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Full text of "Celebrating America's cultural diversity : projects supported by state and regional arts agencies and the National Endowment for the Arts"



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Celebrating America's Cultural Diversity 



Projects Supported by 

State and Regional Arts Agencies and the 

National Endowment for the Arts 



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Published by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies 
in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Arts 



The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) is the 
membership organization of the nation's state and jurisdictional arts 
agencies. The members, through NASAA, participate in the estab- 
lishment of national arts policy and advocate the importance of the 
diverse arts and cultures of the United States. NASAA serves as the 
focus of communication and partnership between the state arts 
agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts, and both arts and 
government service organizations. NASAA provides its member 
agencies with professional and leadership opportunities, as well as 
information to assist them in decision making and management. 

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an independent 
agency of the federal government, was created in 1965 to encourage 
and assist the nation's cultural resources. The NEA is advised by the 
National Council on the Arts, a presidentially appointed body com- 
posed of the chairman of the endowment and 26 distinguished pri- 
vate citizens who are widely recognized for their expertise or interest 
in the arts. The council advises the endowment on policies, pro- 
grams and procedures, in addition to making recommendations on 
grant applications. 



Copyright © 1993 by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. 
All rights reserved. 

This publication was produced under a cooperative agreement 
between the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the 
Nanonal Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). 



Editor: 

Associate Editor: 
Assistant Editor: 

Cover Design: 
Interior Design: 



Laura Costello, NASAA 

Andi Mathis, NEA 

Jill Hauser-Field, NASAA 

Kinetik Communication Graphics, Inc. 
Laura Costello, in collaboration with Kinetik 



Excerpt from "Junebug/Jack" \iscA with permission of Roadside 
Theater. Copyright © 1991. All rights reserved. 

Front cover: Photo by Cedric Chatterley 

For further information about this publication contact the National 
Assembly of State Arts Agencies, 1010 Vermont Avenue, Suite 920, 
Washington, DC 20005, 202-347-6352. 

Printed on recycled paper with soybean ink. ^& ^<> I©£wim'k1 





Acknowledgements 



In bringing this book to fruition, we benefitted 
greatly fi-om the collective wisdom and experi- 
ence of many individuals, to whom we would 
like to extend our gratitude. 

Edward Dickey, State and Regional Program 
director at the NEA, offered an overall vision for this 
book, in addition to imflagging encouragement and en- 
thusiasm, for which we are appreciative. Our advisor)^ 
group provided insight and expertise beginning with the 
initial selection of chapter themes and continuing 
throughout the editorial process. From the NEA we 
thank Patrice Powell, Expansion Arts Program acting di- 
rector; Daniel Sheehy, Folk Arts Program director; Philip 
Kopper, Publications direaor. We also thank Pamela 
Holt, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities ex- 
ecutive director. 

State and regional arts agency staff around the 
coimtry provided wise cotmsel and contributed gener- 
otisly of their time and energy to help shape the various 
chapters. In particular, we would like to recognize 
Martha Dodson and Kathleen Mimdell of the Maine 
Arts Commission and Regina Smith of the Indiana Arts 
Commission for their contributions. From the many arts 
and cultural organizations featured in these chapters, we 



extend thanks to Theresa Hoffman of the Penobscot Na- 
tion and Julia Olin, associate director of the National 
Coimcil for the Traditional Arts, for their willingness to 
read and respond. 

Many thanks also to Jill Hatiser-Field for her 
invaluable editorial assistance, especially in the creation of 
chapter 10, to which Erika Seo, an intern in the State 
and Regional Program, contributed preliminary research. 



Laura L. Costello 

Editor 

National Assembly of 

State Arts Agencies 



AndiMathis 
Program Analyst 
National Etidowment 
for the Arts 




Table of Contents 



Acknowledgements 

Foreword 

Introduction 

1 Diversity in the Desert 8 

Nevada — surveying the unique and traditional arts of Las Vegas 
by Andrea Graham 

2 The Newcomers Project in New England 16 

NEFA — preserving cultural traditions by helping refugee artists 
develop and hone their presentation skills for new American audiences 

by Michael Levine 

3 The Down Home Doirylond Saga 24 

Wisconsin — serving traditional and ethnic musicians of Wisconsin 
and the upper Midwest through a state arts agency radio show 

by Richard March 

4 Creative Marriages: 

Traditional Arts Apprenticeships 30 

American Samoa/Washington, DC/Missouri — transmitting 
cultural practices through the master/ apprentice relationship 
by Bess Lomax Hawes and Barry Bergey 

5 Culture and Science Join to Save 

Maine Indian Basketry 38 

Maine — working together to save the endangered brown ash 
tree used by Maine's tribal basketmakers 
by Wayne Curtis 



6 Strengthening Organizations to Fulfill 

Community Needs 46 

Ohio/Pennsylvania/Indiana — helping arts organizations 
develop their capabilities to meet their communities' needs 

by John Rufus Caleb 

7 The Age-Old Ritual of Storytelling 56 

North Carolina/Mississippi — celebrating local culture as the 
basis for community cultural planning and arts development 

by Nayo Barbara Malcolm Watkins 

8 Building Bridges in Education 

Through Folk Arts 66 

Idaho/Rhode Island — integrating folk arts education through 
classroom arts programs 
by Julie Fanselow 

9 A Celebration of Life Through Words, 

Music, Song and Dance 72 

California — honoring traditional art forms from around the 
world that are novi^ a part of California's cultural landscape 

by Margarito Nieto and Mark Cianca 

10 Additional State and Regional Arts Agency 

Initiatives In Support of Cultural Diversity 80 

The states and regions not highlighted in the previous 
chapters describe their programs 

edited by Jill Hamer-Field 




Foreword 



Over the past several years the cultural diversity 
documented by census takers and demogra- 
phers has resulted in an increasing public 
awareness of the tremendous wealth to be found in 
America's vast and growing number of culturally specific 
communities. The music, dance, crafts, visual arts, the- 
ater, literature and storytelling of culturally diverse 
groups have the power to renew community spirit, 
stimulate economic activity, create bridges of under- 
standing between cultures, instill discipline and self- 
worth and unite generations. 

Celebrating America's Cultural Diversity fol- 
lows A Rural Arts Sampler, which was published last year 
to document some of the ways in which the fifty-six state 
and jurisdictional arts agencies and their seven regional 
organizations promote the arts in rural areas with support 
from the Narional Endowment for the Arts (NEA). It 
will be followed in turn by a publication — to be entitled 
Part of the Solution — highlighting our joint efforts to in- 
vest in arts projects that address pressing social needs. 
This series of publications is intended to share successful 
strategies and illustrate a few of the ways in which these 
agencies work together to support projects that are mak- 
ing a positive difference in people's lives throughout the 
United States. 



Support for this diversity of cultures is and 
must be a fijndamental purpose of the public arts agen- 
cies. Indeed the NEA's enabling legislation declares it "is 
vital to a democracy to honor and preserve its multicul- 
tural heritage" and links this support to "the fostering of 
mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all 
persons and groups." The stories that follow document 
some of the rewards we all realize by investing in Ameri- 
can culture through public arts agencies. 



Jonathan Katz 
Executive Director 
National Assembly of 
State Arts Agencies 



Edward Dickey 

Director 

State and Regional Program 

National Endowment for the Arts 




Introduction 



For the next few years, one of the most 
important agenda items that both the 
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and 
the state and territorial arts agencies share is support for 
the creative spectrum of ctiltural diversit)^ as it relates to 
the development of our country. 

In less than 20 years approximately one-third 
of the American population wiU be African American, 
Native American, Hispanic American or Asian Ameri- 
can. This faa signals either a tremendotis problem or an 
extraordinary opportunity for the nation, depending on 
what we as a country elect to do. Our failure to experi- 
ence and understand that diversity — the variety of vi- 
sions and traditions that shape our own and otir neigh- 
bor's life — can frustrate our every collective attempt to 
improve our society. In the face of American society we 
must recognize our own cultural features and those of 



our neighbors. 



I am of the opinion that cultural policy, as 
carried forth by the NEA and the state arts agencies, can 
represent the best opportunity we have for the recogni- 
tion and celebration of diversity. These agencies are posi- 
tioned to play a pivotal role in the process of document- 
ing and recording the enormotis creative energy that 
exists within their various racial and ethnic groupings. 



These agencies also have the power to enhance attempts 
by various groups to interpret and reinterpret what this 
new world means to each of them. 

Programs such as the ones illtistrated in this 
book represent some of the outstanding cultural experi- 
ences that the NEA and the state arts agencies nurture 
and stistain. These experiments can gtiide the nation on 
new paths of imagination and social experimentation, 
and in turn could be used by other nations as an example 
of what can occur within a diverse population. 

And, should anyone argue that the develop- 
ment of such policies and programs would cost too 
much or take too long, I would simply point out that 
programs such as Expansion Arts and Folk Arts at the 
federal level, and rural arts initiatives and culmral diver- 
sity programming at the state level, have been working in 
this field for many years and performing brilliantly. 

Constructive participator)' programs that 
share the wealth of our nation's cultural diversity will 
gready reduce the likelihood of a repeat of the upheavals 
we witnessed in Los Angeles and replace this scenario 
with a thousand examples of hope and promise as illus- 
trated here in Celebrating Amoica's Cultural Diversity. 

William E. Strickland, Jr. 

Member, National Council on the Arts 



ijus Diversity in the Desert: The Las Vegas Folk Arts Project 




The neon glow of downtown Las Vegas gives little hint of the cultural diversity to be 
found within this sprawling, all-night city. 
Photo by Blanton Owen 



by Andrea Graham 



Where else but Las Vegas would you find a 
Jewish cantor who rides a unicycle in a ca- 
sino show? It seems like an awkward com- 
bination, but for Gary Golbart it hasn't been a problem 
reconciling a life of traditional religious faith and leader- 
ship with the life of an entertainer. In fact, there are some 
commonalities, and he calls the Friday-night temple ser- 
vices a show in their own right. For Jews in Europe years 
ago, it was "the greatest entertainment they ever saw," he 
says. "I see myself as that extension." 

Golbart is currendy the full-time cantor for 
Temple Beth Am in Las Vegas, but is still involved in a 
local mtisical theater group after nearly twenty years as a 
performer and producer with several of the Strip casino 
extravaganzas. In his home town of St. Louis, he studied 
gymnastics, theater and music, as well as apprenticed to a 
cantor. On a vacation trip to Vegas Golbart chanced into 
a job as an acrobat. Fie soon became the show's lead 
singer and master of ceremonies, toured the world as part 
of a imicycle act and eventually became entertainment 
director at the Dunes and the Stardust. All the while he 
was also deeply involved in a local Jewish congregation, 
conducting services and leading the singing. One year 
the two sides of Golbart's life came together when he 
conduaed Fiigh Holiday services at the Dunes. "Only in 
Las Vegas could I be head of the most famous topless 
show in the world and still have my Friday nights and 
daven (pray) and put on tefillin (leather boxes containing 
scripture passages) . . . I'm comfortable in both worlds." 



A History of Diversity 

"Only in Las Vegas" is a familiar refrain in the city most 
people associate with gambling and glamour. Usually 
they are referring to the town's 24-hour life-style, where 
you can get a hamburger at three in the morning with no 
trouble; or the fact that there are erupting volcanoes and 



talking statues and medieval jousting tournaments 
around every corner; or the idea that you can do things in 
Vegas you wouldn't dream of getting away with at home. 
But there are other, subtler, "only in Vegas" scenes, like 
Cubans making hand-rolled cigars at a shop on the Strip, 
or a Paraguayan harpist playing in a Mexican restaurant, 
or a Thai Buddhist temple in the middle of the desert. 
Maybe these things stand out because they are signs of 
real life in a city most people treat as a stage set, or a 
Disneyland for adults. 

Nevada has long had an undeserved reputa- 
tion as a cultural wasteland. In the rural areas, the dry, 
forbidding landscape has been equated with an equally 
desiccated arts scene; in the cities of Reno and Las Vegas 
the overpowering neon glow of the tourism and enter- 
tainment industries has blinded outsiders to more sub- 
stantial cidtural goings-on. Nevada has always been a 
place people passed through on the way to somewhere 
else; the few who did stop off were usually looking for 
quick riches in the gold and silver fields and left again 
with the inevitable bust. But there were some who 
stopped and stayed, who "stuck," as Wallace Stegner says. 

The travelers and those who stuck have always 
been a diverse lot. In the late 1800s, for example, Nevada 
had the highest percentage of foreign-born residents of 
any state in the union. The state has also always been a 
highly urban place, rather than agrarian, since its mining 
camps and railroad towns were industrially based and 
linked by transportation and communication networks to 
the rest of the coimtry and the world. Etiropean immi- 
grants from Germany, Italy, Greece, Ireland, France and 
other countries quickly assimilated into the dominant 
culture because they were part of small, close-knit com- 
munities and they had to cooperate to survive. European 
cidtural diversity soon metamorphosed into a unified 
community. Other minority groups in early Nevada 



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didn't fare as well, notably the Native Americans and 
Chinese, who were kept in segregated communities and 
given only menial jobs. 

Today Nevada remains one of the most urban 
states (although it is one of the smallest in total popula- 
tion and one of the largest in area) with 83 percent of the 
population living in the two large cities of Reno and Las 
Vegas. The dramatic growth of Las Vegas in the last ten 
years, during which the population doubled to 800,000, 
has meant an even greater growth in diversity. The Afri- 
can American, Latino and Asian/Pacific Island popula- 
tions are exploding in a city and a state that were 90 per- 
cent white for most of their history, and diversity is 
becoming a major issue. 



We Are All Pioneers 
The Nevada State Council on the Arts (NSCA) has al- 
ways tried to encourage and support diverse organiza- 
tions and programs, but until recently they were few and 
far between. In the cultural community, mainstream or- 
ganizations are now scrambling to include a broader rep- 
resentation of cultures in their performances, exhibits 
and programs, and on their boards and staffs. Grass-roots 
organizations based in diverse cultures are also starting to 
come together to promote their own art forms. 

In 1985 NSCA established a Folk Arts Pro- 
gram to reach constituents not served by other arts coun- 
cil programs and to address the needs of traditional and 
culturally diverse communities. The Folk Arts Program is 
often the arts council's first contact with non-main- 
stream, minority and ethnic groups, and is seen as a way 
to build relationships that can later broaden into other 
areas of the arts as well. NSCA's first folk arts projects 
were in rural areas because they were the least-served, had 
the fewest resources and were the simplest to work with. 
The field of folklore has also historically been biased to- 



ward rural art forms, and the most obviously unique Ne- 
vada cultures are cowboys and Indians, so that seemed 
the logical place to start. Projects in the first five years of 
the program included two rural county folk arts surveys, 
with resulting festivals, exhibits and publications; a slide- 
tape show on everyday traditions of ranch life; a series of 
radio shows; and folk ans apprenticeships in Native 
American and cowboy arts. 

But you can't live in Nevada and ignore Las 
Vegas, so the next logical project was a survey of tradi- 
tional arts and artists there. The Las Vegas Folk Arts Sur- 
vey was a two-year project begun in the summer of 1991 
and fiinded with grants from the National Endowment 
for the Arts Folk Arts Program. With NSCA's earlier 
projects in rural areas there usually were no existing cul- 
tural agencies to work with, and the projects were small 
enough that the arts council could do them alone. In Las 
Vegas, however, there were solid organizations that had 
established track records of folk arts programming, an in- 
terest in doing more and the vital community connec- 
tions and resources that are necessary for a such a large 
undertaking. Both the City of Las Vegas and Clark 
County have active cultural aflFairs offices, and both were 
very interested in learning about local traditional arts and 
artists; the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society 
was searching for ways to make community connections; 
and KUNV Public Radio at the University of Nevada 
Las Vegas was already providing diverse community pro- 
gramming. All of these organizations committed time 
and money to the project, and their knowledge of local 
groups and individuals was invaluable to an out-of-town 
folklorist. 

The first year of the project was spent learning 
as much as possible about Las Vegas in general, and con- 
ducting fieldwork with the traditional communities and 
the artists who have made the city their home. Although 




Glass-bender Mark Willerr is one of the many artisans 
discovered during the folk arts sun-ey conducted b}' the 

Nevada State Council on the Arts. 
Photo bv Russell Frank 



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Statistically an urban area with urban amenities, Las Ve- 
gas is actually a huge suburb. It is very new, growing rap- 
idly, laid out in sprawling subdivisions and strip shop- 
ping malls, and is generally a classic example of the new 
American automobile-based city. Such places are not 
known for nurturing a sense of community that would 
support traditional art forms. Add to that the over- 
whelming culture of tourism and gambling, and any sane 
folklorist would run back to the sticks. 

But the same elements that make Las Vegas 
difficult for a cultural worker also make it a fascinating 
challenge. Las Vegas is still in the process of becoming. 
People are arriving from every state in the union and ev- 
ery country in the world, and those who stay will deter- 
mine what kind of place it becomes. What are they 
bringing with them? What attitudes and cultural styles 
and art forms are they mixing into the stew of Vegas? 
How are they adapting to Las Vegas's unique environ- 
ment? How are they making it home? In such a new 
place, everyone has a chance to contribute. As Cantor 
Golbart says, "We are all pioneers out here." 

# Behind the Neon 

Still, doing folklore fieldwork in Vegas is not easy, as 
NSCA folklorist Andrea Graham and contract field- 
workers Lesley Williams and Russell Frank found out. 
Requests for information about folk artists were met with 
blank stares, and dead ends and false leads abounded. Ex- 
cept for the black community (which was segregated 
from its beginnings in the 1940s), people have not 
settled in old-fashioned ethnic neighborhoods, and the 
city's newness and mobility mean that people don't 
know each other yet, even within a cultural group. Resi- 
dents are also busy getting settled and making a living, 
often working night shifts in the 24-hour service-ori- 
ented economy, and so they haven't had time to main- 



tain elements of their traditional culture. 

However, there are signs that members of eth- 
nic and cultural groups are starting to find each other 
and are expressing a desire to present and pass on their 
arts, especially to their children. For example, no fewer 
than three cultural organizations have formed in the 
black community in the last few years, with overlapping 
interests in researching the history of blacks in Vegas, or- 
ganizing cultural classes for kids and presenting an Afri- 
can American cultural festival. A Thailand Nevada Asso- 
ciation was formed primarily to promote economic 
development, but it also sponsors social events that in- 
clude music and classical dance. The Nevada Association 
of Latin Americans supports plans for a museum of 
Latino culture and arts, as well as providing social ser- 
vices for the Latino community. The Las Vegas Indian 
Center provides job training and other services, and a 
corner of its lobby houses a store where urban Indians 
can sell beadwork, weaving and other crafts. The Japa- 
nese American Citizens' League would like to sponsor 
classes in Taiko drumming with a master artist who has 
moved to town. Many of these groups get numerous re- 
quests for programs from schools. They would like to do 
more in the way of passing their culture to their own 
young people, as well as to the wider public, but they 
need money and assistance in organizing. 

Individual artists are also struggling to main- 
tain their culture, usually while holding ftill-time jobs. 
The members of a South American musical group can't 
find rehearsal space and have been practicing outdoors in 
local parks; they can't practice in their apartments and 
community center space is overbooked, though they 
couldn't afford even the minimal fees anyway. A Navajo 
silversmith travels to craft shows on weekends because he 
can't sell his work for what it's worth in Las Vegas, and 
dealers take too high a commission. A Navajo weaver has 



similar problems and sells mostly by word of mouth, 
which means she gets to keep all the money, but she has 
less exposure. A Thai classical dancer performed in public 
in Las Vegas for the first time in April, and was so good 
people thought he had come fi-om Los Angeles; by Sep- 
tember he had 20 students and was swamped with 
requests to perform, but he had to fit in teaching and 
performing between his two jobs. Two Paraguayan mtisi- 
cians, a harpist and a guitarist/singer, perform in a Mexi- 
can restaurant six nights a week, but have had to tailor 
their music to popular taste and play coimdess renditions 
of "La Bamba;" they at least can make a living with their 
music, although not in the way they might prefer. 

Many of these traditional an forms and simi- 
lar difficult situations could occur in any large city, and 
in many ways Las Vegas is "just like anywhere else," as 
the locals are fond of explaining. Yet Vegas is also unde- 
niably different because of the casino culture, which per- 
vades the city's whole reason for being. Most jobs are tied 
either direcdy or indirectly to gaming, totirism and enter- 
tainment. Tourists don't come to town for the history or 
culture, so it is difficult for ctilttiral organizations to rely 
on them for an audience and for artists to make a living. 



Only in Vegas 

From a folklorist's point of view, the gaming and tour- 
ism businesses provide an entire new constellation of oc- 
cupational subctilttires with rich traditions of their own. 
Craps dealers have a huge vocabulary of specialized terms 
and expressions that are made up daily and played with 
on the job, sometimes to refer to specific bets or situa- 
tions, and sometimes to commimicate without players 
knowing what is being said. For example, when the dice 
bounce off the table and land on the wooden rim, invali- 
dating the play, a stickman might say "Don't pay the 
cash, it's in the ash," "Found a perch in the birch," 



"Can't call it fo' ya, it's in the sequoia," "No joke, it's in 
the oak," or "No number, in the lumber." This tise of 
language keeps a game lively, and forms a sense of com- 
munity and creativity among the four dealers working a 
game — it adds a human touch to the increasingly corpo- 
rate structure of the casinos. And even in the fast-paced 
casino world, dealers lament the passing of the good old 
days and tell sentimental stories about how much better 
it used to be. 

Vegas entertainers also have a host of tradi- 
tions: the good and bad luck beliefs of dancers and 
showgirls, the trading of tricks and patter among magi- 
cians. Las Vegas jokes made up and passed on by come- 
dians. Even the neon signs that are Las Vegas's most vis- 
ible identifying characteristic have traditions behind 
them. The art of the "glass-benders" who make the signs 
has many similarities to other craft traditions. The neces- 
sary skills are usually learned through apprenticeship 
with an experienced sign maker, and anyone in the busi- 
ness will tell you that the process can never be mecha- 
nized — it will always involve huinan skill and judge- 
ment. What many glass-benders like most is that their 
work is up in public for everyone to see; they enjoy driv- 
ing by a huge casino, looking up and pointing out their 
creations to their kids and out-of-town visitors. As glass- 
bender Mark WiUett says, "One hundred years from 
now I'll be gone, but my neon'll still be up there. If 
you're going to put up some neon, it's nice to know it's 
up in Vegas." 

The traditions of the variety of workers who 
make Las Vegas nm add to the cultural diversity of the 
city just as much as ethnic arts do, and need to be recog- 
nized, studied and shared in the same way. In fact, in 
planning public presentations of local traditions, they 
may be even more of an attraction for tourists than what 
is usually thought of as folk an because they are unique 



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Cultivating the Garden 
As part of the first year of the Las Vegas Folk Arts Survey 
there were two public presentations of traditional arts. 
The Cultural Affairs Division of the Clark County De- 
partment of Parks and Recreation sponsored a small ex- 
hibit of local folk crafts, including Ukrainian Easter eggs, 
Japanese embroidery, neon signs, Polish papercuts, Ha- 
waiian feather leis and African American quilts. The ex- 
hibit proved to be one of the most popular that the com- 
munity center gallery had hosted; an opening with 
Hawaiian dance and lei-making, and three weekend 
demonstrations by featured crafi:speople also attracted 
sizeable crowds. The Cultural and Community Affairs 
Branch of the Las Vegas Department of Recreation and 
Leisure Activities presented an evening performance of 
music and dance from four Las Vegas communities — 
African American, Native American, Hawaiian and 
South American — ^which was also well-received. 

The final product of the survey's first year was 
a folk arts cultural plan, which contains an overview of 
Las Vegas folk arts and recommendations for their con- 
tinued support. The major cultural agencies in the 
area — the city and county, the library system, the state 
museum, the children's museum, the local arts council 
and the school district — are all interested in presenting 
local traditional artists in their facilities and programs, 
but need assistance to locate and communicate with folk 
artists and communities. The growing number of grass- 
roots ethnic and cultural groups want a wider audience, 
but need help in organizing and raising money. Both the 
cultural agencies and the grass-roots groups are willing to 
forge partnerships to get things done, and in fact several 
such team efforts are already happening. For example, a 



Hawaiian/Pacific Island festival co-sponsored by the city 
and the Hawaiian Club has been very successful, with 
the city contributing the use of a park and stage and the 
club doing the programming. 

The report's main recommendation was that 
a full-time folklorist for Las Vegas/Clark County would 
be the best way to guarantee continued support for the 
traditional arts. There is still an enormous need for field- 
work to locate and document artists and communities; 
NSCA's survey has barely scratched the surface. There is 
also demand for technical assistance by grass-roots orga- 
nizations and artists, program guidance for mainstream 
organizations wanting to include local traditional arts, 
and communication among all groups to improve access 
to resources and reduce duplication of efforts. 

During the second year of the Las Vegas Folk 
Arts Project, NSCA will work with the four co-sponsor- 
ing organizations to present a two-day folklife festival in 
May of 1 993 in a city park, organize a larger exhibit of 
craft traditions at the Nevada State Museum and His- 
torical Society and publish an illustrated book with essays 
by the two NSCA field-workers on aspects of Las Vegas 
folklore. With the inclusion of artists from all groups, 
and the help of numerous ethnic and community clubs 
in planning and carrying out the events, the festival has 
the potential to become a real community celebration. 
The arts council can't continue to organize it each year — 
there are many unexplored areas of the state that beckon, 
and the council has already gotten requests from groups 
in Reno to do a similar project there — but with sufficient 
interest and support the local groups may decide to carry 
it on. Again, the presence of a folklorist in Las Vegas 
would help an effort like this immeasurably. 

Even now, after only a year and a half of in- 
volvement in Las Vegas's folk communities, this project 
has proved extremely beneficial. The arts council is aware 



of numerous new groups and Individual artists in ethnic, 
religious and occupational communities, and those 
groups are in turn aware of the arts council and how it 
can help them with organization, programming and 
funding. Through continued cooperation and communi- 
cation with the mainstream cultural agencies, we can pass 
on information about folk artists, their needs and how 
they can fit into the Las Vegas ctiltural scene. And there 
are clearly needs crying out to be met, such as free re- 
hearsal space and sales outlets provided by people who 
understand and respect folk arts, funding for grass-roots 
groups to present their own culture and non-commercial 
venues for folk music and dance. The cultural and gov- 
ernmental agencies in southern Nevada are just beginning 
a major cultural planning process, into which this infor- 
mation will be fed as a starting point for a more thorough 
and inclusive assessment of needs and opportunities. 

During the Las Vegas Folk Arts Survey, the 
combination of federal funding from the National En- 
dowment for the Arts, folk arts expertise from the Nevada 
State Council on the Arts and local contacts and re- 
sources fi-om the Las Vegas community has made for an 
ideal partnership. Although the initial idea came fi-om the 



state, not the local level, the interest was already there 
and local groups were involved from the start. This 
makes long-term commitment to folk arts programs 
more likely. 

For all its difficulties and fi'ustrations. Las Ve- 
gas really does have a pioneering spirit, and individuals 
and small groups can have a large impact because none of 
this has been tried before. We have a wonderful opportu- 
nity to fight cultural homogenization and neighborhood 
firagmentation by helping build a true community — a 
community of cultures that respect and honor them- 
selves and each other. That is admittedly an uphill fight 
when the competition is slot machines, showgirls and the 
attitude that Nevada is a cultural desert. But it also 
makes the small successes all the more sweet, and forces 
us to be inclusive rather than exclusive in fostering and 
supporting arts of all kinds. ■ 

Andrea Graham has been director of the Folk Ans Program at the Ne- 
vada State Council on the Arts since 1990. She has worked for regional 
and state folklore programs in Virginia, Tennessee and Florida, and as a 
free-lance folklorist and writer in Nevada. 



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The Newcomers Project in New England 




The Newcomers Project provides professional development for 
Cambodian music and dance troupes in New England. Chan Moly Sam 
is shown here working with students on kbach (postures) of Cambodian 
court dance during a workshop at Jacob's Pillow. 

Photo by Cecily Cook 



by Michael Levine 



In 1989, the New England Foundation for the 
Arts (NEFA) established the Newcomers Project 
to help recently arrived traditional performing 
arts groups reach audiences outside their own communi- 
ties. Under the direction of Bets)' Peterson, NEFA's di- 
rector of Traditional Arts, the project focused initially on 
the Southeast Asian commtmit}^ and is now poised to 
reach Caribbean and Latino performing groups as well. 

Through this project NEFA is developing fo- 
nims for presenting the traditional cultures of immigrant 
populations, and forging new partnerships with both the 
public and private sectors in the process. Though focused 
specifically on New England, it has brought people to- 
gether fi-om half a world apart. 

