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.