By COLLETTE CAPRARA FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Smithsonian Institution staff are as excited as area residents that the long-running Folklife Festival is returning to the National Mall in Washington.
The hugely popular and informative event was launched in 1967 with the aim of sparking curiosity, understanding and enjoyment, as well as appreciation for a range of cultures from around the world and our country, with attendance that has reached 750,000 people. Although its presence on the Mall has been discontinued for the past two years, many of its programs and demonstrations were accessible virtually.
“We are so happy to be back on the National Mall, although the virtual programs have left a legacy of 50 archived video programs and given us the opportunity to expand our audience internationally,” said the spokesperson Ginny Maycock. “Many elements of this year’s festival, such as evening concerts and conversations with experts, will also be broadcast live this year.”
Family-friendly activities, workshops, programs, talks and festival performances will take place over two weeks and highlight the importance of culture and community in creating a sustainable future. From June 22 to 27 and June 30 to July 4, daytime programming will be offered from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and evening events, including concerts and a film screening, will begin after 6 p.m.
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With more than 100 artisans, cultural ambassadors, musicians, hands-on and interactive activities, the two themes presented this year, “The United Arab Emirates” and “Optimism for the Earth”, form a perfect pair. Together, they present uplifting messages on two topics of concern today: ensuring environmental sustainability and exploring cultural differences in a way that brings mutual understanding and appreciation.
‘The United Arab Emirates’
“The United Arab Emirates: Living Landscape/Living Memory” will introduce festival-goers to essential skills, cultural practices and knowledge that have developed over thousands of years of living in the harsh environments of the desert, mountains and desert. sea in a region that has served as a cultural crossroads. . Visitors will learn about maritime culture, musical instruments, poetry, spices and foods, perfume and incense, and the fascinating ancient tradition of falconry through demonstrations by a female falconer from the United Arab Emirates.
Visitors will have the experience of entering a “Majlis”, a space dedicated to community discussion and hospitality.
In the words of co-curator Michele Bambling, “We hope visitors will join us in exploring the living traditions of the UAE as resources for connecting communities and envisioning a shared sustainable future”, highlighting the important quality of collaboration of the two themes of Folklife.
Folklife Festival director Sabrina Lynn Motley said: “Traditional knowledge has an important role to play in finding solutions to some of the most intractable problems in the world today. In short, old wisdom can be applied to solve new problems.
‘Earth Optimism x Folklife’
The Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism initiative celebrates what works in conservation and presents an impactful and actionable approach to preserving and protecting our planet’s ecology and ecosystems. His perspective shines a light on the effective efforts of communities and individuals to solve our most pressing problems. Through workshops, performances, interactive art installations and a special film screening, visitors can learn how to make an impact locally and globally.
Focusing on solutions rather than problems, “Earth Optimism” highlights inspiring conservation successes, practical solutions and positive change, presented by community leaders, innovators, scientists, artists and others working to create a sustainable planet. These presentations, conversations and demonstrations empower visitors to adopt and develop similar practices in their own communities.
The “Earth Optimism” program also includes a People-Powered Science zone with ongoing activities for families where they can participate in take-home crafts, like an origami orchid or puppet worms (think “composting!”). NASA’s Earth Sciences Division will be on hand to provide engaging activities on July 2.
An evening feature is the screening of “My Garden of a Thousand Bees” on June 24. The film documents the discoveries of acclaimed British wildlife filmmaker Martin Dohrn, who used his days at home during the pandemic to explore his own garden and found more than 60 different species, from Britain’s largest bumblebees to bees scissors the size of a mosquito. Through Dohrn’s lenses, viewers will get a personal, up-close introduction to the intricacies and beauty of bees.
Additionally, festival-goers will have the opportunity to sample UAE culture at food concessions offering traditional flavors and recipes, as well as dishes created with sustainably sourced produce and local ingredients.
This year’s Festival Marketplace is inspired by an open-air ‘souk’ or Arabian bazaar, with offerings ranging from clothing and jewelry to art, homewares, spices, food and wine. Several craftsmen will be on hand to present period demonstrations, on the festival site and near the Place du Marché.
“For a one-day visitor, this really is quite a remarkable event because our fabulous curators and scholars have been working on the programming for years,” Maycock said. “In addition, a team of nearly 25 people has been working on site for several months, constructing buildings, tents, stages, supplying electricity and doing everything necessary for the creation of the festival. Organizing the festival is a huge collaborative effort, and we’re just grateful to be there in person, to welcome people to the National Mall!