Folkmoot festival inspires Waynesville leaders to restore town funding

After oscillating on how much money to give Folkmoot USA during annual budget machinations last month, Waynesville town leaders have revisited the issue and upwardly revised their contribution.

Folkmoot historically got $10,000 to help with its general operating costs. But town leaders initially decided to cut that funding — in exchange for a $25,000 grant toward Folkmoot’s goal of transforming its headquarters at the old Hazelwood Elementary School to a year-round community center.

But last week, the town board reversed that decision and will now give Folkmoot the standing $10,000 contribution for operating costs regardless of the additional grant funding for the capital campaign.

Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown brought it up at the town meeting, saying that he realized in hindsight he was wrong to cut Folkmoot’s funding. 

“I let this one slide,” Brown said. “I realized at the end of the day we need to fund the annual operating expenditure.”

The rest of the town board agreed.

It’s no coincidence that the discussion came in the thick of the international folk dance and music extravaganza, which wrapped up last weekend. Performing troupes from around the globe use Waynesville as their home base while performing throughout the region, and Brown was reminded while taking in Folkmoot shows why it was a valuable thing for the town to support.

As for the town’s capital campaign donation to Folkmoot, it isn’t a shoe-in yet. While the town board has set aside $25,000 for it, only $5,000 will be released initially, said Town Manager Marcy Oneial.

To get the rest, Folkmoot has to come back to the town board with a more formal renovation plan for the old Hazelwood School.

“It is like saying here is your allowance but this trip you want to take to Europe you are going to have to work for that one,” Brown said.

Folkmoot is engaged in a visioning process to transition its signature summer international dance and music festival into a more year-round presence, with the old Hazelwood School being the center.

“They have got to recreate themselves. We need to understand overall what Folkmoot will be going forward,” Brown said.

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