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A Short History of the Folk Alliance

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 compared to how this formational meeting has 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 included representatives of major U.S. and Canadian festivals, societies and businesses. They 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.

Our international conferences, held each February, have become the annual “town hall” of the folk community. Nearly 2000 of our 2400 members attend each year to conduct business, connect with their peers, and simply recharge their batteries for the coming year.

The folk music and dance community can now count on coming together, face to face, every year. Before Folk Alliance was formed, this never happened. Now it has become the way we do business.