Folkmoot celebrates cultural diversity.
We do this every day – it’s central to our mission. But especially today – May 21 – as we join in World Day for Cultural Diversity celebrated around the globe by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization.
“Our year-round programs – our cultural conversations, our international dinners and other Folkmoot programs reflect our focus on cultural diversity,” explained Folkmoot Executive Director Angeline Schwab. “Our primary annual event, the Folkmoot Festival each July, is a 10-day celebration of diverse and international folk dance, cultural sharing and celebration.”
Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians.
Folkmoot is part of the UNESCO network through our membership in CIOFF, the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts.
“Cultural diversity gives our life its richness, its colour and its dynamism,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General in a statement. “It is a cognitive and intellectual opening and a driving force for social development and economic growth.
“Of course, cultural diversity is not in itself a factor of peace and progress. For this it requires learning, learning about otherness, the ability to shift focus away from oneself, to dialogue and to recognize the value concealed in each culture.
“This World Day is specifically designed to raise awareness of these issues. It invites us to go beyond the acknowledgement of diversity and to recognize the benefits of cultural pluralism, regarded as an ethical and political principle of equal respect for cultural identities and traditions.
“This principle is at the heart of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted by the Organization in 2001, which recognizes cultural diversity as part of the common heritage of humanity, and as a driving force for peace and prosperity. The issues raised by this Declaration, written in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September, remain highly relevant.”
Folkmoot traces its roots back to 1973 when Dr. Clinton Border, a Waynesville surgeon, accompanied a local square dance team to a folk festival in Sidmouth, England. There began the dream that would, 11 years later, become Folkmoot USA.
Border was convinced that Western North Carolina, which was already steeped in tradition and dedicated to the preservation of its own heritage, was the perfect location for an international folk festival in the United States. During the next few years, Border traveled to other festivals in Poland and France and began gathering information and developing contacts. He also started contacting local government and community leaders back home.
By 1983, Border was ready to present his vision to Haywood County’s community leaders. Despite language barriers and the inherent scheduling difficulties involved in getting foreign performers from their homes to Haywood County, Border believed something invaluable occurs when cultures so rich in tradition come together to share their lives.
One month after Border’s presentation to community leaders, a board of directors met to launch Folkmoot USA, the North Carolina International Folk Festival.