The Newcomers Project is really about the 
survival of a foreign culture's performing arts tradition in 
the context of twenu'-first century American society. 
Some of the world's finest dancers and musicians have 
settled here, but they have lacked the skills to negotiate 
our arts infi-astructure to reach the American public. 
Faced with the everyday demands of adjusting to a new 
life, they have litde time to rehearse or teach their skills to 
a new generation. Even within their commtmities the de- 
mand for performances is often limited to specific holi- 
days, and there is litde in the way of local fiinding to sup- 
port their efforts. 

This has been painfully apparent in the refu- 
gee Cambodian commtmity. From 1975 to 1979, when 
the Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia, almost 90 per- 
cent of the dancers and musicians perished or fled the 
cotmtr\^ In refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian 
border, Cambodian folk and classical dance students re- 
ceived training in traditions reaching back to the ninth 
century. Many of these individuals have found their way 
to the United States, sending in communities scattered 
from coast to coast. 



The Newcomers Project grew out of work be- 
gun by the Refugee Arts Group in the mid-1980s. This 
Boston-based group, which was a coalition of artists, 
scholars, refugee support professionals and educators, was 
formed to see that "the expressive arts and culture of the 
homelands are not forgotten, and to celebrate ctiltural di- 
versity through the arts." With fiinding from the Massa- 
chusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities and the 
NEA Folk Arts Program, the Refugee Arts Group sur- 
veyed the Bay State to find Southeast Asian artists. 

Soon after, NEFA received a $35,000 grant 
from the Ford Foundation to laimch the Newcomers 
Project. Phase One was specifically designed to assist 
Southeast Asian groups by providing technical assistance 
related to self-presentation and publicity, and by helping 
arrange performances outside the immigrant commu- 
nity. Though the initial work included a Laotian group, 
the project concentrated on three groups of Cambodians: 
the Angkor Dance Troupe in Lowell, Massachusetts; the 
Cambodian Traditional Music Ensemble in Providence, 
Rhode Island; and the Khmer Performing Arts Ensemble 
of Niantic, Connecticut. The two dance troupes perform 
both the traditional court dances and a repertory of folk 
dances, which were developed at the University of Fine 
Arts in Phnom Penh in the 1960s. The music ensemble 
performs a variety of musical styles from the Cambodian 
cotmtryside. 

^ Building New Audiences 
The Newcomers Project is based on the premise that 
these groups need to build American audiences in order 
to survive and grow. When performed for Cambodian 
audiences, the dance and music of Cambodia need little 
or no explanation. In the case of dance, many Cambodi- 
ans know the Ramayana story on which much of the 
court repertor}' is based. Both court and folk dances are 



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accompanied by sung texts that narrate what is going on 
in the dance. Since mainstream western audiences won't 
know the Khmer or the Ramayana story, it is essential to 
provide interpretive materials or a presenter to help them 
understand and appreciate the art form. 

These groups also need assistance in learning 
to present themselves to potential sponsors, through 
written materials and auditions. Through the Newcom- 
er's Project, NEFA has offered ongoing consultation on 
financial, business and management issues; assisted in 
techniques of group presentation, staging and technical 
production; provided fiinds that allowed each group to 
produce detailed publicity packets; funded the purchase 
of costumes and prop production; and offered fee subsi- 
dies to potential sponsors around the region. In addition, 
NEFA showcased several of the groups at a New En- 
gland-wide "Presenting the Folk Arts" Conference. 

# Partners with Jacob's Pillow 

While the project has accomplished many of its original 
goals, its most significant impact may result from a joint 
venture between NEFA and the nationally renowned 
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival of Becket, Massachusetts. 
Through this continuing partnership, Jacob's Pillow is 
committed to working with the Cambodian community 
for several years. In 1991 the Festival offered four con- 
secutive weekends of Cambodian dance workshops. 
These workshops brought together dozens of students 
and master teachers for lectures, rehearsals and public 
performances of classical and folk dances accompanied 
by live music. The Jacob's Pillow component has been 
funded by the Ford Foundation, the Mott Foundation, 
an NEA Folk Arts grant and the Asian Cultural Council. 

"I can pinpoint our turnaround to that first 
summer at Jacob's Pillow," recalls George Chigas, man- 
ager of the Angkor Dance Troupe. "We had a chance to 



step out of our everyday existence and focus on the 
dance. Our group had been floundering and it gave us a 
chance to develop a professionalism, both artistically and 
in managerial style. 

"Equally important, the workshop showed a 
recognition by the non-Cambodian community of the 
legitimacy of our art form." 

Thoeun Thou, a dancer and teacher with the 
Angkor Dance Troupe, echoes that sentiment. "No one 
ever thought of us before the Jacob's Pillow workshops. 
Now we have many more chances to share our culture." 

"The strength of this project," explains 
Jacob's Pillow Executive Director Sam Miller, "is that we 
did not want to impose any prior objectives. We simply 
used our physical and human resources to create an envi- 
ronment and a context where multilevel exchanges could 
take place." 

The first year brought together Cambodian 
dance masters and community members from around 
the country. For the summer of 1992, the program ex- 
panded to include several professors from the University 
of Phnom Penh. 

"We came to realize that there is no place 
where the complete repertoire of Cambodian dance re- 
sides," Miller continued. "Keep in mind that these 
dances have historically been taught by apprenticeships 
and handed down through the generations. In some 
cases, one individual would devote his or her entire life to 
performing a particular role. Because of the tragic up- 
heavals caused by the Khmer Rouge, some of the classic 
characters in Cambodian dance have been endangered. It 
became apparent that this was not simply a refugee 
project, but one of cultural preservation." 

As Cecily Cook, director of the Refugee Arts 
Group explains, "Cambodian dance became democra- 
tized in the refugee camps. The masters were there offer- 




Cambodian musicians from throughout the United States were invited to Jacob's Pillow to 
accompany Cambodian dancers during a week-long workshop held in conjunction with the 
Newcomers Project. 
Photo by Cecily Cook 



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ing classes and anyone in the camps could study. But this 
knowledge is not always passed on to the best artists. 
That's why the exchange between refugees here and the 
surviving artists in Cambodia is so important." 

"This has proved to be a very successful 
project," observes Ralph Samuelson, executive director of 
the Asian Cultural Council (ACC), based in New York 
City. "I give Jacob's Pillow a lot of credit for understand- 
ing what it was dealing with. It's hard for general arts in- 
stitutions to relate to traditional arts — understanding 
their needs, creating an encouraging atmosphere and of- 
fering help and respect for the culture. At the ACC, we 
support cultural exchange in the visual and performing 
arts. With this project we knew the key artists and the in- 
stitution involved, and we could clearly see that it was re- 
vitalizing ties with the people in Cambodia. This is an es- 
sential ingredient in preserving Cambodian culture." 

"We really took our cues from the partici- 
pants," reflects Miller. "For instance, we offered some 
lighting or string ideas and then worked with them to 
see what best met their needs. Ultimately it was about 
improving the quality of their presentation, and the col- 
laboration worked." 

# Balancing Art and Life 

Tithtra Soch is a 2 5 -year-old dancer and musician who 
was trained in the refiigee camps before his parents set- 
tled in Rhode Island in 1985. He attended the Jacob's 
Pillow workshops both years and is very enthusiastic 
about the experience. His parents are both musicians, 
and until their recent divorce the family performed to- 
gether. Over the past few years, Tithtra- has been trying 
to develop and manage the Cambodian Traditional Mu- 
sic Ensemble. He knows how important it is to keep the 
art forms alive, because "without the music and dance, 
when people picture Cambodia they only think of war." 



Yet, Tithtra has now given up playing music 
and dancing. "My instruments decorate the wall," he 
says. Like so many young Cambodians in this country, 
he has realized how little opportunity there is to make a 
living through his traditional arts. In pursuit of a fine arts 
degree, he works at the local textile mill just long enough 
to earn a semester's tuition. Tithtra wonders whether he 
will even attend Jacob's Pillow next summer. "I have to 
ask, 'Can I use this education towards my support?' If 
not, then I can't take the time to do it." 

Tithtra also faced constant frustration while 
trying to organize the ensemble. Cambodian musicians 
are in great demand for playing at weddings within the 
Cambodian community. Traditional songs are played 
during certain parts of the wedding ceremony in the 
morning, while at night modern Cambodian rock music 
is the choice for receptions. The problem Tithtra faced is 
that many of the young people just want to play the 
modern music because they get paid more for it and 
don't need to rehearse as long. He found there was even 
less interest in playing the traditional music for American 
audiences since this meant leaving the community, earn- 
ing very little money and getting hired to play at odd 
times. Many of their bookings were for school assemblies 
or midweek evening concerts. 

"People can't keep begging time off from 
their shift supervisor to play these jobs," Tithtra contin- 
ued. "It became impossible to commit to bookings so far 
in advance. 

"In Cambodia, one person can work and earn 
enough to support ten people," Tithtra reflected. "But 
here, one person can barely support himself I don't 
know anyone in my community who works just eight 
hours [a day], usually it is ten- or twelve-hour shifts at 
the factory all week. And on Saturday eight hours more. 
No choice. You work overtime or they fire you. It leaves 



no time for family, no time to relax and certainly no time 
to enjoy making music." 

"I think it's very hard to save our culture. 
Maybe if I could teach kids in the schools to dance, show 
them how to make traditional costumes, and teach them 
Cambodian ways, like New Year's games, or history. If 
there was some fiinding for it to happen four or five 
times a month, then I could support my education with- 
out the factory." 



Restoring Pride in Cambodian Culture 
As artistic director of the Khmer Performing Arts En- 
semble, Sokhanarith Moeur is also very familiar with the 
difficulty of keeping a troupe together. Moeur, who per- 
forms both Cambodian classical and folk dances, emi- 
grated from Thailand in 1987 and now lives in Con- 
neaicut. Prior to the Pol Pot regime she was a professor 
of dance at the University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. 
With the assistance of NEFA's Newcomers Project her 
group has undergone remarkable professional develop- 
ment, and recendy was added to the touring roster of the 
Connecticut Commission on the Arts. 

Moeur believes the Newcomers Project has 
been extremely beneficial. "I want to accomplish two 
goals through my art," she explains. "First, I want to re- 
store a pride and imderstanding in Cambodian culture 
for the Cambodian people in America, especially the kids 
who have been born here. Second, I want to have Ameri- 
cans understand what our culture looks like and what it 
is about. Betsy [Peterson] and Cecily [Cook] have helped 
us to perform for many new audiences." 

Moeur believes the Jacob's Pillow experiences 
have been crucial to achieving both goals. Because the 
Cambodian artists around New England live in several 
scattered communities, they cannot get together for regu- 
lar rehearsals. "When we do have performances," she ad- 



mits, "the music and dance are not consistent, and I 
don't feel good about what we are showing people." 

"But at Jacob's Pillow, there was plenty of 
time to work together. It was great." 

As it becomes more difficult to find the musi- 
cians available who can play the traditional Cambodian 
dance tunes, the dancers are relying increasingly on tapes. 
As pan of the Newcomers Projea, the dancers now have 
a professional music recording, which was made during 
the 1992 Jacob's Pillow workshops. 

"In the past, music has been a big concern," 
describes Chigas of the Angkor Dance Troupe. "We 
needed live music and it was difficult and expensive to 
use. Sometimes we would meet only an hour before the 
performance and run through the program. Variations in 
tempo would surface during the dances and it was a big 
aggravation. Now that we have good tapes, we prefer to 
use them. Besides, the logistics and cost are a lot easier 
for the arts presenters if we don't bring ten musicians." 

There is no doubt that the Angkor Dance 
Troupe is the most successful group of artists in the 
Newcomers Program to date. They have been added to 
the NEFA Touring Roster, acquired a costimie inven- 
tory, hold regidar practices, improved their record keep- 
ing and financial management, and developed a reper- 
toire that is well-suited to American audiences unfamiliar 
with their traditions. Yet, until recently when the troupe 
received its first grant of $20,000 fi-om the Parker Foun- 
dation in Lowell, the group's artistic and administrative 
management was a completely volunteer effort. 

"Now," Chigas continued, "we will be able to 
pay several instructors and our dance manager for things 
like pre-planning rehearsals so the few hours a week we 
have with our troupe can be more productive." 

Ironically, even as the group is finally getting 
on solid footing, they face new challenges. The free re- 



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hearsal space they had been using at the National His- 
toric Park in Lowell has been closed due to budget cuts, 
and there is a constant problem with student turnover. 

"We always have plenty of female dancers 
available; however, after graduation from high school we 
lose them. Some go off to college, others work at the fac- 
tories and many get married and are forbidden by their 
husbands to continue dancing. Teenage boys, on the 
other hand, rarely show any interest." 

Because the troupe relies on students, book- 
ings are limited to weekends and must be within easy 
driving distance of their Lowell community. Otherwise, 
parents are not inclined to let their children participate. 

"I feel strongly about showing our culture to 
other nationalities," Angkor dancer Thoeun says. "But I 
am worried about the ftiture of this dance. I know per- 
formances are coming, but there is very little money. I 
have no answers, and 1 worry." 

Perhaps the next phase of the Jacob's Pillow 
residency will provide some needed tools to the Cambo- 
dian community. In the summer of 1993, intensive 
weekend workshops will be offered in Lowell and a few 
other selected communities around the region. The 
internationally renowned faculty assembled at Jacob's 
Pillow will be leading these sessions specifically for those 
who can not afford the time to attend the week-long 
offerings. 

# First Night 

"I saw the training at Jacob's Pillow and knew the perfor- 
mances had a place on our program," exclaimed Zeren 
Earls, who has served as both executive director and artis- 
tic director of First Night Boston since 1980. "It's very 
important to me to bring the rich traditions of many im- 
migrant cultures to a mainstream audience such as we 
have at First Night. I also feel it is essential to include 



newcomers in our programs as a way of welcoming them 
to our community." 

In 1991 Earls presented the Khmer Perform- 
ing Arts Ensemble in a special program at the largest the- 
atre space in the city. As part of the Columbus Quincen- 
tennial she brought together half a dozen dance troupes in 
a tribute honoring America's diverse heritage. "As part of 
that continuum, it was natural to have some of our new- 
est Americans represented. We filled the hall twice," she 
reported, "and this year the Khmer returned to our pro- 
gram with a stage to themselves." 

"Our average audience member has no knowl- 
edge of the dance tradition in Cambodia, yet they are 
clearly moved by the exquisite form of the dancers. I work 
with a lot of communities around Boston, and the profes- 
sionalism that the Cambodians have achieved as a result 
of the Newcomers Project is remarkable. There is a defi- 
nite role for the NEFAs of this world." 



Breaking New Ground 

Clearly, the Newcomers Project is breaking new ground. 
According to Daniel Sheehy, director of the NEA's Folk 
Arts Program, "Jacob's Pillow has provided a working 
model of ways in which arts institutions or artists' colo- 
nies can provide a setting for immigrant artists to work 
with original masters. This really addresses a need identi- 
fied at the World Classical Performing Arts Conference in 
1991. The involvement in this project of a national leader 
like Jacob's Pillow sends an important signal to producers 
and presenters across the country and offers the Cambo- 
dian community a visibility far beyond the region." 

"In one year, I've seen a striking difference in 
the Cambodian performances. This is evident both in 
their props and stage sets, as well as in meeting the expec- 
tations of an American audience in terms of timing, pac- 
ing and packaging." 



"In a very direct way," Sheehy continues, 
"this NEFA project reinforces the Folk Arts Program's 
goal of increasing access for all Americans to each other. 
We can't hope to be fluent in the himdreds of cultures 
that are part of our American society today. However, 
experiences we gain as audience members give tis a 
glimpse at the core values of a people as expressed 
through their arts." 

For the audience, Sheehy believes, each new 
experience raises a question and challenges us to think 
about what it means and why it is there. In this regard he 
says, "there is a lot in common between avant garde and 
folk art. They are both challenging and the audiences 
need guidance." 

Despite the problems faced by all the Cambodian 
artists, everyone agrees the Newcomers Project has suc- 
ceeded in providing a framework that allows them to 
reach new audiences. It has also woven a wonderful pat- 
tern of partnerships that can serve as models for pro- 
grams nationwide. 

As NEFA's Peterson describes it, "This is such 
a nice example of how two organizations develop sepa- 
rate programs that mutually strengthen and reinforce 
each other. The Cambodian programs at Jacob's Pillow 
could not have occurred without the prior grotmd-break- 
ing work of NEFA's Newcomers Project. Conversely, the 
Jacob's Pillow programs were a trtily inspiring opportu- 
nity for the Cambodian students. All in all, it's one of 
those 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts' 
experiences." ■ 



Michael Levine is the public information officer at the Vermont Council 
on the Arts. He is a former free-layice journalist and broadcast 
professional. 



About NEFA 

The New England Foundation for the Arts 
is a regional consortium of the six New 
England state arts councils (Connecticut, 
Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, 
Rhode Island, Vermont) created over 15 
years ago to support and de\^elop the arts in 
New England. The foundation's mission is 
to connect the people ofNew England with 
the power of art to shape lives and impro\'e 
communities. Public and private partner- 
ships are developed by the foundation to 
support the creation and presentation of art 
by artists and diverse art organizations. Its 
goals are pursued through a variety of pro- 
grams and services, which include informa- 
tion exchange, policy planning, research, 
advocacv and direct financial assistance. 



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The Down Home Dairylond Sago 



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•^ Arthur "Zeke" Renard, Belgian button accordion player from Duval, Wisconsin, 
being recorded and interviewed for "Down Home Dairyland," a radio program 
created by the Wisconsin Arts Board to serve the traditional and ethnic musicians in 
the state. 
Photo by Richard March 



hy Richard March 



The VFW Hall in Janesville, Wisconsin, sits on 
top of a high hill on the south side of town. For 
the famously flat Midwest, the hill commands a 
spectacular view overlooking the sprawling linear build- 
ings of the General Motors plant, the small city's largest 
employer. The factory is surrounded by a web of high 
voltage power lines, while in the distance the rolling 
green countryside is dotted with the farmsteads of dairy 
producers, their massive barns flanked by towering silos. 

The VFW Hall is a friendly gathering place 
for the farmers, autoworkers and others from the Janes- 
ville area. Rock Cotmty and Green Cotmty residents of 
German, Swiss, Norwegian, Polish and Irish descent use 
the hall to ntirture their traditions, celebrate weddings 
and anniversaries and put on lodge fiinctions and com- 
munity benefit affairs. They are the kind of people whose 
artistic interests and needs have seldom been addressed 
by state arts agencies, even though they and millions of 
others from the smaller cities and rural areas of the Up- 
per Midwest have created their own expressive ctilttire. 
Their culture and its expression through the music and 
dance in this hall is at once unified and pluralistic, urban 
and rural, rooted in tradition yet forward-looking. 

In the fall of 1986 I drove wdth my colleague 
Jim Leary 40 miles southeast from home in Madison to 
take in a rare musical experience. We had noticed in the 
Wisconsin Polka Boosters newsletter that the New Jolly 
Swiss Boys — Syl Liebl, Jr.'s band from Coon Valley, 
Wisconsin — ^would be in Janesville. Syl Liebl, Sr., the 
legendary concertina player, wotild be sitting in. We 
jumped at the chance to hear and meet this immensely 
influential, but now mosdy reared, musician. 

The dance was in fuU swing when we arrived. 
The final flourish of a Dutchman-style polka tune was 
jtist fading and the spinning dancers' skirts still settling as 
we walked in. The two Syls and the Swiss Boys were on 



stage taking a moment's pause and preparing to play a set 
of three waltzes. Anxious to meet the elder Liebl, we 
strode toward the stage. By the time we reached the 
middle of the dance floor, 1 was recognized by Archie 
Baron, a dairy farmer and the polka promoter who had 
booked this dance. 

"Hey Rick, it's great to see you here," he 
beamed. "Would you like an introduction?" Assiuning 
he was going to introduce me to Syl Liebl, St., 1 nodded 
assent. Archie sprang to the stage, snatched a micro- 
phone from its stand and annoimced, "Hey everybody, 
look who's here — Rick March of 'Down Home Dairy- 
land' radio!" I stood frozen in surprise as a hearty ripple 
of applause filled the hall. 



Discovering Listeners 
For about two months the Wisconsin Arts Board 
(WAB), where I am the traditional and ethnic arts coor- 
dinator, had been producing "Down Home Dairyland," 
which at that time was a three-hour Monday morning 
radio show on WORT, Madison's listener-supported 
commimity radio. The show featured the traditional and 
ethnic music of Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, with 
an emphasis on polkas. It had never occturred to me that 
we might have listeners in Janesville! 

The incident marked my in-person debut as a 
radio personality in Wisconsin. It had been hard to ex- 
plain to most people just what I did for WAB and how it 
might relate to them. But everybody knew what a radio 
deejay was! During the afternoon a few listeners ap- 
proached me with comments such as, "I liked that fea- 
ture you did on Romy Gosz. How can 1 get a tape of it?," 
"Will you play for me that 'Let's Have a Party' ttme by 
Chuck Thiel and the Jolly Ramblers?" 

Now 1 had some confirmation that my radio 
idea was actually working. It was initially viewed by some 



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of my arts administrator colleagues as totally oflF-the-wall 
and a crazy departure from the normal functioning of a 
state arts agency. But this incident and others over the 
ensuing months convinced me there were indeed listen- 
ers out there. Old-time and ethnic musicians pressed 
copies of their recordings into my hand or sent them by 
mail, all with the same request — "Please play it on your 
radio show." Handwritten letters and cards trickled in, 
saying: "I listen to you in the truck on my postal route. 
Could you play a Greg Anderson yodel number?" and 
"Please play 'Red Raven Polka' by Lawrence Duchow 
and dedicate it to my parents Erwin and Mary Ann 
Krause for their 40th wedding anniversary." 

# Midwestern Old-Time Music 

"Down Home Dairyland" was created in 1 986 when 
WORT needed a volunteer folk music programmer for 
the three-hour Monday morning slot. I had just com- 
pleted my third year as traditional and ethnic arts coordi- 
nator for the Wisconsin Arts Board. In that time the 
Folk Arts Program was working within the normal 
framework of a state arts agency. We had set up a Folk 
Arts Apprenticeship program that focused upon the tra- 
ditions of Wisconsin's Indian tribes, developed folk art- 
ists in the schools activities and created a Folk Arts Orga- 
nizational Projects grant category. 

While the programs were going well, we were 
disturbed that we were not serving some very important 
segments of our constituency, notably traditional and 
ethnic musicians and the communities that comprise 
their audiences. The Upper Midwest has vibrant and di- 
verse musical subcultures, based on an interplay of eth- 
nic, regional and vernacular musical forms. Unlike the 
better-known folk musics of Appalachia, the Southwest 
or New England, Midwestern old-time music has few 
advocates in cultural institutions or the media. However, 



these musical traditions are too important to ignore. Just 
as blues, jazz, country music and rock are a synthesis of 
the traditional music of the South's predominant Anglo- 
Celtic and African American populations, Upper Mid- 
western folk music is a synthesis drawn from the many 
groups who setded Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, 
the eastern Dakotas, northern Iowa, Indiana and Illinois. 
The region's music, like its culture in general, offers some 
distinct variations of an ethnic stew in which the indi- 
vidual ingredients never lose their identifiable origin. 

One example out of the dozens that could be 
cited are the Walloon Belgians of Door County, Wis- 
consin, who have retained their unique French Walloon 
dialect through five generations in America. Singers per- 
form today the traditional songs their forebears brought 
over from Namur, Belgium, in the 1850s and 1860s. 
But this devotion to Belgian traditions didn't stop 
Walloon band leaders from adopting the unique style of 
brass band music played by their Czech-American neigh- 
bors. In this area of northeastern Wisconsin the Czech 
(actually the locals usually call it "Bohemian") style was 
adopted also by bandleaders with Polish, Dutch and 
German ethnic backgrounds. 

That particular Wisconsin Bohemian sound 
had German-American trumpeter Roman Gosz as its 
most seminal figure. His 78 rpm recordings, with the vo- 
cals in Czech, still comprise the core repertoire of today's 
numerous Bohemian, or "Gosz-style" bands. Currently 
one of the finest professional singers of the old Czech 
songs is Cletus Bellin, a radio station manager and polka 
disc jockey from Kewaunee, Wisconsin. A proud pro- 
moter of his Belgian heritage, Bellin, who speaks 
Walloon fluently, also took the time to learn the correct 
Czech pronunciation from friends in nearby Pilsen. 

When Bellin plays piano and sings as a mem- 
ber of the Jerry Voelker Orchestra of Green Bay, the 



band may perform in addition to their core repertoire of 
Czech and German tunes (plus country and western 
numbers), a Norwegian schottische, a Finnish waltz, a 
Polish oberek, a "modern" Glenn Miller swing tune or a 
1960s rock oldie without ever departing from the under- 
lying regional Bohemian band's style or playing reper- 
toire that is considered unusual or intrusive. 



Learning to Respond to Different Needs 
During the 1 980s, the WAB grants mechanism had not 
been effective in gaining wider recognition for the signifi- 
cant art of Upper Midwestern traditional musicians. 
They cotildn't apply for organizational grants, because 
the bands are small businesses, as opposed to nonprofit 
organizations. Individual musicians weren't interested in 
apprenticeship grants since the yoimger musicians nor- 
mally learn by listening to recordings, watching bands, 
sitting in, jamming and getting hired as sidemen. 

The few nonprofit organizations who actually 
did apply for grants to present this type of music didn't 
fare very well with the arts board's music panel of that 
time. When WXPR, community radio from the little 
town of Rhinelander in northern Wisconsin, applied to 
present a live performance by the fine young Finnish- 
American band, the Oulu Hotshots from Iron River, one 
WAB panelist cast a disparaging remark regarding that 
type of music. (The Oulu Hotshots went on to make 
several recordings and gained national exposure through 
multiple appearances on Garrison Keillor's radio show, 
"A Prairie Home Companion.") 

I spoke to the musicians and dance club 
members who were stymied in the grants realm. What 
did they need from WAB? It turned out that obtaining 
grants was not their highest priority. They wanted more 
recognition, respect and media exposure. They felt that 
pop music and the Nashville sound had all but squeezed 



them out of the media. They were right. In commercial 
radio they were off the air, except for a polka hour here 
and there on a few small town AM stations, perhaps 
sharing the hour with the noon livestock prices report. 

Based on the University of Wisconsin cam- 
pus, Wisconsin Public Radio (call letters WHA) is cur- 
rently celebrating its 75th year of serving the state by 
broadcasting educational and cultural programming. 
WHA programming emphasizes classical music. Na- 
tional Public Radio and talk programs. The few hours 
per week of folk programming was divided between con- 
temporary singer-songwriters and traditional music from 
the American South or the British Isles. Recordings of 
Upper Midwestern traditional musicians, even those 
from the Madison area (local to the main studios), were 
rare as hen's teeth in the WHA record library. 

These neglected musical traditions needed the 
validation that would come with inclusion on public ra- 
dio. Fortunately, an item in WAB's five-year plan called 
for enhancing the arts board's presence in the media. To 
his credit, the arts board director committed the agency 
to trying the radio experiment. The agency took the 
open time slot on the local station WORT, which is 
heard in a 50-mile radius of Madison. I learned to oper- 
ate the studio equipment, got my FCC license and 
started broadcasting. 

# Wisconsin Public Radio 

After a year the arts board's WORT programs had been 
noticed by WHA Folk Music Programmer Tom Mar- 
tin-Erickson and he was interested in collaborating. It 
was a great opportunity. The WHA network could be 
heard statewide (even in areas of neighboring states), and 
the association with Wisconsin Public Radio carried with 
it the status and respect that could help validate Upper 
Midwestern traditions. 



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Everyone benefited fi-om the collaboration. 
The arts board provided my time — officially 10 percent 
of my 40-hour work week, though it was often more. 
Wisconsin Public Radio provided studio facilities, an en- 
gineer and the assistance of Tom Martin-Erickson. And 
so WHA gained unique, locally-produced programming, 
and the arts board gained media exposure and a chance 
to do more for underserved constituents. 

With a grant from the Folk Arts Program of 
the National Endowment for the Arts, free-lance folklor- 
ist Jim Leary was able to join me in producing a series of 
13 half-hour programs. These programs, each devoted to 
the music of a particular ethnic group, geographic area or 
instrument, blended excerpts from field interviews of tra- 
ditional musicians with their music. 

The first series on WHA premiered in early 
1989. In this series and those that followed, Jim and I 
made a sincere eflFort to truly reflect the cultural diversity 
of the Upper Midwest with programs that focused on an 
African American gospel quartet, a Milwaukee Puerto 
Rican jibaro ensemble, Hmong and Cambodian tradi- 
tions in Wisconsin and the many forms of Wisconsin In- 
dian music. 

