Looking Back on Where We've Been...
In 1989, 125 people from across the continent traveled to a retreat in Malibu, California, to begin discussions on the formation of a coalition of folk organizers. Invited by Clark and Elaine Weissman and the California Traditional Music Society, they were major presenters and small folk societies, people who’d done business across the continent, but who’d never met face to face. The earthquake that rocked southern California just days before the event was nothing in comparison to how this formational meeting changed the way that the folk music and dance presenters, performers, agents, managers, media, and record companies do business in North America.
A steering committee formed in Malibu and included members of the Philadelphia Folksong Society, Sing Out!, the Vancouver Folk Festival, Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, the California Traditional Music Society, Winston-Salem's Fiddle and Bow Society, International Bluegrass Music Association, Augusta Heritage Center, Woods Music and Dance Camp, Folk Legacy Records, Fox Valley Folklore Society, and Calliope House. The committee worked for a year to craft a set of bylaws and, when the community gathered in Philadelphia in January of 1990, those bylaws were approved and the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance was officially born.
In 2008 the organization’s name changed to Folk Alliance International to address and embrace international opportunities for North American members and the growing list of international members and delegates.
Early advocacy efforts contributed to preserving and acquiring permanent authorization for the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. FAI offers a business directory for delegates, and a non-profit group exemption program for U.S.-based organizations. Strategic partnerships with allied organizations are sought to increase support of the arts on a grassroots and international level.
Recent advocacy efforts have included addressing issues related to obtaining visas for international touring, a Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) agreement on behalf of house concert presenters, the release of a white paper on Copyright and Royalties, and a tip sheet for artists traveling by air with instruments.
FAI’s annual international professional development and networking conference is the world’s largest gathering of the Folk music community and industry with over 2500 delegates.
1. Education - To increase understanding of the rich variety, artistic value, cultural and historical significance, and continuing relevance of folk music and dance among educators, media, and the general public.
2. Networking - To provide a bridge to and from folk music and dance organizations and needed resources, and to help those organizations link with their constituencies.
3. Advocacy - To influence decision makers and resource providers on the national, state, provincial, and local levels, insuring the growth of folk music and dance.
4. Field Development - To support and encourage the development of new and existing grassroots folk music and dance organizations.
5. Professional Development - To strengthen the effectiveness of folk music and dance organizations by providing professional development opportunities.
6. Consumer Development - To build a stronger consumer base by identifying and involving current and potential folk music consumers and players through programs, marketing, and outreach.
FAI's International Headquarters is presently located at:
509 Delaware St. Unit 101, Kansas City, MO, 64105.
The annual conference takes place in a city and at a time designated by the Board of Directors and is currently in Kansas City, MO, USA up to and including the 2018 conference, after which it will return to Canada for one year.