WASHINGTON, D.C. – Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Ohio State Chair Ara Bagdasarian hosted a presentation by Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Director of Special Projects Halle Butvin, entitled “Armenia On The National Mall: How A Festival Was Brought To Life” at an event organized in partnership with the Assembly, the Armenian Cultural Association, and St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Church of Richmond Heights. She spoke to a packed room of St. Gregory of Narek parishioners and Cleveland-based Armenian Americans on the Smithsonian’s successful “Armenia: Creating Home” cultural experience during the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
“I would like to especially thank Halle Butvin for doing a wonderful job introducing Armenian culture and history at the Festival, and sharing that experience with us back here in her home state,” Assembly’s Ohio State Chair Ara Bagdasarian said. “The Cleveland Armenian community was inspired and proud to hear Halle’s presentation on ‘Armenia: Creating Home,’ with some guests even expressing tears of joy. Those who could not attend the Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. this summer had the opportunity to feel the magnitude and excitement created by the Festival and the Armenian volunteers, and for that we are grateful,” he added.
The Festival, which the Assembly was proud to co-sponsor, drew more than 750,000 visitors, and featured over 100 musicians, dancers, artisans, winemakers, and cooks from Armenia. Following her presentation, there was a lively Q&A session with those in attendance.
Butvin shared a behind-the-scenes look into the different Armenian cultural, musical, and food exhibits that were on display at the Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. She told moving stories of how the event was put together and her important role in making it a reality. Butvin, who travelled to Armenia numerous times, was one of the curators of the Festival.
At the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Butvin is responsible for expanding the reach of cultural sustainability work around the world, designing collaborative projects to support communities, safeguard their heritage, promote cultural expression, and elevate cultural practices to improve local economies. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she spent ten years designing and implementing impact-driven international development programs in East Africa and Asia, ranging from democracy and governance to biodiversity conservation and economic growth. She is a native of Northeast Ohio, and was accompanied at St. Gregory Church by her family.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.