Grants for Preservation & Community Engagment
The State Arts Council supports traditional arts goals through grant opportunities. To learn more about Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants and General Project Grants for Community Engagement, click here.
In addition to grants, the State Arts Council also provides the following services:
Educational resources are intented to build a deeper understanding of the aesthetics, techniques, forms, and cultural context of traditional and folk arts in New Hammpshire.
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.
Shaping Our Heritage was a multi-faceted special project to commemorate 16 years of funding Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants. The project included an exhibit, full color publication, public programs and a conference for traditional artists.
To date, two recordings of traditional music in NH have been compiled:
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.
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.
The State Arts Council staff provides consultation, review of grant application drafts and resource information to traditional artists and non-profit organizations.
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:
What are Traditional Arts?
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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
dried wreath making
Chinese knot tying
musical instrument making
Polish paper cutting
barrel making (cooperage)
dog sled making
fish net making
bow and arrow making
stone wall building
ox yoke making