Mythbusters #1

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters

THIS IS NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE!

Over the years, certain myths, misunderstandings and/or misconceptions about an organization can develop. Every so often, it is important to tackle those myths and restate the Truths of an organization. For the past three months, Northwest Folklife has been tackling some of those myths.  Today, as we near the annual Northwest Folklife Festival, we are restating all of them together to reintroduce you to:

Northwest Folklife 

The Real Northwest Folklife 

Mythbusters #1

Mythbusters 2

Mythbusters #3

Mythbusters #5

These are our Truths. This is Northwest Folklife and this is the Northwest Folklife Festival.
 
This is your community. This is your Folklife.
 
In order to continue, to be here next year and for the years to come, Northwest Folklife needs your support. Please, make a donation each day you attend the Festival. Become a Friend of Folklife. This only happens with your support.
 
Can We Count You In?

Indigenous Voices at the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival

For decades, the Northwest Folklife Festival has been a key event bringing together indigenous and Native voices in the Pacific Northwest. From the long standing participation of the Hawaiian community, to the 2008 Cultural Focus on Urban Indians (a program created by Native communities based in Seattle and the Northwest), and the recent Memorial Day pow-wow programming, the Festival has worked directly with Native communities to showcase the traditional arts and culture of the region. In 2017, the Northwest Folklife Festival will have unprecedented participation from Northwest Native communities, in part through Northwest Folklife’s continuing and expanded partnership with the Circle of Indigenous Peoples. The Circle of Indigenous Peoples is based in the rich collective of Native tribal members in Seattle and Washington State, with a goal to broaden the reach to other Native and First Nation communities in the Pacific Northwest. Tribes represented in the current organization include Coastal Nations: Haida, Tlingit, Muckleshoot, Port Gamble S’klallam, Chehalis Confederated, Chinook, Lummi, Makah, Nisqually, Suquammish, Puyallup, Snoqualmie, Tulalip, Grande Ronde, Cowlitz; and other nations such as Standing Rock Sioux, Eastern Shoshone, Nez Perce, Coeur D’Alene, Cherokee, Navajo, Chippewa, and many more. The organization was created to create further awareness of Native traditions and to increase attendance, build cross cultural awareness, healing, identity and respectful understanding.

At the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival, the Circle of Indigenous Peoples Celebration will take place Sunday, May 28 and Monday, May 29, at the site of the John Williams Memorial Totem Pole, next to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). Both days, the site will play host to artists, performers, dancers, and culture bearers with the intention of directly involving non-Native audiences in cultural welcoming, education, and a celebration of Native cultures. Sunday at the Northwest Folklife Festival will begin with an opening prayer and blessings at 10:00am by the Native elders, and will run until 7:00pm, featuring individual performances and performances from community organizations, including Aztec dancers, Native youth theater group Red Eagle Soaring, the Métis Nation, Vasa Samoan Dancers, Muckleshoot Canoe Family, and additional performances from artists like Peter Ali, Matt Remle, Randall Kimball, Paul Cheokten Wagner, and more. On Monday at the Northwest Folklife Festival, after opening prayer at 9:00am and individual performances until noon, there will be a Grant Entry for the veterans, a celebration of Memorial Day, starting at 1:00pm. This will be followed by a Grand Entry, including a traditional pow-wow at 4:00pm on Monday.

“This is a great opportunity for indigenous people to share their culture and their celebrations with those who might not be familiar,” says organizer John Romero. “It’s just amazing how many people come to Folklife who have never seen a Native American celebration or powwow before in their life. These are people from overseas, from other areas of the US, from all over the Northwest, who don’t usually get an opportunity to involve themselves in Native culture. Our goal with the Circle of Indigenous Peoples is to provide a venue that can be shared with people outside of the Native American community in order to share our culture. The goal is also to bring us together! We need this unity as a nation.”

