About Us

CIOFF UK – National Section

What is CIOFF?

International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts: CIOFF® (Conseil international des organisations de festivals de folklore et d’arts traditionnels) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) in Official Partnership with UNESCO and is accredited to provide advice to the Committee of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Created in 1970, with our flagship festival, Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance (BIFF) as one of its founder members, the duty of CIOFF® is the safeguarding, promotion and diffusion of traditional culture and folklore. Today, CIOFF® worldwide membership covers 112 countries, with its headquarters being in Confolens, France.

Here at CIOFF UK, as a National Section, we aim to preserve traditional art, to organise Folklore Festivals or similar activities, as well as uniting voluntary organisations working in the field of dance, music, costumes, customs and ethnography.

The National Sections of CIOFF® belong to sectors in the organisation according to their geographic location. CIOFF® is also a member of the International Music Council.

UK Founder Member

Councillor Jim Tatchell was one of the seven founder members of CIOFF® on that auspicious day in Confolens back in August 1970, where the constitution was agreed.

A former senior electrical engineer with ICI, Jim was Chairman of the Billingham Folklore Festival, being also Chairman of Leisure on Teesside Borough Council at that time. Despite moving to Italy in the 1980s, he always timed his visits home to attend the events. In later years, he was made an Honorary Alderman of Stockton Borough Council.

Worldwide Members

Affiliation to CIOFF® Sector 2021

African Sector – 26

Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Central Africa, Comoros, Congo RDC, Egypt, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sierra Leone, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Asian and the Pacific Sector – 26

Bangladesh, China, Chinese Taipei, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Jordan Kingdom, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tahiti, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan

Central and North European Sector – 25

Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

North American Sector – 3

Canada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, USA

Latin American and Caribbean Sector – 15

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico

South European Sector – 17 Albania,

Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, North Macedonia, France, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, AKV Kemajl Azizi from Kosovo, International Folk Dance and Folk Art Festival Association from North Cyprus.

UK Members

The past few years have had a catastrophic effect on the arts with many festivals, fairs and concerts being postponed or even cancelled altogether; however, as of January 2022, CIOFF UK has 2 Festival Members, 2 Organisations, 9 groups and 6 Individuals as official members, with more in the pipeline! We are very excited to be rebuilding our membership after the restrictions of the pandemic as well as re-establishing our ties and reciprocal membership with other NGOs within the UK.