Mexican American and Chicana/o communities celebrated at Seattle Children’s Festival

Folklore Mexicano Tonantzin. (Photo by Christopher Nelson)

Northwest Folklife relies on the diverse communities of the Pacific Northwest to inspire programs and collaborates with these communities to develop public presentations of their culture. Each year, Northwest Folklife engages a Northwest community to showcase throughout the year. This Cultural Focus allows Folklife to connect more in depth with the people that they serve and empower their artistic expressions and cultural traditions.

Northwest Folklife’s 2018 Cultural Focus explores and celebrates Mexican American and Chicana/o communities from around the Pacific Northwest through stories, art, film, music, song, cuisine, dance, language and culture.

The 2018 Cultural Focus is made possible with the collaboration of their Cultural Focus Committee. This committee, composed of individuals, professors, culture bearers, activists and local artists includes members from SEEDArts, Dia de Muertos Committee, the Indigenous Aztec community, La Sala, Bailadores de Bronce and Joyas Mestizas Folklorico groups, members from The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) and heritage artists from around the Seattle area. The committee serves as the consulting council to develop and curate the program by and for the Mexican American and Chicana(o) communities.

The Cultural Focus Committee has identified that their main focus will be exploring offering a larger platform for youth to explore their heritage and visualize the future.

The 5th Annual Seattle Children’s Festival will take place on Saturday, September 22, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Seattle Center Armory & Fisher Pavilion.

The young performers of Grupo Folklórico Nuestras Raíces will be featured at the Seattle Children’s Festival to represent this year’s cultural focus. Below, Cultural Focus Committee Member Francisca Garcia of SEEDArts and Rainier Arts Center talks about the committee’s contributions to Northwest Folklife’s programming this year.

Francisca Garcia. (Photo Courtesy of Northwest Folklife.)

What drives your passion and 45-year commitment to sharing the Mexican cultural experience?

Francisca Garcia: My roots are Mexican, but I was born here as a third-generation Mexican American. The richness of our culture, food, song, dance and the general way we celebrate life has always been a driving force for me. Naturally I want other to share our fun!

What do you think is the most important issue for the Mexican American and Chicana(o) communities today?

Garcia: The most important issue as has been in past years is to find our footing in a country we call our own. We are proud of who we are and what we bring to the table.

Many organizations today are making conscious efforts to celebrate and incorporate diversity. As a member of the 2018 Cultural Focus Committee, what do you think about Northwest Folklife’s cultural focus process?

Garcia: I just love it. The conversation has been from them, “How to you see yourself and how do you celebrate your culture? Let us share that with the greater community.” It has been and continues to be very inclusive.

What advice do you have for future cultural focus committee members or other organizations working toward diversity using a similar focus strategy?

Garcia: Ask the questions … then take the time to listen.

What are you most proud of, in terms of how the committee has been able to guide Northwest Folklife programming?

Garcia: The voices of many were heard, the doors were opened and the welcome was sincere. Much was learned and made possible because of the desire shown. We found that we have more in common than not. We looked to the past, to the present and then to the future of our places in our Northwest community.

For more information on the Seattle Children’s Festival, click here.