 

“It’s been an honor to work with the Circle of Indigenous Peoples,” says Kelli Faryar, Program Director for Northwest Folklife. “We’ve been building these connections over the past few years, and it’s been a powerful experience to see how this work brings together the many different Indigenous communities that live in the Pacific Northwest. Earlier this year, we hosted our Community Coordinators meeting at the Duwamish Longhouse, featuring a traditional Duwamish storyteller and culture-bearer, so many of our Community Coordinators got to meet and interact with the organizers of the Circle of Indigenous Peoples. These kind of cross-cultural connections strengthen our community and give us all new perspectives for our work.”

The organizing committee for the Circle of Indigenous Peoples Celebration consists of Jay Hollingsworth (Mohegan), Kyle Schierbeck (Standing Rock Sioux), George Farrell (Lakota Sioux), Ixtli Whitehawk (Aztec), Brad Mix (Métis), and John Romero (Eastern Shoshone).

“Working with the NW Folklife folks has been extremely rewarding,” says organizer Jay Hollingsworth. “Their openness and respect for culture has given us a great opportunity to share our culture with the entire community. I believe we have built a long lasting relationship well into the future.”

In addition to Northwest Folklife’s work with the Circle of Indigenous People, there will be a number of other key events at the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival that will feature Native and Indigenous communities.
Circle of Indigenous Peoples Showcase – Saturday, May 27, from 7:00-10:00pm at the Exhibition Hall

This will be a showcase of Northwest Coast and Plains Native American dance traditions, featuring performers from throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Khu.éex’ – Friday, May 26 from 8:30pm-9:05pm on the Mural Amphitheatre

This visionary band is led by Seattle visual artist Preston Singletary (Tlingit). Singletary formed the band with another NW visionary, Bernie Worrell of Parliament Funkadelic, though Worrell sadly passed away in 2016. Khu.éex is a Native-led funk and spaced-out blues band with key members of the NW Native community.

4th World Lab Fellows Bracken Hanuse Corlett and Amanda Strong – Sunday, May 28 from 5:00pm – 7:00PM

Join filmmakers Bracken Hanuse Corlett and Amanda Strong, as they discuss and screen a retrospective of their animation work. These filmmakers hail from the 4th World Lab Fellowship program organized by SIFF and Longhouse media.

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #7

 

Not long ago, the national landscape was filled with large scale regional arts and culture festivals. These festivals were NOT national commercial, “headliner” music festivals, but celebrations of local arts and artists. That landscape has changed and the Northwest Folklife Festival is one of the last remaining major community owned festivals in the nation.

Our own Northwest Folklife Festival is one of even fewer that remains committed to the idea that this experience belongs to everyone – not just to those who can afford the price of a ticket. This is only possible now and can only remain possible in the future if our VERY modest costs are supported by our community. Either we want our festival to continue or we don’t.

Over the past 11 years, revenue has remained stagnant but costs have risen. During that time, Northwest Folklife has prioritized the resources for programming and cut every else. No programmatic costs have been drastically cut over the past eleven years. There are no more cuts and indeed, too much has been cut already.

Our Northwest Folklife Festival is one of even fewer that remains committed to the idea that this experience belongs to everyone – not just to those who can afford the price of a ticket. This can only remain possible in the future if our community renews its support. The Festival will not continue without your support.

As you know, while no ticket need be purchased to attend, the Festival is not free. This year, we must secure $1,300,000 in revenue to offset expenses. There is no other arts and/or culture organization that has found a way to bring over 5,000 artists on 25 stages representing over 100 communities to about 250,000 people for such a small investment. We are efficient, effective stewards of every dollar we receive.

We are an independent not-for-profit. We are not a City program with all expenses already paid for We will earn about $600,000 in booth fees, vendor commissions and sponsorships to help pay for these expenses. We must raise $700,000 more to offset remaining expenses.

We raise funds from individuals in two major ways – through specific funding appeals during the year to those with whom we have an ongoing relationship and annually at the festival by appealing to those who love the festival and attend.

At this year’s festival, we have set a goal to raise at least $350,000 to pay for the costs.

We ask for a modest daily donation of $10 per person per day or $20 per family at the entrances.  Last year, we estimate that only 17% of the people attending the festival made any voluntary donation. We received $205,120 in donations at the festival. That is less than $1 for each person who attended over the four day period.

