Programs & Events
Northwest Folklife is an independent arts organization that celebrates the multi-generational arts, cultures, and traditions of a global Pacific Northwest, 365 days of the year. Spark your curiosity by exposing your senses to new experiences and artistic delights that open you up to a new world of creative possibilities and cultural awareness.
Community Coordinators are an integral part of Northwest Folklife’s mission and vision to celebrate, share, and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Throughout the year, Northwest Folklife and Community Coordinators work in partnership to co-curate programs and collaborate to present the diversity of cultures and traditions of the region. As experts and representatives of their community, their input is an invaluable part of the planning process. More than 125 Community Coordinators work closely with staff to program more than 65% of the Northwest Folklife Festival, the annual Cultural Focus, and Our Big Neighborhood. This is achieved through careful consideration of the unique needs of the community, artists, and audience, as well as reflecting on how to adequately grow and embrace the ever-changing cultural traditions and landscape of the region. These are ongoing conversations, and the ensuing relationships grow deeper year by year. Learn more.
NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL
The Northwest Folklife Festival is the place to learn, to dance, to play, to try something new, and to discover arts and cultures that inspire the celebration of one another. From yodeling to beatboxing, square dancing to Bollywood, – the Northwest Folklife Festival celebrates the global traditions of local, independent artists.
Presenting more than 5,000 performers, the Festival draws from the 100+ cultural communities that Northwest Folklife collaborates with year-round. The festival is more than a celebration of the diversity of the Pacific Northwest, it’s a chance to engage directly with the many communities that make up our region. The Northwest Folklife Festival is our key annual event bringing up to 250,000 people over four days to the Seattle Center. Learn more.
OUR BIG NEIGHBORHOOD
Through intergenerational, multi-cultural exchange, we aim to promote greater social understanding.
Northwest Folklife and Seattle Center are proud to present Our Big Neighborhood, a youth and family program that provides opportunities to share and sustain the vitality of folk, ethnic and traditional arts for present and future generations. With events scheduled all year round, there’s always an opportunity to have fun and learn something new with family, friends, and all of us who make up Our Big Neighborhood! Learn more.
ANNUAL CULTURAL FOCUS
Every year, Northwest Folklife engages a Northwest community to showcase throughout the year. This ‘Cultural Focus’ allows Folklife to connect more in-depth with the people that we serve and empower their artistic expressions and cultural traditions.
Northwest Folklife’s 2019 Cultural Focus is Youth Rising, a year-long series featuring mentorship programs, youth residency projects, and a collection of youth-organized performances and events highlighted at the 48th annual Northwest Folklife Festival (May 24 – 27, 2019). Youth Rising is a platform for the voices of youth leaders, artists, musicians, and changemakers.
As folk is “for the people, by the people,” this Cultural Focus program will be curated “for and by the youth.” Learn more.
YOUTH RESIDENCY PROJECTS
To best serve our youth, Northwest Folklife has implemented 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 artistic expression. Youth will work with local culture bearers, artists, and activists to envision a new future while amplifying and nurturing pride of heritage and community. Próxima Generación will be facilitated by teaching artist, Jake Prendez. Unbroken Circle brings together youth to express themselves through their craft. Youth will collaborate with local artists, activists, and culture bearers to learn about the deep artistic history of Seattle’s beloved Rainier Valley. Unbroken Circle will be facilitated by Seattle’s songster revivalists, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons.
Northwest Folklife partners with Crossroads Mall in Bellevue for a once-a-month, year round series of cultural performances and participatory workshops at the food court stage. These performances are free and family-friendly. Audiences at Crossroads Mall are all ages, abilities and ethnicities.