Northwest Folklife Honors Festál’s 20th Year

The community arts and music organization celebrates the ongoing work of a like-minded group

By Kasee Bailey

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January 13, 2017

In a cultural climate that seems ever more divisive, it’s important to remember that there really is much to learn from, and cherish about, our differences.

This ideal embodies the goal of Northwest Folklife, an independent arts organization that’s been celebrating the rich culture, diversity and traditions of the Pacific Northwest for 46 years.

Each year in May, Northwest Folklife hosts its namesake community arts fest at Seattle Center, bringing together more than 200,000 attendees (this year, an estimated 250,000) to celebrate and explore around 100 diverse cultural traditions, from Appalachian folk music to the roots of hip-hop. The festival is presented by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and is set for May 26-29 of this year. And did we mention, it’s free?

While Folklife Fest is always a grand undertaking, this year the festival observes the 20th anniversary of Festál, the Seattle Center’s year-long series of 24 culture-specifc events that share a like mission with Northwest Folklife. In commemoration, the 2017 Northwest Folklife Festival will honor Festál’s work with a special cultural focus, aka “Festál Turns 20.” At this year’s fest, you can expect special performances, panels, workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations and activities that showcase the partnership and shared values of both cultural institutions. In other words, all that you’d expect from Folklife fest, but more.

“Northwest Folklife and Festál share a like mission to raise awareness of cultural heritage, and to engage folks in opportunities to celebrate, share and participate in the evolving cultural traditions of the Pacific Northwest,” said Kelli Faryar, Northwest Folklife’s Program Director. “Our upcoming Cultural Focus: Festál Turns 20 will multiply all the capacity of all 24 groups to engage folks throughout the region, establishing a foundation for broader and deeper participation among Northwest Folklife, Seattle Center Festál, audiences, and cultural communities.”

“Festál Turns 20” kicks off this year with the Festál Turns 20 Fête, this Sunday, January 15 at the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. This event is intended to help the public meet key community leaders and organizers who partner with Festál every year to bring their cultural heritage and community festivals to the city center. The National Endowment for the Arts has even awarded Northwest Folklife a matching grant of $25,000 for this year’s Cultural Focus, funds that directly support its year-round efforts.

For tickets to the 21+ Festál Turns 20 Fête benefit that features “Japanese, Italian, African American, Mexican and Arab cuisine with wines from around the world will be served, along with a special tasting of French and Italian wines” (and much, much more), click HERE.

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