Wisconsin is a state where over 90 percent of 
the population is Euro- American, and most of these 
people are uncomfortable being lumped together in an 
official, homogenized "white" identity. Thus, the specific 
traditions of groups such as Slovenians, Welsh, Finns, 
Norwegians, Germans and Poles, and the ways their eth- 
nic traits interacted and recombined in the Midwest were 
treated in many of the programs: "Echoes of Slovenia," 
"Finnish-American Music in Superiorland" and "The 
Polish Fiddlers of Posen." 

Though the topic is serious and the music is 
good, by its inclusiveness "Down Home Dairyland" 
challenges the fixed notions of many of our listeners and 



radio cohorts. At WORT I had to buck the dominant 
counter-cultural bias, and assert that, in addition to the 
"granola eaters," older folks and farmers are indeed part 
of the community WORT should serve. Some of these 
farmers and older folks have had to stretch to appreciate 
the unfamiliar music of relative newcomers like Puerto 
Ricans and Hmong, and accept the newcomers' contri- 
butions as a new part of Wisconsin's tradition. 

But there was also a lot of positive reaction. 
The Milwaukee Magazine touted "Down Home Dairy- 
land" as die "Media Pick of the Month" in March 1989, 
saying, "This is music to soothe the souls of even the 
most harried postmoderns." Isthmus, a Madison news- 
weekly strong on arts and entertainment, regularly lists 
the programs in their "Radio Highlights" section, some- 
times with humorous comments like, "We don't know 
what a masopmt is, but we do know it's survived in Wis- 
consin for more than a century." [Incidentally, Masopust 
is the Czech pre-Lenten festivity.] More important were 
the letters from appreciative listeners, with comments 
like, "I loved the Women Polka Bandleaders show! Keep 
up the good work." and "My father used to play his 
fiddle in a band, the Uncle Louie Orchestra. Would you 
be interested in them for 'Down Home Dairyland'?" 

It is also gratifying to have a chance to get ac- 
quainted with the musicians, and though they don't say a 
lot about it, to know they are happy with the show. Over 
a couple of beers in plastic cups, elbows on the plank that 
served as a bar in the rear corner of a polka festival dance 
tent, two musicians mentioned a WAB show on Ger- 
man-American music in which they were featured. 
"Rick, I owe you one," one of them said. 



And the Saga Continues 
Though WAB's initial intention was to make one series 
comprising 13 programs, popular support spurred us to 



make 27 more in the period from 1 989 to 1 992 for a to- 
tal of 40 programs. Audio cassettes of these programs are 
available and have been purchased at a steady rate by in- 
dividuals, teachers and professors, public libraries, school 
libraries and major archives like the Library of Congress, 
the Center for Popular Music and the Country Music 
Foundation. Through these cassettes, the artists and the 
special music that "Down Home Dairyland" showcases 
are heard beyond the limits of radio transmission. 

Forthcoming from the University of Wiscon- 
sin Division of University Outreach is another spin-off 
product, Down Home Dairyland: A Listener's Guide, co- 
authored by Jim Leary and myself The 1 00-page booklet 
will provide short essays, photographs and bibliograph- 
ical information for the musical traditions covered in the 
40 programs (1989-1992). The guide enhances the use- 
fulness of the programs as educational curriculum materi- 
als, and Jim is devising continuing education correspon- 
dence courses that will target teachers and make use of 
the audiocassettes and the guide. 

In early 1 992, to consolidate listenership, the 
WHA program director asked WAB if "Down Home 
Dairyland" could run 52 weeks per year as a part of their 
Sunday evening "Old Time Radio Night." With some 
trepidation we accepted the challenge. To make it pos- 
sible to produce about 39 shows per year (the remaining 
weeks will feature reruns), we adopted a magazine format 
featuring a variety of traditions in each program. Though 
we are not able to present excerpts from field-recorded in- 
terviews each week, "Down Home Dairyland" now casts 
a broader net by bringing in artists from farther afield in 
the Midwest, and elsewhere in the country and Canada. 
We can also be more timely in responding to listener re- 
quests and inquiries, because the time between produc- 
tion and broadcast is shorter. 



The show is more established and continues 
to receive plaudits. Nick Spitzer, producer of the Folk 
Masters concerts and broadcasts from Carnegie Hall and 
Wolf Trap, uses segments from "Down Home 
Dairyland" as instructional examples in his radio produc- 
tion workshops. 

But it is of greater significance that "Down 
Home Dairyland" has been one factor in a growing ap- 
preciation of Upper Midwestern musical traditions. In 
recent years the NEA has awarded National Heritage 
Fellowships to some of the finest Upper Midwestern old- 
time musicians: Wisconsin's Louie Bashell, Michigan's 
An Moilanen and Minnesota's Christie Hengel. Other 
Wisconsin polka bands have been well received recently 
in the nation's capitol: Brian and the Mississippi Valley 
Dutchmen had an enthusiastic reception at the 
Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife in 1991, and 
the Jerry Schneider Orchestra appeared at the Kennedy 
Center in 1992. 

Through "Down Home Dairyland," the Wis- 
consin Arts Board maintains a higher profile with a regu- 
lar media product serving a specific artistic need. More- 
over, both the program's inclusiveness and the traditional 
musicians' eclectic intermingling of ethnic, regional and 
vernacular content provide a concrete example of a re- 
gional culture dealing positively with pluralism. ■ 

Richard March has been on the staff of the Wisconsin Arts Board since 
1983. He has a Doctorate of Folklore from Indiana University and 
plays such diverse instruments as the diatonic button accordion and the 
tamburitza. For the past 18 years he has collaborated with the Smithso- 
nian Institution on various folklife programs. He also assists the Library 
of Congress in the preparation of the annualSelect List of Folk Music 
Recordings, and is on the advisory board of the Fund for Folk Culture, 
a national folk arts philanthropy. 



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Creative Marriages: Traditional Arts Apprenticeships 




In American Samoa, the state arts agency is working with the Samoans to set up 
apprenticeships with master artists to ensure that endangered craft skills, such as canoe 
building, do not vanish. Here two men work on a model canoe, demonstrating the 
intricate skills of lashing a canoe. 

Photo by Lynn Martin 



by Bess Lomax Hawes and Barry Bergey 



The development of an artist is by no means a 
straightforward matter of the acquisition of infor- 
mation and the mastery of technique. The novice 
must also acquire that elusive component of all great 
art — style. Style means not just what notes are played, 
but how they are played; how the colors and textures in a 
painting relate to one another; how a singer's vocal 
chords widen or constrict; how and when a dancer's feet 
step or point. Learning style isn't easy nor, as some 
people think, automatic. No less a master than Leonard 
Bernstein once observed that the only way classical musi- 
cians can acquire the final burnishing essential to out- 
standing performances is by being allowed direct associa- 
tion with senior artists of stature; in other words, through 
some kind of apprenticing, where the subde and con- 
tinuous line of decisions artists must make can be joindy 
confironted. The classical musician must learn that extra 
essential dimension, which can't be written down on the 
score; they, like other artists, must learn style. And nowa- 
days not just one style, but the several varied styles ex- 
pected of the well- trained concert musician. 

By contrast the field of folk arts encompasses 
not a few, but hundreds, even thousands, of direcdy rep- 
licated styles of music, as well as dance, singing, story tell- 
ing, pot-throwing, basket-weaving — artistic behaviors of 
all types. For in the traditional folk arts, essence is re- 
vealed by the particular — specificity is everything. What 
is this basket made of* What is its use? Which tribe owns 
this dance? Who sings this song? On what occasions? 
Each traditional artistic item, each traditional artistic 
event is the cherished production of a particular group 
and it represents its values, its concerns, its actual being. 
In very real ways the style itself contains, indeed is, the 
message. 



# Traditional Arts Apprenticing 

The term apprenticinghas a long and complex history. In 
the general field of the arts it is important to realize that 
it has an informal, rather than legal, usage. It has nothing 
to do with the nationally codified and union-approved 
training of, for example, building tradesmen like plumb- 
ers, bricklayers or carpenters through the general stages of 
apprentice, journeyman and master. In folk arts the 
terms master and apprentice represent a particular kind 
of creative marriage, a joining together of the experienced 
hand and the eager learner to ensure that the tradition is 
maintained as accurately as can be and that the old ideas 
get a respectfial hearing. 

This can and does happen sometimes in a 
school room. But where shifting groups of small cultures 
continually jostle for their place in the sun, large-scale 
training programs like classes and workshops tend to be 
ineffective, except perhaps in an introductory capacity. In 
the traditional arts, apprenticeships are ultimately much 
more productive. This is why from its very beginning in 
1977 the NEA Folk Arts Program included a modest 
fiinding provision for the support of apprenticeships. 



State Apprenticeship Programs 

At first the Folk Arts Program handed individual appren- 
ticeships directly, but eventually this approach was aban- 
doned due to the general inefficiency of administering at 
the federal level dozens of small, geographically-dis- 
persed, individual grants. In 1984 the Folk Arts Program 
initiated a pilot, state-based, apprenticeship funding cat- 
egory intended to encourage the perpetuation of distinct 
folk artistic traditions. This new program sought state 
partners, most frequendy state arts agencies, that were 
able to draw on the expertise and energies of state folk 
arts coordinators, as well as locate matching moneys. 
Twelve states participated in the initial year of this pilot 



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effort. Thirty-six states now conduct active apprentice- 
ship programs, assisting apprenticeships in art forms such 
as Ukrainian weaving, Mississippi blues, cowboy poetry, 
Cambodian dance, Sioux beadwork of the Northern 
Plains and Hispanic santo carving of the Southwest. 
Some state arts agencies have even developed spin-off ac- 
tivities from their apprenticeship programs, including 
both small local presentations of the work accomplished 
and grander projects such as "Colorado Folk Arts and 
Artists 1986-1990." This exhibit featured the work of 
Hispanic, Native American and other Coloradan master/ 
apprentice teams and toured the state in 1992. 



The Urban Apprenticeship 

To see how apprenticing works in a large urban area we 
can turn to the District of Columbia Commission on the 
Arts and Humanities, which set up a pilot folk arts ap- 
prenticeship program in 1989. The arts commission is 
entering its fourth year of apprenticeships in such arts 
traditions as Bengali tahla music, Caribbean steel-drum 
making and tuning, the song repertoire of Guinea, Afro- 
Cuban drumming, African American quilt design and 
technique, the music of the Indian sitar znd various spe- 
cialized aspects of African American religious music. 

In the commission's current program, D.C.'s 
last active jubilee-style, spiritual singing quartet, called 
the Four Echoes, works with the Spiritual Kings of Har- 
mony. The Spiritual Kings is comprised of ex-convicts 
who formed their group in the local minimum-security 
prison. Through apprenticing to the Four Echoes, who 
have been together 47 years, the younger Spiritual Kings 
of Harmony hope to learn more about their history and 
cultural tradition, as well as broaden their chances for 
picking up engagements by acquiring the venerable vocal 
style that is still greatly appreciated by older D.C. audi- 
ences. This apprenticeship with the Spiritual Kings oc- 



curs directly after one with Prophecy: Cops for Christ, a 
gospel quartet of the Washington Metropolitan Police 
officers. Last year Prophecy worked for many weeks with 
the Four Echoes to increase their repertoire of traditional 
spirituals. Prophecy frequently ran through a song or two 
in the precinct house to the applause of those waiting to 
be charged. "We were locking them up and giving them 
the Lord's word at the same time," said the bass-baritone. 

In another apprenticeship, the experienced 
quartet trainer and vocal coach Samuel Hubbard has 
taken on a contemporary gospel foursome of young 
black men to help them refine their pitch discrimination, 
rhythmic precision and general presentation. "Every 
word is pronounced, from the first to the last," one of the 
apprentices recently declared in respectfiil amazement. 

A third apprenticeship is being conducted by 
Deacon Solomon Bouknight, an African American 
church elder, who leads his congregation every Sunday in 
the old-fashioned "lining-out" hymn style in which the 
song leader sings a line that is repeated improvisationally 
by all those present. The lining-out style dates back to 
slavery and beyond. The drawn-out, surging phrases are 
intensely emotional, and many older worshippers feel 
that if they don't get to sing at least one such song they 
haven't really been to church. 

It is important to note that within the single 
category of traditional African American religious music, 
the jubilee, gospel and lining-out styles are three abso- 
lutely distinctive stylistic inventions. None of these styles 
could be learned in a music conservatory, and none of 
the three masters could substitute for the other. 



Fitting the Program to the Culture 

Just as single apprenticeships historically have been cus- 
tom-crafted to meet the needs of the master, the appren- 
tice and the unique needs of the art form, se are state ap- 




In Missouri, Mone Saenphimmachak shows apprentice 
Sithasone Singarath how to count threads for the design of a 
woven scarf or pakbiang. 

Photo by Patrick Janson 



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prenticeship programs notable for their variety in struc- 
ture and flexibility of design. These jointly (federal and 
state) funded programs are of necessity administered by 
state-based cultural specialists because the apprentice- 
ships require hands-on involvement with individual art- 
ists, including contact with prospective applicants and 
evaluation of ongoing pairings. In most cases apprentice- 
ships are selected through formal application by a rotat- 
ing, state arts agency-selected panel of cultural specialists, 
arts administrators and artists. However, other patterns 
may turn out to be culturally more appropriate. The evi- 
dent popularity of the NEA Folk Arts Program may in 
part be due to the flexibility of its rules, which allow wide 
variation in methodology while simultaneously main- 
taining clear and precise goals. 

The territories of the Pacific provide some 
striking case-studies of the complexities out of which a 
working apprenticeship program can emerge. For ex- 
ample, American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of 
the United States comprising six inhabited islands with a 
total population of under 40,000, as well as an uninhab- 
ited bird sanctuary. Four to five times more Samoans 
now live in Hawaii and on the West Coast of the main- 
land than in 7\merican Samoa, so the total Samoan 
population is around two million with a vast dispropor- 
tion living outside Samoan lifeways and customs. John 
Enright, the folk arts coordinator at the American Samoa 
Arts Council, says that, while far from vanished, tradi- 
tional craft: skills have become endangered by the arrival 
of modern commercial allures. "Many masters today, age 
40 and older, learned their traditional crafi;s at a time 
when simple metal blades and implements were the sole 
modern refinement upon their ancestors' methods of 
handiwork. But as Samoa inexorably becomes a money 
economy, interest in and time to devote to these tradi- 
tional craft skills have all but disappeared in a single gen- 



eration. The tufiiga (craftsmen) are respected but sparsely 
emulated." 

In designing an apprenticeship program 
Enright realized that within his local landscape of widely- 
dispersed villages headed and administered by chiefs, the 
awarding of special apprenticeship grants could \esid to 
intervillage antagonisms. Within the villages themselves, 
each extended family woidd claim its own accomplished 
craftspeople, so the selection of particular master artists 
could well lead to perceived insults to entire families. In a 
society that has traditionally encouraged and valued 
group activity, the one-on-one learning situation of a Eu- 
ropean-style apprenticeship is not only an obvious 
anomaly, it's frequently regarded as just plain weird. And 
finally, in terms of a local economy that is only partially 
dependent on currency, the interjection of money into 
the cultural equation could be ultimately destructive. 

The start-up of the apprenticeship program 
confirmed Enright's concerns. There was no response to 
newspaper and radio ads in Samoan announcing the new 
program. It was decided then that he should speak di- 
recdy with leaders in the remote and dispersed villages 
where it became necessary to follow the long and slow 
process of chiefly deliberation, protocol and oratory. 
Eventually this approach was abandoned also because it 
became too politicized, and an even slower process of in- 
formal consultation and consensus building emerged. Af- 
ter 12 months of apparent inactivity, a time extension for 
the pilot grant was requested and eventually approved. A 
letter from Enright at the time referred to the project as 
"lurching forward" with the situation discouraging and 
often enervating. 

Finally four pilot apprenticeships were begun, 
with two of the apprenticeships focused on pandanus 
mat weaving, another one focused on woodcarving and 
the last one focusing on traditional house building. Mas- 



ter carpenter Togiva Vai'au worked with several appren- 
tices at diflFerent times in the construction ofa.fale tele, a 
traditional round house, at the International Airport at 
Pago Pago. Using traditional adzes, the apprentice team 
decoratively incised structural timbers and painstakingly 
bound the structure with 130 miles of hand-braided co- 
conut fiber. In 1991 Hurricane Ofa struck American Sa- 
moa, destroying many island buildings including the 
modern hangars and warehouses of the Pago Pago air- 
port. The traditional ^mZ? was the only airport building to 
survive unscathed. 

So too the Samoan apprenticeship program 
has weathered the ever-shifting cultural winds of this Pa- 
cific island, largely due to the investment ofa lot of time 
and the development ofa cultural sensitivity through 
lengthy discussions and consultations. Preparations are 
currently underway for a third round of apprenticeship 
grants. In an optimistic moment as he struggles with his 
budding program, John Enright writes, "I always take 
refuge in the people .... For them I'm not a program, 
just a person." 



Newcomers and Old Settlers 
In Samoa, like Washington, D.C., we can see the impact 
of the apprenticeship idea upon a long-established and 
resident cultural poptdation. But apprenticeships are also 
capable of addressing some of the needs of traditional art- 
ists who are recent arrivals in this country. For recent im- 
migrants, geographic dislocation is ofi:en no less severe 
than the cultural disorientation that occurs in a new 
country where there is a primary need to negotiate an 
unfamiliar terrain of values. Choices are quickly made 
about what to retain, what to discard and what to pass 
along to fiature generations. Though most cultures reso- 
nate through intensive face-to-face transmissions of artis- 
tic knowledge, immigrant artists are often confi:onted 



with a situation that pits cultural preservation against the 
survival of health and home. 

The Missouri Traditional Arts Apprenticeship 
Program, funded through the Missouri Arts Council, has 
supported a series of apprenticeships involving Mone 
Saenphimmachak, a Lowland Lao embroiderer and 
weaver. She and her family moved to St. Louis in 1 984 
fi-om refugee camps in Thailand, having fled to Thailand 
to escape the political troubles in Laos. Mone was born 
in Mahazai, a village of 500 families in central Laos, and 
she began to learn weaving and embroidery at her 
mother's side at the age of 12. Mone says of these skills: 
"No one wants to marry a girl who can't sew . . . Even 
very wealthy girls who would never have to sew as adults 
had to know some kind of handwork in order to be con- 
sidered marriageable." While she was courting Vanxay, 
her husband-to-be, his mother was inspecting her weav- 
ing. As part of the process of betrothal, Mone had to 
present Vanxay's mother with a sarong she had made. 

Lest one think that these marriage pre-condi- 
tions were a bit one-sided, Mone's father was concerned 
that his future son-in-law did not know how to build a 
loom. After their marriage Mone's father instructed 
Vanxay in the making ofa loom, commenting, "Why 
did you get married if you don't even know how to make 
a loom?" 

Since moving to St. Louis, Mone has taught 
in the apprenticeship program for four of the past five 
years, instructing seven apprentices on looms Vanxay has 
constructed for her. This past year Vanxay taught a 
young man, the husband of one of Mone's apprentices, 
the art of building a traditional Lao loom, fiarther echo- 
ing a cycle of tradition initiated in a far-away village in 
Laos. 

Weaving and traditional embroidery seem to 
be pan and parcel of Mone Saenphimmachak's sense of 



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herself and her bittersweet past. She told an interviewer, 
"When I teach sewing I feel homesick because the pat- 
terns I make on the material remind me of the time 
when my mother taught me." It is important to keep 
weaving, she says, so "we may recognize ourselves by 
these patterns." 

These woven and sewn patterns, a repertoire 
of visual melodies, can only be passed on to a student by 
means of a long and intimate process of demonstration 
and instruction. Lao motifs are not graphed or charted; 
they emerge on the loom from the weaver's internalized 
storehouse of designs. A site visitor to Mone's apprentice- 
ship notes: "In some ways, learning each pattern is much 
like a fiddler working out a new tune — it is a taxing 
memorization process that also requires physical dexterity 
and precision." 

In some ways Art Galbraith, a fiddler from 
southwest Missouri, might seem the cultural antithesis of 
Mone Saenphimmachak. Six generations of Galbraiths 
have lived in the Ozark region. Andrew Galbraith, Art's 
great-grandfather born in 1796 and a veteran of the War 
of 1812, moved from Tennessee to the banks of 
Missouri's James River in 1841 . A dancing master and 
fiddler of Scottish ancestry, Andrew Galbraith passed his 
tunes through generations of children and grandchildren 
until many landed in the custody of Art Galbraith, who 
recently died at the age of 83. Art, who knew hundreds 
of tunes, bemoaned the fact that when some fiddlers play 
for dances they tend to repeat the same tune all night. 
He said that after twenty-five repeats "even a top-notch 
tune can begin to wear on you." 

When he selected Justin Bertoldie, a fourteen- 
year-old fiddler, Art wanted to be sure that in addition to 
learning technique, Justin acquired a repertoire of these 
time-tested tunes and an appreciation for "the history 
and heritage of those tunes." He also wanted to be cer- 



tain that Justin be conversant with the fiill range of tune 
types — hoedowns, waltzes, jigs, reels, rags, blues and 
hornpipes. 

One tune especially important to Art was 
"The Flowers of Edinburgh," an old melody that came 
from his great-grandfather Andrew. He worked especially 
hard with Justin on this tune, because the Galbraith ver- 
sion is unlike that performed by any other fiddler. 
Galbraith's persistence was justly rewarded. At a National 
Council on the Arts meeting held in St. Louis in 1988, 
Art and Justin performed "The Flowers of Edinburgh" to 
demonstrate the value of the apprenticeship program. Af- 
ter they had played the complex tune several times in 
union. Art gradually lightened his touch until he sat with 
his fiddle in his lap, knowingly smiling at the realization 
that neither the audience nor the young apprentice was 
aware that the mentor had stopped playing. 



Learning About Learning 

In contrast to other activities in which endless definitions 
and explanations are required, the aims and conditions of 
an apprenticeship program are everywhere easily under- 
standable and acceptable. The other striking characteris- 
tic of an apprenticeship program is that it can fit in just 
about any place, serving the needs and interests of all 
kinds of groups — large and small, urban and rural, stable 
and mobile, religious, occupational and ethnic. A few 
other general observations have become evident as well 
during the program's almost 16 years of tesdng and 
experimentation: 

• The powerfiil human desire to extend one's 
own time on earth is often expressed by a longing to 
share one's knowledge with juniors so that they can carry 
it forward. Young people long for, but do not always re- 
ceive, opportunities to earn adult attention and approval. 
These contradictory but positive impulses are the basic 



energizers of any apprenticeship program and should 
never be overlooked. 

• Every apprenticeship program and every 
apprenticeship within it needs to be individually carved 
out of a baseline set of principles that are sufficiendy flex- 
ible to allow for cultural differences and sufficiently rigid 
to encourage the production of art, which must repre- 
sent, further and enhance the values of the particular cul- 
ture in question. (Contrary to popular opinion, folk art is 
rarely widely accessible and even more rarely is it simple 
or easy.) 

• Genuine apprenticeships are a bit like 
genuine marriages: tricky to arrange and even trickier to 
keep going. Individual creative impulses must be negoti- 
ated at all stages of the procedure, and a great deal of 
work devolves upon the "marriage counsellor," better 
known as the arts administrator, who keeps trying to 
bring hopejfiil couples together and acts as both referee 
and consultant should any difficulties occur. 

• It is therefore unwise to initiate an appren- 
ticeship program without having available both cultural 
expertise and an energetic support staff. This is a pro- 
gram that requires hands-on administration; there is no 
use putting it in place without a clear understanding that 
extraordinary efforts may be necessary to implement it. 
On the other hand, extraordinary art may result, and 
that is not an everyday happening. 

• Finally, apprenticeship programs seem to 
succeed when they draw heavily on values and traditions 
embodied in and reflective of very particular cultural 
landscapes. As with forests and friendships, deeply-rooted 
individual apprenticeships tend to stand the test of time. 
This mysterious process succeeds when there is a timely 
convergence of aptitude and attitude, grounded in a 
sympathetic cultural terrain. Like so many good ideas, 
the concept of apprenticeships came to us unannounced 



from the past, a lesson of many masters from many 
places. And like good apprentices, the NEA Folk Arts 
Program and its state arts agency partners honor this 
time-tested concept through imitation. ■ 

Bess Lomax Hawes directed the Folk Arts Program at the National En- 
dowment for the Arts until her retirement in 1992. Prior to this, she 
was assistant director for the Smithsonian Institution 's Festival for 
American Folklife, and for more than 20 years she taught folklore, eth- 
nomusicology and folk music in various California universities. She is 
also a published author, and has directed several short documentary 
films. 

Barry Bergey is the founder of the Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts and 
served as co-director of the Frontier Folklife Festival in St Louis. In his 
former capacity as the Missouri State Folk Arts Coordinator, he initi- 
ated the Missouri Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. He is cur- 
rently the assistant director of the Folk Arts Program at the National 
Endowment for the Arts. 



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Culture and Science Join to Save 
Maine Indian Basketry 




The hands of Jane Zumbrunnen, Micmac basketmaker, weaving brown ash splints to 
make a fancy basket. With the assistance of the Maine Arts Commission, 
basketmakers from Maine's four Indian tribes have come together to work on the 
problems facing brown ash basketry. 

Photo by Cedric Chatterley 



by Wayne Curtis 



A chill wind blows in from the west on a squally 
mid-November day in northern Maine, over- 
turning roadside signs touting "Russets" and 
"New Potatoes." The terrain offers little to obstruct the 
wind; the broad, open sweep of the land is in sharp con- 
trast to the state's image of rocky coast and forests thick 
with spruce. In Aroostook County, a sprawling region 
more northerly than Montreal, the landscape is domi- 
nated by dark potato fields. The predominant image is of 
an endless, overarching sky. 

On this blustery day a group of twenty 
basketmakers, representing two of the state's four Indian 
tribes, gathers in a small room on the windswept campus 
of the University of Maine at Presque Isle for the first of 
a series of basketmakers' fonims. The basketmakers have 
come together under the auspices of the Maine Arts 
Commission to enjoy heaping bowls of moose stew; to 
view a new photographic exhibit of basketmaking, "Bas- 
ket Trees/Basket Makers;" and — for the first time ever — 
to openly discuss the problems they face in keeping their 
craft alive. 

After the stew and a bit of banter about the 
photos (several fonim participants appear prominendy in 
them), the meeting is called to order. Donald Sanipass, a 
former president of the Aroostook Micmac Cotmcil and 
one of the state's most respected basketmakers, starts to 
give a brief demonstration of the basketmaker's art. He 
holds aloft a four-foot section of brown ash, about five 
inches in diameter and split lengthwise. "You'll notice 
there isn't much white in here," Sanipass says, indicating 
the grain, the heart of which is lighdy streaked with 
brown as if stained with coffee. "A healthy tree has a lot 
of white," he says. "When it's dark inside, it's brittle." 
And brittle wood is about as much use to a basketmaker 
as hardened clay is to a potter. 

Sanipass doesn't get much fiarther in his dem- 



onstration. His comments trigger a flurry of responses 
from the other basketmakers, many of whom report 
similar difiuculties finding suitable wood for their craft. 
"The problem is finding a good splint," says Yvonne 
Nadeau, another Micmac basketmaker. "That's our 
bread and butter," says another, clearly worried. 

Eldon Hanning, a Micmac basketmaker from 
Aroostook County, notes that the quality of the more 
valuable white annual growth rings has been in decline 
for at least a decade, and that dark and britde wood is 
now the norm. But, he goes on to note, a bit of boastful- 
ness creeping into his tone, prized trees haven't disap- 
peared entirely. He tells of recently harvesting a 24-inch 
diameter ash that was nearly aU white inside. A quiet, 
wistfiil murmuring fills the room as the basketmakers re- 
call the days when such trees were common. This is per- 
haps the most eloquent testimony during the day of the 
precariotis state of the brown ash and the fiiture of In- 
dian basketry in Maine. 



