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.

Mythbusters 2

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #2

The Northwest Folklife Festival is not free. Our commitment to ensure that everyone has access to our programs without the barrier of an admission fee requires us to find partners and supporters that pay the costs of putting on the festivals.

This year, the Festival and other Northwest Folklife programs will cost about $2.8 million. The City provides about $1.5 million of support and we have to raise about $700,000 and earn the additional $600,000.

Northwest Folklife is community powered and can ONLY happen with the financial support of everyone who believes that the Northwest Folklife Festival is an essential part of what makes this region so unique and such a wonderful place to live, work and play. Folklife is not free. Please help. It really is up to all of you.

Catch up and read miss Mythbusters #1

Festál Turns 20 FÊTE

“I recall at one of the early Festál 20th committee meetings that someone said the anniversary party should be like a grand circus. We have done all we can to make that vision a reality.”
– Steve Sneed, Seattle Center, Managing Artistic Director

 

 

 

This Sunday is the official kick off 20th anniversary celebration of both Northwest Folklife Festival’s Cultural Focus and Seattle Center’s Festál with the Festál Turns 20 FÊTE at the Fisher Pavillion! All 24 ethnic festivals will be represented through food, drink, décor, performance, dance, art, exhibits, and music and there will also be an opportunity to donate to ensure the legacy of this series of ongoing cultural festivals.

Japanese, Italian, African American, Mexican and Arab cuisine with wines from around the world will be served, along with a special tasting of French and Italian wines. Make Japanese origami, an authentic Hawaiian lei or a Marita Dingus African doll from re-cycled materials. Bollywood and Irish dance will bring excitement to the evening, along with a Vietnamese lion dance. A fashion show will showcase traditional and contemporary fashion from Croatia, Africa, Vietnam, Iran, and India. Experience music from the Seattle Center ethnomusicologist James Whetzel, who will deejay the event with sounds from the Festál series. The evening closes with a cup of rich Turkish coffee.

Festival leaders, volunteers and the greater community are invited to join in a night of cultural celebration and festivity. FÊTE attendees will experience the breadth of cultural and ethnic expression in the Pacific Northwest with live performances, wine tasting and food. This benefit gala not only launches the 20th anniversary year of Seattle Center Festál–it is also a night to honor the community leaders who have shaped the series throughout the past 20 years. Northwest Folklife and Festál share a like mission to raise awareness of cultural heritage, and engage folks in opportunities to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Join us and celebrate the reach of Festál in our city and beyond!

This is Folklife Spotlight: Doug Plummer

Northwest Folklife is proud to be a community-powered organization, and at the heart of that power are people like YOU!

Photo by Rick Meyer

Today we introduce you to photographer and filmmaker, contra dancer, and Friend of Folklife, Doug Plummer.

Doug started contra dancing as well as photographing those dances in Seattle in the mid 1980s. Since 2012 he has self-published the Contradance Calendar, a photo showcase exhibiting the vibrant life of the tradition. He serves on the board of the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS), an education and arts service nonprofit for dancers, musicians, singers, callers, and organizers, particularly from English and North American traditions.

Doug created a series of short films for Northwest Folklife called Northwest Stories, which play a vital role in exploring communities that have long been a part of Northwest Folklife. He is beginning work on a documentary film project on one of the CDSS tour communities, Coos Bay, OR. He is also a new piano player and is in a contra dance band, Purple Heys. Let’s get to know Doug a little better.

What communities are you involved with?

I started contra dancing about 30 years ago. I started to photograph the dances then too, which began a long term project to document the contra dance and music scene nationwide. I serve on the board of the Country Dance and Song Society, which educates and supports local communities in offering contra and English dancing, as well as ritual dance (Morris), and song. I took up piano six years ago, from scratch, and quickly gained enough facility to play at jams and for contra dances. I’m now on the same trajectory with guitar.

How many years have you been involved with this community and Northwest Folklife?

Pretty much since I arrived in Seattle, in 1985.

What does it mean to you and to your community to be connected to Northwest Folklife?

I’m one of those people who, in years past, rarely left the contra dance floor the whole weekend, particularly when I was young. I’ve always been friends with musicians, and my favorite volunteer slot was for Sandy Bradley’s instrument auction, even though I didn’t play anything (yet). I’m connected with the original “roots” of Folklife, as it were, the old time hippie musicians who jammed and square danced and began this great thing, and who feel a tremendous sense of ownership of the Festival, and maybe a bit too much entitlement sometimes.