We also know and we celebrate that there is no economic barrier and that making a donation can be very tough for some.  We are so glad you are all here and we are grateful for whatever you are able to “chip in”. But 17% is not enough to sustain this event. If more people do not support the festival, the festival will not continue.

For those who have the means and the passion for what this festival is all about, we, the Board, ask you to consider what the VALUE of this festival is to you, BOTH as individuals attending and as members of this community who believe in this awesome event and believe it must be open to all.

A Co-Curated Festival

If you’ve wondered how the annual Northwest Folklife Festival presents such a wide breadth of diversity and cultural inclusion each year, the answer lies in the innovative Community Coordinator Program, which brings cultural leaders into the festival’s planning process. Each coordinator is drawn from a specific community in the Pacific Northwest and is an integral partner in the fulfillment of Northwest Folklife’s mission to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of this region. The goal of the program is to give space at the festival for these communities to present their arts and traditions on their own terms. An additional goal is also for the coordinators to invite their communities to attend the festival and to encourage all festivalgoers to participate and learn from each other’s traditions. The communities covered by this program range widely across Northwest demographics, including South Asian, Native American, Filipino, Arab, Irish, Latino, Hispanic, Scandinavian, African, African-American, Latin American, Canadian, and Eastern European communities. Northwest Folklife’s festival programming reflects the diversity of our region, much of it centered on immigrant communities.

Hawaiian showcase, photo by Ben Shaevitz

“The Community Coordinator program at Northwest Folklife creates a co-curated, shared ownership of the Festival that defines Northwest Folklife’s commitment to cultural inclusion”, says Kelli Faryar, Programs Director. “Our collaboration with Coordinators is necessary to an authentic celebration of the multicultural arts, cultures and traditions of the region. They represent the lifeblood of our communities and these relationships lie at the heart and soul of this commitment.” 

 

The Community Coordinator Program is an ongoing partnership that results in over 65% of the programming at both the Northwest Folklife Festival and the Seattle Children’s Festival (which Northwest Folklife also produces). With Coordinator guidance and co-curation, each showcase is put together with careful consideration of the unique needs of the community, artists, and audience, and with the goal of growing and embracing the ever-changing cultural traditions and landscapes of the region.

“The Northwest Folklife Festival has such a prominent energy in the arts and music in the city,” says Ali Ghambari, the Community Coordinator for the Northwest Folklife Festival’s Iranian Showcase. “For us, working with Northwest Folklife compliments what we’re doing, and Folklife gives us resources and the energy to build on. It’s a pleasure to work with Northwest Folklife, and at the same time it elevates what we do.” 

A Letter from the Board of Northwest Folklife

FRIENDS – WE NEED TO TALK… WE NEED TO DECIDE…
WILL FOLKLIFE AND THE FESTIVAL CONTINUE?

You are the people who keep our varied and unique cultures and traditions flourishing through your continued love and practice of the folk arts. You belong to organizations and groups who have gathered together in community to celebrate a particular artistic and/or cultural heritage or tradition. You are an essential part of the vibrant, lively scene that makes our Pacific Northwest such a special place. You are Folklife!

This Memorial Day, just as we have for 45 years before, we will be sharing these artistic and cultural traditions through our performances with our neighbors who will enjoy your music, cultural showcases, crafts, and foods representing communities from all over our region.

The question is “Will the Folklife Festival be back next year?”

Not long ago, the national landscape was filled with large scale regional arts and culture festivals. These festivals were NOT national commercial, “headliner” music festivals, but celebrations of local arts and artists. That landscape has changed and the Northwest Folklife Festival is now one of the last remaining major community owned festivals in the nation.

Our own Northwest Folklife Festival is one of even fewer that remains committed to the idea that this experience belongs to everyone – not just to those who can afford the price of a ticket. This can only remain possible in the future if our community renews its support. The Festival will not continue without your support.

This is not a “one year crisis”. Over the past 11 years, revenue has remained stagnant but costs have risen. During this time, Northwest Folklife has prioritized the resources for programming and drastically cut all else. To the best of our abilities, programs have been protected over the past eleven years. There are no more cuts and indeed, too much has been cut already.

