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Abbreviated Smithsonian Folklife Festival to focus on local music this year

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 6/20/2019 Andi Wenck

WASHINGTON -- The Smithsonian Folklife Festival -- a celebration of contemporary living art and culture -- is going to be a little different this summer. 

The usual 10 day event has been replaced with a much shorter, two day program, focusing on the power of music in the Washington, D.C., metro area. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 29 to June 30.

The Smithsonian previously said the scale back is because of scheduling delays due in part to the 35-day federal government shutdown.

“Changing this year’s scope and scale enabled us to respond to a shortened production window and to continue our long-standing tradition of cultural exchange, exploration and engagement on the National Mall,” Sabrina Lynn Motley, director of the Folklife Festival, said. “The theme of this year’s Festival is the social power of music. Performances and activities will explore music’s capacity to promote understanding, transcend differences and encourage social cohesion.”

Despite this year's changes, the Folklife Festival will still take place on the National Mall. Jefferson Drive will be closed to traffic between Seventh and 12th streets.

Outdoor concerts will be held on the Mall near the Smithsonian Metro station on Saturday, June 29. And from 6 to 10 p.m., Grammy-nominated electro-hip-hop rapper Kokayi and rapper, producer and spoken-word artist Ruby Ibarra will be performing. Additional concerts honoring the life and legacy of Pete Seeger will be held on the plaza in front of the Freer Gallery of Art on Sunday, June 30, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Additional family activities will include percussion workshops and community sing-alongs. 

The Folklife Festival will resume its typical 10 day format in 2020. Next year's event will focus on cultural awareness and adaptation and include programs from Brazil, Benin, Cuba, D.C., Louisiana and the United Arab Emirates. 

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