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

Folklife is different now that I’m a musician. I’ve been on the stage a couple of times now, and there’s nothing that compares to the rush and the fulfillment of playing for a room full of several hundred contra dancers. But what I witnessed, from this side of the room, is how community comes together in preparation for that moment in the sun. A good example is the annual Lake City marathon contra dance that’s a benefit for Folklife. One year I was in two bands. We gathered week after week to rehearse. We staged contra dances in people’s living rooms, so that callers could practice handing off the dance changes. It is from those gatherings that friendships deepen, that connections develop, that community takes form. I saw the value of gathering to prepare for an event of connection and joy, and how Folklife seeds that in this amazing multicultural way for our region.

I’m in my sixties, and because I play music now, I’m making friends and I’m more social than I’ve ever been in my life. That typically doesn’t happen to guys my age in this culture. It is the greatest gift to be connected the way I am now.

You were a huge part in creating the Northwest Stories and helping to tell different community’s stories through their own words. Why do you think these stories were important to tell?

I learned about the secret mission of Folklife that more people need to know about. People think it’s about the Festival. That’s almost the least of it. Similar to how I observed community bonds being formed through the act of preparing for a contra dance, I saw how music and dance are the glue that give meaning and keep communities healthy. They may be an ethnic group, like the Hawaiian diaspora, or a community who choose a given dance form and may or may not identify as Scandinavian, or it may be an institutional keystone and a safe space for young people, like Vera and the All Ages music scene. Whatever parameters define a community, when we come together to make art together, when we participate, when we touch and know each other, this is important stuff. This is a social good. This is the society I want to live in. It is these healthy community bonds that Folklife nurtures, and the Festival only comes in to play as the place where these communities show the rest of us what they’re about.

Photo by Julia Chambers

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

In my work for CDSS, I’ve observed what makes for healthy, resilient dance communities. They’re the ones that change and grow, and that hand over leadership to a younger generation. In my “tribe”, and among my age cohort, I hear complaints of how Folklife’s changed, that it’s lost its way, that there’s no “Folk” music anymore and the stages are too loud (though that last bit I might agree with). In my view, that only demonstrates that the festival and the organization are healthy and growing. My measure of the vibrancy and vigor of any traditional music or dance scene is, are the old folks annoyed? Good. That means it’s going to be around for a few more generations. If it sounds like it did 30 years ago, that’s a bad sign. It’s going to die when you do.

Do you and your community nurture the role of ‘culture bearer’? How?

I help make sure there are abundant opportunities for people to gather, to hear music, to play music, to dance. I host a house concert series; its focus is virtuosic musicians who play in traditional genres. The house concert scene is becoming a significant piece of the support system for musicians, and it’s my favorite way to hear music. My big living room is also a frequent place for music sessions and even contra and square dances. There’s no end to the amount of joy this all brings into my life, and that my community feels as well.

Please finish this sentence: Folklife is… more necessary and important than ever.

In 2017, the Northwest Folklife Festival Feels Especially Significant

On Memorial Day Weekend, Northwest Folklife will present the 46th Northwest Folklife Festival – a signature event for this region. Once again, we will host 800 performing groups, 5,000 artists and 152 cultural communities. The past 45 years have only been possible because of gifts of support, and we thank our contributors and Friends of Folklife!

While this celebration of our folk arts and traditions has long heralded the start of summer, in 2017, the Northwest Folklife Festival feels especially significant. In this era of our polarized society, when distrust, fear and anger is so prominent, we need to find those places where we share space, engage with one another and build community.

Northwest Folklife’s mission is to create opportunities for all to celebrate, share and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. This annual gathering allows us to share our traditions of music, dance, storytelling and food. And through this sharing, we come to understand each other much more deeply.

We may find the steps to our dances differ. The beat or tempo of our music and the spices we use in our foods vary. But we find that we all dance! We all express ourselves through our music. And we all know that warmth of gathering around tables with familiar smells and tastes warming us as we reconnect with friends and families.

In these four days each year, we re-embrace those differences which actually show us how much alike we are. In these four days, together we create a community of communities. Come dance, play music and eat food with each other. Find shared delight in each moment and find the common threads that weave together to become the fabric of a civil and caring society.

