New York State Folklore Covid-19 Relief Fund

New York State Folklore Covid-19 Relief Fund

New York Folklore is raising money to benefit the “New York State Folklore Covid-19 Relief Fund.”  Your donations will make an impact. We hope to raise $10,000 by June 1, 2020 to assist folk and traditional artists with emergency grants.

The Initiative:

With the money raised, New York Folklore is awarding one-time grants of up to $500 to New York State’s  folk, traditional and community-based artists impacted by Covid-19.  Grants will help with specific short term financial needs (food, assistance with medical bills, rent, etc). This initiative is for all New York State residents and is an expansion of the New York City-based Folk Artists Covid-19 Relief Fund by The Center for Arts, Tradition, and Cultural Heritage (C.A.T.C.H.).  C.A.T.C.H.  has already raised significant funds and is now opening the application phase of their New York City-based initiative. Information on the New York City initiative for Covid-19 Relief can be found below.

Please join me today by donating to our emergency fund. Donate HERE

The Need:

Folk and traditional artists are some of the individuals who have been most financially affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing.  While folk and traditional artists do not usually rely upon their art as their sole means of support, folk and traditional artists have experienced economic hardship due to the cancellation of community and public events, as well as the loss of revenue from art sales. In many cases, this loss is in addition to the loss of their primary income through restaurant and retail closings, furlough, etc. – which causes a two-fold impact on many artists’ livelihoods. Those tradition bearers who reflect already economically marginalized communities – Native communities, immigrants, and refugee communities – may not be in line for assistance by other Covid-19 relief funds.  Our fund will specifically target artists from marginalized and at-risk communities.

For emergency funding specific to New York City, follow this link:

May 2020: 20 Folk Artists/20 Days

May 2020: 20 Folk Artists/20 Days

On May 1, 2020, New York Folklore and folklore programs across New York State will launch a collaboration to present traditional arts and culture from throughout New York State. Each weekday in May, from 4:00 -4:30 p.m., traditional arts activities will be presented through a livestream from New York Folklore’s Facebook page:

“May 2020: 20 Folk Artists/20 Days” amplifies the artistic excellence found within New York’s communities. To view this daily initiative, simply tune in to New York Folklore’s Facebook page each weekday in May from 4:00 – 4:30 p.m. to experience a free, live-streamed event by one of New York State’s folk artists or tradition bearers.

The initiative showcases the artistic excellence and diversity of traditional arts and culture in New York State. Folk arts and cultural expressions are nurtured and perpetuated within communities. They are shared by those who have common regional affiliations, ethnic heritage, occupations, avocational interests, gender, and many other identifiers of interconnection. Artistic excellence is determined by a shared community aesthetic with innovation occurring within the bounds of the interests and concerns of the shared community.

Partners:  Coordinating and partnering organizations from throughout New York State include the following:   New York State Fiddlers Hall of Fame, Glow Traditions, Long Island Traditions, Los Pleneros de la 21, Arts Mid-Hudson, Brooklyn Arts Council, Arts Westchester, Center for Traditional Music and Dance, Rochester Institute of Technology, and The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE). Presenting folklorists and cultural scholars include Karen Canning, Andrew Cowell, Hannah Davis, Julia Gutíerrez-Rivera, Elinor Levy, Jorge Arévalo Mateus, Ellen McHale, Chris Mulé, Aaron Paige, Naomi Sturm-Wijesinghe, Emily Socolov, Valerie Walawender, and Christine Zinni.

Altered States of Place

Altered States of Place

The “places” that are important to us are currently in a state of re-definition.  As we experience social distancing to address the Covid-19 pandemic, our work spaces and our personal spaces are now one and the same.  My kitchen table – that place where pies are fashioned and family dinners are shared – is now a two-person office replete with dueling laptop computers.  The separation of work and personal – that idea of work/life balance – has been upended as our working lives and personal lives have become more closely intertwined.  In many ways, we have returned to that pre-industrial, agricultural past, when families toiled together within the home space towards the shared goal of family economic stability.  Like the farming community that surrounds me, my waking hours are no longer regulated by the ringing of an alarm clock but rather by the rays of sunlight that come through my window in the morning.

It is important for people to develop a sense of place.  We situate ourselves within the natural and social worlds and we form our identities through the intersections that we find there.   “Place” informs us.  It shapes our culture and our sense of being.  We belong to places and we fashion our identities through the places that we inhabit.