What is the value of preserving, expressing and sharing our traditions and heritage? Do we value opportunities for all of our communities to have a place to express their voices and to be heard by others? Do we value the importance of guaranteeing access to all without economic barriers? Northwest Folklife is at a crossroads and it is time for the community to make a decision about how it values artistic and cultural inclusion, access and the future of the festival.

While no one must buy a ticket to attend, the Festival is not free. This year, we must secure $1,300,000 in revenue to offset expenses. There is no other arts and/or culture organization that has found a way to bring over 5,000 artists on 25 stages representing over 100 communities to about 250,000 people for such a small investment. We are efficient, effective stewards of every dollar we receive.

We are an independent not-for-profit. We are not a City program with all expenses already paid for. We will earn about $600,000 in booth fees, vendor commissions and sponsorships to help pay for these expenses. We must raise $700,000 more to offset remaining expenses.

We raise funds from individuals in two major ways – through specific funding appeals during the year to those with whom we have an ongoing relationship and annually at the festival by appealing to those who love the festival and attend.

At this year’s festival, we have set a goal to raise at least $350,000 to pay for the costs. We ask for a modest minimum daily donation of $10 per person per day or $20 per family at the entrances. Last year, we estimate that less than 17% of the people attending the festival made a voluntary donation. We received $205,120 in donations at the festival. That is less than $1 for each person who attended over the four day period.

We celebrate that there is no economic barrier and we know that making a donation can be very tough for some. We are grateful for whatever you are able to “chip in”. But 17% is not enough to sustain this event. If more people do not support the festival, the festival will not continue.

For those who have the means and the passion for what this festival is all about, we, the Board, ask you to consider what the VALUE of this festival is to you, BOTH as individuals attending and as members of this community who believe in this awesome event and believe it must be open to all.

In addition to the festival goal, we have set a goal of $100,000 by May 26th for our Spring Count Me In Campaign. Please, answer the call and make your donation now and be counted in.

Please – give online at nwfolklife.kindbase.com where you can choose to make a one-time gift or recurring donation. Or send your check to Northwest Folklife at 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA 98109. Consider making a gift of stock. Northwest Folklife is a registered not-for-profit so your gifts are tax deductible. Remember to request your employer’s matching gift!

Ultimately we must decide if Northwest Folklife will continue. Only YOU can make that happen. What you do today, when you decide to give or not give, will determine the future of this amazing festival. This is a choice about our future – does this wonderful event which distinguishes our region from everywhere else in the nation continue? Or will it become a memory of yesteryear?

Together, we celebrate this joyous festival, the opportunities provided, the experiences shared. We believe Northwest Folklife needs to continue. Do you?

The Board of Northwest Folklife– Rafael Maslan, President; Evan Woods (not pictured), Vice President; Ryan Davis (not pictured), Treasurer; Michael Richardson, Secretary; Luther F. Black, Immediate Past President; Kim Camara (not pictured); David Greenspan; Don Morgan; Harvey Niebulski, M.D.; Brian Robertson (not pictured); Michelle Demers Shaevitz; Karen Shaw; Jabi Shriki; Selena Whitaker-Paquiet; Karen White (not pictured)

The Art of Festál

One Tired Tourist in Venice by Joel Patience, Italian Festival

From the earliest markings to contemporary multimedia installations, representations of culture and tradition have been expressed through visual media. The art and artifacts on display in the Art of Festál exhibition all represent both individual and cultural expressions and are as diverse and distinct as the Festál program itself. Learn the history of the Festál program from its inception 20 years ago, and see how it’s grown and expanded throughout time.

Wander through the galleries to take in art expanding the entire 20th century and beyond, from 1940’s prints from Poland, to Lebanese contemporary paper works, to contemporary representations of Italian life. Themes explored range from historic artifacts to contemporary ideas of belonging, place, and beauty.

Festál organizations represented include: Arab Festival, Hmong New Year Celebration, Italian Festival, Live Aloha, Polish Festival Seattle, and TurkFest.