If you believe in this community of communities and if you believe that this opportunity must be equitable and open to everyone without the economic barrier of an admission fee, we need your support right here in the Pacific Northwest. While we face challenges and needs that can be addressed on the national stage, effective change and progress occurs “at home.” Northwest Folklife is local, it is community powered by those of us who live here.

Applications are already streaming in from performers, all seeking the opportunity to share of themselves and their art with you. To make this possible, there is so much work to be done between now and Memorial Day weekend. To balance our budget and pay the necessary expenses, this year we must raise $662,100 in contributed income. Northwest Folklife is an independent not for profit organization and we value every contribution and commit to each of you that we will use your support as efficiently and wisely as is possible.

We ask you, our friends and supporters, to do two things.

First, please make or renew your contribution.

Second, please share and forward this message via email and your social media networks to like-minded people you know and ask them to support Northwest Folklife as well. Sharing your voice and your belief in the importance of this annual gathering with others is the best way to build the broad base of community support necessary to keep Northwest Folklife and our Festival in this community.

Next Memorial Day Weekend, as you sit on the grass surrounded by others all listening to music, or venture into Warren’s Roadhouse to join hundreds of others dancing together, you will be so glad you did. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Mark W. Crawford
Interim Executive Director

Photo Credit: Doug Plummer. Meet Doug in our first This is Folklife Spotlight.

Announcing Northwest Folklife’s 2017 Cultural Focus: Festál Turns 20

Northwest Folklife is proud to announce the 2017 Cultural Focus: Festál Turns 20. The Cultural Focus is an annual, year-round exploration that culminates in special performances, panels, workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations, and activities at each Northwest Folklife Festival. In 2017, Northwest Folklife will partner with Seattle Center Festál, a venerable series of 24 cultural festivals intended to highlight and bring together communities that contribute to the character of the Pacific Northwest.

For 46 years, Northwest Folklife has brought the diverse communities of our region together on the grounds of Seattle Center, the city’s central gathering space. Northwest Folklife shares these same grounds year-round with Festál, the Center’s presenting organization that works with 24 community organizations to bring festivals like Diwali, Tết Festival, CroatiaFest, Spirit of Indigenous People, and more to Seattle Center. The Northwest Folklife Festival is the longest-running of these Festál programs, and as series turns 20 in 2017, Northwest Folklife will take the year to focus on the ground-breaking, community-organizing work for which Seattle Center Festál is known.

At the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival (May 27-30) Festál organizations will be invited to curate 1-2 hour showcases presenting their cultural community, to join a three-hour Festál showcase in the Cornish Playhouse highlighting all the festivals, and take part in film presentations, panel discussions, workshops, participatory dances, food demonstrations, hands-on family activities, and more. Throughout the year, including the Seattle Children’s Festival (October 8, 2017), Northwest Folklife will engage with Festál communities to curate and plan year-round arts, culture, and folklife programming. Northwest Folklife will also serve as a resource and support to each Festál community, conducting meetings, groups trainings, and promotions for each organization.

 

“Northwest Folklife and Seattle Center Festál share a like mission to raise awareness of cultural heritage and engage folks in opportunities to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest,” says Kelli Faryar, Northwest Folklife’s Program Director. “Our upcoming Cultural Focus: Festál Turns 20 will multiply the capacity of all 23 groups to engage folks throughout the region, establishing a foundation for broader and deeper participation among Northwest Folklife, Festál, audiences and cultural communities.”

“When Northwest Folklife told me that Festál would be the Cultural Focus for 2017,” says Steve Sneed, Managing Artistic Director at Seattle Center, “I was so excited because I knew what this meant, having participated in Northwest Folklife’s Hip Hop Cultural Focus a few years ago. Northwest Folklife fits into the Festál mosaic as a curator of folk music from all over the world, and their support and connection helps to strengthen our Festál events.”

In recognition of Northwest Folklife’s work with Northwest communities, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the organization a grant of $25,000 in 2017 for the Cultural Focus: Festál Turns 20. These funds will directly support the year-round efforts of staff as they engage with each of the 23 communities. A portion of this funding will also support the programming at the 46th annual Northwest Folklife Festival.

