The 2006 Festival, celebrating its 40th year on the National Mall of the United States, again presented a compelling, research-based sampling of the diverse traditions of America and the world to large public audiences in an educational, respectful, and profoundly democratic way. Employing a format it had both pioneered and mastered, the Festival illustrated the vital, living aspect of cultural heritage and provided a forum for discussion of issues of contemporary concern.
For the first time, the Festival featured a Canadian province - Alberta, which had just completed its own celebration of its centennial. Albertans have created a dynamic home for diverse peoples - aboriginal inhabitants, settlers, and later immigrants - in a varied and dramatic landscape. They've built large world-class industries - oil and gas, ranching, farming, forestry - as well as two large, modern metropolises, Calgary and Edmonton, all the while being creative in the arts and sciences. Festival visitors could see how Alberta's oil sands are mined and processed, witness ranching skills, appreciate fine Native craftsmanship, hear ballads from talented singer-songwriters, and experience their contemporary "Theatresports." The Festival program resulted from close collaboration between the Smithsonian and its Albertan partners, and was a testament to how good will and common purpose can effectively cross borders and serve the educational and cultural interests of Canadians, Americans, and a broader visiting public.
The same kind of engaged collaborative partnership was illustrated through the Carriers of Culture program that brought together the Festival, the National Museum of the American Indian, Michigan State University Museum, and a network of Native basket makers' organizations around the United States. The collaboration was built upon the needs of basket makers themselves, in the face of various challenges to their living heritage. Basket makers need access to trees, bushes, and plants untainted by pollutants; they need recognition, appreciation, and access to markets as well as opportunities to train the next generation. Festival visitors could meet scores of basket makers from dozens of Native communities from every part of the United States. They demonstrated their masterful techniques, making baskets of meaning and delight in every imaginable shape and texture. Their participation in the Festival, including sales at the marketplace and related public programs and consultations at the National Museum of the American Indian, was part of a cultural self-help strategy, shaped by participatory research, and aiming to assure the vitality of long-lived traditions.
Nuestra Música: Latino Chicago reflected another substantive partnership. The Festival joined the Smithsonian Latino Center and Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music to present a small sampler of Chicago's Latino cultural heritage. More than a million Latinos - largely from Mexico, but also from Puerto Rico and just about every nation in Latin America - have made the Chicago area their home. Cultural institutions, dozens of community-based dance groups, and myriad shops, clubs, and restaurants indicate the growth and vitality of the community. Music is both a measure and symbol of that vitality. On the Mall, visitors joined in Mexican folk and contemporary dances, heard the beat of Puerto Rican bomba and plena, and enjoyed Andean music and song. Through the Festival's live performances, as well as through the related Grammy-nominated Smithsonian Folkways series of Latino recordings, the Smithsonian sought to provide a means for Americans to understand each other, to speak, listen, and be heard.
Finally, the Been in the Storm So Long concert series at the Festival represented an important collaboration between the Festival and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Festival itself grew in part from events on the Mall during the Civil Rights Movement, and thousands of leading figures of African American culture have graced its stages and illustrated their traditions through its programs over the preceding four decades. To initiate the partnership, the Museum and the Festival featured musicians from New Orleans: folks who were hit with the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but nonetheless strove, with determination and grace, to continue the cultural traditions that give their communities their unique character and uplifting spirit so admired and appreciated around the world. Concerts featured New Orleans jazz, rhythm & blues, and sacred music.
The 2006 Festival took place for two five-day weeks (June 30-July 4 and July 7-11) between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive and between 7th Street and 14th Street, south of the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History (see site plan
). It featured three programs and Special Events that included the Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert and Been in the Storm So Long.
The 2006 Program Book
included schedules and participant lists for each program; keynote essays provided background on the Festival and on each of the programs (with a Spanish version of the Latino music essay).
The Festival was co-presented by the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service and organized by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Richard Kurin, Director; Richard Kennedy, Deputy Director; Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Diana Parker, Festival Director; Stephen Kidd, Production Manager; Charlie Weber, Media Specialist; Smithsonian Folkways Recordings/Smithsonian Global Sound: Daniel Sheehy, Curator and Director; Anthony Seeger, Curator and Director, Emeritus; D.A. Sonneborn, Assistant Director; Ralph Rinzler Archives: Jeffrey Place, Archivist; Stephanie Smith, Assistant Archivist; Cultural Heritage Policy: James Counts Early, Director; Cultural Research and Education: Olivia Cadaval, Chair; Thomas Vennum, Jr., Senior Ethnomusicologist Emeritus; Betty J. Belanus, Olivia Cadaval, Nancy Groce, Marjorie Hunt, Diana Baird N'Diaye, Frank Proschan, Peter Seitel (Emeritus), Cynthia Vidaurri, Curators, Folklorists, Education and Cultural Specialists; John W. Franklin, Program Manager; Research Associates: Robert Albro, Geri Benoit, Carla Borden, Patrick Delatour, Roland Freeman, Kip Lornell, Mara Mayor, Joan Nathan, Sita Reddy, Sam-Ang Sam, Preston Scott, Cynthia Vidaurri, Patrick Vilaire, Nilda Villalta; Fellows: Bernard L. Bakaye, Gary Burns, Julie Chenot, Chiara Bortolotto, Sharon C. Clarke, Trinidad Gonzales, Navina Jafa, Susan Keitumetse, Mary Kenny, Reina Prado, Laurajane Smith, Will Walker, Amy Winston
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Advisory Council
Kurt Dewhurst (chair), Judy Mitoma (vice-chair), Michael Asch (ex officio), Michael Doucet, Anthony Gittens, John Herzog (ex officio), Debora Kodish, Enrique Lamadrid, Worth Long, Libby O'Connell, J. Scott Raecker, Robert Santelli
Smithsonian Folkways Advisory Board
Michael Asch (chair), Phyllis Barney, Hal Cannon, Don De Vito, Ella Jenkins, Anthony Seeger (ex officio), Fred Silber
National Park Service
Fran P. Mainella, Director; Donald W. Murphy, Deputy Director; Joseph M. Lawler, Regional Director; Vikki Keys, Superintendent, National Mall and Memorial Parks
The Festival was supported by federally appropriated funds; Smithsonian trust funds; contributions from governments, businesses, foundations, and individuals; in-kind assistance; and food, recording, and craft sales. General support for this year's programs included the Music Performance Fund, with in-kind support for the Festival provided through Motorola, Nextel, WAMU 88.5-FM, WashingtonPost.com, Whole Foods Market, Pegasus Radio Corp., and Icom America. The Folklore Society of Greater Washington generously provided hospitality for participants, as it had for many years. The Festival was co-sponsored by the National Park Service.