Baskets Fancy and Practical 
BrowTi ash splint basketry has been a long-standing tradi- 
tion among Native Americans in Maine and the Cana- 
dian Maritimes. The art has been passed down from gen- 
eration to generation in all four Indian tribes of Maine 
— the Micmacs, the Penobscots, the Maliseets and the 
Passamaquoddies. Several of the tribes' creation legends 
center on the brown ash tree where the legendary hero 
Gluskabe shot an arrow into a brown ash tree and out 
sprang the Indian people. When recounting this story, 
Penobscot Tribal Governor Jerry Pardilla adds, "Our 
roots [like the ash tree roots] are deeply in the land." 
The baskets take a variety of forms, from 
fancy to fiinctional. Following contact with Europeans, 
basketmakers often created with trade in mind, designing 
baskets for setders in need of containers for harvest and 



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Storage. In the later nineteenth century, the Victorian 
penchant for embellishment found its way to the ash bas- 
kets, and "fancy baskets" with dyed splints and intricate 
twists came on the market. But by far, the most com- 
monly produced were more prosaic, such as the tradi- 
tional pack baskets used by tribal hunters and woods- 
men, and potato baskets with handles sturdy enough to 
serve as a makeshift field stool. 

Basket styles may vary widely between the 
tribes. Some of this variation is due to the fact that tradi- 
tional access to certain materials is limited. For instance 
basketmakers near the coast, such as those who are Pen- 
obscot or Passamaquoddy, have greater access to sweet- 
grass, a shoreline grass used for decorative trim. 

Style of ash preparation may also vary. 
Micmac basketmakers start out with a quarter section of 
ash log, much like that displayed by Sanipass, to prepare 
it for pounding, which splits the wood into long, pliant 
strips (or splints) along its growth rings. With a mallet or 
the blunt end of an axe, they pound the one- or two-inch 
planks repeatedly to release the splints from the log sec- 
tion. Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and Maliseet basket- 
makers score the log in one- to two-inch segments and 
pound the entire log intact. These basketmakers claim 
that although more time and effort is involved, less waste 
is incurred as the splints are piUled from the log. 

The next step for all basketmakers is splitting 
the ash splints lengthwise into various thickneslses, some 
paper thin for certain fancy baskets. This technique is ac- 
complished by using a splitting machine, a handmade 
wooden, inverted V-shaped device. The machine is 
placed between the knees and the splint is pulled up 
through a slit in the top. Varying the tension between 
the knees allows the strips to be evenly separated. Next, 
the splints are scraped with a knife to thin them and re- 
move rough outer edges. In general, wider, thicker splints 



are used in work baskets and narrower, thinner splints 
are used in fancy baskets. At this point, some basket- 
makers may dye the ash to add colors. 

# The Brown Ash 

The tree that makes this all possible is the brown ash 
(in scientific circles it's called black ash, Fraxinus nigra). 
The brown ash isn't a particularly notable tree. Slender 
and rarely exceeding 50 feet in height, the brown ash 
prefers marshes and stream beds where it can absorb pro- 
digious amounts of water. This saturated condition 
makes the wood only marginally useful for most pur- 
poses, including firewood, but highly valuable among 
basketmakers for its extraordinary pliancy. Other woods 
including the maple, cedar and other ashes may be riven 
into splints, but Maine's basketmakers say that brown 
ash has no rival. 

In the eyes of basketmakers, not all brown 
ashes are created equal. Ashes found on higher ground or 
near stands of cedar tend to be naturally brittle and of 
little use. "You have to know the ash from the outside 
in," says Lawrence "Billy" Shay of the Penobscot tribe. 
Many of the basketmakers say that the art of basketry be- 
gins well before the first splint is cut, in being able to 
identify a suitable tree in the forest. 

By way of example. Marge Pelletier, a 
Micmac basketmaker from Fort Kent, says she asked the 
land manager for a local paper company if he had any 
brown ash culled from his stands that she might use. He 
did, and he arranged for a truckload to be delivered to 
her house. After it was dumped in her yard she discov- 
ered it was all knotty and dying. She asked Donald 
Sanipass to poke through the pile for usable logs, but 
there was nothing. "It was the worst wood I'd ever seen 
in my life," Sanipass says with a chuckle. 





Micmac basketmaker Richard Silliboy inspecting a 
brown ash tree to see if it is healthv and thus usable 
for basketr}-. 
Photo by Cedric Chanerley 



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Finding Good Ash 
But as the shared comments at the first forum suggest, 
even those well versed in selecting good ash trees are 
finding it harder these days. Sanipass, who has been mak- 
ing ash baskets for 35 years, says that even ash in the 
swampy areas is becoming brittle, which all agree is an 
unsettling trend. "I've walked into many areas and I 
think, 'Oh boy! I've struck a gold mine'," he says. "But 
then not one tree is any good." 

Sanipass says that the brittleness sets in when 
a tree starts to die. And this mortality is afflicting 
younger and younger trees. A decade or two ago he could 
regularly turn up large and healthy trees, like the one 
Eldon recently found, but these days similarly fine speci- 
mens are rare. Even trees of just four or five inches in di- 
ameter show signs of early decline, such as splitting and 
peeling bark and limbs slowly dying some 20 or 30 feet 
above the ground. "A few limbs will tell you the whole 
story," he says. 

"Someone has to look at why they're dying," 
Sanipass says. "Right now we can just guess at it. I sus- 
pect that pesticides or acid rain have something to do 
with it. Something's the matter with the water." 



The Sweetgrass Model 

The declining health of the brown ash first came to the 
attention of the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) in 
1991 when Kathleen Mundell, a traditional arts associ- 
ate, found that basketmakers throughout the state were 
finding widespread shortages of ash. Even with fiinding 
from the MAC Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Pro- 
gram, basketmakers could not track down adequate ash 
splints. "Several basketmakers said, 'This is great to try 
and work on the passing on of the skills, but there's an- 
other problem here as well'," Mundell recalls. 



Mundell prepared two grant proposals for the 
National Endowment for the Arts Folk Arts Program to 
address the problem. The first was for an exhibit that 
would help focus and draw attention to the brown ash 
basketry and the concerns of the makers. The second was 
to fiind a series of meetings to allow the basketmakers to 
gather and discuss the issue both among themselves and 
with natural resource professionals. Both proposals were 
ftmded. 

In casting around for possible avenues down 
which to proceed, Mundell found an earlier precedent 
where a traditional art form had been threatened by a de- 
clining resource. As it turned out, in the late 1 980s Afri- 
can American basketmakers in the low country of South 
Carolina had faced a similar challenge. 

In that case, the supplies of sweetgrass used in 
traditional basketry were slowly dwindling, mostly due to 
sunbelt development. Housing subdivisions, malls and 
commercial expansion were reducing access to the reedy 
grasses used in making coiled baskets, an art form that 
had been carried to American shores from Africa during 
the slave trade. Dale Rosengarten, a historian who served 
as guest curator of the McKissick Museum's Low Coun- 
try Basket Project, reported then that she heard the same 
refrain from every basketmaker: "The supply of sweet- 
grass is shrinking fast. We need help finding more." 

To address this problem, a sweetgrass confer- 
ence was convened in Charleston, South Carolina, to 
bring together concerned individuals, including basket- 
makers, folklorists, scientists and public officials. Con- 
cerns were aired and a number of initiatives proposed. 
These initiatives included the creation of a new commu- 
nity organization to negotiate grass-harvesting rights on 
privately owned islands, the involvement of the U.S. De- 
partment of Agriculture in expanding propagation of the 
grass and a coastal inventory of existing sweetgrass stands. 



# Building a Bridge 

Wanting to learn from the experience of others, the 
Maine Arts Commission sought the advice of Rosen- 
garten and basketmakers across the country, including 
the California Indian Basketweavers Association. Rosen- 
garten spent several days in Maine last year meeting with 
basketmakers, and concurred with the arts commission 
that a similar statewide conference would be beneficial in 
sharing concerns and exploring possible solutions. Be- 
cause Maine basketmakers were more widely scattered 
and less cohesive than their South Carolina counterparts, 
the arts commission planned smaller gatherings prior to 
the statewide conference in order to identify a common- 
ality of purpose. 

The arts commission set about building a 
bridge between itself and the basketmaking community 
by hiring Theresa Hoffrnan as coordinator of the project. 
A talented young Penobscot basketmaker and a natural 
resources professional employed by the Penobscot Na- 
tion, Hoffman was familiar with concerns about resource 
management as well as the needs of the basketmaking 
community. She also brought a well-grounded sense of 
the challenges the project would face. "It's very hard to 
organize basketmakers," she says, pointing to the geo- 
graphic distances in northern Maine, the advanced age of 
many basketmakers and their fierce independence. 

Once the bridge was in place with Hoffman 
as coordinator, the next step was to get the basketmakers 
talking among themselves about the problems. The pho- 
tographic exhibit, which was initially designed simply to 
be an educational display, took on a more dynamic role. 
The traveling exhibit, entitled "Basket Trees/Basket 
Makers," documented the craft through a series of pho- 
tographic portraits depicting the basketmakers at work. 

The displays — ^which were mounted in unas- 
suming ash frames — ^were accompanied with explanatory 



text and quotes from the basketmakers themselves. A 16- 
page booklet with color photographs was also produced 
and incorporated photos and text from the exhibit. "Bas- 
ket Trees/Basket Makers," which was first displayed at 
the University of Maine library at Presque Isle, gradually 
became a focal point for bringing together the 20 basket- 
makers, many of whom were meeting for the first time. 

Traditional moose stew, served up from a 
bubbling crock pot, provided an extra incentive to attend 
this first forum, particularly among the older basket- 
makers. But the greatest incentive turned out to be the 
opportunity to exchange information and express pent- 
up concerns and grievances. By providing this outlet, 
Mimdell was also able to gauge whether the basketmak- 
ers truly were interested in working together to resolve 
their greatest challenges. Without that resolve, Mundell 
reasoned, a conference would serve little purpose. 



Educating the Consumer 

While the health of the ash was a central topic of discus- 
sion, it was by no means the only one. The subject of 
economic incentive — a common theme in the traditional 
arts — came up frequently, rivaling the decline of the ash 
as a subject of interest. Several program participants 
noted that the prices for baskets had risen considerably in 
recent decades, but more gains were needed to ensure ash 
basketry's friture. 

Madeline Shay, a 77-year-old Penobscot 
basketmaker, noted that she had been making baskets 
since she was a young girl. "When I first made them, 
they went for fifty cents apiece," she recalls. "And even 
then they said that was too much." Today, Shay sells her 
"fancy baskets" for as much as $85. But others pointed 
out that this is the wholesale price paid by a museum gift 
shop, which then doubles the price before they reach col- 
lectors. Several suggested that the makers should keep the 



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mark-up rather than the museum. By the close of this 
first forum the basketmakers agreed to work together as a 
group to pursue these common issues and so formed the 
Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance. 

Participants in this first forum at the Univer- 
sity of Maine also embraced the notion of expanding 
public education eflForts. Serious collectors know well the 
value of the baskets and ofiren remark at the reasonable 
prices Maine's basketmakers charge, especially compared 
to dealers in the larger cities. But the market remains lim- 
ited to these select few. More typical are the casual shop- 
pers who come across the baskets in a shop and loudly 
comment that baskets are much cheaper at Pier One Im- 
ports, a national retail chain. "People have to know that 
this is a form of art, not just baskets by the dozen," says 
Theresa Hoffman. 

Several ideas about education were put forth, 
among them developing a video showing the painstaking 
and detailed crafi:smanship involved in producing an ash 
basket. Shopkeepers could run this for their customers, 
and teachers for their students. More detailed brochures 
and hang-tags on the products themselves were also dis- 
cussed. Gary Stanton shared his successfiil experience 
with the South Carolina sweetgrass basketmakers. There, 
the state helped underwrite a detailed brochure about 
sweetgrass basketry to be distributed through shops and 
state tourism offices, boosting interest and sales. "The 
American public-is hungry for things that have roots, and 
they're willing to pay for them," Stanton says. "But they 
have to know about them." 

Forum participants hope that through educa- 
tion the market will expand and the economic incentive 
to learn basketry will increase, making basketry competi- 
tive with other jobs in the eyes of younger tribal mem- 
bers. Today's basket prices, while healthier than in the 
past, need fiarther gains to ensure that the next genera- 



tion will carry on the art. Through a grant from the Of- 
fice of Public Partnership at the National Endowment 
for the Arts, the Maine Arts Commission, in conjunction 
with the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance and the 
Maine Office of Tourism, is investigating hiring a mar- 
keting constiltant who will work with the alliance in de- 
veloping a marketing strategy. Such a strategy would pro- 
mote Maine Indian basketry outside the region and 
result in better prices for the work. 

And many agree that's imperative if brown 
ash basketry is to survive. "At least a generation has al- 
ready been dropped," Theresa Hoffman says, noting that 
her great-grandmother was a basketmaker but not her 
mother or her grandmother. "This is almost gone. It's 
our last chance." 

Through cooperation and better remunera- 
tion, the image of basketry within the tribes themselves 
may also begin a needed rehabilitation. For many, par- 
ticularly among the older Indians, making baskets has 
been viewed distastefijlly as a means of basic survival, not 
as an art form. "I sold baskets when I was young, with 
my parents, and we'd go from house to house," recalls 
Marge Pelletier. "You'd bring in these baskets and no- 
body wanted them. You almost had to give them away. 
We sold them for five cents." 

Pelletier's parents discouraged her from pur- 
suing basketry because of its association with poverty. 
They told her to go to school and not to worry about 
baskets or she'd be poor all her life. "Now that I've gone 
to school and I've done my thing, I think: Look at what 
I've missed all this time," she says. "It's such a fine art." 

# Culture and Science Meet 

As this chapter was being written, a second forum took 
place on the Passamaquoddy reservation, followed by a 
statewide conference. The conference, sponsored by the 



Maine Arts Commission, the Maine Indian Basketmak- 
ers Alliance and the University of Maine's forestry 
department, brought together basketmakers, tribal lead- 
ers from the four main tribes, as well as folklorists and 
state foresters to address two broad concerns: the declin- 
ing health and availability of the brown ash tree and the 
need to improve marketing of brown ash baskets to a 
wider public. 

A discussion about the trees themselves re- 
vealed that a survey on the health of the brown ash trees 
conducted by the Maine Forest Service corroborated an- 
ecdotal evidence from basketmakers in the four tribes 
who have known for the last 1 5 or 20 years that there are 
problems with the brown ash trees. Although there has 
been documentation that the brown ash trees have de- 
clined since the 1930s in the Northeast, no research has 
been done in northern Maine on these and other hard- 
wood trees. According to the survey, the crown condi- 
tion of most existing brown ash trees was "moribund." 
The majority of the trees displayed crowns that were 
more than 60 percent dead. Several theories about the 
deterioration of the brown ash tree were mentioned, in- 
cluding drought, disease caused by microorganisms and 
insects, groundwater pollution resulting from overuse of 
agricultural chemicals, indicriminate harvesting by forest- 
ers and airborne pollutants, such as acid rain. 

The conference featured a presentation by the 
Brown Ash Task Force, a group of foresters, basket- 
makers and community members created in 1990 to ad- 
dress the concerns of the four tribes about the availability 
of quality brown ash trees for baskets. What is unique 
about the group is that it represents a blend of traditional 
cultural values with a scientific approach. The task force 
noted that tribal uses of natural resources have both cul- 
tural and religious significance, which lends a different 
perspective to the problem. The task force suggested a 



three-stage process for addressing the problem: 1 . Iden- 
tify and describe existing stands of brown ash with a goal 
to develop a preservation plan for them. 2. Research and 
develop with the University of Maine forestry depart- 
ment test plots of brown ash trees to develop hybrids. 3. 
Create ten-acre plantations on each of the four reserva- 
tions to grow hybrid brown ash. 



A Fabulous Start 

Mundell admits that she didn't know what to expect at 
the first forum. As it turned out, the two forums and the 
conference reflected an urgent need for communication, 
both within and outside the basketmaking community. 
Preserve the resource. Educate the public. Instill a re- 
newed sense of pride. Forum participants agreed that 
these are foundations on which the brown ash project 
must build. And channels of communication are already 
becoming established outside of the usual channels. 

The final chapter has yet to be written. 
Whether the decline of the ash can be reversed and the 
markets for ash baskets improved remains to be seen. But 
the direction is true and the progress so far has been 
swift:. And optimism prevails. Before leaving the first fo- 
rum and heading out the door into November's early 
winter, NEA observer Gary Stanton saw only encourage- 
ment: "I think they're off to a fabulous start." ■ 

Wayne Curtis is editor of Casco Bay Weekly, an alternative newspaper 
in Portland, Maine. He is a former free-lance writer and author of 
Maine: Off the Beaten Path. 



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Strengthening Organizations to Fulfill 
Community Needs 




^k Alexa Canady signs autographs following her speech at the Columbus Museum of Art. 
Dr. Canady's appearance was in conjunction with the exhibition "I Dream a World: 
Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America." 
Photo by Eric Shinn 



by John Rufus Caleb 



The Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, 
Ohio, has never regretted its decision to change 
its image. The African American Arts Alliance 
has grown from one woman's dream to a regional orga- 
nization in Pennsylvania. And the Asociacion de Miisicos 
Latino-Americanos is keeping the music alive in Philadel- 
phia. In rural Indiana, Perry County citizens answered 
the call for a town meeting and are now busy celebrating 
the arts through their new local arts council. 

The directions these arts organizations have 
taken have been encouraged and supported by their re- 
spective state arts agencies. In each situation an agency 
program created to increase the diversity of artists, arts 
presenters and audiences made a significant contribution 
to community life. 

The three programs profiled in this chapter 
exemplify ways state arts agencies support cultural diver- 
sity: by strengthening the anistic and managerial abilities 
of multicultural organizations, helping mainstream orga- 
nizations connect with the cultural communities around 
them and providing audiences with greater access to art- 
ists and arts events in their communities. These programs 
share the common philosophy of helping participants to 
help themselves. By providing organizations with the 
means to strengthen and develop, state arts agencies are 
helping to ensure the continuation of artistic and cultural 
traditions. 

Ohio 

^ Reaching Out in Columbus 
A record 21,000 visitors attended the 1992 summer ex- 
hibit "I Dream A World: Portraits Of Black Women 
Who Changed America," at the Columbus Museum of 
Art in Columbus, Ohio, and the overwhelming majority 
of the visitors were 7\frican American. As perceptions of 
the Columbus Museum of Art were changing in the 



community, "I Dream A World" with its attendant pro- 
gramming was having a profound influence on the mu- 
seum internally. The exhibit had opened a door. 

According to Columbus Museum of Art As- 
sistant Director Denny Griffith, "Factors both outside 
and inside the museum converged to make the exhibit 
possible. From the outside, there was funding from the 
Ohio Arts Council's Building Diverse Audiences Pro- 
gram, while on the inside, Columbus Museum of Art 
Director Merribell Parsons had just arrived with outreach 
experience fi"om the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 
New York City. Without the two, neither 'I Dream A 
World' nor the smaller events surrounding the exhibit 
would have occurred." 



Building Diverse Audiences 

Through the Building Diverse Audiences Program, the 
Ohio Arts Council (OAC) provides substantial funding 
(up to $25,000 per year) for institutions with a serious 
commitment to making their programming more acces- 
sible to minorities and special constituents. The pro- 
gram's four-year process involves one year for planning 
and two to three years for implementation, or a year of 
planning for another targeted audience. As a result of a 
1987 survey of major institutions, the OAC found that 
many institutions wanted to reach out to new audiences, 
but did not have the money, staff or time to mount an 
outreach campaign. In this scenario the Columbus Mu- 
seum was no different from other major Ohio institu- 
tions, except perhaps in the depth of its commitment to 
open the museum's doors. 

The museum applied for a one-year planning 
grant and plunged into its outreach initiative in January 
of 1989. Griffith met with Phyllis Hairston, Building 
Diverse Audiences coordinator of the Ohio Arts Council, 
to explain the goals and objectives of the museum, in ad- 



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dition to its plans for achieving them. "We had to con- 
vince the museum that attracting people of color was 
more complex than marketing via traditional means. 
We're not talking about people who are in tune to visit- 
ing art museums. This target audience had not been 
made to feel welcome in the past. They are not going to 
just receive a flier in the mail and decide to go. Better 
marketing tools were word-of-mouth recommendations 
and individual ticket sales." The OAC staff further sug- 
gested that the museum convene an advisory committee 
of African American artists, educators, civic leaders and 
other professionals, who knew the channels for reaching 
their community. 

The individuals who consented to join the 
Minority Outreach Committee were all sympathetic to 
the museum's goals. As Griffith was aware, not everyone 
in the minority community was prepared to endorse the 
museum's three-year effort. The Columbus Museum was 
the result of generations of patron families, all of Euro- 
pean descent. Neither the museum's patrons nor its staff 
had been exposed to African American art, and they had 
experienced little interaction with the African American 
community — only a stone's throw from the museum. 

The initial meetings of the Minority Out- 
reach Committee were frank, even confrontational, but 
fortunately not antagonistic. The museum discovered 
that it was perceived as both a resource to the commu- 
nity, and yet still a club for the wealthy. The museum 
was told pointedly that to be successfiil in its outreach it 
would have to plaJi with the African American commu- 
nity, not ^r the African American community. As the 
meetings progressed, the museum had to come to terms 
with how it truly felt about opening its doors. How com- 
fortable would it feel with this new audience? Griffith 
and his colleagues spent much of that winter reflecting 
on how narrow the institution's focus had always been. 



Catherine Willis was one of the initial mem- 
bers of the advisory committee. A retired city school 
teacher, Willis brought a decade of experience as a pre- 
senter of arts programs within the African American 
community. She had long felt the museum was not 
'open' to the entire community. "We all support the mu- 
seum with tax money," she repeatedly instructed the 
board and the staff. "In return, people of color need to 
have a sense of 'ownership' of the museum." The com- 
ment was effective. 

By August of 1989, the committee wa!s able 
to identify the two major barriers to museum participa- 
tion by African Americans: the lack of African Americans 
on both staff and board, and the small number of Afri- 
can American-related artworks in the collection, which 
created the general perception of the museum as an all- 
white institution. 

Soon after, the museum's board adopted an 
institutional policy and position statement describing its 
outreach aspirations: "We believe that the fiiture of the 
Columbus Museum of Art is tied to its relationship to a 
community and society that is plural and culturally di- 
verse in nature. Therefore, it is our belief and stated goal 
to seek a level of inclusiveness at all institutional levels 
that adequately and accurately reflects the diversity and 
plurality of the world in which we live." 

As a vehicle for implementing board policy, a 
standing African American Cultural Committee was 
formed. By year's end, the Cultural Committee intro- 
duced the museum's staff and volunteers to African 
American art and artists with two slide/lecture presenta- 
tions. Unique African American films, like Losing 
Groundhy feminist filmmaker Kathy Collins, and a 
video festival were co-sponsored by the museum and the 
National Black Programming Consortium, based in Co- 
lumbus. Ohio State University's Black Studies Depart- 



ment became a resource for material and expertise on Af- 
rican American art and culture. By the second year of the 
Building Diverse Audiences Program, the Columbus 
Musetmi of Art began to exhibit African American artists 
from the community in major solo exhibits featuring lo- 
cal artists Aminah Robinson and William Hawkins. The 
traveling exhibition "Wild Spirits/Strong Medicine: Afri- 
can Art And The Wilderness," organized by the Center 
for African Art, was also mounted, and collaborations 
with other organizations deepened. 

The curatorial staff surveyed its holdings of 
African American art and came back both shamefaced 
and delighted: the museum had more African American 
art than they had realized. Evidendy the Columbus Mu- 
setmi of Art had a history of going to the studios of Co- 
lumbus-based African American artists and purchasing 
their work. What remained was to catalogue the works 
and then mount them. For Griffith the outreach effort 
was becoming like destiny: the museum was truly frilfiU- 
ing its mission as an educational institution. 

Catherine Willis could see the museum was 
changing and so accepted membership to the board. 
"The success of the outreach effort was going to depend 
ultimately on a board that's been sensitized to multicul- 
tural concerns and issues. I could see that something was 
beginning to happen with the board, but I wasn't certain 
they were ready to extend themselves completely . . . 
People don't jtimp from one set of values and attitudes 
overnight. Change comes slowly, and only through edu- 
cation, exposure and interaction." 

"I Dream A Wodd: Portraits of Black 
Women Who Changed America," a major exhibit, was 
recommended by both the African American Ctiltural 
Committee and the museum staff. The touring exhibit 
of 75 large portrait photographs by Brian Lanker was a 
roll call of artists and activists who overcame racism, pov- 



erty and sexism through their strength and conviction. 
With the exhibit's related activities, the entire museum 
would be involved with African American subjects and 
issues. Columbus would see and experience how far their 
museum had come. 

For everyone, the large turnout for "I Dream 
A World" was the gratification and justification for their 
work. For seven weeks the museum sponsored almost 
daily activities: receptions and book signings were held 
for some of the women photographed; documentaries on 
Fannie Lou Hamer and Marian Anderson were shown 
and discussed. Children were also involved through ac- 
tivities designed for them, including exhibit-inspired 
workshops on photography and "Celebrating Family 
Legacies." The exhibit drew beyond the artists and pa- 
trons that earlier shows had attracted, as teachers and 
their students attended. The advertising concentrated on 
African American social and religious groups had paid 
off. Groups were booked two weeks in advance. And as 
staff and board interacted with African American frater- 
nities, sororities, churches and community leaders, the 
museum's world changed. A whole other culture, as vi- 
brant as the one that spawned the museum, became a 
frill reality. 

The museum has now passed through the 
four-year cycle of the Building Diverse Audiences Pro- 
gram, but the outreach effort continues. Fifteen new 
members have been added to reinvigorate the African 
American Cultural Committee. A new exhibit, "People, 
Places And Things: An African American Perspective," 
opened in April 1992 and features twenty-four artists 
whose lives and careers have been interconnected with 
Columbus. The artworks were drawn principally from 
the museum's permanent collection. 

In 1989 the Columbus Museum of Art, as an 
institution, looked into the mirror and set about chang- 



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ing the image it faced. The few who began the process 
became the many who struggle to continue the 
museum's transformation. A visible African American 
presence in the museum is now integral to the mu- 
seiun — part of its fabric, consciousness and destiny. 

Pennsylvania 

# One Woman's Dream 

Maya Angelou was electrifying in 1982 when she spoke 
at Keystone Junior College near Scranton, Pennsylvania. 
The strength of her presence and her insights into being 
a woman and African American, delivered in the distinc- 
tive roll and rhythm of her voice, were astounding to ex- 
perience. When Angelou left the campus she left a void 
in the life of Ada Belton, the Keystone English professor 
who had invited Angelou to speak. Still, Belton went 
about her business: chairing the college's cultural affairs 
committee, serving on organization boards and teaching 
African American culture from books. 

Nine years later, Belton began to dream of 
Angelou's anniversary return. Except that by 1991 
Angelou's expected honorarium was $10,000 — four 
times the amount paid in 1982, and one too large for 
Keystone's cultural affairs budget. Area colleges and orga- 
nizations were interested, but they were having their own 
economic difficulties. Even a grant for that amount from 
the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) or a foun- 
dation seemed impossible. 

The situation had to be rethought. If not 
Angelou, who or what would be the centerpiece of the 
Black History Month celebration? If an event were out- 
side the college's usual cultural programming, who 
would funding come from? Who would provide the sup- 
port services? And without a committee, who would even 
help Belton plan? 

By the time Belton telephoned PCA and 



spoke with Charon Batdes, minority arts program direc- 
tor, she had a goal. "I wanted a program of events, not 
just funding for a single speaker. I was determined to fill 
the eleven months surrounding February with symposia 
and performances of African American art and culture. I 
also wanted to create an African American archive as a 
community resource." And, she wanted a host of other 
projects to fill the void she felt was due to the lack of em- 
phasis on African American culture in Scranton. 



Strategies For Success 

Ada Belton was a perfect match for the Pennsylvania 
Council on the Arts' Strategies For Success program. The 
program identifies the ethnic arts groups in the state and 
assists them in both their organizational development 
and their efforts to preserve and interpret their cultural 
heritage. Program strategies include long-term consultan- 
cies, individual development workshops and conferences. 
However, as Belton had not yet formed an organization, 
she would enter the program on the Basic Level, which 
was established for groups seeking assistance to develop a 
formal board structure, more consistent arts program- 
ming and nonprofit status. 

When her phone call to the council ended, 
Belton was sorting through her mind for prospective 
board members. Meanwhile at the council, Charon 
Battles, the program director of Strategies For Success, 
was estimating the driving time to Scranton from Harris- 
burg. "As I worked with Ada, her ideas began to mature 
and to encompass a community vision. Her growth was 
an exciting and gratifying process to observe. I stress ob- 
serve, because Strategies For Success tries to empower or- 
ganizations by allowing them to develop their own ideas 
and the means to implement them," says Batdes. 

Through Battles, PCA established a relation- 
ship with Belton's developing organization, which came 




Through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Strategies for Success program, the 
Asociacion de Musicos Latino-Americanos (AMLA) has been able to expand and 
grow strong in response to the demands of its community. Among AMLA's many 
activities, students are offered music instruction for a nominal fee. 
Photo courtesy of Asociacion de Musicos Latino-Americanos 



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to be called the African American Arts Alliance. Strate- 
gies steered the new organization to possible grants in 
PCA programs and helped draft: grant requests. 