Community Coordinator Spotlight: Bernice Maslan

Community Coordinators are an integral part of the Northwest Folklife’s mission and vision to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Their talent, time and expertise as a Community Coordinator create opportunities for folks of the Pacific Northwest to participate in arts experiences and learn about the living traditions that occur daily in our big neighborhood.

Today, we introduce you to performer, musician, Friend of Folklife, and former board member Bernice Maslan. In addition to coordinating the Big Jewish Show at the Northwest Folklife festival, you can find Bernice playing clarinet with the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band or hosting one of the many Klezmer bands she organizes throughout the city.

What cultural traditions do you or your group share with the greater community?  

We present various flavors of Jewish music, including klezmer, vocal, occasionally singer-songwriters, Israeli, comedy.  We have a strong emphasis on Klezmer music.

What does it mean to you and to your community to be connected to Northwest Folklife and how long have you been involved? What impact has the organization made on your community?  

My co-coordinator Harvey Niebulski and I have been connected to NWFL for a long time.  Personally, I served on the board for about 10 years and Harvey is still on the board.  I’ve attended since 1973.  The Big Jewish Show has been a part of almost all the Folklife festivals since at least 2001.  I’m not sure how long before that.  I know many people look forward to the Big Jewish Show and our music.

How do you interact with Northwest Folklife outside of the Northwest Folklife Festival?  

My son is president of the board.  I participate in fundraisers from the contradance and folkdance communities, as well as making many many latkes for a Hanukah fundraiser for Folklife hosted by JoAnne Rudo.

Please share a performance memory connected to Northwest Folklife that had an impact on you?  

Certainly performing as part of the Big Jewish Show has always been a thrill, whether part of the Klezmer Balabustas, Klez Chaos, or the KlezKidz.  I remember sitting in the audience of Big Jewish Shows and being knocked out by the clarinet artistry of Liz Dreisbach and Carl Shutoff.  Now I am delighted to know many of the musicians personally.

What specific community in the Northwest do you hail from?

I live in the Greenwood district.

Please share the Northwest Folklife events you have contributed programming for?  

The Big Jewish Show! and any ancillary klezmer showcases

Perform at the 46th annual Northwest Folklife Festival!

Grace Love and the True Loves. Photo by Piper Hanson.

Grace Love and the True Loves. Photo by Piper Hanson.

Thank you for your interest in performing at the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival. Applications closed on December 15th. There are many ways to participate in the festival – please visit our Get Involved page to be a part of the one of the largest community arts festivals in the nation.

Bringing your instrument to the festival? Great! There’s plenty of jamming around Seattle Center grounds and areas available for street performing. For more information about Street Performing, click here.

 

For Applicants – Additional Application Documents if needed: Please click on the following to download. Questions? Email programming@nwfolklife.org or call 206.684.4189

Stage Diagram – word document

Stage Diagram – pdf

Input List – word document

Input List – pdf

The annual Northwest Folklife Festival is Northwest Folklife’s signature event, gathering up to 250,000 people from across the region to participate in the four days of artistic and cultural illumination. The Festival is presented each year by Northwest Folklife, an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for all people to appreciate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Last year Northwest Folklife programmed over 5,000 performers in 65 different genres of music and dance, from Hawaiian hula to hip-hop and Ireland to India. Northwest Folklife believes 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.

Arpan Arts

Your Gift Amplifies the Voices of our Cultural Communities

Joe Seamons and Ben Hunter

Pictured: Joe Seamons and Ben Hunter carry on the American songster tradition.

Your support allows Northwest Folklife to change lives. People and cultures come together to share of themselves and celebrate one another. Please consider making a year-end gift or a monthly sustaining gift today.

Your support powers all we do to amplify the many voices of our Pacific Northwest cultural communities. The voices of our community thank you. Here’s what they want you to know. Your gift does all this and more:

Traditions thrive.

‘We share cultural traditions of rural, northwestern Oregon, and we represent the current manifestation of the songster tradition as “Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons.” Northwest Folklife has created a forum, the Festival, where my community is encouraged to come together and share the work of our students and our teachers, and that means a lot to us.’ ~ Joe Seamons, Rhapsody Project

Cultural heritage is celebrated.

