The Richmond Folk Festival is now one of Virginia’s largest and most anticipated events of the year. The Festival strives to present the very finest traditional artists from across the nation. In making its selections, a local Programming Committee is guided by the following definition, which is the guide for the National Council for Traditional Arts and the National Folk Festival, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts:
FOLK & TRADITIONAL ARTS – a definition
The folk and traditional arts are rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community. Community members may share a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These vital and constantly reinvigorated artistic traditions are shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice. Genres of artistic activity include, but are not limited to, music, dance, crafts, and oral expression.
- National Endowment for the Arts
How to be a performer at the First Richmond Folk Festival
Applications for 2019 are now closed. Please check back in early December for information about applying to perform at the 2020 Richmond Folk Festival.
Programming discussions take place from November to May with most programming decisions complete by June 1st prior to the year's festival. If you're interested in performing, please see the submission process below. All artists must follow this process.
Preferred artist submission for the Richmond Folk Festival is electronically through Sonicbids.
Please include audio (required) and video samples biographical information and press materials.
Artists may still submit hard materials directly to the festival at:
Richmond Folk Festival
c/o Venture Richmond
200 S 3rd St
Richmond VA, 23219
All materials received will be logged in, and will receive preliminary review to assess the quality, authenticity and appropriateness. Qualified submissions will be brought before the programming committee for further consideration. No materials will be returned. Artists will not be contacted unless the festival is interested in pursuing festival performance possibilities.
After the local programming committee reviews and recommends performers to the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the professional staff of the NCTA will make selections based on the highest standards of quality and representation of the cultural traditions represented by the various performers.
The NCTA staff is composed of persons who are trained in music, history and folklore, have many years of experience in organizing and staging festivals, and most are also musicians (though they do not perform at the festival). This staff attends other festivals and events, and many concerts every year, and does original fieldwork in seeking musicians and crafts people.
Every recording and video and every bio sent to the festival is seen, heard, and carefully considered. Many hundred of hours are invested in this work, and no single person makes the decisions.
Quality and authenticity are the primary selection criteria employed by those who sort the applications and sit on the Programming Committee. As regards authenticity, the festival's approach to programming focuses on presenting arts passed down through time in families, communities, tribal, ethnic, religious, regional and occupational groups.
We present artists who are firmly rooted in the community from which their music derives, rather than "interpreters" of tradition, such as contemporary singer-songwriters or "revivalist" performance groups, however accomplished they may be. Beyond that, there is an attempt to be inclusive in terms of race, ethnicity, and region. While the festival strives to include artists that reflect traditions associated with the host community and region, all applicants are held to the same standards.
Of course, any festival with just 24 performing groups cannot be fully representative of the vast variety of folk artistry in the nation every year. But over the years, this event has dealt with the regions and cultures of the nation with fairness.
Finally, any event that deals with applications and solicitations from upwards of 1,100 performing groups and selects 24 is certain to decline several hundred very fine groups. Those who organize the festival regret this, and solicit understanding and goodwill from all who choose to involve themselves in this process.