Volunteer Spotlight Julia Brewer

Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Brewer

Volunteer Spotlight Julia Brewer
How long have you been Volunteering at the Northwest Folklife Festival?

Well technically I have been volunteering every year since 1997, but I was 2 at that age so I basically just helped/hung around with my mom while she volunteered. As I got older I was able to take on more responsibilities and really contribute to Folklife.

Another form of volunteering is performing at the festival. I have been performing at Folklife with Melody Xie Chinese Dance Institute since 2002-2013, which I have really enjoyed.

 What position(s) do you take on at the Festival?

Over the years my mom and I have done various volunteer positions, such as greeter, button selling and vendor assistant. But our favorite position is volunteer registration. My mom and I usually take the first shifts possible. We get to the grounds around 8am, so that after the shift we can possibly volunteer for more shifts if needed or we have the whole day to enjoy the various activities the festival holds.

The volunteers and staff members that I get to work with are just amazing and I get to meet others who enjoy giving back to the festival as well, which makes getting up so early not as bad.

 Please share a funny story, good memory, or tip for new volunteers!

A good memory I have is sharing my love for Folklife with my boyfriend and friends. I have also taught several of my friends and my boyfriend how to Contra dance. So few young individuals know what Contra dancing is or how to do it, so I think it is important to teach as many of the younger generation how to Contra dance so that it does not die out. I also love staying late every day of the festival so that I can get as much Contra dancing in as I can.

A tip for new volunteers would be, to remember to smile and to just have fun with the experiences. Folklife is the friendliest festival in Seattle, so you should just sit back and enjoy your time the best you can. Even though Folklife needs the volunteers, I would also suggest that high schools students that are trying to complete their service learning hours, to try not to procrastinate to until the end to get all their necessary hours; although it is funny trying to jam as many shifts as possible into their day.

Interested in Volunteering at the Festival? Sign-up HERE today!

Did you apply to perform at the 2016 Folklife Festival?

Folklife 2014 - FridayThank you for applying to perform at the 45th annual Folklife Festival – May 27 – 30, 2016. Applicants will be hearing back from the Programming team the second week of March! If you do not recieve an email by the end of March, please feel free to reach out to us at programming@nwfolklife.org. And thank you again for applying~!

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.

Last 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.


Wintergrass is this weekend!


Wintergrass Festival, a family friendly celebration of Bluegrass music, is a four day long festival held at the Hyatt in Bellevue starting this Thursday the 28th. At Folklife, we’re thrilled to see such an impressive lineup with familiar names from festivals past and future!

With four stages filled with music, dances, workshops, and jam sessions, you’ll be sure to find something for your Americana, Bluegrass, and fiddle lovin’ heart.

For more information including the lineup and how to buy tickets, visit the website wintergrass.com.

festival_promo- poster yeggy

Arts and Nature Festival


Arts in Nature Festival. Image by Kim Doyel

Arts in Nature Festival 2015. Image by Kim Doyel

Arts and Nature Festival is an intimate and eclectic experience of art and performance in the woods of Seattle’s only camp ground, Camp Long. Check out highlight’s from last year’s festival here.

Northwest Folklife is thrilled to partner with the Nature Consortium for the 2016 Arts and Nature Festival. Stay tuned for a full line up including acts presented by Folklife!



EMP Museum kicks off 15th Annual Sound Off! Competition

This weekend kicks off the fifteenth year of Sound Off!, the annual 21 and under battle of the bands competition put on by the EMP Museum. Semifinals will take place over the next three Saturdays with the winners from the semifinals, as well as the wild card band, facing off on Saturday, March 5th.

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Semifinals #1 featuring Copalis, COSMOS, Jazzy Tee, and Party Shark

Saturday, February 20, 2016
Semifinals #2 featuring Animal Camera, Crews, Paris Alexa, and Travis Thompson

Saturday, February 27, 2016
Semifinals #3 featuring Dre’zy and Too Smoove; Hello, I’m Sorry; Paralexis; and LEE

Saturday, March 5, 2016
Finals featuring the winning band from each Semifinals round plus the wild card winner.

Northwest Folklife is proud to be a part of this ongoing program and celebration of young artists in our community. You can catch two of the semifinalists from Sound Off! at Folklife this year on Saturday morning. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the festival.

Past competitors of Sound Off! include: The Lonely Forest, Manatee Commune, Sol, Dyme Def, Brothers from Another, One Above Below None, and many more.