‘The Northwest Folklife Festival is an opportunity for us to conserve and present the richness of our diverse Mexican cultural heritage. It is not only entertaining and educational; it is also a place for community-building, where different cultures are shared and accepted through the medium of art. ~ Edgardo Garcia & Jacque Larrainzar, Directors, Day of the Dead Committee

Communities unite.

‘The Folklife Festival helped to bring together and unite the Hawaiian hula community, and today Hawaiian Hula is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest.’ ~ Gloria Napua Fujii Nahaueau, 40 years of teaching and performing with Halau Hula O Napualani

Art forms are shared and discovered.

‘Our efforts are an offering (Arpan) to the entire community right from the inner depths of a diverse cultural melting pot that is India. We are honored to share our art form with you!’ ~ Joyce Kakariyil Paul, Founder and Director of Arpan Arts

With your continued support, together we will build our community, share your traditions and evolve new expressions. Make a year-end gift or a monthly sustaining gift here.

Sincerely,

Rafael Maslan                                                                Sheila Siden
President, Board of Directors                                     Development Director

P.S. Please remember to check with your employer for any matching gift policies! Make your gift multiply! Questions? Contact Sheila Siden at 206/233-3953 or sheila @ nwfolklife.org

Your Support Creates Opportunities

Become a Friend of Folklife

Welcome, Shaun Mejia, Folklife’s Communications Coordinator

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We’re thrilled to welcome Shaun Mejia as the new Communications Coordinator at Northwest Folklife! Sean will bring his extensive experience working with the local arts community to the team, as he’ll be helping to tell stories of the arts and traditions that make up the cultural fabric of the Pacific Northwest.

A longtime Seattleite, Shaun graduated from Seattle Pacific University and has worked with a myriad of local nonprofit arts organizations such as the Vera Project, Seattle International Film Festival, Seattle Asian American Film Festival, and most recently the Wing Luke Museum. A lover of museums, live music, and film, Shaun is eager to help spread the unique stories of Northwest Folklife!

Community Coordinator Spotlight: Wes Weddell

Community Coordinators are an integral part of the Northwest Folklife’s mission and vision to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Their talent, time and expertise as a Community Coordinator create opportunities for folks of the Pacific Northwest to participate in arts experiences and learn about the living traditions that occur daily in our big neighborhood.

Today, we introduce you to performer, writer and teacher Wes Weddell. Whether it’s supporting folk duo Reilly & Maloney, collaborating with The Bushwick Book Club – Seattle, or gathering together the vast community of Singer Songwriters of the Northwest – you can find Wes leading the Emerald City Songwriters Circles at the Northwest Folklife Festival since 2009.

What cultural traditions do you or your group share with the greater community?

 The craft (and performance) of songwriting and original music

What does it mean to you and to your community to be connected to Northwest Folklife and how long have you been involved? What impact has the organization made on your community?

Singer/Songwriters have been part of Northwest Folklife from the very beginning, and we’re glad to remain a part of festival programming.  I have been Community Coordinator since the 2009 festival.  As we’ve developed the Emerald City Songwriter Circles at the festival, unamplified gatherings where anyone can come share an original song, it’s been fun to watch the culture of listening grow alongside the well-established Folklife culture of jamming.

How do you interact with Northwest Folklife outside of the Northwest Folklife Festival?

A lot of year-round preparation goes into planning the circles, recruiting new hosts, and growing/fostering appreciation for original music.

Please share a performance memory connected to Northwest Folklife that had an impact on you?

We’ve had many lovely moments in the Emerald City Songwriter Circles over the years.  From young children sharing their own original songs to off-the-wall, laugh-out-loud masterpieces from newcomers and established pros alike.  This past festival one songwriter shared how much the circles had meant to him during his recovery from serious health challenges – hard to find a more touching endorsement than that.

How can Northwest Folklife and its fans connect with you through social media?

Google your favorite local singer/songwriter and follow him/her!

What specific community in the Northwest do you hail from, how about your group? (If you are from Seattle, please give us the specific neighborhood – ex. Queen Anne or Ballard or West Seattle, etc.)

 I live in NE Seattle.  Our revolving-door cast of hosts hail from all over town and the region.

 Please share the Northwest Folklife events you have contributed programming for?

 I was part of programming-proper back in 2004…but wearing the Community Coordinator hat: Emerald City Songwriter Circles, 2009-present.

Connect with Wes here.