Guidelines at a Glance: Folk Arts

Photo courtesy of the Kunqu Society, a FY17 Folk Arts grantee receiving funding to present four performances to introduce the Kunqu performing art to the public, performed by the Kunqu Society artists, guest artists and students of the Kunqu Workshop.

The NYSCA staff works hard to ensure that our grant guidelines are as thorough as possible, answering crucial questions that may come up during the application period and providing step-by-step instructions with photos to ease the process. However, we recognize that it may be useful to have a quick overview of what kinds of projects are eligible in each category, in addition to the full guidelines.

For this purpose, we have created Guidelines-at-a-Glance. Every day for the next three weeks, we will share one entry summarizing one of the 15 NYSCA Programs open for application. At the end of this period, we will also share a document compiling all the Guidelines-at-a-Glance. In addition to eligible projects listed, programs except Facilities and Individual Artists offer General Operating Support.

Today, we focus on Folk Arts:

What are Folk Arts?

Folk arts are traditional cultural expressions practiced within and among ethnic, regional, occupational and religious communities as well as other kinds of groups. They are usually learned informally through performance, by example or in oral traditions and maintained over time among families, friends, neighbors and co-workers rather than formal education. The practice of folk arts stems from birthright, community membership or direct participation in the life of a community. Never static, folk arts change as artists create innovations recognized by other community members and as traditions are adapted to new circumstances while maintaining their traditional qualities.

Program Priorities Include:

  • Both projects designed to safeguard traditions within communities and programming that enable audiences to experience traditions of other cultures are supported
  • Development of projects in close consultation and collaboration with the communities and artists whose traditions are to be presented. Support is not available for programming involving artists who appropriate, interpret, or revive the traditions of other communities.
  • Presentations grounded in the traditional modes of practicing folk art are encouraged. The Folk Arts Program does not support programming involving choreography, theatricalization, or stylization that substantially alters traditions.
  • Professional direction through folklorists, ethnomusicologists, or other appropriate staff consultants for program development, field research to document artists, interpretation and the production of presentations for general audiences.
  • Interpretive practices that aid appreciation and understanding of a tradition’s meaning and contexts, especially for unfamiliar art forms. These may include program booklets or other publications, websites, lecture/demonstrations, spoken introductions to performances, and/or interpretive signage to aid appreciation and understanding of a tradition’s meaning and contexts.

Funding Categories Most Relevant to New Applicants:

Project Support (may include field research expenses)

Supports concerts, performances, visual arts, exhibitions, festivals, lectures, demonstrations, residencies, oral narrative programs of traditional folk arts.

Folk Arts Apprenticeships (up to $5,000; includes up to $500 in administrative costs)

    1. Provide individuals experienced in a folk art with opportunities to study with master folk artists from their own community
    2. Funding priority is for the master’s fee.
    3. Priority is given to apprenticeships involving the transmission of traditions no longer widely practiced

Technical Assistance

  • Available to any individual or organization engaged in or planning folk arts programs in New York State.
  • Encompasses diverse formats for technical assistance, including both short-term and long-term consulting, visits to the consultant’s organization to observe activities, and assistance for master folk artists to advise other artists. Support is provided to attend conferences and meetings in New York State, observe exemplary programs, and interact with colleagues.
  • Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis.

For technical assistance, contact: New York Folklore Society/ nyfs@folklore.org/518 346-7008

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