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The National Folk Festival presents the nation’s finest traditional artists from across the nation representing a broad array of America’s cultural communities. The National also strives to showcase the traditions of cultural communities historically identified with the host city, state, or region, as well as the arts of newer immigrant communities that are contributing to the state’s cultural landscape.

Selection criteria

Quality and traditionality are the primary selection criteria for artists. The festival’s approach to programming focuses on presenting arts passed on through time in families and communities and in tribal, ethnic, religious, regional, and occupational groups. We present artists who are firmly rooted in the community from which their music derives, rather than “interpreters” of tradition, such as contemporary singer-songwriters or "revivalist” performance groups—no matter how accomplished. The festival strives to be inclusive in terms of race, ethnicity, and region.

In making its selections, a local programming committee is guided by the following definition, which is the guide for the National Council for Traditional Arts and the National Folk Festival, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts:

FOLK & TRADITIONAL ARTS – a definition

The folk and traditional arts are rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community. Community members may share a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These vital and constantly reinvigorated artistic traditions are shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice. Genres of artistic activity include, but are not limited to, music, dance, crafts, and oral expression.

- National Endowment for the Arts

Applications for the 82nd National Folk Festival coming soon!
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