Skip to main content

Informal demonstrations where participants interact face-to-face with the public are at the heart of the Festival. Participants involved in crafts or occupations usually have a space of their own that evokes their work areas back home. They will have their tools, supplies, and products at-hand. Demonstrations in these areas are very casual. While the artist works, the visitor can watch and ask questions about the materials, the process, and the meaning or use of the craft. Sign panels with text and images help contextualize the demonstration. Most demonstrations are extremely visual and tactile and may need little interpretation. Some demonstrations can be set up to encourage audience participation.

The Colombia program was rich in crafts and occupations. Visitors tried their hand at making clay pots and figures asand at weaving hats and baskets. Some had their hair braided into different figures. Coffee growers walked the public through the entire coffee process from planting of the seed to drinking a good cup of coffee.

Presenters can enhance these informal presentations by:

  • Introducing each participant and place of origin
  • Modeling for the audience how to ask questions
  • Adding background information
  • Filling in about process when the artist needs to concentrate on their work
  • Asking about the names and origins of materials or processes.
  • Informally translating when necessary
  • If appropriate, inviting the public to touch or smell
  • Preempting often asked questions on price, time that it take to make, how much it costs
  • Asking the public if they are familiar with similar traditions, materials, or occupations
More Video

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.