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

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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.

Informational WebinarsRegister today for webinars on May 17 and May 25 at 3:00 pm (EDT) to learn more about how to submit a compelling bid and be selected to host this nationally acclaimed event. If you are unable to attend either of the above dates or times, please email [email protected]. New dates and times will be added based on interest and availability. Please note: you only need to register for one webinar; each session is a comprehensive overview of hosting the 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.

Learn 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 email [email protected].

Ready to apply? Click here to download the RFP.

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