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June 12, 2009


June 12, 2009

This organization runs the Washington FOlk Festival at Glen Echo park every year, a huge, multi-ethinc festival featuring the folk and traditional music of Greater Washington DC. It is a free festival by and for the people of Washington. It also hosts a veriety of folk concerts, both in halls and homes, and dances. Its fall Getaway, geared primarily (but not exclusively) to singers of traditional song attracts visitors from all over America as well as abroad to share and swap in intimate settings. Open sings, instrumental workshops, sacred harp gatherings, and a small, mid-winter festival take place throughout the year. Its : $33/year annual membership ($45 for families) entitle one to many free concerts and a dance or two. Many people, however find that its monthly bulletin is well worth the cost alone as it lists not only FSGW-sponsored events but other events of interest going on throughout the greater DC area. The society welcomes volunteers and there are many ways to iprove ones skills as a presenter as well as a performer. It is actively seeking out families and younger members.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've seen the results of this organization in nurturing the traditional arts and providing a community in which skills are enhanced and listening or production skills are developed. It is a true participatory arts organization.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would learn from those before and around me who have done such a good job. I would continue to support many different kinds of music while paying special attention to the most traditional exemplars of music with a limited commercial base.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

I am a professional singer and folklorist but this community of volunteers gets more done on a shoestring than any arts organization I have ever worked with. I think this is because the passion is shared universally and leadership is truly collaborative.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

A mix of musicians and dancers, paying their dues to a society that has nourished their art, publicists, promoters, techies, civic activists, community builders, passionate devotees, and folks with large living rooms that want to fill them with music.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Launch programs in the schools,provide apprenticeship scholarships to musicians (or dancers) seeking to master traditional arts forms,endow concert series,underwrite international cultural exchanges, and "seed' events, collaborating with other art groups.

Ways to make it better...

The organization realizes that many of its members developed a love of traditional folk music from the late fifties through the early seventies. It realizes its membership is aging and it is trying to engage families and young people. More of this!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Finding ways of bringing young people into our leadership structure so that it can improve ways of reaching young audiences and participants without diluting our commitment to very old music and dance traditions.

One thing I'd also say is that...

As a broadly participatory organization, the production rarely outweighs the process. This is a group that enjoys making events happen and generates good community feelings in the process. While good business practices prevail, FSGW is festive and fun.

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