The Art of Festál will be on view in the Art Not Terminal Gallery  May 26 – May 29 11am – 7pm

Swing on in!

By Dean Paton, Community Coordinator

I began swing dancing because of an injury. I had been a lifelong baseball player and throughout my thirties and early forties I played both hardball and softball. In the summer of 1993 I broke a bone in my hand—and, for a professional writer, that was serious. I took it as a sign: that I needed to quit playing baseball and find a new physical activity where I wouldn’t have so many collisions with big, fast-moving jocks.

I decided to take up swing dancing.

Immediately, I fell in love with partner dancing. I’d actually tried partner dancing a few years earlier, but what I had not understood at the time is that there are actually two drastically different worlds of partner dancing—social dancing, and competition-ballroom dancing. Continued below


Looking for a chance to jitterbug, foxtrot or swing? Don’t miss these swing showcases at the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival!

Hot High School Swing Dance Presented by KNKX

Friday, May 26, 3-6pm, Armory Court

Swingin’ the Great American Songbook

Saturday, May 27, 1-3pm, Fisher Pavilion

Swingin’ Blues or Bluesy Swing?

Saturday, May 27, 6-8pm, Fisher Pavilion

Western Swing and Alt Country Ass-Kicker Wake-Up

Sunday, May 28, 11am – 1pm, Fisher Pavilion

West Coast Swing with Seattle Swing Dance Club

Sunday, May 28, 3-4pm, Armory Loft – Dance Workshops

Swing! Swing! Swing!

Monday, May 29, 3-5pm, Armory Court Stage


That dancing you see on “Dancing With The Stars—this is in the competition-ballroom world. It’s dancing, yes, but mostly it’s choreography, where you practice and practice the same moves over and over. And because choreography is a lot of work there’s a tendency to dance with the same partner over and over.Because I didn’t know two worlds of partner dancing existed—like parallel universes of dance—I thought I just wasn’t cut out for partner dancing, and I was so disappointed by this that I didn’t even finish the series of lessons I’d purchased.

It wasn’t until several years later that a friend told me about a different type of dance lessons in Seattle. I took my first series of swing-dance lessons in January of 2004—and I was hooked. It was like a drug. Not long after that I took one of their waltz classes, and suddenly I was hooked on two drugs. I like waltz so much I ended up founding the Valse Café Orchestra, which has become one of the premiere dance ensembles in the region.

History of Swing

By one definition or another, you could say there are seven or nine kinds of dances that go with swing music. There’s the original swing dance—Lindy Hop—which is the dance that started it all in Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. A collection of African American dancers had been developing this new dance, blending Charleston with other jazz steps, and one day a reporter asked one of the dancers what this new dance was called. According to legend, this was very soon after Charles Lindbergh has hopped the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, and the dancer, struggling to come up with a name for his dance, blurted out, “It’s the Lindy Hop.” The name stuck.
Jitterbug came along not long after that, in the early 1930s, and without getting too complex, one of the key differences is that Lindy Hop is based on an eight-count footwork pattern, while Jitterbug tends to be centered more around a six-count pattern. Not long after that some of the New York dance studios decided that Lindy Hop was too difficult for many of their white dance students, so they created a dance style they called East Coast Swing. You dance East Coast Swing the the same grand music, but the moves are simplified: not as much rotation, and not always to fast swing.

In fact, “East Coast,” evolved into three variations, depending on the tempos of the music: For slow music—Triple-Time Swing. For mid-tempo swing—Double-Time Swing. And for fast music—Single-Time Swing. The same moves tend to work with all three variations, and this makes East Coast Swing an ideal entry level dance drug. East Coast Swing is where I started dancing.

When Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, along with other cowboy bands, started playing the Great American Songbook (but with a bit of twang), the result was Western swing. Most of the same moves from regular swing apply, but flashy Western swing dancers mix in what they call “lassos and lariats,” which are flashy arm movements, neck wraps, and sweetheart positions that add a bit of “hick” feel to the dance.

