El Legado: The Legacy of the 1998 Northwest Folklife Advisory Council

In 1998, the Northwest Folklife Festival centered the culture of Chicanos and Mexicanos in Washington. The focus was called Norte y Sur, Un Solo Pueblo: The Chicano/Mexicano Legacy In to the New Millennium. With the leadership of the 1998 Advisory Council, composed of scholars, community leaders and educators from around the state, Northwest Folklife curated historic exhibits, live performances, workshops, panel discussions and hands-on family activities for the entire Pacific Northwest to experience at the Festival.
Now in 2018, exactly 20 years later, we revisit this cultural focus with a fresh new lens, understanding that sharing and celebrating one’s culture is a continuous process. Our 2018 Cultural Focus, entitled Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond: Mexican American and Chicana/o Roots in the Northwest, takes the legacy from our 1998 Festival and aims to continue this storytelling, cultural exposure and celebration.
In our El Legado (The Legacy) Series, we speak to the original 1998 Advisory Council members to reflect on their experience of the Festival, how they have continued to celebrate their culture, but most importantly, we seek to pass down their wisdom to the current generation of Mexican American and Chicana/os and for those yet to come.

Laura Esparza

Laura Esparza is the Division Manager for the Division of Museums and Cultural Programs for the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department where she oversees eleven arts facilities including museums and cultural centers across Austin.

Ms. Esparza’s training is in theater; she was the recipient of the esteemed San Diego Fellowship at UCSD where she received her M.F.A. in Latino Theater. In 1994, she received the NEA-TCG Director’s Fellowship, an honor given to only four theater directors in the nation, every other year. This fellowship took her to seven different cities across the U.S. where as an artist in residence at regional theaters, she could direct and observe professional practices. She has directed over 75 plays, written three, and has been published in anthologies of Latino Theater and poetry.