Like its predecessor, the 1983 Festival took place for two five-day weeks (June 23-27 and June 30- July 4) between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive and between 10th Street and 14th Street, south of the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History. A program on the folklife of flight celebrated the 200th anniversary of human flight, with other major programs focusing on French and French American music and dance, the folklife of New Jersey, and the second awarding of National Heritage Fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The idea that shaped this year's program - and any year's program, for that matter - was the Smithsonian Institution's abiding commitment to cultural conservation. The selected traditions were brought to the National Mall not only for visitors' enjoyment and intellectual edification, but also as a statement to the people who keep the traditions, to their communities, and to the great American public that these cultural traditions were more than the artistic flowering of a healthy community. They were often the very roots of a group's cultural identity, community feeling, and shared sense of style and, as such, were crucial to its well-being and productivity. Visitors were encouraged to find entertainment in the beautiful and significant traditions presented at this year's Festival and to understand their importance in the lives of the performers and their communities. Festival organizers also expressed their hope that visitors would join in making our nation an environment in which myriad cultural traditions can flourish.
The 1983 Program Book provides information on each of the programs.
The 1983 Festival was co-presented by the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service, with support from Festival New Jersey '83!, the Government of France, Continental Telecom, Inc., Music Performance Trust Funds, and John & Clara Higgins Foundation, and with cooperation of the National Endowment for the Arts. It was organized by the Office of Folklife Programs, in conjunction (for the Aviation Program) with the National Air and Space Museum.