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Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage announces Marketplace Internship

Posted on January 8, 2014 by in The OFI Blog



Marketplace Internship

Each year, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) brings artists and tradition bearers from around the world to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to present their culture and community traditions through music, dance, ceremony, crafts, occupational skills, food, and more. The two week Smithsonian Folklife Festival is one of the largest cultural events in the United States, often drawing more than one million visitors to engage directly with the participants who have been invited. In 2014 the Festival will focus on Kenya and China, as CFCH curators work closely with Kenyan and Chinese partners to tell a unique story about each country and celebrate their cultural heritage.

The Festival Marketplace is a unique shop where cultural expression and quality craftsmanship are valued over uniformity and mass productivity. The artistic sensibility, techniques, and choice of materials used by the artisans are informed by their cultural backgrounds and individual aesthetic preferences. As a result, each piece tells a rich story of community and identity. The Marketplace extends the appreciation of cultural heritage beyond the National Mall and into the homes of Festival attendees. By purchasing handmade items, Festival attendees support tradition bearers by honoring their work and their commitment to transmitting cultural knowledge to future generations.

This internship is an opportunity for students to learn about and actively educate visitors about the relationship between craft traditions and commerce. Selected interns will learn about the Festival programs and participants, and receive training in the weeks leading up to the Festival. During the Festival, interns will work in the Marketplace to help visitors understand more about Marketplace products and make important connections back to the participants and traditions on the Mall.

Responsibilities and activities will include:

– Background reading to better understand the context of the Festival

– Assisting in development of content for collateral materials, marketing, blog posts, social media, etc.

– Attending training to learn about the participants and their skills, materials, and the contexts of craft sold in the Marketplace and featured on the Mall

– Serving as a connection point for visitors in the Marketplace by answering questions about products and offering contexts that relate back to the experience on the Mall

– Converting visitor experiences in the Marketplace to sales opportunities

Preferred candidates will have some combination of the following knowledge and skills:

– Excellent communication skills

– Demonstrated interest in crafts, ethical fashion, fair trade, cultural heritage

– Working knowledge of Kenya or China (previous in-country experience a plus)

– Coursework completed in relevant areas: cultural studies, fashion/retail merchandising, social entrepreneurship

– Experience in sales/retail

Intern will learn:

– Processes and systems involved with setting up and running Marketplace

– Stories and relevant background about artisans, processes, and relationship to the Festival

– How to convey stories effectively to consumers

– The relationship between storytelling and marketing

This unpaid internship will take place in Washington, D.C., for approximately two months, starting around June 1, 2014. Interns must work a minimum of 20 hours per week before and after the Festival, and full-time during the Festival (June 25–July 6). Please apply through the online internship application at https://solaa.si.edu and specify the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. You will be asked to upload supporting material such as an essay and resume. For additional information about our Center and its activities, please see our Web site at www.folklife.si.edu