On Memorial Day Weekend, Northwest Folklife will present the 46th Northwest Folklife Festival – a signature event for this region. Once again, we will host 800 performing groups, 5,000 artists and 152 cultural communities. The past 45 years have only been possible because of gifts of support, and we thank our contributors and Friends of Folklife!
While this celebration of our folk arts and traditions has long heralded the start of summer, in 2017, the Northwest Folklife Festival feels especially significant. In this era of our polarized society, when distrust, fear and anger is so prominent, we need to find those places where we share space, engage with one another and build community.
Northwest Folklife’s mission is to create opportunities for all to celebrate, share and participate in the evolving traditions of the Pacific Northwest. This annual gathering allows us to share our traditions of music, dance, storytelling and food. And through this sharing, we come to understand each other much more deeply.
We may find the steps to our dances differ. The beat or tempo of our music and the spices we use in our foods vary. But we find that we all dance! We all express ourselves through our music. And we all know that warmth of gathering around tables with familiar smells and tastes warming us as we reconnect with friends and families.
In these four days each year, we re-embrace those differences which actually show us how much alike we are. In these four days, together we create a community of communities. Come dance, play music and eat food with each other. Find shared delight in each moment and find the common threads that weave together to become the fabric of a civil and caring society.
If you believe in this community of communities and if you believe that this opportunity must be equitable and open to everyone without the economic barrier of an admission fee, we need your support right here in the Pacific Northwest. While we face challenges and needs that can be addressed on the national stage, effective change and progress occurs “at home.” Northwest Folklife is local, it is community powered by those of us who live here.
Applications are already streaming in from performers, all seeking the opportunity to share of themselves and their art with you. To make this possible, there is so much work to be done between now and Memorial Day weekend. To balance our budget and pay the necessary expenses, this year we must raise $662,100 in contributed income. Northwest Folklife is an independent not for profit organization and we value every contribution and commit to each of you that we will use your support as efficiently and wisely as is possible.
We ask you, our friends and supporters, to do two things.
Second, please share and forward this message via email and your social media networks to like-minded people you know and ask them to support Northwest Folklife as well. Sharing your voice and your belief in the importance of this annual gathering with others is the best way to build the broad base of community support necessary to keep Northwest Folklife and our Festival in this community.
Next Memorial Day Weekend, as you sit on the grass surrounded by others all listening to music, or venture into Warren’s Roadhouse to join hundreds of others dancing together, you will be so glad you did. Thank you!
Mark W. Crawford
Interim Executive Director
Photo Credit: Doug Plummer. Meet Doug in our first This is Folklife Spotlight.