Traditional Arts Program
Traditional Arts Coordinator: Lynn Martin Graton
email@example.com, (603) 271-8418
Traditional Arts & Folklife in New Hampshire: PDF only
An overview of the Traditional Arts Program with images of traditional arts and artists in New Hampshire.
Don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader®? Click here to download for free!
To identify, document, preserve, and promote traditional arts and artists in NH so they continue to be a visible and vital aspect of the state’s living cultural heritage.
- Identify and document traditional arts and artists in order to provide an accurate foundation for arts and cultural programming in NH and create an archival collection of resource information on traditions in NH that is available to future researchers
- Assist in the perpetuation of traditional arts by supporting artists who teach others
- Honor excellence in the traditional arts
- Create and support educational opportunities, presentations and materials for the public and schools that promote deeper understanding of the aesthetics, techniques, cultural significance and community importance of traditional arts
- Assist non-profit organizations and educators in NH that wish to develop or sustain programming that features or includes traditional arts
- Promote increased public and private support for the traditional arts and artists
This program serves traditional artists in NH and NH-based non-profit organizations such as arts councils, farm museums, historical societies, libraries, municipal agencies and arts presenters.
What are traditional arts?
Traditional arts are artistic activities that are passed down from one generation to the next within families and communities and are regarded by the community as part of their heritage. These activities can include music, dance, storytelling, crafts, skills, celebrations and architecture. Communities can be defined in many ways, such as groups that share the same ethnic heritage, language, geographic area, religion, occupation, or way of life.
For a traditional artist, being true to the past is usually more important than change or innovation. Therefore, the techniques and forms of traditional arts tend to change very slowly. Though each generation adds their special gift to the tradition, the sense of what is beautiful and well done is defined more by the community than by an individual artist's personal creative vision. Because of this, traditional arts often become symbols of identity and pride for a community.
Traditional arts encompass folk arts. This term refers to local "grass roots" artistic activities usually enjoyed and passed on informally in communities. Folklife embraces a much wider range of cultural activities including food traditions, occupational skills, ways of speaking, and celebrating.
The State Arts Council 's Traditional Arts Program seeks to be responsive to how communities define themselves and their traditions. Because of limited resources, we place emphasis on supporting tradition bearers that have a direct connection to the community or group from which a tradition emerged.
Here are just a few of the traditional art forms that can be found in NH:
New England social dance & music (including contra and square dancing); French-Canadian fiddling and song; Scottish Highland piping, drumming & dance; Irish ceili dancing; Jewish Klezmer music; African-American gospel music; African drumming and dance; Western Abenaki ash & sweet grass basket making; quilting; rug braiding; rug hooking; spinning; lace-making; dried wreath making; decorative painting; Scandinavian knitting; Chinese knot tying; Russian iconography; musical instrument making; furniture making; sign carving; fly tying; Polish paper cutting; wood carving; barrel making (cooperage); canoe building; boat building; dog sled making; snowshoe making; fish net making; bow and arrow making; stone wall building; timber framing; ox yoke making; and harness making.
The State Arts Council supports traditional arts goals through grant opportunities. To learn more, click here.
In addition to grants, the State Arts Council also provides the following services:
- Educational Resources: These resources are sometimes developed in partnership with other organizations sharing the same goals of promoting a deeper understanding of the aesthetics, techniques, forms, and cultural context of traditional and folk arts in NH.
The New Hampshire Folklife website. This online educational resource includes an interactive Learning Center with information for teachers and middle to high school students as well as special hands-on activities for grades 3 and up. The website also features a searchable database of traditional music recordings.
To date, two recordings of traditional music in NH have been compiled:
Networking: The Traditional Arts Program is part of a larger network of efforts to support living cultural heritage in the United States. On the federal level, leadership in this field is provided by:
- Promotion: The State Arts Council promotes traditional artists and connects them to communities through the Traditional Arts & Folklife Listing, an on-line directory of traditional artists, cultural specialists, and folklorists who are available for community-based presentations around NH.
- Recognition: The State Arts Council acknowledges the lifetime achievements of traditional artists through the Folk Heritage Award presented as part of the State Arts Council's Governors Arts Awards.
- Research & Documentation: Traditional arts and artists in NH are documented in a variety of ways, including still photography and audio-tape. These materials become part of a working research collection that preserves the state's heritage and provides a basis for special educational publications and projects. Materials are incrementally deposited at the Milne Special Collection of the University of New Hampshire Library.
- Technical Assistance: The State Arts Council staff provides consultation, review of grant application drafts and resource information to traditional artists and non-profit organizations.
September 26, 2012