Cross programs are performances, demonstrations, workshops, or narrative sessions that bring together participants from the different programs at the Festival. Each Festival usually has three programs so there are many opportunities to create sessions where artists can compare their traditions and share their stories with others. These rich exchanges can be around music, dance, ritual ceremonies, crafts, or occupations, and are usually organized around themes such as issues, particular cultures, or styles. An issue may be the sustainability of a tradition. Aculturally oriented theme could be African rhythms in dance. A style could be coiled pottery.
The Colombia program featured a session with the Peace Corps program, which brought together weavers and potters from the Andean Highlands in Colombia and Peru. The Rhythm and Blues program featured a very moving voice workshop with alabao (sacred praise) singers from the Colombian Pacific Rainforest and women singers with the Funk Brothers from Detroit. In addition to singing together, they shared stories about family and music in their community.
A presenter will frame the theme for the session and begin to ask questions to help the artists become acquainted with each other and feel at ease. Because these are cross program, it is important for the presenter to:
- Briefly describe the two programs and their main themes
- Offer commentary to underscore what participants say and take conversation to a deeper level
- Pick up on details in stories and encourage participants to explain
- Ask for examples or demonstrations and follow up with commentary on how these expand on theme