June 17, 2010

Non-Native performers at cultural festival

Artifest expands reach of Museum of Indian Culture

By Kathy Lauer-WilliamsFor the first time in its 30-year history, the Museum of Indian Culture in Allentown's Lehigh Parkway is holding a cultural festival featuring many performers and artists who are not native American.

The museum, known for its annual Roasting Ears of Corn Festival in August, is presenting Artifest, which celebrates all of the different cultures in the community.

"We felt the museum's 30th year was a time to connect and celebrate the community," says museum executive director Pat Rivera. "This is our way of giving back."

The festival features more than 150 artists and performers, from Columbian drummers to medieval archers.

See the Mad Mechanicals, a Shakespeare parody troupe. The Bucket Youngsters, a group of Philadelphia teens who play percussion on trash cans, will invite children to join them, and Jack Mickeivicz will demonstrate how to make pottery out of mud.

There will be plenty of Native American artists and performers as well.
Comment:  Purists may disagree with the idea of non-Native performers at a Native festival, but I think it's worth exploring. These performers will show the similarities between Native and non-Natives arts. They'll create a multicultural environment where audiences can enjoy a range of experiences. People will see that Native artists and performers are no different from anyone else. That can only increase their acceptance when the non-Natives are gone.

For more on Native festivals, see Irene Bedard at Flint Festival and Montreal's First People's Festival.

Below:  "Matt Vasallo of Allentown, eats fire at his home in Allentown. He performs in the Freak Out Festival in downtown Allentown." (Michael Kubel, The Morning Call)

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