After a year in the program, the African 
American Arts Alliance created its mission statement, 
wrote bylaws and formed a board drawn from the Afri- 
can American community and three area colleges (Key- 
stone, Marywood College and the University of 
Scran ton). Development of the board represented the 
transformation of Belton's personal mission into a com- 
munity-wide effort. "Strategies For Success has been in- 
strumental in the formation of the African American Arts 
Alliance as a whole — getting the right people, the right 
constituencies, onto the board. In the process, we ex- 
panded from the three colleges into the community. 
We're now a com wz^^zzVy organization." 

The alliance's 1992 Black History Month cel- 
ebration, "Succeeding Despite The Struggle: From the 
Perspective of African American Writers" was the first of 
a series of conferences that will appraise and celebrate the 
contemporary African American arts and cultural experi- 
ence. The conference brought together national and local 
writers in a panel discussion. In 1993 the conference fo- 
cused on the performing arts, highlighted by a perfor- 
mance of the musical Our Young Black Men Are Dying, 
And Nobody Seems To Care, and a lecture by African 
American film historian Donald Bogle. 

While Maya Angelou may not return to 
Scranton for some time, when she does she will have 
been called by a community invigorated by the work of 
this new coalition. 

# Keeping the Music Alive in Philadelphia 

\Que triste seria un pueblo sin musical Indeed, how sad 
would be a people without music. Especially when the 
people must survive the battering that urban living ad- 



ministers to those who are poor and different — to be sin 
musica is to be in despair. Latino American musicians liv- 
ing in Philadelphia know this, and more. Their music is 
the heartbeat of their community. With Latin American 
music transplanted to America and in competition with 
empty commercial tunes, the only way to guarantee its 
preservation is to make sure there are people to play the 
music and others to listen and understand. 

A decade ago thirteen salsa band leaders in 
Philadelphia came together as the Asociacion de Musicos 
Latino-Americanos (AMLA) to promote the develop- 
ment and dissemination of Latin music. They would be- 
come musician-teachers and ambassadors for the music. 

Today AMLA encompasses Philadelphia's 
School of Latin Music; a performance series of local, na- 
tional and international musicians; a musician and band 
referral service; an Artist in Education program; and is 
the publisher of Pulso Latino, a Latin arts publication and 
calendar. 

AMLA is about to leave the Intermediate 
Level of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts' Strategies 
For Success program and move to the Advanced Level 
where it will focus on fiind-raising, long-range planning 
and board development. In the Intermediate Level, Strat- 
egies helped AMLA remain stable despite the organiza- 
tional pressures brought on by its rapid growth, rising 
visibility and the increased demands of the community. 

Jesse Bermudez, president of AMLA, had 
good reason to join Strategies in 1990. The organization 
seemed to be growing arms, and it was becoming hard 
for Bermudez to manage it alone. AMLA musicians had 
reached a combined audience of 40,000 in 1989, and 
were providing 170 students with nearly 800 hours of 
music instruction at nominal cost. The quarterly newslet- 
ter had 10,000 subscribers. The need for assistance be- 
came imperative when AMLA moved into its own office 



space, and found that funding for ongoing administrative 
support was still elusive. 

The Intermediate Level of Strategies For Suc- 
cess gave AMLA what it needed: the means to free 
Bermudez to concentrate on program development. Us- 
ing technical assistance grants, AMLA hired additional 
office staff^and a part-time bookkeeper, who later became 
comptroller. The arts council's two-day workshops on 
organizational development, in addition to the advice 
given by the PCA staff on basic office management, 
proved to be as important as the council's ftinding. 

Through Strategies, AMLA hired a consultant 
to expand the organization's funding base beyond the 
arts council. One immediate restilt has been funding sup- 
port from the Rockefeller Foundation to commission 
and premiere six new works by mid-career Latino com- 
posers from around the United States. Collaborations 
with organizations like the New York Shakespeare Festi- 
val and Yoimg Audiences of New Jersey have spread 
word of the music and given artists both exposure and 
new income. "AMLA's mission is to guarantee that the 
rich heritage of the Latin musical traditions is learned, 
played, imderstood and enjoyed. To make that possible 
we have to chase the dollar. At times we had to change 
program ideas to fit a frmding proposal. But Strategies 
asks, 'What are your needs right now? How can we help 
to make it possible for you to move to another level?'," 
says Bermudez. 

Despite its growing national profile, AMLA 
remains firmly planted in the Latino community, as it 
must. Latinos form one of the most underserved com- 
munities in Philadelphia — in hotising, health care and 
education. More Latino children drop out of school than 
stay in. While the Asociacion de Miisicos Latino- 
Americanos cannot meet all of these varied and complex 
needs, the band of musicians does what it can. 



Indiana 

# A New Local Arts Council 

Prior to 1990, the citizens of Perry County had only 
vaguely heard of the Indiana Arts Commission (lAC). 
Perry County was one of a dozen areas in Indiana that 
had not submitted a single grant application to the lAC 
in the previous five years. The lAC staff knew that zero 
applications did not mean zero cultural activities. It did, 
however, mean that public arts support was not reaching 
all of Indiana's citizens. 

Fortunately at a Tell City town meeting in 
August 1 990, Perry County artists and arts patrons were 
introduced to the Indiana Arts Commission through a 
special program called Arts: Rural and Multicultural 
(ARM). The town meeting is a key element of the ARM 
program. During the meeting, the community residents 
surveyed the county by assessing its arts needs and identi- 
fying potential arts programs, spaces and presenters. A 
broad cross-section of the county's citizens was present 
and eager, including artists eligible for grants and busi- 
ness persons amenable to supporting the arts. Under the 
guidance of lAC Executive Director Tom Schorgl and 
Assistant Director Greg Charleston, the group discussed 
the facilities available to house or present the arts, existing 
arts programs, potential human resources and possibili- 
ties for financial support. 

The Perry Coimty citizens decided they 
needed an arts council. When they adjourned late that 
night, the Perry County Arts Council had a steering 
committee that was charged with creating a board, draft- 
ing bylaws and developing programs. Perry County was 
moving faster than the Indiana Arts Commission ex- 
pected. The next step would be to provide the emerging 
group with both technical assistance to help it develop 
and guidance on grant writing. 



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# Arts: Rural and Multicultural 
The ARM program represents the lAC's long-term com- 
mitment to support new, emerging and community- 
based organizations and artists by helping to make their 
activities accessible to new, expanded and underserved 
audiences. The lAC initially chose 12 pilot sites; 10 of 
which were rural, because the rural counties had not ap- 
plied for, or received, state funding in at least five years. 
The remaining two pilot sites were culturally diverse, 
with the state's largest African American and Hispanic 
American populations, and were drastically underserved. 

Perry County, one of the 10 rural sites, dis- 
plays the diversity of both the ARM program and the 
state of Indiana and serves as a model for the program. 
The efforts of the Perry County Arts Council (PCAC) 
and the community exemplify the goals and opportuni- 
ties available to all ARM program participants. Accord- 
ing to Regina Smith, ARM program manager, "Arts or- 
ganizations, per se, don't exist in most of our counties, 
which is why Perry County is such a model. It's amazing 
that an emerging arts organization, over a three-year pe- 
riod, has been able to develop bylaws, a schedule of pro- 
grams, a newsletter and even begun to market itself out- 
side the county. When it comes to the programs that 
we've worked with so far, PCAC is unique and by itself 
at one end of the spectrum." 

One Tell City artist, Pat Jarboe, was not at 
the town meeting, but he happened to read about it in 
the newspaper. Jarboe had left a good California job in 
technical theater to return home to Perry County. He 
could raise a family in Perry County, but his theater skills 
were beginning to atrophy. He was eager to be a part of 
anything arts-related. "In 1982 a group of us tried to be- 
gin an arts council, but the thing failed miserably. We 
didn't know what we were doing. This time we're suc- 
ceeding, because ARM has been with us from the begin- 



ning. They've fiinded consultants and technical seminars, 
like the one we just had for board development. We're 
now ready to enter the next phase where we apply for 
large operating and programming grants, rather than a 
grant for each project." 

Within months of joining the Perry County 
Arts Council steering committee, Jarboe was elected 
president. Jarboe had ambitions for the young council, 
but without even a tax-exempt number, the committee 
had to work slowly. Their first project was arranging the 
annual Tell City Madrigal Dinner. The effort involved 
applying for an ARM grant, coordinating more than 
sixty people and seeking the support of a dozen county 
organizations. The volunteers pitched in to prepare the 
food and rehearse the concert. The performance was sold 
out within a week. It was clear to the PCAC that people 
were willing to support arts programs. To the members 
of the steering committee and the residents of Perry 
County, an arts council began to make sense. 

Following their first success, the PCAC 
elected board members and developed bylaws and a cal- 
endar of activities for the year. The Perry County Arts 
Council began offering assistance to other arts presenters. 
Through successful grant applications, tax dollars began 
to return to the county and local businesses ceased to be 
the sole source of funding for events. The spring 1992 
Dogwood Festival allowed the council to mount its own 
project, an art show and craft: sale. Soon after when Tell 
City honored its local historian, the PCAC sponsored a 
competition to choose a painter for the portrait. 

After these early successes the arts council was 
primed for a big project, and chose to have a mural 
painted on the Tell City flood wall. The total project 
cost over three years would be $30,000, and though the 
Indiana Arts Commission offered some grant assistance, 
the county arts council supported the bulk of the project. 



I 



The possible benefits of the Flood Wall Mural went be- 
yond the aesthetic, as it would contribute to saving the 
flood wall from graflPiti and reclaiming the park adjacent 
to it for family use. In May 1992, a local design artist 
outlined the first three of seven panels: re-creations of 
historic buildings in the city. Through the summer a sec- 
ond local artist oversaw the volunteers who painted. The 
activity of the volunteers attracted the curiosity of their 
neighbors, who wanted to know if the new council was 
still accepting volunteer painters. 

Even as the arts council collects small dona- 
tions from VFW and American Legion auxiliaries to ad- 
vance the Flood Wall Mural, the PCAC is planning am- 
bitious future projects to fill the numerous areas of need 
in the county. The county schools have no arts program- 
ming. The many church choirs, musicians and music 
theater groups need to be brought together in a salute to 
local talent. Fledgling painters need art classes. And the 
local chamber of commerce must be encouraged to apply 
to the LAC for support when it sponsors the upcoming 
riverboat orchestra concert. Ultimately the PCAC must 
convince the county's nonprofit arts groups that their 
programs can compete with those of other arts organiza- 
tions in the state and that they should apply for support. 

The Perry County Arts Council is becoming 
credible afi:er a two-and-a-half years of effort. With no 
real past experience in organizing, the council is learning 
as it goes along. And the principal engine for its efforts 
has been the Arts: Rural And Multicultural program. 

Through the Arts: Rural and Multicultural 
program the Indiana Arts Commission will increase its 
programs and services to 25 targeted areas in 1993. The 
commission also proposes to increase the maximum 
funding available, place greater emphasis on technical as- 
sistance, and through the ARM Forum provide opportu- 
nities for rural and multicultural presenters, artists and 



schools to share information and participate in problem- 
solving sessions. 



A Commitment to Encourage 
And Support 

The vibrancy of American culture is formed from an as- 
tounding variety of ethnic and geographic cultures. Sub- 
tract even one and America loses its diversity and vitality. 
Responding to this issue is a dilemma that confronts 
many facets of American society. 

Clearly the response of the state arts agencies 
in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana has been to encourage 
and support diversity. Their staffs have gone out into the 
overlooked farms, barrios and urban communities to 
form working and mentoring relationships that help 
dedicated organizations fulfill their missions to their com- 
munities. The programs for these outreach efforts are 
models for other state arts agencies, not solely for how to 
include and fund multicultural organizations, but also for 
how to cultivate and strengthen all arts organizations. ■ 

John Rufus Caleb is a playwright, whose award-winning play, Benny's 
Place, was produced in 1981 by the O'Neill Playwrights Conference 
and in 1982 by ABC television. He also teaches writing at the Commu- 
nity College of Philadelphia. 



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The Age-Old Ritual of Storytelling 




Seeking to increase access to the arts in underserved communities, the North CaroHna 
Arts Council created a project to bring two innovative theater groups to the rural, 
northeastern section of the state. Students here vie to participate in a Roadside story at 
the C.S. Brown Cultural Center in Winton, North Carolina. 
Photo by Cedric Chatterley 



by Nayo Barbara Malcolm Watkins 



I doubt there's a community in America, or in the 
world for that matter, where given just the right 
company, the right time of day or night and an 
appropriate amount of nudging, commentary couldn't 
turn rather quickly into hill-fledged storytelling. People 
have stories — their own, other people's and those of su- 
per beings and critters — and they tell them. They tell 
them to preserve history, legend and lore; to teach values; 
to reaffirm who they are; to find humor in life and living; 
to put children to sleep; to make mockery of adversaries; 
or simply to compete for attention. When people have 
litde else, they have their stories. 



Rural Southern Stories 

Storytelling in the rural South is special. It's a part of the 
ritual of defining and aligning people, place, culture and 
claim. Perhaps the specialness is related to the fact that 
more than enough rural Southerners have known more 
than enough times when there seemed to be litde more 
than the stories. During those patient times a yarn could 
get worked back aqd forth between tellers 'til it's honed 
to a tee. 

Today, people in the rural South aren't in- 
clined to think much of the traditions of storytelling that 
they've inherited. Storytelling is something the old folks 
do, and it seems that they do it less and less. But separate 
projects that brought Junebug Productions of New Or- 
leans and Roadside Theater of Whitesburg, Kentucky, to 
rural communities in North Carolina and Mississippi 
may have made a difference in the way people in those 
places think about and honor their own and their neigh- 
bors' stories. These projects have also provided a way for 
arts agencies, fiinders and organizers to explore new 
methods of engaging new audiences and underserved 
populations. 

Roadside and Junebug are professional theater 



companies from very different southern communities. 
Roadside's home is the Appalachian coalfield region of 
eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia where popula- 
tions are predominantly white. Junebug is a product of 
the black community in the Deep South and the Free 
Southern Theater, an artistic offspring of the Civil Rights 
Movement. Both companies draw upon the storytelling 
and music traditions of their communities as the basis of 
theatrical creation and production. Both also use their art 
as weaponry against prejudice and stereotypes, and to en- 
courage awareness of cultural differences. 

# Junebug/Jack 

In the early 1980s, John O'Neal and Dudley Cocke, the 
artistic directors of the two companies, observed the rise 
of Ku Klux Klan activity in the country and discussed 
the impact of touring each other's communities. 

From those discussions and a decade of col- 
laboration has come Junebug/Jack, a coproduced theater 
piece based on the stories and music of poor whites and 
blacks in the South. Junebug is an African American folk 
character invented 30 years ago by the Student Nonvio- 
lent Coordinating Committee to represent the collective 
wisdom of black people. Jack is the hero of the Appala- 
chian "Jack tales" (including their most famous ancestor, 
"Jack and the Beanstalk"). 

The play makes the point that the stories of 
people whom history has set apart are really rather simi- 
lar, and in fact may have been traded back and forth and 
added to along the way. In a review published by the 
New Orleans Times-Picayune, Richard Dodds, a theater 
critic, echoed this sentiment when he said the play "dem- 
onstrates a sensitivity to black-white differences while 
also highlighting some of those areas where traditions, 
legends, experiences, interests and even music overlap." 
He went on to comment: "Our roots have all become 




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tangled together, the piece is saying, and there is more to 
be gained in nurturing these cross-pollinated heritages 
than in antagonistically yanking them apart." 

The theme is set forth in the early moments 
oi Junebug/Jack "See, everybody has a story, their own 
story, but it seems like it's come to the place where 
people don't think their stories are worth anything any- 
more," one actor begins. "Trouble is," says another, 
"seems like some people are always wanting to tell our 
story for us." A third adds, "But, we got to tell it our- 
selves! Otherwise how we gonna know it's us?" And fi- 
nally, "If we don't listen to the stories of others, how will 
we know who they are?" 

# Community-Based Art 
O'Neal's and Cocke's early 1980s discussions are now 
part of a national dialogue with other touring artists, pre- 
senters and hinders. New ways of thinking, which may 
be old ways revived, have emerged about artists working 
in more meaningfiil ways in communities. Among the 
new ideas is that community-based residencies de-em- 
phasize the staged performance as the event and place 
greater emphasis on participation and interaction in 
shared processes. The role of the artist goes beyond per- 
forming to assisting people in discovering, honoring and 
sharing their creative resources and their potential for cre- 
ative community-building. 

"It's like forming a circle with the community 
people," says Dudley Cocke of Roadside Theater, "put- 
ting out, receiving and putting back out. If the circle is 
broken, somebody is cut off from the full experience, and 
this happens when the artist hogs the event." Storytelling 
works especially well because teller and listener are active 
partners in an event of the moment. Of the staged per- 
formances, Cocke says, "Audiences often talk back and 
talking back is not impolite." 



North Carolina 

# In the Field and On the Front Line 

In 1988 die Nordi Carolina Arts Council (NCAC) held 
a series of meetings in preparation for developing a state- 
wide plan for the 1 990s. As they listened to the concerns 
of the arts community, the council heard anew the chal- 
lenge of supporting the arts in rural, culturally isolated 
and economically depressed communities. "What we 
heard and what struck us were the real barriers to rural 
accessibility," says NCAC Assistant Director Nancy 
Trovillion. "With so few resources, the matching dollars 
just weren't there, and often there wasn't an organization 
to do the work." The four-year plan that evolved from 
this study of the field carried a strong commitment to ac- 
cess for underserved populations and community cul- 
tural planning. An initiative of the plan eventually 
brought Roadside and Junebug to communities in 
northeastern North Carolina. 

The l6-county area lying south of Virginia's 
Hampton Roads to the Pamlico Sound and west of the 
Atlantic Ocean splashing the Outer Banks to Lake 
Gaston is the state's most economically depressed region. 
Waterways and wetlands have historically shaped the 
economic, social and cultural patterns that provide op- 
portunities, as well as limitations and isolation. Preserva- 
tion efforts draw inspiration from an illustrious history of 
explorers, colonists and pirates beginning in the 1600s. 
The names of about half the region's towns and counties 
are reminders of the heritage of Native American tribes 
still living there today. The northeast is also home to the 
state's largest concentration of African Americans, refer- 
ence to still another historical presence. In recent years 
the separate histories of Native American, white and 
black communities, along with the more recent presence 
of small Asian and Hispanic communities, have been 
dominated by economic and social concerns. The stories 




Audience members joining Meherrins in a tribal dance at the Gallery Theater in 
Ahoskie, North Carolina. 
Photo by Cedric Chatterley 



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of these communities reflect the common themes of sur- 
vival and coexistence. 

NCAC staff realized that many northeast 
communities would not be able to take advantage of 
the council's new initiatives. Arts councils exist in only 9 
of the 16 counties and most are volunteer-run. The dis- 
tribution of state arts funds to the northeast region have 
been well below the state average. The decision was made 
to initiate a project with goals for cultural exchange and 
celebration of local culture in the hope that such a model 
would inspire broader cultural planning. Says Trovillion, 
"In the early days of the council the staff was more in- 
volved in developmental work. Then, as organizations 
developed on their own, we took a more responsive and 
less activist role. The northeastern project put us back in 
the field and on the front line." 

With this project NCAC had three goals. Ac- 
cording to Trovillion, "One was to use cultural ex- 
change — between segments of communities and be- 
tween communities and guest artists — to celebrate local 
cultural life and build bridges of understanding between 
cultures. Another was to help northeastern communities 
become more reliant on their own cultural gifts as 
sources of pleasure and enrichment. And another was to 
figure out what combination of people and money 
would be needed to keep public cultural activities going 
in the region." 

NCAC staff first presented the idea of a re- 
gional residency project to the Northeastern Cultural Al- 
liance, an organization struggling to serve as a regional 
network in the state. Alliance members viewed video- 
tapes of Roadside's and Junebug's work, discussed how 
the project might aid long-range planning and agreed to 
become the sponsoring body. A project coordinator from 
the area was hired and the region was divided into hubs 
of three or four counties. In the hubs, committees com- 



piled community surveys and assessments to assist with 
local residency planning. There were lots of meetings — 
in the hubs, with the project coordinator, with NCAC 
staff and with members of Roadside and Junebug. 
NCAC supported the project with the assistance of a 
grant from the State and Regional Program of the Na- 
tional Endowment for the Arts. 



Permission to Be Ourselves 
Finally it was time for Roadside and Junebug to do what 
they do best. The residency began with an eight-day pre- 
tour designed to demonstrate how community-based 
residencies might work. On the first night, in the tiny 
town of Moyock in Currituck County, the comely 
bunch of six actors in blue jeans, gingham skirts and 
fancy boots met with local folks at the elementary school. 
They performed Junebug/Jack stories and shared a lively 
evening with local exhibitors and performers. There was 
a doUhouse maker, taxidermist, woodworker, photogra- 
pher, quilter, pianist, gymnast and dogger. There were 
traditional musicians who played well into the night. 

In each hub local artists were invited to meet 
and perform with the "outside professionals." Each site 
was different. In Hertford, meeting at the sight of the 
oldest house in the state, the artists shared the stage with 
local theater artists who performed a reader's theater of 
older stories written by a North Carolina playwright. On 
the stage of the Gallery Theater in Ahoskie, they were 
joined by Meherrin tribal dancers, gospel singers and 
doggers. The C.S. Brown Cultural Center, site of a his- 
toric African American school, was the setting for an in- 
tergenerational session that went from story swapping to 
ham bone slapping to singing "Amazing Grace." In 
Roanoke Rapids, where Haliwa Saponi dancers per- 
formed with the visiting artists, discussions about social 
and economic conditions led to talk about collecting oral 



histories and community stories as the basis for creating a 
play. By the end of the pre-tour, people were getting the 
idea that it wasn't about being entertained by outside 
professionals, but about people sharing and exchanging. 
Said one woman, "The way they were, they gave us per- 
mission to be ourselves." 



Drawing Stories from the Well of Living 

On the second and longer visit the artists spent time in 
schools, many of which have been consolidated by bus- 
ing students from opposite ends of a coimty. At the 
Hertford County High School, a three-day workshop fo- 
cused on connections between formal studies, traditional 
lore and awareness of one's own history and that of oth- 
ers. The song "Get On Board Children" served as intro- 
duction for discussions on slavery and the imderground 
railroad. The banjo, slide guitar and harmonica helped 
trace the historical paths and cultural mergers of different 
Americans. The stories of John, an African American 
trickster character, and Jack, an Appalachian folk hero, 
helped point to parallels between the everyman stories of 
different cultures and similar characters in classroom lit- 
erature. The students were asked to think of how oral 
traditions pass from generation to generation and to re- 
call stories they'd heard in their commtmities. One quiet 
yoimg man told of his western North Carolina Cherokee 
roots and how he and his father tell the stories of their 
history through the music they play together. 

There was also more time for story and music 
swaps, meals and casual talk. With NCAC staff the art- 
ists joined a gospel group for a Thursday evening re- 
hearsal. Around a home piano in Winton they sang 
rotmd after round of church and civil rights songs. At a 
Meherrin tribal center the artists and participants 
watched a man applying beads and feathers to his regalia, 
talked about concerns of the times and shared stories. 



The Meherrin Chief closed the evening with a personal 
story about a ratdesnake as a way to talk about honoring 
difference and coexistence. 

Personal stories were central in informal ses- 
sions throughout the region, partictilarly where seniors 
were present. There was the story of the car that wotild 
never go to a fiineral; boyhood memories of hiding eggs 
in an outhouse and playing in a sawmill; stories of volun- 
teer fire fighters, moonshine and ice-covered rivers; and 
hard-times tales about making a living. At some sites lo- 
cal crafis were showcased — ^wool spinning, wood carv- 
ings, musical instniments, quilts, afghans — and often 
these too represented stories to be told. 

The Roadside and Junebug artists told stories 
too, and talked with people about the rich reservoir of 
living from which stories can be drawn and the value of 
passing them on. Some people wanted to know more 
about collecting oral histories and scripting the stories 
into plays. 



Staged Performances 

Each residency culminated in a community performance 
with local artists, community members and children 
sharing the stage with Jtmebug and Roadside. These 
were held in schools and centers, like the one at the Lake- 
land Arts Center for the people in Northampton and 
Halifax Cotmties. Haliwa Saponi dancers and drummers 
performed an opening ceremony, followed by a gospel 
quartet, a yoimg man reading a story he'd written, a skit 
improvised by three students, a Langston Hughes read- 
ing, and stories and songs by Junebug and Roadside. 

Finally, people from all over the region were 
invited to a frill performance o^ Junebug/Jack at Elizabeth 
City State University, the region's only four-year institu- 
tion. The University Choir, with rich voices and robed 
attire, set the tone for the evening with classical 



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and gospel selections. The songs and stories ofjunebug/ 
Jack come from people, like those gathered, who reach 
deep into their memory and experience. The results are 
spirited songs, humorous stories, allegories and ironies 
and hard stories all too familiar: about farming; about 
the ones who migrated north, those who watched them 
go, and the ones who went and met the disillusions of ur- 
ban life. There was a story about a white boy and a black 
boy meeting in a foreign land fighting for their country 
and how they grooved with Muddy Waters and each 
other, only to return after the war and "It never was the 
same after that." 

The end of the residency project was for ex- 
ploring the possibilities raised and what these possibilities 
could mean in this northeast section of North Carolina. I 
listened to people describe the residency with terms like 
participatory, openness, bonding a.nd magic. At a meeting of 
the Northeastern Cultural Alliance participants talked of 
wanting to maintain the broad interest and participation 
that had been created. The dilemmas of the northeast 
have not gone away, but the people now have new ways 
of making art, and through the art an aid for making 
community. 

Mississippi 

# The American Festival Project 

The Mississippi American Festival Project was quite simi- 
lar to the North Carolina project — the format, the shar- 
ing, people coming together and telling their stories. The 
Mississippi project, however, was initiated by the Ameri- 
can Festival Project (AFP), based at Appalshop in Ken- 
tucky. The American Festival Project is a coalition of the- 
ater, dance and music companies from different parts of 
the country and of different cultures. Funding from the 
National Endowment for the Arts and the Ford, Nathan 
Cummings and Rockefeller Foundations has allowed AFP 



to subsidize a series of community-based residencies 
around the country. 

Caron Adas, executive director of the AFP na- 
tional project says, "The project can serve as a creative 
catalyst in communities. But it can't have impact in a 
vacuum; the artists work in support of both the goals and 
visions of the presenters and the needs of their communi- 
ties." A goal of the Mississippi American Festival Project 
was to help small and rural organizations improve their 
skills in presenting and fund-raising, skills that are crucial 
to developing access. "We've learned that access means 
first listening and not assuming you know," says Jane 
Hiatt, Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) executive di- 
rector. In addition to developing detailed residency plan- 
ning, they raised part of the ftinds. 

The Mississippi presenters included a child 
and family services organization, a community center, a 
cultural arts center, a community theater with a cultural 
museum, two small private colleges and a rural-based 
state university. I had the great pleasure of serving as state 
coordinator for this loosely-knit network. As we visited 
the events of other American Festival Projects, "Stories 
into Art" emerged as the theme around which each 
group was organizing its local activities. The presenters 
invited six American Festival companies; some invited 
more than one company and built their year of program- 
ming around them. Roadside Theater and Junebug Pro- 
ductions were invited by both Brickfire Project of 
Starkville, Mississippi, and Mississippi Cultural Cross- 
roads of Port Gibson, Mississippi. 

Brickfire and Crossroads were able to tap a 
grants program that matches MAC funds with Southern 
Arts Federation funding. Hiatt says, "We're finding ways 
to break the boxes that have been barriers to ftinding 
many projects, and ways to encourage projects like the 
ones in Port Gibson and Starkville." With technical assis- 




Through the collaboration of state arts agencies, funders and presenters, many people 
in North Carolina and Mississippi were able to watch and participate in the unique 
experiences surrounding presentations oi Junebug/Jack. 
Photo by Cedric Chatterley 



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tance from the Mississippi American Festival Project, the 
presenters also singly and collectively applied to new 
funding sources. Grants were secured from the National 
Endowment for the Arts, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Di- 
gest Fund, the Ruth Mott Fund, the Mississippi Hu- 
manities Council and Alternate ROOTS. 



nity. Months later when Liz Lerman & the Dance Ex- 
change, an intergenerational, biracial American Festival 
company, came, Brickfire tried their plan again and ex- 
panded it to target a larger senior audience. 



