SALISBURY, MARYLAND IS THE HOST CITY FOR THE 2018-2021 National Folk Festival
The third and final year of the National’s residency in Salisbury, Maryland would have been 2020; due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Folk Festival held a virtual celebration in 2020, and will return to Salisbury for the 80th National Folk Festival in 2021.
What the National brings to communities
Some of the festival’s potential benefits to a host city are obvious: regional and national media exposure; thousands of out-of-town visitors who spend their money at local businesses during this free event; an opportunity to showcase the area’s best traditional artists in a national context in the heart of the community. Less obvious, but equally important, is the role the festival can play in uniting diverse elements of the community to work towards a common goal—the establishment of a high-quality traditional arts festival that will continue to thrive after the National Folk Festival moves on.
Building a successful partnership
Although the exact division of responsibilities between the NCTA and the local sponsors varies somewhat from site to site, there are some basic components that are essential to a successful partnership.
The local partnering organizations involved may also vary, but must include the government of the city represented by its chief administrator (mayor or city manager). This is necessary in order to have the full use of downtown or other critical sites and good cooperation from police, fire departments, public works, and sanitation personnel.
A second critical local organization is a 501(c)(3) with a good reputation to ensure fundraising success (cash budgets have recently been in the $1.1 million per year range), strong promotional capabilities, and sufficient staff to organize substantial components of the event, and to take charge when the National leaves in three years.
A National Folk Festival site must be capable of accommodating four to seven stages, a crafts area, regional/ethnic food sales, with parking and space for 50-75,000 people per day. Along with this goes the means to secure electrical service, tents, booths, sanitary facilities, trash removal, and other physical needs for a large outdoor event.
The NCTA is the organizing partner that coordinates programming and most aspects of production, but it holds programming meetings in the site city. The other organizing partners and community group representatives are urged to participate, to hear recordings and see videos of potential performers, and to argue for favorites. With good leadership the group invariably makes excellent aesthetic recommendations that contribute valuable community perspectives and insights to the programming process.
The NCTA brings to the coalition 80 years of experience in producing successful festivals within diverse communities. Although our primary expertise is in program content and curation, site planning, and production, we work closely with the local sponsor on all aspects of the festival, including fundraising, publicity, and promotion.
- The National Folk Festival Home
- A Brief History of the National Folk Festival
- The National Folk Festival Today: Community Collaborations
- The National Folk Festival: Success Stories From Around the Nation
- The National Folk Festival Experience
- Hosting the National Folk Festival
- Next: The National’s Current Host City
- Apply to be the Next Host City