Congratulations to New York Folklore-supported artists who received a Statewide Community Regrant (SCR). These grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, are distributed by community arts partners. In the Capital Region, we are happy to work with the Arts Center of Capital Region.
At a ceremony at the Arts Center, seven folk and traditional artists accepted a combined total of $16,000. The grants will fund workshops, demonstrations, and performances for each artist in their communities and the general public.
Artists worked with New York Folklore’s Edgar Betelu to complete grant applications at the end of 2021. New York Folklore had identified these talented traditional artists as part of the 2021 Upstate Regional Project.
Pinya Aung, Karen Harpist
Ehsue Klay Aung, Karen Dancer
Latifa Ali Mohammad, Afghan Embroidery
Jordan Taylor Hill, African Drumming and Dance
Seth Tagoe Traore, Ghanian Drumming and Dance
Shaman Raphel, Pakistani Harmonium and Singing
Aurelius John, Pakistani Percussion and Flute
Folk and Traditional Artists pursue an art form or activity that is rooted within their community, family, and/or heritage. This form of artistic expression is often learned over time through repeated experience and purposeful or informal teaching. These one-on-one or apprentice-style relationships are how traditional arts thrive over generations. Apprenticeship Grants through the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) are one of the foundational tools in the field of folklore and folk arts in New York State. Through this program, “master” artists take on one or more apprentices to pass on their skills and knowledge. Apprentices can be other community members or a member of their own family.
Another avenue of support via the New York State Council on the Arts are grants for artists to pursue their own projects and initiatives. This category was new in 2022 for the Folk and Traditional Arts Category of NYSCA. Folk and Traditional artist grants are allowing artists to execute programs, pieces, performances, workshops, etc. on their own.
Following New York State’s $105 million investment in the arts for FY2022, NYSCA has awarded more than $80 million in arts grants to organizations and individual artists since June 2021. Of that over $250,000 has been awarded directly to folk and traditional artists via Individual Artist and Apprenticeship Grants. Over 30 Folk and Traditional Artists in New York State received an apprenticeship or Individual Artist grant for 2022.
Recipients and art forms are various and include:
Luis Cordero, Rosa and Felix Reyes and Edy Cordero, Bachata and Merengue via Long Island Traditions
Juan José Gutiérrez and Juan Gerena, Bomba y Plena via LOS PLENEROS DE LA 21
Clarence “Bucky” Geter and John Walton, Gospel Music via The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes
Richard Koski with Michael Ludgate and Katrina Mackey, Finnish American Dance Music via the The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes
Hayden Haynes and Darelyn Spruce, Seneca Bone Carving via The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes
Victor Manuel Garcia Gonzalez AKA Dindy and Gomany Norales, drum making via HEDco; Bronx Music Heritage Center
Tashi Sharzur (Techung) with Mia and Jasmin Eames, Tibetan music and dance via New York Folklore
Muhammad Ismail Durdi with Muhammad Yousaf and Muhammad Ayoob, Turkmen rug weaving via New York Folklore
Peniel Guerrier with Kayenne Charles-Pierre, Haitian traditional dance via the Center for Traditional Music and Dance
Salieu Suso with Fode Diop, kora West African harp via the Center for Traditional Music and Dance
Individual Artist Grants include the following:
Beareather Reddy for In My Soul
Bonnie Gale for Exploring Willow Casket Making
Altin Stoja for Shining a Light, A Public Art Project in Greek Orthodox iconography.
Nada Odeh for Arabic Calligraphy Workshop and Mural
Melvis Santa for Women Akpwon: Afro-Cuban Percussion and Song Workshops and Performances
Gretchen Koehler for Fiddling with Tradition
Esraa Warda for Rani Mrida Music and Dance Initiative
This is just a sampling of the many traditional arts activities and artists supported in 2022 through the New York State Council on the Arts.
New York Folklore is pleased to announce the disbursement of funds totaling $11,000.00 to benefit folk and traditional artists in New York State. These funds are made possible through the generosity of donors from throughout the United States, including support from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation as well as many private donors. Private donations were received through a Go Fund Me Campaign for COVID-19 Relief for Folk and Traditional Artists in New York State.