In the late 1940s, in Los Angeles, dance teachers created yet another variation, this one called West Coast Swing. Danced in a slot, where dancers move back and forth trading places as if on a track, West Coast Swing is slinkier than other swing-dance styles, and typically is danced to slower music: blues, some funk, and other more contemporary music.

Another dance—not called swing, but danced to extremely fast swing music—is Balboa, where both partners dance pressed against each other and take the tiniest of rapid steps. Finally, from Eastern Europe, came “bug,” a version of swing based on a four-count footwork pattern.

What’s that—nine different dances you can do to swing tunes?

Wait—I’m forgetting Foxtrot, a traveling dance perfect for swing music. I always mix Foxtrot with my swing. I’ll dance a bit of Single-Time Swing and then shift into Foxtrot and dance my partner around the floor a ways, and then, when the music suggests a change, I’ll switch back into swing. Knowing a bit of Foxtrot gives your swing a great second dimension. I can’t imagine doing one without the other.

The Music behind the Swing

What I look for in a great swing band is the same thing I look for in any good dance band—a solid rhythm section. It might sound funny, because it’s the melody players we always hum along with—the saxophones, the trumpets and clarinets and trombones. But people aren’t dancing to the melody; they’re dancing to the bass player, the rhythm guitarist, the drummer and the piano players’ left hand—they’re what drive the dancers, and those musicians are kind of the unsung heroes of a good dance band. Without a solid rhythm section laying down a serious grove, the music loses its cohesion, and dancing become more challenging, even more tedious.

When I’m choosing bands for dance sets at Folklife, I listen first for a solid rhythm section. If a band has that going for it, it usually guarantees a good time for the dancers. After a solid rhythm section, I look for bands that give dancers spaces in the music to “play,” which I guess means places at the ends of their musical phrases where dancers can do freezes, check steps, pivots or other joyful embellishments. Not all bands know how to build such flexibility into their music.

For my money, one of the best—and most unusual—swing-dance sets at this year’s Festival will be on Saturday night from 6 p.m. till 8, when Breakers Yard and The Dunghill Rooster Strutters, both from Oregon, take the stage in Warren’s Roadhouse. Neither band is what we’d call a classic swing band, but both blend blues with swing and Foxtrott-y melodies with an old-timey feel, and I think the combined effect will be irresistible.

Technically, swing is defined by a set of triplets in the music. Northwest bass player Pete Leinonen passed along the best definition of “swing music” I’ve ever heard. It was a statement the great jazz clarinetist, Wm. O. Smith, reportedly told his students at the University of Washington’s School of Music. Simply put, Smith said, “Swing is when everybody gives,” meaning when the band plays the music selflessly, without one player or another trying to be the star.

“When everybody gives” seems like a perfect definition for not only swing music, but also for the Northwest Folklife Festival.

Dean is a longtime Community Coordinator, coordinating the partner dances at the Northwest Folklife Festival.

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #6

For 45 years, Northwest Folklife has brought the Northwest Folklife Festival to Seattle Center and celebrated the incredible and diverse arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest.

  • We have brought the four-day Northwest Folklife Festival to about 250,000 people, a quarter of a million, to celebrate the incredible and diverse arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest.
  • We present about 5,000 artists, who volunteer their performances on 25 stages. Over 100 communities, representing the rich diversity of our community – artistically, ethnically, and culturally – work all year round to bring these performances to you at this Festival.
  • We have done all of this WITHOUT CHARGING ADMISSION, not even once.  We are committed to not having the economic barrier of a ticket prices, we are committed to making this celebration as accessible as possible to the greatest number of people.

While there is no admission charge, the Northwest Folklife Festival is not free. It takes a full year and a $1.3 million budget to produce the Festival and other programming. This is NOT a city program it is not all paid for in advance. It has only been made possible and can only continue with the support of those who come to experience it. 

What is the value of a day (or two or three or four) of music, dance, storytelling, crafts and food? What does this experience mean to you and to your family? Your children?

This year, we need to raise $700,000 to pay expenses and we need to raise at least half of that – $350,000 – at this Festival. We depend on individual donations at the Festival.

Sadly last year, less than 17% of all attendees made a donation. That is not enough and this lack of support puts Northwest Folklife at risk. Without your support, we cannot continue.

