On August 7, 2018, the National Park Service announced proposed revisions to the rules that govern the use of the National Mall. “The modifications would maintain opportunities for people to hold special events and exercise their right to demonstrate while outlining clear parameters that protect the iconic landmarks, views and grounds for use and enjoyment of citizens and visitors from around the globe.” The new plan will eliminate temporary structures—tents and other structures—in tree panels along the sides of the National Mall. This would profoundly impact both the character and continued feasibility of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Widely considered a national treasure, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival has called the National Mall home since its inception 51 years ago. By hosting thousands of culture bearers and welcoming millions of visitors from around the globe, it has become a cherished model of research, education, and exchange. In 2018, the Festival hosted 795 culture bearers and more than 700,000 visitors onsite and millions more online.
The Festival is made possible by a host of public and private partners, but none has been more integral to its success and longevity than the National Park Service. In 2014, the Park Service and the Smithsonian entered into a five-year agreement reaffirming the Festival as “a symbol and icon of our nation and its ideals and a historically important celebration of cultural free expression.” As co-producers, the Smithsonian and the National Park Service publicly articulated a shared commitment to continuing their partnership, but also to working collaboratively to preserve the cultural and natural resources of the National Mall and to produce the annual Folklife Festival.
We would like to educate you about the Festival’s vital role in serving communities throughout the United States by lifting the voices of cultural bearers and giving them a stage on the Mall every summer. We encourage you to learn more about our work.