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50th Anniversary


50th Anniversary

June 29-July 4 and July 6-9, 2017

When S. Dillon Ripley, Jim Morris, and Ralph Rinzler began the Folklife Festival, it was seen as a corrective of sorts to the static museum and a narrow view of aesthetically important and inspiring cultural expression. Collaborating closely with grassroots artists and adeptly engaging the public, the Festival has over the past 50 years succeeded in broadening the base for and appeal of cultural democracy in the United States and around the world.

Tens of thousands of cultural exemplars have benefited from demonstrating their traditions on the National Mall and returning 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 greatly enhanced cultural research and documentation around the world, playing a key role in the development of scholarship, university, museum, and government programs. It has inspired laws and international accords for the preservation of cultural heritage and ongoing encouragement of its practitioners. It remains the foremost model of a research-based, participatory public exposition of culture.

In the years ahead I would expect to see the Festival’s methodology and impact magnified in a more closely connected world. The Festival’s universal effort to promote understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and respect for a diverse humanity is something sorely needed today—and likely tomorrow as well.

—Richard Kurin
Former Director, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Acting Provost, Smithsonian Institution

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