Folk Alliance International
Folk Alliance International (previously the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance) is a non-profit organization that sponsors an annual conference that is an industry focal point for folk music and dance, based in Kansas City, Missouri. As of 2006, the Alliance had a membership of approximately 2000, and a budget of $800,000 USD, and is one of the five largest music conferences in North America.
In 1989, Clark and Elaine Weissman and the California Traditional Music Society invited presenters and business people to a retreat in Malibu, California to discuss formation of a coalition of folk organizers. In 1990, a steering committee approved a set of bylaws that officially formed the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance.
Folk Alliance International
Folk Alliance International (FAI) is now the official name of the former North American Folk Music & Dance Alliance. Their headquarters have resided in Memphis, TN since 2007, but they have announced plans to move their headquarters to Kansas City for their conference in 2014. Every so often Folk Alliance holds its conference in Canada, so they will be in Toronto, Canada for 2013 during the transition. Louis Meyers, one of SXSW’s founders, has been the Executive Director of Folk Alliance International since 2005. Memphis native Cindy Cogbill is the Managing Director/Conference Director. With over 2800 members worldwide and an annual conference that is one of the five largest music conferences in North America, Folk Alliance continues to grow and mature while providing a unique range of member services, including services like an FAI Group Exemption Umbrella, an FAI/PRO House Concert Agreement Program and Visa Writing Services. They also offer to their members special discounts with various companies, many of which related to folk music, dance, and related events, services and instruments.
Folk Alliance has five regional affiliates that provide the grass roots efforts in their respective markets. Folk Alliance’s mission statement is as follows: “Folk Alliance International exists to foster and promote traditional, contemporary, and multicultural folk music and dance and related performing arts. The Folk Alliance seeks to strengthen and advance organizational and individual initiatives in folk music and dance through education, networking, advocacy, and professional and field development.” FAI also defines 'folk' as “anything rooted in tradition, indigenous to one's culture. Their organization consists of a large variety of songwriters, story tellers, bluegrass, blues, soul, world music, spoken word, zydeco,” etc.
The International Folk Alliance conference is an annual event that draws together music industry professionals from throughout the world to share ideas, network, and celebrate traditional music and dance. Held over five days, the Conference includes a keynote speaker, awards shows, over 1750 registered attendees, over 50 workshops, over 100 industry exhibitors, 200 official juried performances, and private showcases held in the hotel rooms through the late night hours.
- "What the Folk? For the Sake of the Song: Folk Alliance 2006", Austin Chronicle, February 10, 2006
- A Short History of the Folk Alliance, from their official site
- North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance official site
- The Never-Ending Revival: Rounder Records and the Folk Alliance by Michael F. Scully (University of Illinois Press, 2008)