Folk Arts

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.  

Image: Traditional Guyanese pre-wedding Kweh Kweh Ceremony at the St. Stephen’s Church (Brooklyn) by the Guyanese Cultural Association of New York, Photo by Anna Mulé and provided by Brooklyn Arts Council Folk Arts program.
Program Goals
Maintain the vitality of traditions through transmission to new generations and programming in local venues
Create opportunities for folk artists to present their art to new audiences with appropriate compensation
Develop regional and county-wide programs that document folk arts, produce programs for diverse audiences and provide services to artists
Expand awareness and understanding of New York State’s folk life
Foster the documentation of traditions through field research to identify and record practitioners
Funding Categories
General Operating Support
Project Support
Folk Arts Apprenticeships
Regional and County Folk Arts Programs
Regrants and Partnerships

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