The Festival Music Stage was linked to the 1988 program, Music from the Peoples of the Soviet Union. Reciprocating the Soviet performances in the U.S., the Smithsonian would later send a group of performers to the Soviet Union. The Festival Music Stage served as preparation for this touring group, which later went to Moscow and Kiev, where they played in concert halls, in housing projects, on the streets, and in the factories, bringing an alternative view of American musical culture to audiences who were otherwise familiar only with American pop music.
Arlene Liebenau was Program Coordinator. The Festival Music Stage in Washington was made possible in part by the Music Performance Trust Funds, and in Moscow by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.