For the last several months, we have been talking with all of you – our community – about the crossroads in front of us. After 45 years, what is the future of Northwest Folklife, why does it matter today, and how important do we think it is for the future?
Northwest Folklife is as important today as it was 46 years ago when it was founded, maybe even more so. The Pacific Northwest has always been and continues to be a dynamic and evolving place, an intersection of communities and their arts, cultures and traditions. The premise of Northwest Folklife, the joyous cause that underlies all we do, is the building of a more caring, understanding, just and empathetic society. We believe in celebrating the wonderfully unique ways in which all of us, each of our myriad communities, live life each day, how we dance, sing, and tell our stories. In this celebration, in our watching each other, in listening and participating, we come to better understand each other and we come to better understand ourselves.
We want to say thank you to all of the people who have already declared that we can Count Them In by giving to Northwest Folklife before the festival itself. Whether in response to our Spring Campaign or the Give BIG campaign or because you knew you wanted to contribute and didn’t wait to be asked, so many of you have expressed your support and made a contribution.
Thank you on behalf of an entire region that benefits from your support. Thank you for supporting more than 100 communities and over 5,000 artists who present their art, culture and heritage at the festival and thank you from the quarter of a million attendees who will celebrate, share and participate together during the Memorial Day Weekend Northwest Folklife Festival. You have made this all possible – thank you.
Now, we go into the 46th annual Northwest Folklife Festival. The weather forecast is perfect, the performers have been chosen and have spent months preparing. The stages are set. Sound systems are in place. Booths and vendors are setting up. Volunteers are signing up and being trained. The excitement is mounting, the anticipation growing. This is how it should be.
Only with the support of every person who comes through the entrances and has the means to give their daily donation in support, will we be able to continue to create the opportunities for all of our communities’ voices to be heard. It will only happen if the people who enjoy the Festival give during the Festival. If you do, together we will continue to create this uniquely Pacific Northwest community of communities.
So, welcome to your festival. Welcome to our community. Have a wonderful time. May your days at the Festival be filled with joy, exploration, and discovery. May the days that follow be brighter and may all of us, as neighbors, be closer.