National Folk Festival Host City—The Search is On!

National Council for the Traditional Arts Announces Nationwide Search for the Next National Folk Festival Host City

RFP review begins on August 1; RSVP for informational webinars to learn more

Silver Spring, MD (April 25, 2023) – The National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) introduced the National Folk Festival to Lowell, Massachusetts in 1987, for three years for celebrating the roots, richness, and variety of American culture. When the National moved on to its next host city, local Lowell producers continued the tradition in the form of the Lowell Folk Festival—now celebrating its 36th year—bringing an average of 175,000 people back to the same site, year after year. Similar examples have taken place in cities ranging from Butte, Montana, to Richmond, Virginia, where music fans and arts enthusiasts flock to festivals forged by the National Folk Festival that continue a tradition of their own using the tools and blueprints it provided. Every three years, the festival moves on to a new home, so the people behind the festival—the NCTA—are currently evaluating potential host cities for future events. 

Since 1934, the National Folk Festival—the nation’s longest-running traditional arts event—has hosted hundreds of the nation’s finest musicians, dancers, craftspeople, and other keepers of culture in performances, workshops, and demonstrations, plus children’s activities, savory regional and culturally diverse cuisines, participatory dancing, storytelling, parades, and more; all part of a free, large-scale, three-day outdoor event that draws over 100,000 attendees and generates tens of millions for the local economy. As cities nationwide explore how to make their downtowns into go-to destinations, hosting the National Folk Festival is a very unique opportunity for motivated communities to secure a transformative celebration for their residents for years to come.

What: Become the host city for the 82nd, 83rd, and 84th National Folk Festivals! Click here to apply. 

Why: Past National Folk Festival host cities have repeatedly reported tens of millions in economic impact, lasting investments in venue infrastructure and event production, record breaking sales for local businesses and restaurants, and enhanced community outreach, participation, and civic pride. 

How: The host city search, a nationally competitive process, has begun. Submit a letter of intent to apply to the NCTA by June 30, and an RFP by August 1. Register today for a webinar to learn more about how to submit a compelling bid and be selected to host this nationally acclaimed event.

Who: Enthusiastic and motivated civic and community leaders seeking their next signature investment in the quality of life of their community as it looks to its future. Successful bid packages will describe a partnership that includes early buy-in from city administration, economic and downtown development, tourism, heads of local nonprofits, leaders of the local arts, culture, and philanthropic communities, media outlets, and other key stakeholders. Serious proposals to host the National include at least one third of the $1.5M festival budget to be known to the host community at the time of application.

Want to know more? Check out the “Hosting the National Folk Festival” brochure. Information sessions about the festival and the RFP process will be held throughout the spring and summer ahead of the June 30 intent-to-apply deadline; register here for a webinar. If you need immediate assistance, please contact 301-565-0654, x 19 or x 15, or email festivals@ncta-usa.org.

Ready to apply? 

Click here to download the RFP.

Don’t Take Our Word For It: “…a smashingly successful weekend. Music and dance from all over the world and from America’s dazzlingly diverse ethnic heritage could not have been better displayed…” – The Boston Globe

“The National Folk Festival was, hands down, the best outdoor musical event I can remember being staged in Richmond. As one festivalgoer said, he’d ‘never saw so many happy people in one place.’” – Richmond Times-Dispatch

“We pulled off our community’s largest event in history. We shone a bright light … on our city, as we hosted the first of our National Folk Festivals… $20M in economic impact… an unprecedented level of enthusiasm touching every corner of our community.” – Jake Day, Mayor, City of Salisbury, MD

About the National Folk Festival: Since it was first presented in St. Louis in 1934, the National Folk Festival, the NCTA’s flagship event, has celebrated the roots, richness, and variety of American culture. Championed in its early years by Eleanor Roosevelt, it was the first event of national stature to present the arts of many nations, races, and languages on equal footing. It was also the first to present to the public musical forms such as the blues, Cajun music, polka, Tex-Mex conjunto, Peking Opera, and many others. Today, the National is an exuberant traveling festival, produced by the NCTA in partnership with communities around the country—including Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—that embraces the diverse cultural expressions that define us as a people in the 21st century. www.nationalfolkfestival.com/

About the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA): A leading non-profit in the field, the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) is dedicated to the presentation and documentation of folk and traditional arts in the U.S. Stressing excellence and authenticity, the NCTA presents the nation’s finest traditional artists in major festivals, tours, concerts, workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions, media productions, school programs, cross-cultural exchanges, and other activities. It works in partnership with American communities to establish new, sustainable traditional arts events that deliver lasting social, cultural, and economic benefits. Over 7,000 hours of the NCTA’s archival audio recordings dating from the 1930s are permanently housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The NCTA champions the interests of folk and traditional artists and organizations in the arena of public policy. ncta-usa.org/

Questions? IVPR/Maria Ivey, maria@ivpr.com or festivals@ncta-usa.org

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