To read artist bios or to purchase tickets for Sound Off!, CLICK HERE

Gospel Choir

We envision strong communities, united by arts and culture.

Gospel Choir

Northwest Folklife stands for the belief that the arts invigorate and revitalize interpersonal connections and sense of community. When people share aspects of their culture, opportunities are created to dissolve misunderstandings, break down stereotypes, and increase respect for one another. Exposure to world cultures and the creativity of folks as a big neighborhood resonates for people of all ages, throughout their lives.

Participatory arts practices bridge boundaries of race, class, and ethnicity. Unique among all Festivals, the heart of Northwest Folklife and our Festivals is the community outreach, inclusion, and collaboration that transpires all year.

By preserving cultural heritage we promote its evolution. Everyone is a bearer of folk arts; and participation in the arts is as important as observing them.

We believe that inspiring kids’ cultural intelligence will create a kinder world, strong communities, and smarter kids.

Northwest Folklife partners with the diverse communities of the Pacific Northwest to inspire programs and collaborates within these communities to develop public presentations of their arts and culture. We see that interaction with new audiences enriches presenting communities and artists as much as the audience.

Northwest Folklife creates opportunities for all to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Join Us, Get Involved!

Community Powered!


Pictured: Universal Presbyterian Gospel Choir
Photo by Piper Hanson
posted by Sheila


Happy Holidays from Northwest Folklife!

Happy holidays from all of us here at Northwest Folklife! As the weather starts to get colder and we all huddle up around the fire it’s the perfect time to share your traditions, music, and songs with those around you. Here at Folklife we are preparing for our 2016 Cultural Focus, The Power of the Human Voice through Song. With this Cultural Focus we will explore the power of the human voice and its role among communities through many different forms of vocal expression.

You may have seen our holiday card in the mail recently and we would love to introduce you to some of the amazing vocal performers from past Festivals featured on that card.


Womens Chorus2The Seattle Women’s Chorus singing at the 2012 Northwest Folklife Festival. The Seattle Women’s Chorus is a staple of Seattle’s choral community and is a perennial Folklife performance group. A leading voice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, Flying House Productions and The Seattle Women’s Chorus offer 30 outreach events and main stage concert performances annually. To learn more about the Seattle Women’s Chorus, you can visit their website here and find out about future performances. Photo by Ben Shaevitz.




sojourners-6A soulful gospel trio hailing from Vancouver, BC, The Sojourners are pictured here performing at the 2013 Folklife Festival. The Sojourners light up the stage wherever they are performing and have an incredible live show that can’t be missed! To learn more about The Sojourners, please visit their website here. Photo by Dan Thorton.





Hungarian community vocal performanceA young girl sings during one of the 2012 Folklife Festival performances by our Croatian community partners. The Seattle Junior Tamburitzans are a youth performance group that tours all over the Northwest showcasing traditional Croatian music, dance and costume. It is through the work of community coordinators and performers like these that Folklife is able to present the scale and quality of festival that we do and we are very thankful for the work that they do in order to make the Northwest Folklife Festival what it is today! To learn more about the Seattle Junior Tamburitzans, click here. Photo by Samuel Lin.




Upon acceptance to Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival in 2010, Onefourfive came into being with their distinctive style, singing exclusively Georgian folk songs. Onefourfive has continued since then, with members of the group traveling to Caucasus Georgia to learn songs, technique, styles, and of course, Georgian language and culture. Click here to learn more about onefourfive and listen to their music. Photo by Christopher Nelson.




NWFolk2015_Sunday_PiperHanson-12Banda L M, also known as Banda Le Mejor, is the best banda in town and they’re usually pretty busy playing for the Mexican communities here in the Northwest. Here they are playing at the Mural Amphitheater during the 2015 Folklife Festival, and if it’s your first time hearing Banda, then this will be a real treat. Banda is the ebullient and infectious brass-band dance music of Mexico and California, originally from Sinaloa in N. Mexico, huge in Mexican and Mexican-American communities. For more information about Banda L M, click here. Photo by Piper Hanson.


We can’t wait to bring you more of the incredible vocal traditions of the Northwest in 2016. Everyone at here a Northwest Folklife wishes you a wonderful holiday season and a harmonious New Year!

-The staff and board of Northwest Folklife

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 on Hip Hop: 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 to Play Free Baccarat


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 katie@nwfolklife.org or call 206.684.7043 with any questions.


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