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BRIEF: A weekend of culture with Allied Arts

Experience songs, dances, stories from different cultural groups

A graphic depicts the title of an upcoming cultural arts festival in Bellingham Wash., created on March 8, 2023. The Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival will highlight a few different cultural communities in town over the course of three days. // Graphic by Sophie Bechkowiak

If you have lived in Bellingham for a while, you have probably noticed that most of the people who live here are white — 82% to be exact. Some of the cultures that do have presence in town make up a small portion of the population, but aren’t any less significant. 

To highlight these cultural communities, the Allied Arts of Whatcom County is hosting their sixth annual Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival in partnership with the Port of Bellingham. The festival takes place March 10 to 12 from 12 to 6 p.m. at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. 

Bellingham is steadily changing, growing every year by 1.13% or about a thousand people. With the rapid growth of Bellingham’s population, there is more opportunity for the community to become more culturally diverse than it is currently, growing existing cultural communities or adding entirely new ones.

“With our changing population here in the county, we wanted to have an all-inclusive festival to celebrate the diverse cultures in our community,” said Kelly Hart, director of the Allied Arts Whatcom County.

The three-day event will showcase a vast range of performances such as dance, music and storytelling. Entertainment includes different styles of Native American and Mezo American style flute, as well as Chinese poetry and song, along with Asian performing arts. 

In addition to the performances, there will be a variety of art vendors such as traditional-style Japanese calligraphy and Coast Salish original cedar carvings. To round out the event, there will be a handful of food options to experience, like waffles that are inspired by global cuisines. 

“The Allied Arts is really working to be inclusive and supportive of our diverse communities and the arts are a great way to do that, as far as celebrating their cultures, their arts and music and food,” Hart said.

The cultural arts festival is free, accessible and open to all ages. You can find more information here.

Sophie Bechkowiak

Sophie Bechkowiak (she/her) is writing for the opinion beat at The Front this quarter. She is in her fourth year at Western working towards a journalism news/editorial major and a philosophy minor. On her days off she enjoys thrifting, art, watching documentaries and goofing around with friends. 

You can reach her at  

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