The business model of FolkLife is not unlike National Public Radio, podcasts, blogs and other forms of new media, in which consumers are asked to pay what they can. And last weekend, many did and quite happily so. Yes, the Northwest FolkLife Festival had plenty of corporate and sponsor logos hung behind the portable stages set up around Seattle Center, but there was nothing too cliche, gauche or done in poor taste. Instead of being a venue where visitors are bombarded by ad campaigns as so many festivals have become, FolkLife is an oasis from it, and shows good form in keeping with its mission: Serving the ethnic, traditional and folk arts communities of the Northwest.
People spoke to one another and nary an iPod or cell phone was in sight. Perhaps its greatest achievement is in its welcoming of the poor and huddled buskers who hitchhike or bus their way into Seattle, throw a hat on the ground and without any hassle by someone in an authoritative windbreaker, sing for their supper. This sort of freedom of expression has become rare, but FolkLife breathes life into it.[[In-content Ad]]