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Strategic Plan 2019–2023

Connecting People, Sustaining Cultures

Strategic Plan 2019–2023

Director’s Note

At a moment when globalization has accelerated cultural change to new levels, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage excels in its commitment to curiosity, exchange, and understanding. Here, we bring rich and diverse stories to the fore—critical perspectives on the issues that move us.

In doing so, we pose new questions about our underlying convictions: Where have we come from? Where are we going? And what brings us together at a time when so much pulls us apart?

We have come a long way in answering those questions, but there is still more to do.

Over the next five years, the Center will explore these and other questions through new scholarship and partnerships, expanded Folklife Festival and Smithsonian Folkways offerings, new cultural sustainability projects in communities near and far, and unprecedented digital access to the cultural knowledge held in our archives. Collectively, these initiatives highlight the work of individuals in communities and the shared humanity we uncover when we invite them to tell their stories.

That is the spirit that every single one of us—directors, curators, , educators, archivists, and program staff—need to provide for our communities and the individuals who comprise them. That is what stirs and propels us forward every single day: our spirit of inquiry and the understanding that curiosity inspires.

Michael Atwood Mason

Michael Atwood Mason
Director, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Mission Statement

Our Mission

Through the power of culture, we build understanding, strengthen communities, and reinforce our shared humanity.

Our Vision

Sustaining the world’s cultural diversity

Our Values

We support cultural equity in all that we do, believing that all people everywhere have the right to inherit and develop their intellectual, emotional, material, spiritual, and cultural traditions.

We affirm the basic human right to free expression.

We promote active participation in cultural life.

We honor and respect the creativity and diversity of traditions and people around the world.

We recognize that collaboration is essential to our work, and we relish both the knowledge and relationships that are born from it.

We spark the curiosity that leads to learning and wonder.

We continually strive for greater understanding—often exploring complex issues.

We pursue excellence in our work, recognizing that it takes many forms.

We cherish intercultural dialogue and exchange as a key pathway to discovery, affirmation, personal growth, and transformation.

We are committed to innovation in our work.

We value the cultural memory recorded in our collections.

Goal 1


Goal 1: Lead the global community of cultural heritage professionals and scholars in building cultural understanding

Connect people through diverse cultural experiences


Goal 2: Connect people through diverse cultural experiences

Goal 3: Champion cultural vitality in diverse communities


Goal 3: Champion cultural vitality in diverse communities

Goal 4: Increase organizational capacity to achieve our mission


Goal 4: Increase organizational capacity to achieve our mission

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