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.

Community Coordinators

Central to the values of -Northwest Folklife is for communities to have voice and agency in the representation of their cultural expressions. More than 125 Community Coordinatorsincluding prominent artists, educators, culture bearers, and leaders throughout the regionwork 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.

Annual Cultural Focus
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 2019 Cultural Focus: Youth Rising. As folk is “for the people, by the people” this Cultural Focus is built “for and by the youth.” In partnership with youth organizations and community partners, this program convened a youth and mentor cohort in late 2018. This committee began meeting monthly to envision how Youth Rising could become a resource for youth leaders, artists, musicians, and changemakers to celebrate and amplify youth voices. Throughout 2019, the Cultural Focus will weave through all of Northwest Folklife’s programs, including the 48th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, the Youth Residencies, the 6th annual Seattle Children’s Festival, and the Our Big Neighborhood program. Audiences will experience youth voices from around the Pacific Northwest through stories, visual art, film, music, song, dance, and culture.

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 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 48th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival will take place on Memorial Day Weekend (May 24-27, 2019) at Seattle Center.

Our Big Neighborhood
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 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.

Youth Residency Projects

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

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.

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