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Heritage & Traditional Arts Program

Traditional arts are artistic activities such as music, dance, and crafts 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.

Heritage & Traditional Arts Grants Coordinator: Kayla Schweitzer, (603) 271-0795

To identify, document, preserve, and promote traditional arts and artists in New Hampshire so they continue to be a visible and vital aspect of the state’s living cultural heritage.


  • Honor excellence in the traditional arts
  • Assist in the perpetuation of traditional arts by supporting artists who teach others
  • Identify and document traditional arts and artists in order to provide an accurate foundation for arts and cultural programming in NH
  • Create and support educational opportunities, presentations and materials for the public that promote deeper understanding of the aesthetics, techniques, and cultural significance of traditional arts
  • Assist non-profit organizations and educators in NH to develop or sustain programming that features the traditional arts that are important to NH communities
  • Promote increased public and private support for the traditional arts and artists
  • Create an archival collection of resource information on traditions in NH that is available for future generations

This program serves traditional artists, non-profit organizations, community centers, arts councils, farm museums, historical societies, libraries, municipal agencies and arts presenters.

Folklife Website

The NH Folklife Website is an educational resource full of information on the diversity of traditional arts and folklife in New Hampshire including a calendar of cultural heritage events across the state, learning resources, essays, games, a searchable music database, and much more!

Grants for Preservation & Community Engagement
The State Arts Council supports traditional arts goals through grant opportunities.

Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grants assist in the preservation of traditional/heritage-based arts (crafts, dance and music) by funding a master traditional artist to teach an experienced apprentice in one-to-one sessions. View recipients of 2014-2015 grants.

General Project Grants for Community EngagementMatching grants to support a wide variety of arts projects and activities in communities throughout the state to build more culturally and economically vibrant communities.

Program Services
In addition to grants, the State Arts Council also provides the following services:

Educational Resources

Educational resources are intended to build a deeper understanding of the aesthetics, techniques, forms, and cultural context of traditional and folk arts in New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Folklife website is an online educational resource. The website features interactive activities for youth, essays on folklife in NH, a searchable database of traditional music recordings, and more.

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.

Music Recordings
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 online 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 interviews. 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
& Resources
The State Arts Council staff provides consultation, review of grant application drafts and resource information to traditional artists and non-profit organizations.
-Writing an Artist Statement: | pdf
-Photographing Your Craft:
| pdf


The Traditional Arts Program is part of a larger network of efforts to support living cultural heritage in the United States.

  • The NH Heritage and Traditional Arts Blog is a celebration of the many traditional Arts in NH and the communities that share them. The blog includes posts on traditional arts events around the state.
  • The Traditional Arts program has a twitter feed @NHTradArts which promotes traditional arts to city councils, economic chambers, and non-profit organizations.

On the federal level, leadership in this field is provided by:

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.

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
West African drumming and dance
Burundian drumming and dance
Western Abenaki ash & sweet grass basket making
Bhutanese bamboo carving & weaving
Nepali crochet
Turkish Ebru painting
rug braiding
rug hooking
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
harness making

Last updated: December 27, 2017


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