Northwest Folklife

Youth Rising


Northwest folklife is excited to announce its 2019 Cultural Focus: Youth Rising. Together, let’s amplify the voices of youth leaders, artists, musicians, and changemakers.

Each year, Northwest Folklife presents the ‘Cultural Focus’, a year-round exploration of a Pacific Northwest community through special performances, panels, workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations, and educational materials. This program allows Northwest Folklife to connect more in-depth with the people we serve to support and cultivate their artistic expressions and cultural traditions.

Northwest Folklife is excited to announce the 2019 Cultural Focus: Youth Rising, a year-long program featuring peer mentorship, youth residencies, a series of youth-organized performances and events, and opportunities for creative collaborations. Youth Rising is a platform for the voices of youth leaders, artists, musicians, and changemakers.

Youth Rising celebrates and amplifies youth voices from around the region. In partnership with regional youth organizations, this program builds a larger platform, both locally and nationally, to amplify these youth voices across our nation. As folk is “for the people, by the people” this Cultural Focus and our year-round events are built “for and by the youth.” Throughout 2019, the Cultural Focus will weave through all of Northwest Folklife’s programs, including the 48th annual Northwest Folklife Festival, 6th annual Seattle Children’s Festival and the Our Big Neighborhood program. Audiences will experience youth voices from around the Pacific Northwest through stories, visual art, film, music, song, dance, and culture.

Over the past five years, Northwest Folklife has focused its work on building intentional cultural spaces for youth and families to share and celebrate the vitality of folk and evolving arts through programs, such as the Our Big Neighborhood program and our 2018 pilot program, the Próxima Generación: Youth Residency Project. In 2019, we will dedicate a whole year of programming to youth-focused and youth-led cultural activities under the umbrella of our 2019 Cultural Focus: Youth Rising. Serving as a mentorship program, this Cultural Focus will connect youth with culture bearers of all ages to collaborate and share ideas, thus building a stronger community. The passing down of traditions from culture bearers through intergenerational dialogue fosters growth and reach that is only possible when a community is able to nurture its roots.


Youth Residency Projects

A key component of the program is the expansion of our Youth Residency Projects into two cohorts: Próxima Generación and Unbroken Circle. Each residency will bring together 10 to 15 youth, ages 13-18, to collaborate on various forms of artistic expression and foster the growth of agents of change. Próxima Generación will extend throughout the 2018-2019 with a greater reach to include Latinx-identifying youth for the duration of the school year. The additional residency, Unbroken Circle, will partner with Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons of The Rhapsody Project to engage with students on traditional and evolving expressions through roots music.


48th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival

The 2019 Northwest Folklife Festival (May 24 – 27, 2019) will include over 25 programs centering youth voices. The program will range from music, dance, spoken word, visual arts, films, cooking demonstrations, panel discussions, participatory dances, and workshops spanning 20 stages for an audience of over 250,000.


Our Big Neighborhood

In partnership with Seattle Center, Our Big Neighborhood’s year-round youth and family events will return for a second year. This program will span five events throughout the year including Movin’ Around the World: Winter (February 16 – 22, 2019), Movin’ Around the World: Spring (April 6 – 12, 2019), Global Playground (August 3, 10, and 17, 2019), Seattle Children’s Festival (September 21 – 22, 2019), and Our Big Neighborhood at Winterfest (November 29, 2019). Each Our Big Neighborhood event creates a space for multicultural and intergenerational learning and exchange.