by Sam Hieb
….And we’re talking the audience, not the performers—which were a very diverse mix— according to an op-ed by Gboro resident Anya Russian:
The diversity of music traditions and performances at the 2017 National Folk Festival was a feast for the ears and spirit. The three-day event brought strangers together in shared enjoyment, and hopefully, recognition of how enriching and indispensable the arts are to our community.
However, I couldn’t help but notice that the same diversity in the musical lineup and cultural performances wasn’t nearly as evident in the crowds. Though many African-Americans and members of Greensboro’s international community attended, the festival seemed to draw a predominantly white — mostly middle- and upper-class — or student crowd. The adjacent community of east Greensboro seemed remarkably under-represented despite the festival’s free entry and the availability of free public transportation. What a shame that those who are most often deprived of access to the arts for some reason either choose not to attend or do not feel welcome.
Unfortunately, this marked disjuncture is the norm for many of Greensboro’s social and cultural events. It reveals the persistence of historically segregated communities and our willingness to accept this divide. At multicultural forums like the festival, it does seem fitting to ask why self-selecting audiences continue to fill the crowd and what, if anything, we might do to change this.
As commenter accurately noted, “If they chose not to attend, that is their choice.” That is absolutely the truth regarding the National Folk Festival–I would venture to say there is absolutely nothing preventing anyone from attending, given Free entry and free transportation. This is excellent insight into the liberal mindset—“free” is just not enough.