Bringing Communities Together 
Brickfire Project gets its name from the red bricks of 
housing projects that are home to many of the children 
in its child development centers and from its goal to nur- 
ture the "burning desires" of those and other low-income 
children. In addition to a range of family services, 
Brickfire is an active arts presenter in "the Golden Tri- 
angle," which includes the rural loamy-hill counties of 
Oktibbeha, Chotaw and Winston. Starkville is best de- 
scribed as Mississippi State University and a small town. 
As in many university towns there is the division of 
"gown and town," which translates into an elite, mostly 
white community and a poor, mostly black community. 

Brickfire decided to use a performance of 
Junebug/Jack to bring the two communities together. Of 
the small, biracial audience that came on the first night 
and grew on the second, Leslie Leech, Brickfire's cultural 
coordinator commented, "We did better than any town 
meeting could have in bringing people together. The dia- 
logue onstage was a catalyst, a point of interest, for dia- 
logue offstage." The visiting artists' presence in the com- 
munity was central to the plan. They held workshops 
with university students, visited public school classrooms, 
swapped stories with senior citizens and later told these 
stories to children in day care centers. It was important 
that all these people could feel comfortable in the place 
where the play was performed. The cross-cultural appeal 
of the play, coupled with the use of a building in com- 
mon territory, helped spark dialogue within the commu- 



Hearing Local Stories for the First Time 
Port Gibson is in Claiborne County, north on the Mis- 
sissippi River from Natchez and New Orleans. Once a 
busy slave trading center, today the county is 82 percent 
African American. The high school averages 99 to 100 
percent African American, and 95 percent of public 
school students qualify for the federal free-lunch pro- 
gram. On the side of town where antebellum mansions 
mingle with comfortable modern homes is a private 
school that is 99 to 1 00 percent white. 

In this context Mississippi Cultural Cross- 
roads (MCC) offers a space and programs for local 
people to come together to create, preserve and share a 
sense of community and, as MCC Director Patty Crosby 
is quick to point out, "a sense of who they are." This 
sense of community is reflected in the award-winning 
works that adults, seniors and youth produce and display 
in the storefront MCC art center on Main Street. It's 
also reflected in the noisy rehearsal chatter of Peanut But- 
ter & Jelly, a youth theater program that has succeeded 
in bringing together students from the public and private 
schools. While most of MCC's constituency is African 
American, attraction to the theater spread in 1989 when 
Cornerstone Theater of New York City visited and pro- 
duced an integrated "Romeo and Juliet," which made 
the cover o^ American Theater Magazine. 

Imagining that an inclusive community the- 
ater might be possible, MCC planned the Junebug/ 
Roadside residency around sessions for writing, telling 
and performing stories. The artists worked in classrooms 
during the day and at the center in the evenings. On the 



evening of the story swap, professional and professed sto- 
rytellers, black and white, young and not so young gath- 
ered in a big circle. Infectious as storytelling is, even those 
who claimed not to know a story were inspired to share 
at least one tale. Local people heard local stories they had 
not heard before. One man who had never been known 
for talking much, "broke loose" with some of the most 
amazing, well-crafted and funny stories of the evening. 
The ritual was repeated during the later residency of Car- 
petbag Theater, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, another 
American Festival company with a storytelling repertoire. 
"In fact," says Crosby, as she continues to promote the 
possibility of a community theater, "by popular demand, 
story swaps are becoming a regular happening in Port 
Gibson these days." 



Nayo Barbara Malcolm Watkins is an independent arts consultant who 
works with state arts agencies and nonprofit arts organizations in North 
Carolina and the South on organization and program development. She 
has served as executive director of a dance ensemble, a theater troupe 
and an arts organization, and is a published playwright. 



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A Creative Cycle 

Meanwhile back home, Junebug and Roadside build 
upon these and other touring experiences in projects in 
their own communities. What they learn they take back 
on the road and the cycle of experience continues. "It's 
about process over product," says Junebug's John 
O'Neal. "It has to be seen as a lens for examining pro- 
cess. And ultimately, it's about empowering people by af- 
firming their own strengths." 

So once upon a time some storytellers passed 
through, and they helped revitalize, revalidate, connect 
and reconnect age-old rituals . . . and things happened in 
rural North Carolina and Mississippi. The prospect of 
community theaters developed, new arts participants ap- 
peared, lots of new plays were created and all kinds of 
people started telling and listening to each other's 
stories. ■ 




Building Bridges in Education Through Folk Arts 




Corona-makei Eva Castellanoz teaches students how to make the delicate crowns of 
paper flowers that hold special significance in Mexican culture. Through the Idaho 
Commission on the Arts Communit}^ Cultures program, Eva and other artisans were 
able to share their artistry and culture with school children. 
Photo courtesy of Eva Castellanoz 



by Julie Fansebw 



The United States is a nation of widely contrast- 
ing cultures, but few states could be as geographi- 
cally and historically different as Idaho and 
Rhode Island. 

Idaho is one of the last vestiges of the true 
American West, its vast inland landscape marked by tow- 
ering mountains, scenic rivers and windswept plains of 
molten lava rock and sagebrush. The state has more 
roadless area than any other in the continental United 
States, and many of its towns didn't exist 100 years ago. 

Rhode Island, by contrast, was settled more 
than three centuries ago as a haven from religious perse- 
cution. The state's character reflects its New England 
heritage and its coastal location. Although small in size, 
Rhode Island is one of the nation's most densely settled 
states, with about 960 people per square mile (compared 
to about 12 people per square mile in Idaho). 

Despite these differences, Idaho and Rhode 
Island have characteristics in common. Each is among 
the nation's smallest states in terms of overall population, 
which means that state and local agencies lack national 
political and economic clout and must often do for 
themselves. Each state is home to myriad people from 
varied ethnic backgrounds. And each has found a way to 
mine its human resources to create truly innovative ap- 
proaches to folk arts education. 

Idaho 

# Getting Parents Involved 

Idaho is a state of immigrants. Except for the state's Na- 
tive Americans, few Idahoans have roots going back 
more than a century. Many of the state's Mexican- 
American people are among the most recent arrivals still 
struggling to find acceptance and purpose in their new 
communities. 

Many Mexican-Americans live in Nampa, a 



town of about 28,000 located in southwest Idaho's 
"Treasure Valley" near Boise. Of 8,100 students attend- 
ing the schools in the Nampa School District, eight per- 
cent are classified as migrant students. Some of these mi- 
grant children's families have settled into year-round life 
in Nampa, but others must travel from town to town as 
they follow the crops and work the fields. The Nampa 
School District's Community Cultures Program grew 
out of teachers' and administrators' desires to help mi- 
grant parents participate in their children's education. 
They decided to do this by integrating folk arts lessons 
into the fourth-grade social studies curriculum, which 
emphasizes Idaho's history and its diverse population. 
"We want parents to become more involved in the 
schooling of children ... so they can see that the schools 
belong to them," says Raphael Ortiz, one of several 
fourth-grade teachers at Nampa's Lakeview Elementary 
School. Lakeview became the program's pilot school be- 
cause of the faculty's willingness to take on the task. 



Community Cultures Program 
In pursuing this idea, the Lakeview teachers began by 
contacting the Idaho Commission on the Arts (ICA) and 
asking if a school/community folk arts fair might qualify 
for assistance. Anna Marie Boles, then arts in education 
director for the ICA, told the teachers the fair didn't 
meet the commission's guidelines but that educational 
artists' residencies could qualify. Boles then told the 
teachers about ideas for a Folk Arts in the Schools pro- 
gram that the commission was considering developing. 

Everyone who took part in the resulting 
Community Cultures Program emphasized the impor- 
tance of teamwork in making it start strongly and run 
smoothly. At Lakeview Elementary, the Community 
Cultures team included teachers, the school principal, 
district administrators, parents and other interested 



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members of the community, all of whom worked with 
staff people from the ICA. Twilo Scofield, an Oregon 
folklorist and teacher, served as project consultant. In ad- 
dition to support from the ICA, the Idaho State Depart- 
ment of Education and its Migrant Education Program, 
the program was funded in part by a NEA Arts in Edu- 
cation grant to the Idaho Commission on the Arts. 

The Community Cultures team started by 
seeking out traditional artists from a variety of back- 
grounds. They found people like Filemon Ballesteros, a 
Mexican-American agricultural crew leader who also 
weaves intricate, macrame-style bags, and Eva 
Castellanoz, a woman widely recognized for her skill in 
creating Mexican coronas (crowns made of waxed paper 
flowers). And although the program started with a Mexi- 
can-American focus, coordinators quickly learned about 
talented artists from many other ethnic groups, including 
a Shoshone-Paiute bead artisan from the nearby Duck 
Valley Indian Reservation, a Vietnamese couple who cre- 
ate traditional lanterns and a Pakistani storyteller. Most 
of these people are themselves parents or grandparents of 
school-age children and have a lifetime of informal teach- 
ing experience. 

In the meantime, the fourth-grade teachers at 
Lakeview Elementary School prepared their students 
with lessons from Scofield's booklet Out On a Limb. The 
booklet helps children trace their own family trees, ask 
questions about their cultural heritage and bring evi- 
dence of that background into the classroom through a 
kind of international "show-and-tell." One boy whose 
family hailed from the southwest Pacific islands of Tonga 
taught his class how to dance the hula. A girl whose 
background is Laotian offered a 20-minute program 
showcasing, among other things, a tape of her brothers' 
traditional Laotian musical group and her mother's 
native dress. 



Enthusiasm in the Classroom 
The teachers also took time to tell the students about the 
artists' home countries before the visitors arrived, provid- 
ing a solid context for the classroom appearances. By the 
time the presenters arrived, the children were bursting 
with questions. "I was struck by the preparation the 
teachers had done with the students," Boles says. "They 
knew the questions to ask, and they didn't have to be 
prompted." When Loc and Huyen Kim Nguyen, the 
Vietnamese couple, demonstrated how to make tradi- 
tional lanterns used in an annual Children's Day parade, 
the students asked so many questions that the actual lan- 
tern-making had to wait until after lunch. 

Eva Castellanoz, who lives just over the Idaho 
border in Nyssa, Oregon, makes coronas in part to keep 
alive the ideals behind the delicate crowns made of paper 
flowers, which traditionally are worn by Mexican girls on 
special occasions. It used to be that only virgins could 
don the corona on their wedding day, she says, but with 
the increase in teen sexual activity the flowers no longer 
hold the same meaning in Mexican ctilture. 

With a classroom of fourth-graders, 
Castellanoz takes a different tack. The children watch 
with rapt attention as she shapes paper petals, dips them 
into hot wax, then molds the flowers. The flowers come 
in different colors — red, yellow, pink — "just like 
people," Castellanoz says, "and each one is beautifiil in its 
own way." "We're all unique and the flowers we make 
are going to be different from everyone else's flowers," 
she adds. "But they are all going to be beautifiil." 

Castellanoz's skills are known all over the 
West, and she is a past recipient of a National Heritage 
Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. She 
enjoys visiting classrooms because it gives her a chance to 
nourish the cultural roots of young Mexican- American 
children and help keep their heritage alive in a very tan- 



gible way. "If we help our children to be proud of who 
they are and what they know, they'll do well anywhere," 
she says. 

The Lakeview teachers say they noticed defi- 
nite improvements in their students' levels of self-esteem 
and ctiltural awareness following their involvement in the 
Community Cultures Program. ICA staff member Jil 
Sevy recalls that young Ricardo Ballesteros was never par- 
ticularly interested in learning about his father's bag 
weaving until the day his dad actually showed up in his 
classroom. "It made him come out of his shell. He was 
like a different kid," Sevy says. "It was great." 

Ricardo Cedillo, former principal of Lakeview 
Elementary, says parent participation was key to the pro- 
gram's success. "We had a lot of parental involvement, 
and when you get the parents involved, it makes the kids 
feel better," he notes. "The kids felt proud of their par- 
ents, and I hope they will continue to feel that way." 

Asked what advice they would give other 
groups trying to start a similar program, the Community 
Ctiltures organizers had several suggestions. 

Robert McCarl, former ICA folk arts director, 
says state and local departments of education need to 
make sure their multictiltural education efforts are 
ongoing, integrated programs that make full use of each 
community's human resources. Only then, he says, will 
cross-cultural education move away from many schools' 
practice of offering one week's instruction on a culture 
"and figuring they've done it." 

Everyone involved stressed the need for early 
organization and cooperation among all parties partici- 
pating, from administrators and teachers to parents and 
other community members. 

"Be sure of your team," says Howard. "Be 
sure everybody is well-informed and really wants to do 
the program." 



"To make it work, the teacher involvement 
has to be there," says Sevy. "It's quite labor intensive. 
The teachers at Lakeview were very enthusiastic and 
wanted to see it happen." 

Sevy adds that it's important to have the 
teachers trained by an experienced folklorist. "If you 
don't have that, you have a fluffy little program without 
any substance," she says. 

"Take the time to plan it and don't try to 
rush into it," advises Boles. "Figure it will take several 
years to really get it into place. We just scratched the sur- 
face of the potential of what's there, just identifying that 
everyone carries with them certain perspectives and 
knowledge." 

Rhode Island 

# Kits Unearth Cultural Treasure 
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) 
has also discovered a creative way to present the art and 
culture of its diverse ethnic groups to the children of 
Rhode Island. During the mid-1970s, the nation's small- 
est state became a haven for many Hmong people who 
had fled the mountains of Laos and Burma in war-torn 
southeast Asia. "Southeast Asians, including the Hmong, 
were the most recent immigrant group in the state and 
the one that people knew the least about," says Winnie 
Lambrecht, director of the council's Folk Arts Program. 

Lambrecht and her assistant, Carolyn 
Shapiro, thought the best way to introduce Hmong cul- 
ture might be through a kit that could be loaned out to 
interested schools. Drawing on descriptions and artifacts 
from Hmong life overseas and in Rhode Island, the 
council created a veritable treasure chest for all who 
would use the kit. Among the items included were beau- 
tifully woven floral cloth, photographs, translated copies 
of Hmong folktales, a small musical instrument similar 



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to a Jew's harp and cassette tapes of Hmong music and 
conversation. 

RISCA also produced a kit focusing on the 
basket-making of three cultures represented in the state: 
the Hmong, the Yankees (or descendants of early New- 
England settlers, mostly from England and Scotland) 
and the Narragansetts. The kit included finished baskets 
along with photos of the artists and introductions to bas- 
ket-making techniques. 

RISCA produced these kits in 1985-86 
through a general support grant from the NEA Folk Arts 
Program. Recently, Lambrecht co-produced a third kit 
focusing on sub-Saharan African cultures for the Rhode 
Island School of Design (RISD) Museum, which funded 
the project through a foundation grant. Lambrecht says 
each kit costs between $2,000 and $4,000 to develop 
and produce, depending on how much research is 
needed. The two RISCA kits have remained in continual 
use since the mid 1 980s, and the RISD kit is available on 
a subscription basis. 

"The kits give kids a switchboard they can 
plug into," says Dan Kahn, RISCA folk arts program as- 
sistant. Some children may want to ask questions about a 
group's history, while others may be more interested in 
the art forms or language. The kits offer plenty of differ- 
ent stimtili and many avenues of introduction to the cul- 
ture, Kahn notes. They are used only in conjunction 
with a classroom visit by a traditional anist, or as the ba- 
sis for a school exhibition. 

Through the kits, RISCA strives to provide 
enough background so users can gain an understanding 
of the entire culture, not just the arts. For example, the 
basket-making kit showed how different factors ulti- 
mately disrupted the traditional craft. In the case of the 
Yankees, change came about through industrialization; 
for the Hmong, it was geographical dislocation; and for 



Native Americans, environmental conditions including 
paved roads and construction eliminated the natural ma- 
terials used for the baskets. "The kits go beyond artistic 
appreciation," Lambrecht says, "they indicate the tradi- 
tional arts are part of a context." 

One teacher who has used the kits is Susan 
McGreevy-Nichols, who works at Roger Williams 
Middle School in Providence, a school where the student 
body is more than 90 percent minority, blending Mexi- 
can-American, African-American and Asian cultures in 
its classrooms. McGreevy-Nichols tries to incorporate 
her students' varied cultural backgrounds into her classes. 
The kits offer an easy way to accomplish both objectives, 
she says. "It's really hands-on, things they can touch," she 
notes. McGreevy-Nichols also appreciates the wealth of 
information each self-contained kit offers. "It does a lot 
of the research that I don't have time to do," she says. 
"I'd like to see a kit for every culture." 



Looking to the Future 

Both the Idaho and Rhode Island programs got off to 
strong starts in the mid-to-late 1 980s, fueled by the vi- 
sion and hard work of their founders. Now, however, 
each program is struggling. But no one in either state is 
ready to give up. 

RISCA hopes to compile additional kits rep- 
resenting other cultures, including the state's varied His- 
panic populations, French-Americans and emigrants 
from the Cape Verde Islands. But the council's staff has 
been pared from 1 3 to 7 people, and there is neither time 
nor money for new projects. Meanwhile, the kits are still 
available for loan to schools, and libraries have expressed 
interest, too. 

Idaho's program attracted funding from the 
National Endowment for the Arts as well as the state arts 
commission and education department. Activities started 



at Lakeview Elementary in 1 989 and continued for two 
school years. Following this pilot period, the state mi- 
grant education program expressed an interest in expand- 
ing cross-cultural education to other towns throughout 
the state. Two bilingual videotapes were produced to 
help other communities understand and implement the 
Community Cultures Program, and these remain avail- 
able to interested schools and community groups. But 
before Community Ctiltures could be formally expanded 
to these schools and communities, the program was tem- 
porarily put on hold. 

Idaho Commission on the Arts Executive Di- 
rector Margot Knight says ICA's five-year plan calls for 
expansion of the project into three schools in the next 
year. Voicing her support for the program and her hopes 
it will continue. Knight adds, "This program is a great re- 
minder to kids and their parents that art is not some- 
thing the 'other' people do. Art is in every Idahoan's his- 
torical backyard." 

In the meantime, Lakeview's teachers are do- 
ing their best to keep the program going on their own. 
Lakeview teacher Ellen Howard, for example, remembers 
how to make the three-dimensional, star-shaped Viet- 
namese lanterns and so has passed that skill on to new 
classes of fourth-graders since the Nguyens' visit. 

The two videotapes describing the Commu- 
nity Cultures Program, for which the state migrant edu- 
cation department provided production support, con- 
tinue to carry the message. One tape provides an 
overview of the Community Cultures Program; the other 
focuses on "Senor Ballesteros," the Mexican-American 
bag weaver. Each tape is available in both English and 
Spanish. 

Warren Taylor, state migrant education di- 
rector, says the tapes have been shown all over the state 
and he understands several districts are using the Com- 



munity Cultures model to develop programs of their 
own. "We don't even know the full effect the videotapes 
have had," Taylor says. But he was present in Nampa's 
neighboring district, Caldwell, when the videos were 
shown to a group of local Mexican-American leaders. "By 
the end, they all had tears in their eyes," he recalls. "And 
they said, 'If Nampa can do that, Caldwell can too.' " 

"I think there's always a pride in what one 
can produce and create," Taylor adds. "To think that 
other people wotild be interested in that and wotild want 
to learn it too just makes you feel good. It makes you 
want to share what you know, and it makes you feel like 
what you know is worthwhile." ■ 

Julie Fanselow is an Idaho-based free-lance editor, writer and publicist. 
She has written about the arts for numerous regional and national 
publications, and she serves on the board of directors for the Ma^c 
Valley Arts Council in Twin Falls, Idaho. 



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With California Generations, presenters and the state arts agency collaborated to 
present performers from around the world, all of whom now call California home. 
Chatuye is shown performing the drumming, song and dance of the Garifuna people 
of Belize. 

Photo courtesy of the National Council for the Traditional Arts 



l?y Margarita Nieto and Mark Cianca 



They traveled up and down die length and breadth 
of the Golden State, this eclectic group of singers, 
dancers, musicians and poets. In each place they 
enchanted audiences with their dazzling costumes, 
haunting music and lively songs and dances. This perfor- 
mance tour was California Generations, an extraordinary 
endeavor that presented a California often overshadowed 
by the stereotypical glittery, plastic image of life in the 
land of sun and surf It presented songs and chants in 
Karuk and Yurok, the languages of California's Klamath 
River people; dances celebrating Hmong and Tibetan 
rituals and myths; ancient Hawaiian chants; and pulsat- 
ing rhythmic Gariftma music. California Generations 
was a tribute to cultural traditions in contemporary Cali- 
fornia and a manifestation of how culture binds families. 

The group, which also included a cowboy 
poet, an Afghani dutar master and a group of Mexican 
jarocho musicians originally from the state of Veracruz, 
also bears witness to California's diverse population. This 
phenomenon not only reflects the changing demograph- 
ics across the United States, it is also indicative of the 
■ state's imique geographical site. California is truly the last 
frontier, the jumping-oflF place that opens up to the 
world. Its western border consists of 1,000 miles of Pa- 
cific coasdine, and its ports, San Francisco, Los Angeles- 
San Pedro and San Diego are important North Ameri- 
can gateways to the South Pacific and Asia. To the south, 
it borders Mexico, to which it once belonged, and La 
Lima is the major port of entry for immigrants coming 
from Mexico and Central and South America. As a con- 
sequence California boasts a spectrtmi of world cultures 
living within its borders. There are approximately 240 
ethnic, occupational, religious, linguistic and regional 
groups in California as well as 1 24 rural tribal reserva- 
tions and rancherias for some 40,000 native Californians. 
California Generations proposed to emphasize the pride 



that these immigrants maintain in the cultural traditions 
they have brought with them into this new land and the 
continuing strength of centuries-old native values, cus- 
toms and performance traditions. 



How It Came to Be 

California Generations was conceived by Mark Cianca, 
the booking director of California Presenters, and Joe 
Wilson, director of the National Council for the Tradi- 
tional Arts (NCTA), in November 1989. The idea was 
developed in response to the needs of California's diverse 
presenting community and the unique cultural mix of 
the state. California Presenters, a booking consortium of 
the state's presenters whose membership consists of both 
large, university-based presenters and small, community- 
based organizations, had never before commissioned new 
work. The breadth of its members and the distances be- 
tween them seemed to preclude engaging in a commis- 
sioning project that would serve a majority of the mem- 
bers and help move the organization forward. 

According to Mark Cianca, "California Gen- 
erations worked in reverse." The usual method is to com- 
mission a new ballet or a new musical piece from an art- 
ist, choreographer or composer. "California Presenters 
asked the NCTA to work with us on the development of 
a tour, not of a brand new piece of art, but of art that was 
based in community and passed along through time. We 
would work with the NCTA to discover a part of Cali- 
fornia that few among us knew or understood: the folk 
arts traditions of the state's immigrant and indigenous 
communities." A program such as this, a global view of 
California's folk tradition, had never been done before. 

California Presenters already had a long- 
standing relationship with NCTA. California Presenters' 
members had presented many of the highly successful 
tours that Joe Wilson had produced in the past, includ- 



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ing Ratces Musicales, which featured the regional musics 
of Mexico and the Hispanic Southwest, and Masters of 
the Folk Violin. According to Wilson, California was a 
particularly rich source for this kind of event. "In the last 
thirty years," he says, "California has been enriched by a 
disproportionate number of immigrants, many of them 
artists, who have chosen to remain there." 

California Presenters provided an organiza- 
tional backbone for the experiment. The organization 
not only drew on audiences already developed in a par- 
ticular community for this kind of event, they also uti- 
lized each member as a hub for the performance itself 
and for activities to be held in conjunction with it. Cali- 
fornia Presenters also sought the funding for the tour, 
which was diflPicult to obtain despite potential funders' 
expressions of admiration for the project. Funders were 
reluctant to support a project that defied the traditional 
commissioning model. As Cianca describes it, "We were 
working counter to funding conventions: we asked for 
the money in advance so we could find the artists we 
wotild present in the program." 



to the State and Regional Program of the National En- 
dowment for the Arts. The Lila Wallace-Readers Digest 
Fund also provided project support. 



An Extraordinary Effort 
Fortunately the California Arts Council (CAC) was en- 
thusiastic about California Generations and met the 
challenge of Rinding the unusual project. By being cre- 
ative and flexible, CAC was able to accommodate the 
project's financial breadth by distributing it over three 
programs: California Challenge Program, Multicultural 
Arts Development Program and Performing Arts Tour- 
ing and Presenting Program. Since the project was being 
funded through three programs and therefore could not 
go through the normal panel review process, council 
members reviewed and approved the expenditure of 
funds for California Generations. The arts council also 
submitted a successfiil proposal on behalf of the project 



Selecting the Artists 
The major objectives of California Generations included 
identifying and honoring California's folk artists and 
community-based presenters, and cultivating and serving 
an expanding audience base. A less tangible objective was 
that by showcasing the state's cultural diversity everyone 
involved — audience, performers and organizers — ^would 
have the opportunity to see themselves in a new light. 
There was also hope that this project would give impetus 
to similar projects nationwide and even worldwide. 

But how to select the representative perform- 
ers for such a tour in the most populous state in the na- 
tion? For that, Cianca and Wilson met with the Genera- 
tions Committee to discuss the development of field 
work and to identify the cadre of field workers needed to 
accomplish it. The Generations Committee was com- 
posed of arts specialists from the National Council for 
the Traditional Arts, California Arts Council and Cali- 
fornia Presenters, including: Joe Wilson and Julia Olin 
from the NCTA; staff from the California Arts Council, 
including Philip Horn, then manager of the CAC Per- 
forming Arts Touring and Presenting Program, and Bar- 
bara Rahm, then coordinator of the CAC Folk Arts Pro- 
gram; and Mark Cianca and others from California 
Presenters. 

The National Council for the Traditional 
Arts was charged with the task of producing the tour. Joe 
Wilson contacted a network of community leaders who 
began identifying different groups and along with those 
leaders, a field group, consisting of field- workers and 
consultants, scholars and specialists who served as "eyes 
and 



ears. 





Chaksam-Pa draws from the folk songs and dances, operas and rituals of Tibet in its 
performances. 

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, The results of the fieldwork were presented at 
a ten-hour meeting of the Generations Committee, dur- 
ing which they viewed videotapes, listened to recordings 
and discussed the blend and aesthetic mix of the artists 
they were considering. "We saw cultural treasures, in raw 
and unedited format, and the toughest part of the project 
became the culling of a lengthy list into a briefer set of 
preferences and priorities," says Cianca. They finished 
the meeting with a "short list" and a directive for Joe 
Wilson: To talk with each of the artists and ensembles 
on the list to determine if they were capable and inter- 
ested in touring for up to three weeks, and to verify their 
artistic merit and the value they would bring to a fiill- 
length production. 

Wilson and staff then spent a month inter- 
viewing artists and shortening the list. When the dust 
settled, the artists they had engaged for the California 
Generanons tour included: Native Californian singer- 
poets, Jimmie James and Julian Lang; jarocho musicians 
Los Pregoneros del Puerto; cowboy poet Jesse Smith; 
Hawaiian chanters and dancers Sissy Kaio and family; 
the Garifuna group Chatuye; Hmong master Ge Xiong 
and his students; Afghani dutar master Aziz Herawi and 
son; and Tibetan folk musicians Chaksam-Pa. 

Once the selections were final, Wilson spent 
three weeks traveling through California and visiting 
each group. He remembers the evening spent with 
Jimmie James and Julian Lang at home on the banks of 
the Klamath River. "Someone in the community had 
caught a huge sturgeon and everyone was busily butcher- 
ing it so that it could be shared with family and friends. 
There was all this coming and going and then they bar- 
becued the sturgeon. We spent the evening eating and 
talking with Jimmie James, watching the moon rise over 
the river and the forest. Time just ceased to exist. I was to 
have stayed an hour; I left at midnight six hours later." 



The California Generations Tour 
The performers themselves didn't meet until the rehears- 
als during a four-day period set aside in Visalia before the 
tour began. Julia Olin, the director for the tour, recalls 
the feeling that developed among the performers when 
they came together in Visalia: "There was initially a feel- 
ing of apprehension. What kind of a commitment had 
they made to live, sleep, eat and travel together with 
these strangers for an entire month? But the apprehen- 
sion dissolved when they actually began rehearsing." And 
what surfaced immediately was a feeling of mutual re- 
spect for the art, for the artist and for the culture. Olin 
also remembers a poignant moment when Jimmie James, 
Yurok Elder and a great spiritual leader, asked the group 
to stand together, hold hands and pray for the unity and 
success of the tour. 

