Your Communities. Your Traditions. Your Folklife.
Who We Are
Northwest Folklife is an independent 501(c)(3) arts organization that celebrates the multigenerational arts, cultures, and traditions of a global Pacific Northwest. For over 47 years, Northwest Folklife has been deeply committed to celebrating the diversity of our Northwest communities and de-mystifying our differences together, under one roof. Northwest Folklife believes that arts and culture strengthen our communities and should be accessible for all. Our year-round programming is produced in collaboration with over 120 different cultural partners and powered by contributions from the community, corporations, foundations, and the public sector.
Northwest Folklife presents ‘living traditions: arts and culture’ as a way of life. Daily creativity, family traditions, community customs: folklife is a part of our daily lives. The US Library of Congress says: “’folklife’ is the everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation.”
Northwest Folklife is community. The Pacific Northwest is home to an extraordinary group of communities—ethnic, familial, occupational, religious, and regional—and we believe it is important to celebrate and help sustain the traditions of all of those groups. Doing so revitalizes people and communities and helps preserve cultural heritage for years to come. We believe that when people share their way of life, opportunities are created to dissolve misunderstandings, break down stereotypes and increase respect for one another.
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.
Annual Cultural Focus
Every year, Northwest Folklife engages a Northwest community to showcase as part of the cultural focus throughout the year. Each year, we work with a Cultural Focus Committee composed of various community leaders and culture bearers who help us curate our year-round programming to best represent the Cultural Focus.
Northwest Folklife Festival
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 6,000 performers drawing from 100+ cultural communities, 26 stages, 200 food/craft/import vendors, this remains one of the largest and last access-for-all festivals in the nation. For the past 47 years, the Northwest Folklife Festival has brought together upwards of 250,000 community members to Seattle Center during the Memorial Day Weekend to celebrate the ever-growing arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest.
Our Big Neighborhood
Northwest Folklife and Seattle Center have partnered to present Our Big Neighborhood, a year-round youth and family initiative providing opportunities that share and sustain the vitality of folk, ethnic and traditional arts for present and future generations. This multicultural, multi-disciplinary, intergenerational program fosters the sharing of traditional and evolving cultures among people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds with the hope of promoting greater social understanding. This program will span five events throughout the year including Movin’ Around the World: Winter (February 16 – 22, 2019), Movin’ Around the World: Spring (April 6 – 12, 2019), Global Playground (August 3, 10, and 17, 2019), Seattle Children’s Festival (September 21 – 22, 2019), and Our Big Neighborhood at Winterfest (November 29, 2019). Each Our Big Neighborhood event creates a space for multicultural and intergenerational learning and exchange.
Northwest Folklife is proud to work with over 120 Community Coordinators who help to curate more than 65% of our year-round programming, including the Northwest Folklife Festival. Community Coordinators are composed of community leaders, activists, culture-bearers, artists, and musicians who play an integral part of Northwest Folklife’s mission and vision to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Throughout the year, Northwest Folklife and Community Coordinators work in partnership to co-curate programs and collaborate to present the diversity of cultures and traditions of the region. As experts and representatives of their community, their input is an invaluable part of the planning process.
Youth Residency Projects
To best serve our youth, Northwest Folklife has implemented 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 artistic expression. Youth will work with local culture bearers, artists, and activists to envision a new future while amplifying and nurturing pride of heritage and community. Próxima Generación will be facilitated by teaching artist, Jake Prendez. Unbroken Circle brings together youth to express themselves through their craft. Youth will collaborate with local artists, activists, and culture bearers to learn about the deep artistic history of Seattle’s beloved Rainier Valley. Unbroken Circle will be facilitated by Seattle’s songster revivalists, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamon.
Crossroads Cultural Arts Series
For over 7 years, Northwest Folklife has proudly presented the Crossroads Cultural Arts Series, a sequence of curated, family-friendly cultural arts performances on the Eastside at Crossroads Mall’s Market Stage in Bellevue (15600 NE 8th Street) on the third Saturday of every month from 1 PM to 3 PM. These showcases are accessible for all, and have no admission charge.
Northwest Folklife was founded in 1972, with the first Northwest Folklife Festival. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, our Tax ID # is 91-1311548.