As we struggle to reshape the everyday, our places are shown into sharper focus.  When we return to what is “normalcy” – and that moment will come- we need to keep our heightened awareness of ourselves in situ.  What have we noticed about our places and what about our places sustained us?  For me, I will want to retain the calm that comes through a road without traffic, the ability to hop up from where I am sitting to take a hike through the nearby nature preserve, and the connections I feel to my family and neighbors who are similarly impacted by our social distancing.  We need to remember this moment so that when we return to our places of work, we bring our place-based sensibilities with us.

Covid-19 Relief  – Some Resources (This is a frequently edited post)

Covid-19 Relief – Some Resources (This is a frequently edited post)

Are you affected by the loss of income from the shut-down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?  The following is a list of some resources that may help you in this troubling time.  Thank you to those non-profit leaders who have compiled much of this information that I am sharing with you.

Governmental Resources

Other Resources for support and Information from and for the Non-profit Sector:

Resources for Artists who are affected:

Especially for Indigenous Artists:

Resources compiled by the New York Foundation for the Arts.  This is a comprehensive list that is nationwide and also segments support by discipline:

Resources specific to New York City

A number of Organizations and Agencies are compiling information on how the COVID-19 Pandemic is affecting individuals and non-profits.  Let them know how you are affected:

1. Americans for the Arts, Survey for Individual Artists:
 2. Americans for the Arts, Survey for Organizations:
3.  New York State Council on the Arts:

Resources specific to Folk Arts/Folklorists: compiled by the American Folklore Society at

Vermont Folklife Center’s Virtual Story Circles: Includes more information on virtual story circles and a reservation form to participate in Virtual Story Circles (if you are from or in Vermont), and as well as a guide on how to host your own virtual story circles:

Virginia Folklife Program’s TRAIN: Teachers of Remote Arts Instruction Network: Online resources for teaching traditional arts online developed by the Virginia Folklife Program:

Learning Locally: Creative Responses Across the Nation in a Time of COVID-19: Local Learning is aggregating resources (folk arts organizations and materials) that “make local learning visible and preserving a wide-ranging array of folk artistry,” presented in a regional map:

Alliance for California Traditional Arts’ Shelter Together: A live video series that will feature performances by traditional artists from California every Wednesday and Friday at noon:

Vermont Folklife Center’s Listening in Place Project: Listening in Place is a new initiative that will result in the creation of a crowd-sourced sound archive to document the daily experiences during the pandemic and a series of online Virtual Story Circles for Vermonters:

American Folklife Center’s Field Surveys (1977–1998): a story map exploring the AFC’s online collections of materials from the large-scale field surveys that AFC facilitated between 1977 and 1998:

Folk Tales and Fairy Tales in Performance

Folk Tales and Fairy Tales in Performance

Perhaps more than any other single aspect of the discipline of folklore, the collection, study, and analysis of narrative arts, storytelling, and storytellers has been a central part of folklore scholarship since the field was founded in the mid-Nineteenth Century.   European collectors such as Perreault (France – seventeenth century) and the Brothers Grimm (Germany- eighteenth century) collected and published many of the well-loved “fairy tales” known today, including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Hansel and Gretel.   In the twentieth century, American collectors Zora Neale Hurston, Roger Abrahams, Alan Lomax, and others expanded the storytelling canon to include tales with Afro-centric origins.   Stories with characters such as Anansi the Spider, Papa Bwa, and the Soucouya, were introduced to a wider audience beyond solely Caribbean and African American communities.Today’s fascination with storytelling is encouraged by the “me” story, fueled by Story Corps, reality TV, Facebook, Snapchat, and a host of other social media that encourages one to tell one’s “story.”  This current focus on the individual marks a significant cultural shift away from the historic role of traditional story and storytelling as shared collective expressions intended to stimulate and encourage ideas about family, community, political, secular, and religious values.

If you would like to experience the performative nature of stories, two events are taking place in the Capital District that will provide opportunities.  On February 29 (Schenectady) and March 1 (Troy), Nazmo Dance Company will join with folklorists Kay Turner and Rose October-Edun to explore European and Caribbean tales as interpreted through modern dance.  Performances will take place at the Schenectady Light Opera and at the Arts Center for the Capital Region in Troy.  Tickets can be obtained here:

A second opportunity to hear live storytelling will be the annual conference of Northeast Storytelling.  “Sharing the Fire 2020” will offer three days of performances and workshops at the Gideon Putnam Spa and Resort in Saratoga Springs.  More information can be found at