Thanks to a successful campaign, grant funds of $500.00 or $250.00 will be distributed to twenty-five folk and traditional artists across the state, with each of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Economic Development Regions of the State being represented by a grant to at least one artist. The artists chosen represent diverse cultural groups. They are practicing traditional art that reflects one’s location or one’s membership in a specific population group of New Yorkers. Haudenosaunee artists were awarded funds, with support going to those who are known for their beadwork, bone and antler carving, traditional music and dance, and splint ash basketmaking from Seneca, Tuscarora, Oneida, Onondaga, and Mohawk nations. Artists continuing cultural traditions from Puerto Rico, Peru, Mexico, Ireland, Guinea, Ghana, Turkey, Argentina, China, The Republic of Georgia, Algeria, and Tibet received support, as did artists who make art stemming from the African American experience (hair design, gourd instruments, quilting), Adirondack rustic furniture making, and the LGBTQ tradition of ballroom/runway.
Located in Schenectady, New York Folklore works to nurture traditional arts and culture in New York State through education, support, and outreach. New York Folklore envisions a world where the diverse traditions of New York State are fully recognized, appreciated, and supported. This COVID-19 initiative by New York Folklore recognizes that folk artists who rely on work in the gig economy are suffering greatly during the pandemic. The loss of income is especially prevalent during the summer months, as during this time New York’s communities stage outdoor events focused upon their own community cultural expressions, providing one-time fees for artists’ participation. The widespread cancellation of performances, festivals, exhibitions, and teaching opportunities has directly impacted New York’s folk and traditional artists.
From February through July, 2019, New York Folklore engaged in a unique partnership project through the United States Department of State and the non-profit organization, World Learning. Involving both a virtual exchange and an in-person exchange, New York Folklore partnered with Youth of Osh of Kyrgyzstan and the US-based Schoharie River Center, as well as Utica College and Duanesburg High School, to involve almost thirty youth and young adults in an exploration of cultural heritage from the vantage points of New York’s Mohawk Valley and the Alay Valley of the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan.
The project came to fruition with two back-to-back visits by a small delegation from each country. The first visit took place in June 2019, as three Kyrgyz students and two adult leaders were hosted by New York Folklore. After a whirlwind afternoon in New York City, the group was transported to the rural Mohawk Valley to experience the region’s traditional art activities involving textiles, stone, and wood. They attended and participated in the Cooperstown Community Dance, explored the Schoharie Creek watershed by canoe and on foot, and examined the region’s vernacular architecture. As one of the goals of the project was to participate in a service project, the Krygyz and American students worked together to create a timber-framed sign kiosk that they were able to donate and erect for a youth program in Middleburgh, New York. Toward the end of their visit the project presented a mini folklife festival with crafts demonstrations, and music and dance performance that took place at the Duanesburg High School in rural Schenectady County.
Kyrgyz and US exchange participants in high spirits after hiking Vroman’s Nose Trail in Middleburgh, NY
As a counterpart of the June visit by Youth of Osh and their students, New York Folklore Executive Director Ellen McHale, Schoharie River Center Director John McKeeby, and three students traveled to southern Krygyzstan in mid-July for a ten day visit. In keeping with the shared themes of cultural heritage and tourism, we were treated to hands-on workshops with folk artists and fine craftspersons; explored the building technology of the yurt (and got to both build one and sleep in one); and explored the Alay Valley through hiking and exploring its high pastures. A service project took the form of erecting a series of three signs that provided tourism information to those hiking the base of Lenin Peak. At the trip’s conclusion, Youth of Osh staged a community folk arts festival that included traditional music and dance performances, folk arts demonstrations, and children’s games and other activities.
Learning (and playing) a Kyrgyz children’s game with US and Kyrgyz participants. Conor Landrigan of Utica College is performing.
Feature image: Foodways Dinner in a yurt with Kyrgyz and American participants, June 2019
Lessons learned are too numerous for enumerating in this forum. For my part, and for New York Folklore, our circle has widened and there are possibilities for future shared projects and initiatives. We have also made dear friends with Youth of Osh, an important organization that works to ensure a brighter future for Kyrgyzstan and its youth. For the participating young people, they were able to experience another culture – either directly or indirectly. What was perhaps most energizing for the participants, however, was that through the vehicle of cultural exchange they were able to learn about their own culture and to gain a greater appreciation for the dynamics of folk arts and folklife in their home countries.