Nashville, TN

Tennessee Arts Commission's Folklife Program and folklife preservation

Lenny Schumacher

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Janice Birchfield at the Mountaineer Folk Festival, 2019.tnfolklife.org

NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee Arts Commission is dedicated to support and preserve many forms of folklife in Tennessee through their Folklife Program, which involves fieldwork, archiving and funding folklife activities all over the state.

Folklife is a collection of arts, expressive behaviors, skills, bodies of knowledge, and ways of life taught and passed down in cultural groups that share a common family, ethnic, tribal, regional, occupational or religious identity. As a result, folklife is defined by its adherence to tradition.

In Tennessee, folklife includes older cultural traditions that have existed for decades or centuries, as well as newer arts and practices brought in by immigrant groups.

Since folklife is passed down orally or through observation that spans generations, the program has field members constantly travel and conduct fieldwork across the state to document and investigate folklife activities.

Then, documentation of their work is kept in an archive and can be produced as presentations, books, exhibits, and other media creations. View their archive here: https://tnfolklife.org/documentation/.

The program has become the primary resource for information on folklife and traditional artists practicing it due to its efforts.

Besides its own staff and TAC support, the program also collaborates with other institutions, such as nonprofit organizations, traditional artists, culture workers, and community scholars across the state.

The program's utmost goal is to work with cultural expressions to benefit and reflect their communities of origin. Thus, any Tennessee folklife traditions and projects with folklife at its core could benefit from their funding scheme.

This includes festivals, concerts, exhibitions, publications, museum purchases, survey projects, documentary recordings, heritage trails, and folk artist professional development.

For more information about the Folklife Program's grants and funding possibilities, visit https://tnfolklife.org/programs/grants/.

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