town favorite, That Brown Girl Catering, which has been transformed into That Brown Girl Cooks! She is currently involved with creating the Seattle Center Festál cookbook and you can see her demonstrating her skills at Festál Family Day “Edible Seattle” at MOHAI on Feb 18th! Let’s find out more about Kristi!

What role do you see Festál playing in the greater community? 

Festál is an birds eye experience of what Seattle has long been. A distinct celebration of several cultures throughout the entire year, not on a designated federal holiday.  Festál has taken the initiative to give us an opportunity to learn, celebrate and actively take part in cultures that we may be a part of or are curious about.  That helps us see the connections more so than the differences.

Why do you think Festál has endured for so long?

I believe Festál has lasted so long because at the core spirit of Seattle, there is a deep desire to honor the people of the land and the dedication to continue to create even more community.

How does food and cooking nurture the passing down of cultural traditions? And of cultural, ethnic identity?

Next to sex, I believe food is the most powerful medium to bring people together.  So families, even when they are not talking to one another, will share a meal.  We speak out our joys and grievances over food.  We seek solace and comfort in the warm kitchen. And these meals tell the stories,  the tales of who we are, where we came from and it all amalgamates in the pot. And those stories are passed on from one generation to another. It truly is magical.

Please share a memory connected to creating the Festal cookbook that was meaningful to you?  

There are so many….

I think it’s more of a behind the scene thing.  We truly had no idea what we were getting into.  Meaning the intricacies of each cultures food, the techniques, the respect for authenticity….it guided everything we did.  But my crew???  They were phenomenal!!! While we were making the Irish Cake, one of the volunteers, Trenita Harris, who is an amazing pastry chef, saw that I was clueless when it came to part of the decorating of the cake.  It was pretty extensive, and we were working on a tight tight deadline.  She actually took the cake home, after working her regular graveyard shift and a full shift helping cook/bake for the cookbook and totally decorated the cake in marzipan…it was amazing!!!  The dedication that everyone bought to the table….was unparalleled!  I’m so grateful for the entire crew….WE DID IT!!!

What would you like to see for the future of Northwest Folklife?

I would like to see it listed a pre-requisite for every newcomer to Seattle, because if you don’t take part in this celebration, you will never truly understand the spirit in our land.  And if you don’t understand us, you will disrespect what we’ve built.

Please finish this sentence: ‘folklife is…

Folklife is like soup.  I’ll go even further and say…It’s like Pho. The rich broth brings together each individual ingredient. But not even one of the ingredients are lost, they all stand out, to make the most prolific soup possible!!!

Mythbusters #1

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #1

Folklife is a completely independent not for profit organization. We have our own mission and vision. We have our own Board, staff, budget, and programs. We are proud to partner with the City of Seattle and Seattle Center to produce and present the Northwest Folklife Festival and the Seattle Children’s Festival. We are grateful to the Seattle Center which provides space, facilities and support in order to ensure that our shared commitment that anyone and everyone should be able to attend these festivals without the economic barrier of a ticket price. The art and cultures of our region belong to everyone – not just those who can afford to buy a ticket.

Check out Mythbusters #2

This is Folklife Spotlight: Steve Sneed

Today we introduce you to the Managing Artistic Director of Cultural Programs at Seattle Center Productions, Steve Sneed.

Steve oversees Seattle Center Festál, a series of 24 cultural festivals throughout the year on campus.  In its 20th anniversary this year, he has developed a unique perspective on the cultural climate of the Center.

What role do you see Festál playing in the greater community? Why do you think Festal has endured for so long?

Festál as a convener of the ethnic organizations celebrating culture at Seattle Center, is a connector. We help the organizations get better at presenting festivals and we support that effort.

How does Festál nurture the role of ‘culture bearer’? 

I think the best way we do that is by putting these “culture bearers” in the same room together monthly and provide a venue for them to share with each other.

What has been the result of your partnership with Northwest Folklife on you and your community?

Over the years Northwest Folklife has proven a place where cultural groups can get a foot in the door at Seattle Center. They see the possibilities for a cultural festival by working in and with Folklife. Then, they want to continue so they come over to see me and in some cases join Festál.

What would you like to see for the future of Northwest Folklife?

I’d like to see the development of more ethnic folk music and arts at Folklife with the understanding that Folk music is not one kind of music. All cultures have folk traditions and Folklife has such a great platform to spread that news.

Please share a memory connected to Northwest Folklife that was meaningful to you?  

It’s actually working on the committee with the Traditional Roots of Hip Hop 2015 Cultural Focus. I learned a lot about the organization and just what the Cultural Focus is. I met more staff people and got to know them. That was a great experience.

Please finish this sentence: ‘folklife is…

…a major part of Seattle culture and character.