There will be between 200,000 and 250,000 people who attend the festival this year. It is your Festival. This is not up to someone else. It is up to you.  Help keep Northwest Folklife alive.

CAN WE COUNT YOU IN?  

Mythbusters #5

Northwest Folklife Mythbusters #5

 

Since its inception over 45 years ago, Northwest Folklife has been and remains dedicated to the creation of a public forum where the traditional and ethnic communities and the artists of the Pacific Northwest can present their music, dance, performances and crafts.

Folklife works with more than 100 communities and Community Coordinators to bring over 5,000 artists to 25 stages representing the full range of artistic and cultural expression found in this region. Yes, there are hippies and yes there is fiddling and we love them all! And there are hula dancers, spirituals, gospel and sacred music, Indie music and yodeling, Hip Hop, drum circles, powwows, contra dancing and Coastal Salish dancing. And so much more – there is not space here to describe the half of it! The variety and the opportunities for new experiences are so varied and plentiful, you simply cannot see it all.

Folklife is NOT just one style of art or culture. Folklife is ALL folk living – each in their own unique way and yet, each in a way that connects us all together. The steps of our dances may vary – but we ALL dance. The tempo, arrangement, and notes of our songs sound different but we ALL know that deep inner response to the sounds of our own cultures being played on instrument and in voice. Our foods, the spices and ingredients we use, the style in which we cook them, all have unique characteristics that speaks deeply to us of our heritages but we ALL know the joy and deep contentment of gathering as family, neighbors and friends to break bread and be in community.

Northwest Folklife’s roots are deeply embedded in cultural inclusion. Recently, Phil Williams, one of our founders passed on. His widow Vivian shared with us that “Phil figured everybody should have a chance to get to know people from other communities, whether it was quilting or playing bluegrass or Japanese koto. His resistance to fences included a sensitivity to refugees in Seattle who’d had their fill of barbed-wire fences and being closed in. He thought some people wouldn’t be comfortable with that. He was very, very inclusive.” Folklife’s original vision remains as relevant today as it was in 1972.

Folklife is really a way to describe how people are living. The Festival is how we offer and share ourselves with others. It is a time and place where we can learn from one another. It is your Festival – it belongs to everyone. It is as diverse as the Northwest itself. It is the one time that all of us, from our own unique communities come together and create a new community together – a community of music, dance, storytelling, craft and food. It is a brilliant, diverse, welcoming community.

Join us.

Friend of Folklife HQ

CAN WE COUNT YOU IN?

Friend of Folklife HQ

Pictured: Friend of Folklife Headquarters, 45th Northwest Folklife Festival

For 45 years, Northwest Folklife has brought the Northwest Folklife Festival to Seattle Center and celebrated the incredible and diverse arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest.

About 250,000 people each year come to the Northwest Folklife Festival. Over 5,000 artists perform on 25 stages during the four day Festival. Over 100 communities, representing the rich diversity of our community – artistically, ethnically, and culturally – work all year round to bring these performances to you at this Festival.

You are the Folklife family. You are friends, volunteers, donors, performers, community coordinators, leaders and vendors – the core group that makes Northwest Folklife possible. What is the value to you of a day (or two or three or four) of music, dance, storytelling, crafts and food? What does this experience mean to you and to your family? Your children?

Together, we believe in the two critically important fundamentals, the CAUSE,  that drives Northwest Folklife – that we celebrate, share and participate in ALL of the traditional and evolving arts and cultures of the Pacific Northwest AND that there shall be NO ECONOMIC BARRIER to participation.

While there is no ticket price to get in, Northwest Folklife is not free. It takes a full year and a a cash budget to produce the Festival and other programming. This is NOT a city program – all paid for in advance. It has only been made possible and can only continue with the support of those who come each year to experience it.

For the past ten years, revenue has NOT grown but expenses have. Each year, the organization committed itself to doing whatever it took to make sure that maintaining the programs were the first priority. Increased programming costs have been offset by cuts everywhere else. And those cuts added up as the costs mounted. Over the ten years, Northwest Folklife has cut non-programming costs by over 60% and never had the revenue to restore them. Frankly, there are no more cuts to be made. Indeed, too many cuts have already occurred to support the future operations. We need to change that pattern.