A spirit of community and unity developed 
and grew as the tour began. According to Hawaiian per- 
former Sissy Kaio, the group began interacting almost 
immediately, and by the second week they were like an 
extended family. On the bus they exchanged stories to 
pass the time. Once they arrived at their lodgings, Kaio 
quickly became the main cook and everyone came by to 
share the meals. They began to learn words and phrases 
in each other's language, and they quickly began to real- 
ize that their similarities far outweighed their differences. 
Kaio's six-year-old son, Pele, may have profited the most, 
however, as he learned to dance with the Hmong, play 
the harp with the jarocho musicians, play drums with 
Chatuye and twirled dizzily with the Tibetan dancers. 
Sissie Kaio is certain that the experience of that one 
month will remain with Pele for the rest of his life. 

The California Generations tour began on 
Saturday, October 24, at Stanford University's Memorial 
Auditorium and ended on November 1 5 at the Univer- 
sity Theatre at the University of California, Riverside. 



During those three weeks the artists performed 1 5 full- 
length programs, 7 one-hour programs for K-12 students 
and 1 8 other outreach activities in locations ranging as 
far north as Yreka and Areata and as far south as La JoUa. 
In one outreach effort the presenter, Humboldt State 
Center Arts, partnered with local Klamath River 
Indian organizations to bring the artists to reservation 
schools and to make free tickets available to those 
communides. 



The Performances 
The tour was two-thirds over when California Genera- 
tions played UCLA's Wadsworth Theatre. The evening 
began with a pre-performance lecture by David Roche, 
the fieldwork supervisor for the project. Roche explained 
the objectives behind the concept and also shared some 
of the excitement of discovery that those involved with 
the performance had experienced. By the time the lecture 
was over, the auditorium was almost entirely full. The 
audience was typically Californian: every possible race 
and ethnic culture was represented, as well as every age 
group. 

As the lights dimmed, Master of Ceremonies 
Jtilian Lang, a member of the Karuk tribe, stepped out 
against a background of moon and sky. Addressing the 
audience, he too spoke about the way in which this 
group of performers had come together. Lang then intro- 
duced Yurok Elder Jimmie James, who brought the audi- 
ence together in shared prayer (facing east), then pro- 
ceeded to tell a Yurok prophecy of the coming of the 
people of four colors to the world and sang the powerRil 
Bush Dance song. 

Then out they danced, masked and bearded, 
Chaksam-Pa (Tashi Dhondup, Sonan Pelmo and Karma 
Gyaltsen), the only resident Tibetan performing arts en- 
semble in the Americas. As they stamped and twirled. 



they took us back, far beyond the illusory moon to the 
"roof of the world," to Tibet. They transported us there 
through their dances and music. Now residents of San 
Francisco, these artists came here to live as a result of the 
political turmoil in their ancestral land and represent a 
crucial element in preserving the threatened culture of an 
exiled people. 

No sooner had they exited when the lights 
came up on a group of seated musicians, Afghani dutar 
master Aziz Herawi, his son Omar and Glulam Abbas 
Khan, playing and singing music as timeless as the world 
itself A famous musician in his native Herwat, Aziz 
Herawi left Afganistan in 1 983 and escaped with his 
family into Pakistan. He has lived in Concord since 1985 
where he has taught his sons to play the ancient instru- 
ments and to sing the music reminiscent of the ancient 
"Silk Route" to China. 

As Jesse Smith, cowboy poet, strolled out, the 
audience was transported back to the tradition of the 
Old West. A fifdi-generation Californian and working 
cowboy. Smith was born and raised in Porterville, and he 
regaled the audience with salty narratives and tall tales. 

The final aa before intermission, Los 
Pregoneros del Puerto (Jose Gutierrez, Valente Reyes and 
Gonzalo Mata), came out sinxraxnin^ jaranci, requinto 
and harp. The group of professional musicians and na- 
tive veracruzanos was formed in Veracruz in 1 964 and re- 
united in the United States in 1 982. It was a rousing fi- 
nale to the first half of the program as the group played 
the original "La Bamba" and other famous tunes from 
the Mexican gulf coast. A group of enthusiastic fans ex- 
pressed their approval by clapping thunderously and call- 
ing out to them as they left the stage. 

The audience had scarcely been seated after 
the intermission when Hmong master Ge Xiong and his 
students, Choua Her, Pao Yang and Tong Lee, appeared 



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in their traditional robes playing instruments and per- 
forming intricate dances. 

Ge Xiong is master of the geej school, which 
was founded by Hmong elders in Fresno three years ago 
to teach the young the ancient rituals of talking through 
instruments and of conjuring power and spirits through 
dance and song. Threatened by extinction because of the 
recent political upheavals in Southeast Asia, some 30,000 
Hmong live in Fresno today, making it the largest com- 
munity of Hmong in the world. 

Again the stage darkened. With the song and 
strains of hula kahiko, the ancient hula dance and music 
of Hawaii, Sissie Kaio and her family (Annette, Kawena, 
Kimo, Lincoln, Jr. and Pele), appeared onstage. Swaying 
to chants dedicated to the Hawaiian gods, their hands 
poetically narrated myths and stories. A highlight of the 
Kaio performance was the hula that explained through 
song and movement why boys are boys and girls are girls. 
Sissie Kaio directs a halau (hula school) in Carson, which 
is also home to a large community from the South Pa- 
cific. There she instructs many young people in the old 
arts, which are a key to Hawaiian history, folklore and 
culture. 

No sooner had the Kaio family left to the ap- 
preciative cheers of the audience than the Gariftma 
Chatuye, led by Sidney Mejia, filled the stage and the au- 
ditorium with pulsating drimis and song, combining Af- 
rican rhythms with a beat reminiscent of Puerto Rican 
and Cuban music. The Garifiana, also known as Black 
Carib Indians and Garinagus, are originally from Belize 
and Honduras. Chatuye is from Los Angeles where ap- 
proximately 5,000 Gariftina live. 

As the beat of Chatuye's drums faded away, 
the performance was suddenly over. The artists all came 
out, joined hands and passed in two lines in front and 
through each other: Native Californians, Tibetans, cow- 



boy poets, Afghani dutar musicians, jarochos, Hmong, 
Hawaiians, Garifiana — Californians all. 

Ehele kapoina 'ole 

E hull 'eke alo i hope nei 

"Go, without forgetting to turn your gaze 
back here." Suddenly the lyrics of the ancient Hawaiian 
song took on new meaning. In viewing the marvelous 
traditions and culture that these people had managed to 
preserve, it became evident that art and culture are in the 
end the best possession. Most of these people had arrived 
in California seemingly dispossessed — stripped of their 
lands, separated from family and friends. And yet they 
brought with them riches beyond measure because they 
carried their culture and their past with them in music, 
song, dance and verse. 



Looking Back and Looking Ahead 

In retrospect, Joe Wilson and Mark Cianca both agree 
that all the years of planning and the hours spent orga- 
nizing California Generations were well worth the effort. 
Audio tapes of the performances will be transformed into 
a compact disc. An hour-long television documentary of 
California Generations will be completed by June 1993 
and will be aired by all 13 California public television 
stations. The program may also be distributed to the en- 
tire national network of PBS affiliates for later rebroad- 
cast. And the news has gone forth. Other states and re- 
gions are interested in organizing similar performances. 
In California, people are inquiring about a sequel to 
California Generations. 

The project has been a seed for the develop- 
ment of the artists who participated. Three of the eight 
ensembles now have professional recording contracts 
with important internationally-distributed labels. Sissy 
Kaio and family have been asked to speak at schools and 
colleges throughout southern California. Five of the 



groups have been booked in new venues in distant places 
as a result of this work. 

The greatest gain for all those who partici- Q 

pated in California Generations, in its organization, pro- g^ 

duction, performance and audience, is the understanding ~ 

that multiculturalism and cultural diversity are not mere O 

buzzwords. Rather, they are real concepts embodied in 5 

the vitality and energy that is California. ■ ° 



o 



Margarita Nieto is an art historian and art writer from Los Angeles. A 
professor at California State University where she directs the Humani- 
ties Interdisciplinary Program, she is also a native Califomian. 

Mark Cianca, president of California Presenters, is also director of Arts 
& Lectures at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Originally from 
Montana, he has been an active performing arts presenter in Alaska and 
California. 




Additional State and Regional Arts Agency 
Initiatives in Support of Cultural Diversity 



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The following is an overview of the many initiatives taking 
place in the states and regions that further cultural diversity. 
The text was submitted by the 46 state and regional arts 
agencies not highlighted in the preceding chapters. Like the 
stories in those chapters, this compilation illustrates that the 
ways in which cultural diversity is addressed are as varied as 
the populations being served. This chapter provides a sense of 
both the similarities and differences in state and regional ap- 
proaches toward a national priority. 

The State Arts Agencies 

# Alabama State Council on the Arts 
The Alabama State Council on the Arts has initiated a 
multifaceted outreach project to identify and assist artists 
and organizations active in Alabama's diverse rural and 
multicultural communities. Realizing that traditional in- 
formation and delivery systems were not applicable in a 
state with a majority of its population living in nonurban 
and isolated areas, the council has adopted policy and 
guideline changes that focus attention on multicultural 
issues as well as cultural diversity. 

New initiatives developed with the assistance 
of the NEA include the establishment of a Center for 
Traditional Culture and a matching grant program for 
the development of rural arts centers in the state's tradi- 
tional Black Belt region. Additionally, the council is 
working on an initiative started by the state's African 
American artist community. The initiative seeks to iden- 
tify black artists and arts organizations as well as commu- 
nity service organizations involved in arts programming 
and link them to an information sharing network. 



# Alaska State Council on the Arts 

The Alaska State Council on the Arts has a fiill-time Folk 
Arts Coordinator on staff who is primarily responsible 
for various projects and programs involving Alaska Na- 
tive art and cultural activities. This position is supported 
in part by a grant from the NEA Folk Arts Program. The 
council has a Master Artist and Apprentice Program spe- 
cifically for traditional Native arts. The purpose of this 
program, which is also supported in part by the NEA, is 
to encourage traditional Native artists to pass on their 
knowledge and skill to younger members of their 
community. 

This year two staff members will be traveling 
to four rural communities in Nome, Kotzebue, Barrow 
and Bethel to offer on-site technical assistance to emerg- 
ing arts councils and to organizations that are interested 
in pursuing grants for folk or Native arts programs. This 
activity is funded by a grant from the NEA Arts Projects 
in Underserved Communities category. 



Arizona Commission on the Arts 
Issues of cultural preservation, repatriation legislation and 
community empowerment have caused Native American 
communities to take a proactive stance in the planning 
and the formation of cultural committees and museums 
throughout Arizona. In 1988 Atlatl, a national Native 
American arts service organization, and the Arizona 
Commission on the Arts began the first in a series of 
tribal museum meetings to discuss the lack of accessibil- 
ity to information and training in museum development. 
In 1989 funding from the NEA State and Regional 



Program enabled the Tribal Museum Assessment pro- 
gram to provide technical assistance to tribal museums 
through on-site consultations and quarterly meetings. 
Success of this program is due to Atlatl's significant role 
in program development and community participation. 
Ongoing support for the program is provided by the arts 
commission. 

Empowerment through professional staff de- 
velopment of community members in the creation of 
their ow^n museums is a primary issue. Funding for full- 
time museum directors at tribal museums is available 
through the commission. In 1992 additional funding 
was granted through the Rural Arts Initiative of the NEA 
Expansion Arts Program for staff support and technical 
assistance. 

^ Arkansas Arts Council 
The Arkansas Arts Coimcil is preserving indigenous art 
traditions and providing cultural access to some of the 
most economically depressed counties in the state. The 
Delta Cultural Center, which serves surrounding coun- 
ties in the Delta region, is the focal point of program- 
ming involving youth in hands-on art projects. Weekly 
art exchanges and instruction on traditional and nontra- 
ditional art forms involve approximately 150 elderly resi- 
dents. This initiative is fiinded by a grant from the NEA 
Arts Projects in Underserved Communities category. 

The equity ofBcer for the Arkansas Depart- 
ment of Education's Multi-Equity OjEfice, Dr. Andre 
Guerriaro, serves as the statewide advisor on cultural ac- 
cessibility, as well as an ans in education residency grant 
panelist. He is also cohosting a four-day statewide 1993 
Multicultural Education and Art Institute. The council's 
Arts in Education Program and artist residencies ensure 
reform in multicultural education by providing diverse 
artistic and cultural experiences and training workshops 



that bring together people of different cultural back- 
grounds. 



Connecticut Commission on the Arts 

The Inner City Cultural Development Program, funded 
by the NEA Arts Projects in Underserved Communities 
category, provides community-based artists and organiza- 
tions that present arts events with training, mentors and 
grant funding. Fieldwork identifies culturally representa- 
tive artists and organizations to participate in the pro- 
gram. Artists and organizational representatives partici- 
pate in a fifteen-week training seminar in career 
development and arts administration. Organizations are 
provided with modest grants to initiate projects devel- 
oped during the training. Individual artists are awarded 
small grants for projects that advance their careers. Men- 
tors are assigned to organizations and small discipline- 
based groups of artists. 

The Master Teaching Artist Program, funded 
in part by the NEA Arts in Education Program, trains 1 
culturally diverse artists to work in the classroom on a bi- 
ennial basis. Artists participate in an intense, four-day 
workshop which covers areas such as curriculum devel- 
opment, pedagogy and working in the school environ- 
ment. An outgrov^ of this program is the Traditional 
Artists in Schools Program pilot project, which trains tra- 
ditional artists to work in the classroom and provides fol- 
low-up residency experiences. It is funded by the NEA 
Folk Arts Program. 

^ Delaware Division of the Arts 
The Delaware Division of the Arts received a grant in 
1992 from the NEA Arts Projects in Underserved Com- 
munities category to fiind the Celebration of Cultures 
initiative, which supports arts activities in annual cultural 
festivals and celebrations throughout the state. The pur- 



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pose of Celebration of Cultures is to assist in developing, 
restoring or enhancing a cultural component of neigh- 
borhood festivals or celebrations. It is intended that these 
funds will serve to reinforce the celebration of a people's 
ethnicity by supporting arts activity that reflects the 
community's culture. Arts activity can include, but is not 
limited to, performance, arts workshops, and traditional 
crafts demonstrations by professional artists. Celebration 
of Cultures grants will range from $1,000 to $5,000. 

# Florida Division of Cultural Affairs 
Florida has a rich multicultural population. Forty-nine 
percent of Dade County's population is Hispanic, 27 
percent is white non-Hispanic, 18 percent is black non- 
Hispanic, and 6 percent is Native American or Asian 
American. One of the strongest examples of a collabora- 
tive project relating to cultural diversity was Interrogating 
Identity, a multisite project that took place in July 1992 
in Miami. It was sponsored by the Center for Fine Arts, 
the Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade Community Col- 
lege and the Alliance for Media Arts, which are grantees 
of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. 

The project integrated activities in various dis- 
ciplines to explore the true nature of multiculturalism. 
It's goal was to be "part of an ongoing collaborative 
project breaking down cultural separatism in Miami and 
celebrating cultural diversity." The program provided a 
forum for artists with diflPering notions of black identity 
working in Great Britain, Canada and the United States. 
There was a visual arts exhibition as well as presentations 
by seven performing arts companies from various cul- 
tures. A film series explored the representation of per- 
sonal and cultural identity, and included the works of 
Vietnamese, Indian and African American filmmakers. A 
speakers program included Latino artists and academics. 



# Georgia Council for tfie Arts 

One of the best examples of initiatives in support of cul- 
tural diversity in Georgia is the Athol Fugard Festival 
held in October and November 1 992. The noted South 
African playwright attended the festival and worked di- 
recdy with the theatres involved. Two of the three the- 
atres receive general operating support from the Georgia 
Council for the Arts. The council was also instrumental 
in getting Georgia Governor Zell Miller to recognize 
Fugard as a champion of civil and human rights for all 
people. The Fugard works challenged audiences to con- 
front issues of racism and change. 

The success of the Fugard Festival provides a 
model for the state of how quality arts experiences can be 
used effectively to achieve the goals of cultural diversity 
within the framework of overall programming objectives. 
As part of its long-range plan for 1 992-96, the council 
developed a goal to "respond to and support the artistic 
goals and needs of the state's ethnic and culturally diverse 
populations." A first step has been to develop and distrib- 
ute an extensive survey/self-audit of culturally diverse re- 
sources and accessibility. Next steps include a statewide 
conference on multiculturalism and increased efforts to 
include miJticultural artists and organizations in the 
council's funding/programming pipelines. 

^ Guam Council on the Arts and 

Humanities Agency 
The Guam Micronesia Island Fair, mandated and 
funded by the Guam legislature, began in 1988 for the 
purpose of promoting economic and cultural exchange 
among the islands of Micronesia and Guam. Various 
government of Guam agencies are charged with running 
this four-day festival, with the Department of Commerce 
as the lead agency and the Guam Council on the Arts 
and Humanities providing cultural presentations. The 



council has used this vehicle to promote, encourage and 
showcase the cultural diversit)^ in Guam and surrounding 
Micronesia. Guam hosts off-island delegations of per- 
formers and craftspeople while also seeking out and 
showcasing the various local ethnic communities of the 
island. During the five years of the fair's history, artists 
have participated fi-om the local Chamorro community 
in increasing numbers, as well as off-island representa- 
tives of Palau, Yap, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Marshall 
Islands, Northern Marianas, Hawaii, American Samoa 
and New Zealand. 



State Foundation on Culture and the Arts 
(Hawaii) 

The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts provides 
support to its culturally diverse constituency through 
fimding and initiatives that affect the broad spectrum of 
people living in Hawai'i. In virtually every program area, 
including arts in education, community arts, ethnic heri- 
tage and folk arts, history and humanities, literary arts, 
media arts, performing arts and visual arts, projects have 
been conducted that interpret, preserve and perpetuate 
culture. These cultures represent people of Hawaiian, 
Japanese, Samoan, Filipino, Balkan, Portuguese, Laotian, 
Javanese and Chinese heritage. 

Initiatives that have particularly affected 
Hawaii's culturally diverse population include Folklife 
Hawai'i: A Festival in Celebration of the 25th Anniver- 
sary of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts; the 
Statewide Cultural Extension Program; and the Folk 
Arts Apprenticeship Program. Approximately 120,210 
people have participated in these activities, which were 
made possible through fiinding from the state of Hawai'i 
and the NEA. 



Illinois Arts Council 
In 1986 the Illinois Arts Council established an agency- 
wide Access Program. Through this program, the council 
seeks panners to administer new strategies to enrich the 
artistic pluralism of the state. One specific goal of this 
program is to support artistic projects that are deeply 
rooted in and reflective of the cultures of people of color. 
Organizations supported must have a fijndamental rela- 
tionship to their communities, and provision of arts to 
their commtmities must be the primary programmatic 
activity. Very Special Arts Illinois received a grant to pro- 
vide training workshops for teachers, caregivers and com- 
munity leaders who are involved in arts activities for 
people with disabilities. The program also provides sup- 
port for underserved artists in rural areas and/or artists of 
color for professional development. 



Iowa Arts Council 

The Iowa Arts Council encourages cultural diversity in a 
number of ways. In 1992 the council sponsored mem- 
berships for nine presenting organizations to The Asso- 
ciation of American Cultures (TAAC), in an effort to as- 
sist these organizations in encouraging the preservation 
and advancement of culturally diverse art. The council 
hopes that the information shared through TAAC with 
Iowa presenters will increase public awareness of the need 
to promote pluralism. All of the agency's granting pro- 
grams emphasize inclusion of special poptilations in the 
planning, implementation and evaluation of arts projects. 
The council maintains rosters of artists who are eligible 
to work through its Artists in Schools/Communities and 
Arts to Go Touring programs, and in the past year the 
cultural diversity of the roster increased by 14 percent. 
The council is currently working in partnership with the 
Iowa- Yucatan Partners of the Americas in developing 
cultural exchanges with its sister state of Yucatan. 



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Kansas Arts Commission 

The Kansas Arts Commission recently received a three- 
year $88,000 grant from the Arts Projects in Under- 
served Communities category of the NEA State and Re- 
gional Program to support arts-related multicultural 
activities in underserved communities. The new Grass- 
roots Cultural Development Program provides three-year 
grants for cultural development as well as activity and 
consultant requests for multicultural and rural organiza- 
tions. Five multicultural organizations were first-year re- 
cipients of cultural development grants for coordinators, 
constiltants, artist fees, training and marketing. These or- 
ganizations represent African American, Latino, Asian 
7\merican and Native American populations in four areas 
of Kansas. They provide community intergenerational 
arts programs that preserve and teach traditional art 
forms, as well as promote cross-cultural understanding. 
All Kansas Arts Commission organizational 
grant applicants are asked to address the needs of under- 
served populations and the cultural diversity of their con- 
stituencies, memberships, boards and staffs. 



Kentucky Arts Council 
At the Kentucky Arts Council, the issue of cultural diver- 
sity is not separate from that of accessibility in terms of 
inclusion. The council's Civil Rights Advisory Commit- 
tee is charged with advising the council on civil rights 
and accessibility issues. The council has the responsibility 
of educating its constituents on compliance with national 
and state legislation that requires all arts organizations to 
be accessible to all people regardless of race, color, creed, 
religion, national origin, sex or disability. Arts organiza- 
tions in Kentucky must determine whether they are tak- 
ing all necessary steps to ensure that their arts programs 
address the needs of the entire community; whether their 
boards, staffs, and artistic policies provide for the partici- 



pation and inclusion of people of all backgrounds; that 
the facilities where their programs are presented are ac- 
cessible to people with disabilities; and that at least some 
of their performances and events offer opportunities for 
those with disabilities to participate fully. 



Louisiana Division of the Arts 
The Louisiana Division of the Arts received $94,000 
from the Arts Projects in Underserved Communities cat- 
egory of the NEA State and Regional Program to sup- 
port the first year of a three-year program. Outreach to 
the Underserved Initiative. The division has developed 
this initiative in collaboration with a broad representa- 
tion of the cultural community and persons to be served. 
The initiative will match strong, well-grounded arts orga- 
nizations and institutions with emerging arts groups in 
rural, inner-city, underserved and minority communities. 
The first year of the initiative will focus on the perform- 
ing arts. The project will be administered through a coa- 
lition of the division and six local arts agencies. Estab- 
lished arts organizations, under the direction of a local 
arts agency, will provide performances and outgoing 
mentor services to like groups, and in one circumstance, 
a number of the emerging organizations will be housed 
in the local arts agency. 



Maryland State Arts Council 
Recognizing that artists of color and minority-run arts 
organizations are integral to the culture and artistry of 
Maryland, the Maryland State Arts Council convened 
the Multicultural Task Force in fall of 1992 to review the 
policies and practices of the council and to make recom- 
mendations for increasing outreach. The task force, upon 
completing its work, is intended to evolve into a perma- 
nent advisory committee for the council. 

The council supports the location of the Alvin 



Alley Dance Theatre Foundation In Maryland. In addi- 
tion, the council has made a commitment to Increasing 
minority arts programming through Special Project 
Grants to arts organizations for new projects which pro- 
duce or present arts activities that encourage participa- 
tion by artists and/or audiences not usually served by the 
organization. 



Massachusetts Cultural Council 

In Its efforts to further cultural diversity, the Massachu- 
setts Cultural Council has used NEA Basic State Grant 
funds to help support several Initiatives. The council 
convened a task force and compiled the recommenda- 
tions Into a cultural access brochure. The brochure In- 
cludes recommendations for staff, board and audience 
development, model programs, and resources for Inclu- 
sion of underserved audiences. The council also spon- 
sored four technical assistance workshops across the state 
on surveying physical access, assessing programs and ser- 
vices, advocacy approaches, and discussing problems and 
success strategies. 

The council has created a partnership with 
another state agency, the Massachusetts Commission 
Against Discrimination, as part of Its cultural access plan. 
All grant applicants must submit cultural access plans 
that Include a self-assessment, objectives and strategies to 
ensure access for staffs, boards and audiences. The coun- 
cil also added a budget line Item to each grant applica- 
tion called Ensuring Access. This has encouraged cultural 
organizations to do advance planning and use state funds 
to provide accessible programs and services. 

^ Michigan Council for Arts and 

Cultural Affairs 
The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs has 
a three-pronged approach to addressing cultural diversity: 



Indirect and direct funding, technical assistance, and 
equal opportunity standards compliance. Direct grants to 
Michigan-based nonprofit African American, Asian 
American, Hispanic, and Native American arts and cul- 
tural organizations help them maintain core operations 
and undertake a broad range of new Initiatives to better 
serve their constituents. The Michigan Arts League, for 
example, puts a unique twist on the standard business In- 
cubator concept by enabling small, exemplary, commu- 
nity-based arts producing organizations to draw on the 
resources of consultants and a major university In a pre- 
scribed manner over a sustained period of time, while 
maintaining organizational Integrity. 

Technical assistance Is delivered In three ways: 
directly to organizations by council staff, through a Pub- 
lic/Private Partnership Program, and through special cli- 
ent Initiatives. The council ensures grant recipient com- 
pliance with existing state and federal policies and 
legislation with regard to equal opportunity standards 
and affirmative action. The council also ensures that or- 
ganizations provide access In the areas of employment, 
activities and services. 



Minnesota State Arts Board 

Cultural pluralism Is an Important part of the mission of 
the Minnesota State Arts Board. This year the arts 
board's planning document Includes 26 new strategies 
addressing cultural pluralism Initiatives. Some of the 
ways In which the arts board has demonstrated Its com- 
mitment to this Issue Include representation of diverse 
aesthetics on review panels and advisory committees; 
technical assistance workshops for artists In cooperation 
with community-based cultural organizations; Percent 
for Art projects that focus on multicultural themes; and a 
folk arts program that seeks out and presents Minnesota's 
folk arts heritage. 



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In March 1990 the arts board established a 
Cultural Pluralism Advisory Committee that was 
charged with determining the status of cultural diversity 
programming in Minnesota and providing practical rec- 
ommendations for improvement. With the committee's 
guidance, the arts board recently applied for and received 
a grant from the NEA Arts Projects in Underserved 
Communities category for a two-year project proposal. 
Among the project's goals are holding a statewide confer- 
ence on cultural pluralism and fostering the touring of 
multicultural artists within the state. 

^ Montana Arts Council 

Culturally diverse communities comprise nine percent of 
Montana's total population. Indians are the largest group 
and represent six percent of the citizenry. In order to 
serve this community, the Montana Arts Council estab- 
lished an Indian Arts Steering Committee to advise the 
council; had Indian arts as a featured track at the Cul- 
tural Congress; held a statewide Montana Indian Arts 
Conference covering current Indian arts issues; have In- 
dians on peer panels; developed an Indian Traditional 
Arts Apprenticeship Program (with NEA Folk Arts Pro- 
gram hinds) and an Indian Arts Education/Tribal Col- 
lege Program (with NEA State and Regional Program 
funds); and worked with tribal culture groups and indi- 
viduals on project development and grant writing. 

In 1991 the council instituted a new grant 
category, Folklife and Traditional Arts. Since then, the 
percentage of culturally diverse projects fiinded has risen 
from 7 percent to 20 percent. 

All staff are attuned to the importance of eq- 
uity in working with the state's diverse cultural groups. 



# Nebraska Arts Council 

The Nebraska Arts Council formed its People of Color 
Arts Advisory Committee 10 years ago. This led to the 
hiring of the council's first multicultural arts coordinator 
in March 1992. This coordinator directs the council's 
Multicultural Initiative, which includes a mentoring pro- 
gram for artists and administrators; a technical assistance 
program; and an awareness program to include works of 
people of color in arts programming. The council also in- 
terviews and docimients multicultural artists through its 
Folk Arts program and funds statewide collaborations 
through its Leadership Initiatives program. The Lied 
Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln used this program 
to work with the Omaha Tribe and Omaha Symphony 
on a performance called "West Meets West" for the 
state's quasquincentennial celebration. 

Projects and programs which demonstrate 
cultural diversity are a Rinding priority for the council. 
Guidelines allow multicultural organizations to use up to 
100 percent in-kind contributions to match council 
funding. In addition, all applicants are asked to explain 
how multiciiltural audiences and artists will be included 
in programs. 



New Hampshire State Council 
on the Arts 

In New Hampshire only two percent of the population 
falls into federally defined minority groups. Of that two 
percent, one percent identifies with Latino cultures. The 
New Hampshire State Council on the Arts has provided 
funding for two Latino organizations for about five years. 
Project funds have enabled one of these organizations to 
present traditional and professional artists representing 
art forms characteristic of such countries as Guatemala, 
Bolivia and Argentina. The other organization was 
funded to form a Hispanic Youth Theater. 



One-third of the state's population federally 
defined as white traces its ancestry to French-speaking 
Canadians. Sharing a border with Quebec, New Hamp- 
shire has signed a Cultural Exchange Agreement to facili- 
tate the exchange of bilingual artists working in both tra- 
ditional and contemporary art forms. 

