Festival at 50

Object Details

Archival materials
Collection Rights
Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. Please visit our website to learn more about submitting a request. The Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections make no guarantees concerning copyright or other intellectual property restrictions. Other usage conditions may apply; please see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for more information.
Collection Citation
Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
CFCH.SFF.2017, Series 3
The festival this year will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an international exposition of living culture staged on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Through music, dance, food, crafts, and stories, we learn about other cultures, about each other, about our intriguing differences and surprising similarities. This annual festival event is produced by the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Like other Smithsonian museums, the Festival includes exhibition-quality signs, photo-text panels, a program book/catalog, learning centers, a marketplace, and food concessions. Tens of thousands of cultural exemplars have benefited from demonstrating their traditions at the Folklife Festival. The participants have returned home uplifted by the applause and appreciation they received. Most have been fortified in their determination to pass on their skill and artistry, their knowledge and wisdom to the next generation; many have been inspired to extend their cultural traditions for wider social, economic, and educational benefit. The festival has become a national and international model of a research-based presentation of contemporary living cultural traditions. Over the past half century, it has brought more than twenty-three thousand musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks, storytellers, and others to the National Mall to demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and aesthetics that embody the creative vitality of community-based traditions. The Festival is a complex production, over the years drawing on the research and presentational skills of more than a thousand folklorists, cultural anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and numerous other academic and lay scholars. Its production involves the expertise of hundreds of technical staff, the efforts of volunteers, and the backing of sponsors and supporters. At the same time, it is an exercise in cultural democracy, in which cultural practitioners speak for themselves, with each other, and to the public. The Festival has strong impacts on policies, scholarship, and folks "back home." Many states and several nations have remounted Festival programs locally and used them to generate laws, institutions, educational programs, books, documentary films, recordings, and museum and traveling exhibitions. In many cases, the Festival has energized local and regional tradition bearers and their communities and, thus, helped to conserve and create cultural resources. Festival practice served as both the backdrop and inspiration for the consideration and ultimately the development of UNESCO's 2003 International Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Production, Artists &Ensembles
PRODUCTION Reunion Curator:Betty Belanus Reunion Coordinator: Kim Stryker Program Interns: Sophie Auffret, Dannah King, Hannah Peterson, Sarah Wilbert Rinzler Concert Coordinators: Marjorie Hunt, Arlene Reiniger Dance Parties Lead Volunteer: Malissa Wilkins ARTISTS & ENSEMBLES • BeauSoleil Quartet avec Michael Doucet, Cajun Music • Los Texmaniacs, Texas Mexican conjunto (tribute to Flaco Jiménez) • Daniel Sheehy, Folklorist & ethnomusicologist • The Chuck Brown Band, D.C., Go-go music (tribute to Chuck Brown). This dance party was co-presented with the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in celebration of its fiftieth anniversary. • Juan Gutiérrez with Los Pleneros de la 21, Puerto Rican bomba and plena. This concert and dance party was presented by the Smithsonian Latino Center in celebration of its twentieth anniversary. • Mick Moloney and Billy McComiskey, Irish music and dance from the Mid-Atlantic region • Artemio Posadas, Huastecan son • Verónica Castillo, Mexican American ceramicist • Norma Cantú, Mexican American folklorist & writer • Alfonsina Salas, Hispanic Musician • Irvin Trujillo, Lisa Trujillo, Hispanic weavers • Yary Livan Cambodian ceramicist • Roland Freeman, Photographer, documentarian • Norman Kennedy, Scottish weaver, singer, storyteller
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