New York State’s living cultural heritage of folk arts thrives among all of our cultural communities. Defined as traditional cultural expressions through which a group maintains and passes on its shared way of life, folk arts express a group’s sense of beauty, identity, and values. They are usually learned informally through performance, by example, or in oral tradition among families, friends, neighbors and co-workers rather than through formal education. Never static, folk arts change as they are adapted to new circumstances, with traditional artists creating innovations within the conventions of their traditions that are recognized by other community members.
The Folk Arts Program aims to safeguard and revitalize the folk arts within the communities where they originate and to broaden opportunities to experience these traditions among general audiences. NYSCA supports concerts, exhibitions, residencies, lecture/demonstrations and other formats for presenting traditional performing arts, narrative and material culture.