An ongoing effort of the council is to bring 
more diversity to its roster of artists eligible for fee sup- 
port for school and community performances and resi- 
dencies. To do that it has had to import artists from 
other New England states. These visiting anists represent 
African American and Latino cultures. New Hampshire 
also has several in-state artists who are Native Americans. 
The council hopes that with the NEA-frinded initiation 
of a Traditional Arts Program and hiring of a coordina- 
tor in 1993, more artists representing diverse cultural 
heritages will be identified in the state. 



New Jersey State Council on the Arts 
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts' Cultural Di- 
versity Initiative has several objectives and is composed of 
several key activities. Principal among them is the multi- 
year investment of fiinding (above and beyond regular 
council grants) in emerging, culturally diverse arts orga- 
nizations to accelerate their growth, development and 
outreach. Grants under this component (which include 
NEA and council frinds in each grant) typically support 
such things as salary assistance, long-range planning, 
marketing, audience development and professional devel- 
opment. The council recendy added a component 
through which county arts agencies provide technical as- 
sistance to local culturally diverse arts organizations. An- 
other major component is an annual round table. The 
most recent featured presentations on board develop- 
ment, frind-raising and audience development. This is 
part of the initiative's communication outreach, which is 



augmented by a highly active council committee that 
maintains direct dialogue with participants. 

An example of an organization that is using 
Initiative frinds successfully is Powhatan Renape Nation, 
which was awarded a grant for a marketing initiative that 
resulted in an expanded program outreach for its Native 
American festivals and an audience increase of 17 percent 
in Central-South New Jersey. It also increased outreach 
into previously underserved and unserved areas. 



New Mexico Arts Division 
The New Mexico Arts Commission, which is the advi- 
sory board of the New Mexico Arts Division, has recog- 
nized the value and importance of cultural diversity in 
New Mexico and has designated culturally diverse arts as 
a priority. The arts division has established the Culturally 
Diverse Arts Program, which focuses on arts projects and 
organizational development by and for culturally specific 
artists and/or ethnic groups, indigenous groups such as 
tribal communities, and multiethnic entities. 

Examples of two projects funded by the Divi- 
sion include a Hispanic weaving cooperative in rural Los 
Ojos, which involves community members in all aspects 
of a successfril weaving operation, from raising the sheep 
to designing and marketing the weaving. The Oo-Oo- 
Nah-Art Center in Taos is working to preserve the native 
Tiwa culture by providing arts services, classes and work- 
shops to pueblo children and artists. 

The New Mexico Arts Division encourages 
culturally diverse arts applicants through a one-to-one in- 
kind match for the first two years of project activity. 



New York State Council on the Arts 
The Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council 
on the Arts supports activities that reinforce traditions 
within communities as well as programs that enable gen- 



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eral audiences to experience the traditional arts of diverse 
cultures. "The Arts of Black Folk" Conference organized 
in 1988 was directed at African American community- 
based organizations interested in documenting and pre- 
senting the folk arts of their communities. A 1990 con- 
ference, "Presenting Folk Arts," and programming at the 
1991 and 1992 Association of Performing Arts Present- 
ers annual meetings have enabled performing arts pre- 
senting organizations to develop skills in presenting folk 
artists from ethnically diverse communities. The Folk 
Arts Program has provided support for family programs, 
apprenticeships and programming involving children 
and older folk artists, and new immigrants. 

The Special Arts Services Program, which has 
as its mission the furthering of cultural diversity, has sup- 
ported such internationally known companies as Dance 
Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Alley American Dance 
Theatre. The program has also supported theatres such 
as the Negro Ensemble Company, National Black The- 
atre and New Federal Theatre, which are models in the 
field. The Technical Assistance Program Pilot was 
launched in 1989 to improve emerging and developing 
multicultural arts organizations and create a database of 
experienced arts management consultants. 



North Dakota Council on the Arts 
During FY93 the North Dakota Council on the Arts has 
supported culturally diverse programming through its 
ACCESS Grant Program and through its Traditional 
Arts Apprenticeship Program. While the ACCESS pro- 
gram is intended primarily for arts in rural communities 
with populations of less than 6,000 people, it also en- 
courages applications in support of arts projects for un- 
derserved populations and minority groups. The pro- 
gram is supported with the help of a three-year grant 
from the NEA State and Regional Program Arts Projects 



in Underserved Communities category. Past ACCESS 
grants have included support of Native American arts 
and crafi:s exhibitions through the North Dakota Indian 
Arts Association and cultural programming sponsored by 
one of the state's tribal radio stations. 

The Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program 
was restored with assistance from the Folk Arts Program 
of the NEA. The program has sponsored master/appren- 
tice teams in support of such diverse art forms as Ojibwa 
storytelling, Vietnamese embroidery, and Ukrainian cos- 
tume construction. A second NEA grant will expand the 
program fiirther in FY94. 

# Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands Council for Arts and Culture 

The vast majority (98 percent) of the population of the 
Northern Mariana Islands is comprised of ethnic minori- 
ties representing many different Micronesian, Southern 
Pacific Island and Asian groups. The Commonwealth of 
the Northern Mariana Islands Council for Arts and Cul- 
ture sponsors several annual events that are designed to 
highlight and celebrate this unique cultural diversity. The 
annual two-day Flame Tree Festival (on Saipan) hosts 
over 1 00 performers, artists and craftmakers from twenty 
different ethnic groups. The Island Artists Exhibition is a 
one-month show that focuses on the ethnic roots of the 
Marianas. Smaller festivals held throughout the year on 
the islands of Rota and Tinian also promote and enhance 
cultural diversity. 

The council works closely with the Filipino 
Artists Association, the Korean Arts School and the Chi- 
nese Association for the Arts, as well as the Northern 
Marianas Music Society to develop collaborative projects. 
The arts council sponsors activities through its extensive 
collaboration with the public schools to increase arts ex- 
periences for students and communities. The arts council 



also has a strong commitment to the indigenous 
Chamorro and CaroUnian peoples, demonstrated by 
constant outreach efforts. 



State Arts Council of Oklahoma 
The State Arts Council of Oklahoma was recendy in- 
volved in a unique collaboration to celebrate the state's 
Native American heritage. As part of the "Year of the In- 
dian" celebration, the arts council, the Oklahoma Tour- 
ism and Recreation Department, and the City of Okla- 
homa City worked together to sponsor a special 
performance by the Great American Indian Dancers. 
This event, supported in part by NEA Basic State Grant 
funds, served as the inaugural event for the "Year of the 
Indian" and the new state tourism marketing theme, 
"Oklahoma: Native America." 

The council was a founding sponsor in 1987 
of the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, 
which is America's largest Native American festival. The 
NEA provides direct funding for the festival, which this 
year drew people from more than 1 00 Native American 
tribes of North America to share the richness and diver- 
sity of their cultures. The council works with Red Earth 
by offering both staff time and technical assistance. The 
mission of Red Earth, the festival's parent organization, is 
to promote the continued development of Native Ameri- 
can culture by showcasing a variety of art forms. 



Oregon Arts Commission 
The Oregon Arts Commission has two initiatives that 
are particularly important to its support of cultural diver- 
sity. The first is a three-site project, which received NEA 
funding, that the Oregon Folk Arts Program is in the 
process of completing. A particular ethnic group is the 
focus of study and assistance at each site. Secondly, the 
commission funds a minority arts administrator to ad- 



dress minority arts needs directly. This person works 
with minority artists and organizations to help them gain 
assistance from resources already available. In doing so, 
the administrator also develops listings of culmrally di- 
verse artists and potential board members. The most 
challenging aspect of the work is finding the time and 
means to help minority arts initiatives outside of the met- 
ropolitan Pordand area. This new position was made 
possible by a joint initiative of the Oregon Arts Commis- 
sion and the Metropolitan Arts Commission (in Port- 
land), and the work in Pordand has led to grants through 
the NEA Expansion Arts Program. 



Institute of Puerto Rican Culture 
For over 30 years, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture 
administered services and arts events from centrally lo- 
cated San Juan out to the rest of the island and its off- 
shore municipalities. The main tool for this outreach was 
an ever-growing network of affiliated, volunteer-staffed 
community centers. Agency decentralization began in 
1987, at the same time a grant from the NEA Locals 
Program provided funding to upgrade five local arts 
agencies. Matching funds for this successful three-year 
project to reach culturally diverse communities came 
fi-om the institute and from host municipalities. 

In 1989 the institute's Cultural Promotion 
Program received a grant to enhance the grow^fi of cul- 
turally diverse organizations through arts and humanities 
workshops, in collaboration with its network of local arts 
agencies. As a result of its success, the program received a 
special allocation by the legislature for FY90-9 1 . These 
funds are now part of the institute's yearly budget alloca- 
tion. In 1 992 decentralization was fully realized. This ac- 
complishment, along with fifth centennial commemora- 
tion activities, demonstrates the institute's leadership in 
providing funding and direction to all its communities. 



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South Carolina Arts Commission 

The South Carolina Arts Commission's Multicultural 
Arts Program (MAP), established in 1988, has provided 
grants to more than 100 culturally specific arts and com- 
munity organizations, tribal communities and individual 
artists of color. The program has also assisted mainstream 
arts organizations to serve their communities better by 
involving members of imderserved communities in dia- 
logue and planning. MAP has provided technical assis- 
tance to organizations and individuals and has been vital 
to the development of a statewide organization known as 
VVrtists of Color. In addition, MAP and Arts in Educa- 
tion Program directors have worked to increase the cul- 
tural diversity of the agency's Approved Artist Roster. 

The commission has made long-term invest- 
ments in a number of organizations rooted in rural eth- 
nic communities, and has supported the activities of such 
organizations in both rural and urban areas. The com- 
mission has provided continuing assistance to the Folk 
7\rts Program at the University of South Carolina's 
McKissick Museum, whose outstanding work in cultural 
preservation is highlighted in Chapter 5. 

In 1991 the commission mounted a major art 
exhibition, entided "Statements of Heritage: Variant 
American Visions," devoted to the works of 20 South 
Carolina contemporary artists of color. The show gready 
increased the visibility of participating artists and served 
as a focus for discussion and recognition of the signifi- 
cant quality and diversity of work by artists of color from 
South Carolina. 



South Dakota Arts Council 

More than seven percent of South Dakota's population is 
Native American — Lakota and Dakota Tribes of the 
Great Sioux Nation — and is concentrated on nine rural 
reservations and in the cities of Rapid City, Sioux Falls 



and Aberdeen. A grant fi"om the Technical Assistance 
category of the NEA Locals Program, matched by tribal 
and foundation fiands, started the Native Arts Planning 
Effort. A Native American project coordinator has 
started working on a needs assessment. The basic premise 
is that traditional models of local arts agencies have not 
worked on reservations. The assessment will show why 
and develop local arts agency models that will work on 
rural South Dakota reservations. 

In cooperation with the state Division of 
Education and the National Science Foundation's Sys- 
temic Change Initiative, South Dakota is integrating an 
arts curriculum in elementary and secondary schools. 
Cultural diversity is a cornerstone of this pilot project, 
which is fiinded by the NEA's Arts in Schools Basic 
Education Grant. Two of the six pilot sites are schools on 
reservations. 

The success of the South Dakota Arts 
Coimcil's efforts to reach culturally diverse and under- 
served communities is based on a philosophy of personal, 
one-to-one contact and encouragement maintained over 
several years. 



Tennessee Arts Commission 
The Tennessee Arts Commission has a new grant cat- 
egory. Arts: Advancement and Expansion, that is sup- 
ported in part with fiinds from the NEA. It provides 
technical assistance and/or direct support for arts projects 
to minority-run arts organizations, organizations serving 
youths with disabilities, and organizations serving the ag- 
ing. Among the nine grants awarded for FY93 was one 
to the Native American Indian Association in Nashville 
for long-term work with a consultant to establish a mar- 
keting network for Native American artists and artisans. 
Two other organizations that received grants are Knox- 
ville's African American Carpetbag Theater, which will 



work with a team of specialists to transform a newly ac- 
quired facility into a self-sustaining and revenue-generat- 
ing entity; and the Edgehill Center of Nashville, which 
will work with at-risk children in an inner city area to 
create a series of murals. 

Other applicants receiving partial funding in- 
clude the Blues City Cultural Center of Memphis, for 
productions of plays about Martin Luther King and 
Malcolm X, and an annual black cultural festival. 



surable funding for minority artists, audiences and orga- 
nizational development. 



Texas Commission on the Arts 
The Texas Commission on the Arts is working to ensure 
that excellent arts opportunities are available to all Tex- 
ans and that these opportunities reflea the state's diverse 
heritages and populations. The commission is creating 
and administering programs that stistain and improve 
services and accessibility to geographically isolated and 
rural communities, culturally diverse populations, indi- 
viduals with disabilities and economically disadvantaged 
communities. Since 1988, grant applications from mi- 
nority-operated organizations have increased by 28.4 
percent. The number of grants awarded to minority-op- 
erated organizations has increased by 142 percent. 
Grants to organizations providing service for or in mi- 
nority communities increased by 65 percent from FY88 
to FY92. 

A provision in the appropriations bill man- 
dates that the commission establish a policy of "equitable 
distribution of grant funds to organizations with a pre- 
dominandy minority audience, or which serve predomi- 
nandy minority areas." The commission has adopted an 
Equity Plan, which requires approval by the legislature. 
Among the goals of the plan are to make equity a priority 
in the agency mission; to place equity riders in all com- 
mission contracts with arts organizations; and to include 
in the Pf 93-94 Legislative Appropriation Request mea- 



Utah Arts Council 
With a 94 percent Anglo-American population, Utah is 
among the country's most homogeneous states. But mi- 
nority populations here are rapidly growing. In response 
to changing demographics, the Utah Arts Council has de- 
veloped two initiatives to reach minority audiences and to 
provide culturally diverse programming for all Utahns. 
The Living Traditions Festival, cosponsored 
by the Salt Lake City Arts Coimcil, is a three-day event 
featuring music, dance, craft and food of Salt Lake's folk 
and ethnic communities. Over 500 artists from 45 ethnic 
groups participate and estimated attendance is 20,000. 
For the first three years of the festival, grants from the 
NEA Folk Arts Program supplemented state and city 
monies. Local funds from both public and private sources 
have kept admission free the last three years. Hispanics 
are Utah's largest minority, at 5 percent. The Hecho en 
Utah project, supported by the NEA Folk Arts Program, 
has included an exhibit featuring 1 traditional artists and 
a concert series featuring 14 bands and eight dance 
troupes, as well as production of cassettes featuring 20 
Hispanic ensembles. Response from the Hispanic com- 
munity has been very positive and has generated record 
requests for grants and assistance. 



Vermont Council on the Arts 
The Vermont Council on the Arts is committed to in- 
volving people of all cultures, ages, genders and abilities in 
decision making and policy setting, and increasing Ver- 
monters' understanding and appreciation of world cul- 
tures. A new component of the Touring and Arts in Edu- 
cation Programs, called Options, helps support the fees of 
performing and visual artists from within or outside the 



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United States whose art reflects the traditions of specific 
cultures. 

A partnership is being developed with the 
Eastern Townships of Quebec through meetings of each 
region's cultural communities, supported by NEA fiinds. 
Ideas are being generated about how to exchange cultural 
resources and collaborate on new projects. 

With NEA funds designated for underserved 
communities, the council is supporting two Abenaki 
projects: the carving and installation of two totem poles 
carved with animals and birds important to Abenaki be- 
liefs, and dance classes that are rebuilding traditional 
dance skills. These programs are assisting the Abenaki 
people in strengthening pride and heritage, and increas- 
ing awareness and understanding of Abenaki culture 
among non-Native Americans. 



Virginia Commission for the Arts 

Cultural diversity is one of six major emphases of the 
Virginia Commission for the Arts, and it is pursued 
within every program. For example, all grantees of gen- 
eral operating support are required to actively seek in- 
volvement of people of color as staff and board members, 
artists and audiences. Many of these grantees specifically 
promote African American culture. One is the Harrison 
Museum of African- American Culture in Roanoke, 
which maintains a collection of paintings by black artists 
and memorabilia and library materials on the history of 
the city's black community. 

The commission's performing arts touring 
roster includes African American and Chinese American 
performers, as well as artists representing the cultures of 
India and Ghana. The Virginia Folklife Program, a part- 
nership of the commission and the state humanities 
foundation, is currently sponsoring a tour of guitarists 
who perform traditional pre-blues, blues and religious 



music in a distinctive style. All of these activities are sup- 
ported with both state and NEA funds. 

# Virgin Islands Council on the Arts 

All of the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts' activities 
address the issue of cultural and ethnic diversity. Over 
the last year the council has provided support for an 
Afro-Cuban Dance Ensemble to teach dance throughout 
the territory; a folklife festival, held in Washington, DC, 
in celebration of cultural diversity and heritage with par- 
ticipants from the Virgin Islands; and the 5th Caribbean 
Festival of the Arts held in Trinidad and Tobago, which 
brought together traditional dancers and musicians, folk- 
lorists, historians and visual and performing artists of the 
Caribbean. The council also provided support for a 
worldwide travelling art exhibit, sponsored by 
UNESCO, that featured the works of Dutch-, English-, 
French- and Spanish-speaking artists from 35 countries 
in the Caribbean region. Additionally, to mark the Co- 
lumbus Quin-centennial, the council participated in the 
exhibit "First Biennial of Central American and Carib- 
bean Paintings," sponsored by the Dominican Republic. 

# Washington State Arts Commission 

The Washington State Arts Commission has since 1989 
administered the Governor's Heritage Award to celebrate 
the strength and diversity of this state's ethnic, cultural, 
occupational, religious and regional communities by 
honoring individuals who have made significant contri- 
butions in these areas. Currently, the arts commission is 
taking advantage of support from the NEA to bring the 
arts to and help enable artistic work by the state's differ- 
endy abled populations; preserve endangered skills 
through a Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program; produce 
The Spirit of the First People, a project to present, record 
and publish a book documenting Native 7\merican mu- 



sic and dance; begin projects to document Hispanic mu- 
sic traditions; and document and honor tlie traditions of 
Washington's Grange Halls. Commission programs en- 
courage diversity through grants, technical assistance and 
commissioning of artwork. 

^ Arts and Humanities Section of the West 

Virginia Division of Culture and History 
A folk arts staff person at the Arts and Humanities Sec- 
tion of the West Virginia Division of Culture and His- 
tory documented the life and work of Appalachian folk 
artists through taped interviews and articles in West 
Virginia's statewide cultural magazine, Goldenseal. A 
grant from the NEA Arts Projects in Underserved Com- 
munities category assisted West Virginia's deeply rural 
communities with ctiltural development and a more 
thorough identification of the diversity of their anists. 

Augusta Heritage Center matches West 
Virginia's master craftspeople with developing crafts- 
people. By supporting this program financially, the Arts 
and Humanities Section has encouraged the continuance 
of these art forms and the traditional ways in which they 
are translated from one generation to the next. 

In November 1 992, the Arts and Humanities 
Section cohosted the Native American Coalition's first 
annual American Indian Conference. This conference fo- 
cused on Native American issues and how various cul- 
tural agencies can help this community meet its goals. 
The section has also worked with the NAACP in West 
Virginia's Eastern Panhandle area to develop programs 
there and statewide. 



Wyoming Arts Council 
The mission of the Wyoming Arts Council is to enhance 
Wyoming's quality of life and thus its long-term cultural 
and economic strength by encouraging and supporting 



diversity, access, vitality and excellence in the arts. This 
recently revised mission statement reflects Wyoming's 
commitment to promoting cultural diversity in the 
state's arts programming. Annual grant training sessions 
include information and discussions on the inclusion of 
all cultures in arts programming, and the staff^ seeks out 
new groups presenting culturally diverse arts activities to 
inform them of fiinding opportunities and programs. 
Recently funded programs include a multicultural story- 
telling conference; the Mountain Man Music Festival; a 
Festival of International Theatre and Dance; and Wyo- 
ming Somos: Celebration of Our Hispanic Pride. 

The Regional Arts Organizations 

# Arts Midwest 

Arts Midwest is committed to making the Midwest's 
diverse cultural life more vibrant, accessible and under- 
standable. Its Minority Arts Administration Fellowships 
program began in 1989 with support from the NEA and 
several private foundations, making it possible for arts 
administrators from African American, Asian American, 
Latino and Native American communities to enhance 
their management and development skills through resi- 
dencies at cultural institutions throughout the United 
States. 

Arts Midwest's Cultural Development pro- 
gram began in 1991 with NEA State and Regional Pro- 
gram support. Developed to address the needs of arts 
presenters and organizations in African American, Asian 
American, Latino and Native American communities, 
the first component included the formation of the Mid- 
west Ctiltural Network. This group of 1 2 culturally 
grounded arts presenters from the target communities 
share expertise and serve as project advisors to Arts Mid- 
west. The second component, the Cultural Development 
Fund, invests in projects to strengthen the artistic and 



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managerial capabilities of organizations rooted in these 
communities. 

In April 1993 Arts Midwest convened the 
Cultural Dialogue Conference in Milwaukee, bringing 
together more than 200 arts and cultural workers from 
the participating communities to address issues such as 
advocacy, equity in funding, and the responsibilities of 
artists and organizations to their communities. Publica- 
tion of a Midwest Cultural Agenda will document the 
conference. NEA funds were used to leverage additional 
support from private foundations for this event. 

Arts Midwest, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a consortium of the 
state arts agencies of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, 
North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. 

# Consortium for Pacific Arts and Cultures 
(CPAC) 

CPAC's long-term mission emphasizes promoting the 
traditional cultures of the Pacific, and promoting and en- 
couraging the exchange of traditional and contemporary 
art forms. Programming priority is given to the native 
and ethnic cultures of each region. The populations in 
the islands of the CPAC region are Polynesian and 
Micronesian (predominantly Samoan, Chamorro and 
Carolinian). Interesting and culturally diverse projects 
have resulted from introducing Western genres to the is- 
lands (a different twist on cultural diversity). 

As such, CPAC brought a bluegrass band to 
all three of its member territories, including the tiny is- 
lands of Rota and Tinian in the Northern Marianas. 
This was the islands' first exposure to bluegrass. In addi- 
tion CPAC has co-sponsored the Missoula Children's 
Theatre for projects in Guam, the Marianas and Ameri- 
can Samoa. CPAC is also launching an arts in education 
exhibit for grades K-6. The theme is "Myself, My Island, 
My Home," and it is for children of the islands to com- 



pare their thoughts and motifs with those of their coun- 
terparts on other islands. 

A workshop on Hawaiian quilting has just 
completed its third year of residence in American Samoa, 
with a fourth being planned for next year. While Samoa 
once had a quilting tradition of its own (from missionary 
days) it has been lost over time. The introduction of Ha- 
waiian quilting, which was also learned from the mis- 
sionaries in the early nineteenth century and adapted by 
the Hawaiians, has spawned a "new" art form. The Sa- 
moan men and women have already adapted the style in 
unique Samoan ways. 

The Consortium for Pacific Arts and Cultures, based in Honolulu, Ha- 
waii, is a re^onal organization of the state arts agencies of American 
Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. 

# Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) 

Mid-America Arts Alliance has committed its leadership 
and program funds to embracing cultural diversity as an 
integral part of its mission and its fliture development. 
NEA support in 1984 helped launch M-AAA's special 
initiatives for the presentation of culturally diverse work 
throughout the region. In 1989 an NEA Challenge 
Grant enabled M-AAA to continue expanding and ad- 
justing the focus of its initiatives devoted to cultural di- 
versity. ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid- America 
Arts Alliance, has developed traveling visual arts exhibi- 
tions featuring work of contemporary artists of color. 

M-AAA's current program in the performing 
arts. New POP (New Presenting Opportunities), is a 
consolidation of the organization's past decade of work 
and experience. New POP projects include the commis- 
sioning of a music, dance and video piece that addressed 
the decline and rebuilding of an inner-city Houston 
neighborhood; marketing assistance for touring by St. 
Louis Black Repertory Theatre; and commissioning and 



marketing assistance to emerging artists of color, such as 
Teatro Hispano de Dallas (Teatro Dallas). 

Mid-America 7\rts Alliance cultivates new re- 
lationships and fosters risk taking with a proactive ap- 
proach to issues of cultural diversity in its region. With 
an emphasis on providing access to culturally relevant 
arts programming through educational activities, work- 
shops and artists' residencies, M-AAA performing and vi- 
sual arts programs provide contextual frameworks that 
encourage all viewers to experience the arts. 

Mid-America Arts Alliance, based in Kansas City, Missouri, is a re- 
gional consortium of the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Karuas, Mis- 
souri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. 

# Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF) 

The mission of the Mid Adantic Arts Foundation is to 
promote the sharing of the region's arts resources, par- 
ticularly in underserved rural and culturally diverse com- 
munities. The Mid Adantic Arts Foundation's Jazz Pro- 
gram was created in 1991 to strengthen jazz in all of its 
forms, from the traditional to the experimental, and to 
help bring jazz to the region's audiences. With initial 
frinding from the NEA State and Regional Program, the 
program supports a network of jazz presenters, selected 
for their ability to work cooperatively with other present- 
ers and to reach their own communities through out- 
reach activities. Network participants receive project sup- 
port and attend meetings where they can exchange 
information on techniques for building new audiences, 
marketing the work of emerging artists, organizing 
block-booked tours and creating successful residency and 
educational activities. 

Through the Jazz Program, travel subsidies 
are also made available to organizations to defray the cost 
of attending professional development activities such as 
conferences, workshops, showcases and festivals. Addi- 



tionally, a computerized directory of jazz organizations 
was developed and information regarding jazz activities 
in the region is sent to presenters through tour update 
mailings and articles in Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's 
newsletter ARTS 7;^^. 

The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, based in Baltimore, Maryland, is a 
regional consortium of the state arts agencies of the District of Columbia, 
Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, 
the Virgin Islands and West Virginia. 

# Southern Arts Federation (SAF) 

Cultural diversity is integral to the mission and goals of 
the Southern Arts Federation, and is fiindamental to all 
its programs and projects. Multiculturalism is included as 
one of four board-endorsed agency priorities and is inte- 
grated into the agency's goals and objectives. These ob- 
jectives provide the parameters for the development of 
each program's long-range plans. Furthermore, SAF staff, 
board, advisory committees and grant panels are all struc- 
tured to reflect the breadth of cultural perspectives that 
comprise the South. 

A representative sample of SAF program ini- 
tiatives includes: the development of a technical assis- 
tance project focusing on underserved presenters in con- 
junction with the 1993 Southern Arts Exchange booking 
conference, which will include culturally diverse present- 
ers from across the region; the development of a series of 
"musical roots" tours, the most recent titled "Bluegrass, 
Blues and Bembe," designed to provide presenters and 
audiences with artistically excellent samples of the diverse 
musical heritage of the South; and SAP's quarterly jazz 
radio show, "JazzSouth," now carried on more than 90 
radio stations across the region, providing a unique op- 
portunity for the expansion and education of jazz audi- 
ences and the celebration of an important component of 
the African American cultural heritage of the South. 



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The Southern Arts Federation, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a regional 
consortium of the state arts agencies of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Ken- 
tucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and 
Tennessee. 



Western States Arts Federation 
(WESTAF) 

The Western States Arts Federation has historically de- 
termined that one of its greatest opportunities is to assist 
developing arts among diverse ethnic groups and one of 
its greatest challenges is to ensure wider representation of 
the varied cultural and ethnic populations and artists. A 
recent report issued by the Western Office of the Coun- 
cil of State Governments acknowledges that the region 
served by WESTAF is "the most racially and ethnically 
diverse and is likely to become more so." 

WESTAF's planning has recently begun with 
the reconfiguration of its governance structure, which en- 
courages cultural diversity on its Board of Trustees. Dur- 
ing the past year, WESTAF has initiated a Regional Folk 
Arts program; developed a component for presenting lit- 
^ erature in underserved communities in the West (initially 

(T funded by the NEA); increased its jazz programming 

B throughout the region; and rewritten guidelines in its 

m core (performing arts) programs favoring rural, under- 

served and culturally diverse artists and works funded 
through the NEA Presenting and Commissioning Pro- 
gram. Additionally, new programs enhancing profes- 
P sional development and technical assistance ensure access 

% to emerging and diverse arts groups and constituents. 



C7 The Western States Arts Federation, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is 

® a regional consortium of the state arts agencies of Alaska, Arizona, Cali- 

^ fomia, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, 

Utah, Washington and Wyoming. 



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National Assembly of State Arts Agencies 

1 01 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 920, Washington, DC 20005 

202-347-6352 FAX 202-737-0526