NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE IS…
PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
Who We Are
Since 1972, Northwest Folklife has been deeply committed to celebrating the diversity of our Northwest communities and demystifying our differences together, under one roof. Our work centers on preserving cultural arts, bridging connections to heritage and identity, and cultivating the ever-evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. From daily creativity and imagination, to family and community customs, Folklife is a part of each of our lives – past, present, and future.
What We Do
Northwest Folklife programs are committed to access for all, removing all financial barriers to create the most inclusive, wide-reaching experiences for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds in the region. Our accessible programs are made possible by your contributions.
Central to the values of -Northwest Folklife is for communities to have voice and agency in the representation of their cultural expressions. More than 130+ Community Coordinators—including prominent artists, educators, culture bearers, and leaders throughout the region—work closely with Northwest Folklife to co-create and co-curate programs including the Northwest Folklife Festival as well as the annual Cultural Focus and Our Big Neighborhood youth and family program. Throughout the year, Community Coordinators work in partnership to co-curate programs that are by the people, for the people that present the diversity of cultures and traditions within the region.
Each year, Northwest Folklife presents a Cultural Focus, a year-round exploration of a Pacific Northwest community through curated performances, panels, workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations, and educational materials. This program allows Northwest Folklife to connect in-depth with the communities we serve while supporting the cultivation of their artistic expressions and cultural traditions.
Northwest Folklife presents the 2020 Cultural Focus: Living Legacies. As Northwest Folklife looks ahead to celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2021, it is the stories and traditions of the region that serve as the foundation and significance behind our organization and work. We’ll be creating a Living Legacies Toolkit to document and capture family heritage and stories in tandem with our organization as we build a retrospective for our 50th anniversary and legacy for generations to come.
The annual Northwest Folklife Festival is a community-powered celebration of the music, arts, and heritage that make up the brilliant cultural tapestry of the greater Pacific Northwest. With over 5,000 performers on 20+ stages, 200 food/craft/import vendors, and 500 volunteers, this remains one of the largest access-for-all festivals in the nation. Since 1972, the Northwest Folklife Festival has brought together upwards of 250,000 community members to Seattle Center during Memorial Day Weekend to celebrate the ever-growing arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest.
The 49th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival will take place on Memorial Day Weekend (May 22-25, 2020) at Seattle Center.
Northwest Folklife and Seattle Center have partnered to present Our Big Neighborhood, a multicultural, intergenerational program that fosters the sharing of traditional and evolving cultures among people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds with the hope of promoting greater social understanding and encouraging families to stay active. This program will span five events throughout the year including Movin’ Around the World: Winter (February), Movin’ Around the World: Spring (April ), Global Playground (August), Seattle Children’s Festival (October), and Our Big Neighborhood at Winterfest (November). Each Our Big Neighborhood event creates a space for multicultural and intergenerational learning and exchange.
To best serve our communities of young artists, Northwest Folklife has launched two youth residency projects: Próxima Generación and Unbroken Circle. Each residency brings together youth ages 13-18 to collaborate on various forms of artistic expression and to foster their growth as agents of change.
Próxima Generación provides a space for Latinx-identifying youth to collaborate, share ideas, and explore their artistic expression. Youth collaborate with local culture bearers, artists, and activists to envision a new future while amplifying and nurturing pride of heritage and community.
Unbroken Circle empowers students to transmit their personal, local, and cultural history through their art. Students study with a range of blues, jazz and roots musicians, artists, and activists to develop a program of music and art that reflects the diversity and history of Seattle’s Rainier Valley.
Crossroads Cultural Arts Series is a sequence of curated, family-friendly cultural arts performances on the Eastside at Crossroads Mall’s Market Stage in Bellevue. On the third Saturday of each month, a different culture or region is highlighted through a performance by local artists and musicians.