At the close of the 2014 AWSF meeting in Logan, I got a lift to the Salt Lake City airport with a carful of young folklorists newly emerging into the field. For some, this was their first AWSF meeting, and talking about what we had all seen, heard, felt, tried, achieved, and wanted out of the gathering gave me a fresh perspective on this experience – my fourth gathering.  Below is just the first of four topics I captured from our talk on the plane ride home:

What is the purpose of this group and our meetings? The group was founded in the early 1980s to meet the needs of its members, Public Sector Folklorists.  While the core values and skills of this field remain relatively consistent, needs of the group have changed in accordance with other changes in the field and the nation over the last 30 years: funding streams, career opportunities, growing interest in/use of our methods by new practitioners and other fields, media formats, administrative homes and structures, to name a few. While the founding members’ original needs were to share best practices and build skills particular to the work of Folk and Traditional Arts Coordinators (public folklorists) working in State Arts Agencies, new members are seeking creative solutions for entering a field with limited job opportunities, accessing funds from new sectors, getting creative about partnerships, and helping out with policy and advocacy – issues that may not have previously existed when the field was first evolving and had more secure public funds. 
Here are some questions I am left with: Are the current needs of founding members the same as or different than they were at the outset of AWSF? Are they the same as or different than emerging professionals in the field?  How can we meet the needs of all/most attendees?
Thanks to all who participated in the annual meeting.  Thanks to WESTAF for continuing to fund our gatherings and for increasing those resources so that we can bring emerging  professionals into our discussions. Please share your thoughts…