Your financial support is necessary or we won’t be able to continue. This year, to offset expenses, we must generate $1,300,000 in revenue. We will earn about $600,000 and we need to raise $700,000 to pay these expenses.

To do that, we have secured $45,000 from city and county sources. We have set a $350,000 goal to be raised at the Festival from the people who attend.

And, over the year, we need to raise another $300,000 from all of you – our Folklife family – our key supporters. Between now and May 26th – we need to raise $100,000 of that core supporter goal through our spring funding campaign underway right now.

What is at stake?

This Festival is one of the few remaining all access, all community folk celebrations left in America. We cannot take it for granted.

Folklife’s future is up to us. This is a community owned, community co-created event. If we value Folklife and want it to continue, we need to support it.

You understand and value what Northwest Folklife means to you personally, for your families and for our community. You want Folklife to continue.

Last year, less than 17% of the people who attended Folklife programs contributed in support. That is not enough. This lack of support has put Folklife at risk.

We need to expand our committed donor base and we need to increase our donation levels. Every arts and culture organization needs a core group of committed supporters to sustain the programs they create.

We need to do two things between now and May 26th, 2017. We need to meet our spring campaign goal of $100,000 so please, give in accordance to the value that Folklife has for us AND we need to share this message with our networks and build a more robust, expanded support community.

It’s up to us, we are the solution – can we COUNT YOU IN?

If so, please

  • Give online at nwfolklife.kindbase.com. Choose to make a one-time gift or recurring donation.
  • Send your check to Northwest Folklife at 305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA 98109.
  • Make a gift of stock.
  • Remember to request your employer’s matching gift.
  • And ask others for their support as well!

Discovery Zone: Festal Activities, special guests, and more!

As part of the 2017 Cultural Focus: Festal turns 20, the Discovery Zone will host a wide array of activities from around the world. Activities will feature some of the 23 Festal organizations including paper flower making with Dia de Muertos, wreath making and paper cutting with the Polish Festival, learning Arabic through art with the Arab Festival, Paper Marbling with Turkfest, cultural activities with Diwali Festival of Lights and more. Check back soon for a full schedule of activities.

 

 

Special Guests at the Discovery Zone

We are thrilled to welcome Orion and Lakshmi, two very special cows from the ISKCON Vedic Cultural Center to the Discovery Zone this year. Learn about the importance and significance of cows in the Vedic culture and experience a traditional Vedic village. You may even get to feed them a treat as you learn all about these fascinating creatures!

 

Discover Your Inner Artist

Whether you like to rock-out, draw, or experiment with new materials, the Discovery Zone has what you need to be the true artist that you are. Join Nature Consortium to create a Salmon Eco-Sculpture with recycled materials, create your own glass mosaic with Tim Lowell Artworks, drop in and draw with Gage Academy of Art, and learn to create your own Matisse masterpiece with Seattle Children’s Museum. Don’t forget to stop by and jam with School of Rock (Friday and Saturday only) and take home your very own toy boat creation with Center for Wooden Boats.

 

Don’t miss out on all the fun. Hope to see you there!

 

Allspice Band

A Night of Dancing for Folklife

We are thrilled to thank Northwest Folkdancers (NFDI) for their Night for Folklife this past Saturday. $2,607 was raised! Many thanks to all supporters and donors, and special thanks to Kathy Bruni for her organizing, Allspice Band who spiced things up with international dance favorites. Orkestar RTW played traditional dance and folk music from the countries of Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Serbia. Special Thanks to Sno-King International Folk Dance Club for donating their dance night at the Cedar Valley Grange.

NFDI honored Kathy Bruni for her 30 years of service. The group serenaded her with this song (click on it for a full sized version).

NFDI is the ‘Where to Folk Dance’ organization for the Pacific Northwest. Join in! Here is the schedule: www.nwfolkdancers.org

NFDI Poem

Kathy Bruni


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