This year, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) is awarding $200,000 to 41 organizations to support folk and traditional arts. Since 2005, the Living Cultures grants have supported nearly 600 community-based projects, with $3.4 million in funding across 50 counties in California. This year’s cohort represents a diverse array of cultural practices, from indigenous regalia-making among the tribes of Humboldt County to dance and drum festivals celebrating the African Diaspora.
“California is on the leading edge of demographic change for the country,” says ACTA’s executive director Amy Kitchener. “These grants provide artistic resources to deepen cultural practices and strengthen the connections between communities,” Kitchener says. A distinguished panel of cultural and community experts reviewed applications over a three-day period; ACTA board of directors approved the final grant selections. The Living Cultures Grants Program is supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Flora & William Hewlett Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation, with additional support from the California Arts Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles Arts Commission.
Introducing our 2018 Grantees
Afro Urban Society, Oakland
The collective of artists will explore links to African history and identity through contemporary dance forms such as Afrobeat from Nigeria, Azonto from Ghana, and Bounce/Second Line from New Orleans.
Alaska Natives at Fort Ross, Jenner
This grant supports the Alaska Native Day event, which acknowledges the history of the Alaska Native diaspora brought to the Fort Ross area in the early 1800s to hunt for sea mammals. The event celebrates the living traditions of regalia making, dance, storytelling, boat building and qayak (kayak) racing.
Bay Area Bomba Y Plena Workshop, Oakland
Students learn about the Puerto Rican musical tradition of Bomba and Plena in workshops that teach drumming, singing, dancing, storytelling, and craft-making.
BrasArte: The Damasceno Brazilian Cultural Exchange, Berkeley
This grant supports a month-long festival in honor of Yemanja, goddess of the ocean in the Candomble tradition of Brazil.
Calpulli Tonalehqueh, San Jose
In its 20th year, this ceremonial gathering of more than 60 Aztec dance groups and 10 other indigenous nations features more than 1200 free meals, workshops, and lectures by indigenous elders.
Cambodian American Resource Agency, San Jose
The Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe showcases a dance drama based on folk tales at the New Year Festival. The grant also supports classes and summer leadership opportunities for teens.
Centro Cultural Techantit, Los Angeles
The trilingual Festival Marimba features three local groups performing the marimba, a sacred and secular instrument among the Mayan people who come from Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.
Charya Burt Cambodian Dance, Windsor
This grant supports a new repertoire entitled “Silenced,” inspired by Ros Sereysothea, a Cambodian pop artist who died under the Khmer Rouge.
Chitresh Das Institute, San Francisco
This grant supports music and percussion studies in the North Indian classical art form of Kathak. Additionally, it funds the training of teachers and students.
Dance Elixir, Oakland
As part of a yearlong Palestinian folk dance residency, Arab dancer Wael Buhaissy will teach free beginner’s classes. His dance company Al-Juthoor will also perform for the public.
Dance Group XoroTroptzi, Culver City
This dance company comprised of 70 Bulgarian nationals and Bulgarian-Americans will hold their annual concert in an upgraded venue.
Grupo Folklorico Princesa Donaji, Los Angeles
The grant will support the acquisition of 20 traditional costumes for the ensemble, which is dedicated to learning and performing the regional dances of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Hungarian Folk Singing Circle / Nepdalkor, San Francisco
The group will present Hungarian folk music workshops, based on director Zina Bozzay’s immersion with culture bearers in Hungary. She will share her documentation of regional songs, traditional clothing, and instruments.
Indian Performing Arts Center, Northridge
The grant will support a series of workshops in the North Indian classical dance form of Kathak and Hindustani classical music. After these workshops, the center will present a final performance for the community.
Karen Organization of San Diego, San Diego
The Karen are an ethnic minority group from Burma who have recently resettled in San Diego. The grant will support dance classes for youth and weaving circles for the older generation.
Kings Cultural Center, Hanford
The center will teach traditional Mexican folklorico in rural towns throughout the Central Valley, culminating in a community-wide celebration. The grant will also support student scholarships for classes, including mariachi music.
Kinnara Gagaku, Los Angeles
The ensemble performs an ancient music performed in the Imperial Court of Japan. The grant will support the acquisition of 20 new performance costumes for orchestral members.
KStar Productions, Oakland
The Black Choreographers Festival is an event celebrating the diverse artistic expression of Black dance and culture. The grant supports traditional artists in the annual festival’s performances, workshops, and panels.
La Ultima Parada, San Jose
La Ultima Parada highlights Mexican cultural practices through a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) procession, masked-dance, altar displays, community art, and a marketplace.
The Kapil’i Polynesian dance and music workshops teach participants Hawaiian hula and sacred chant, Tahitian drumming, feather lei making, palm weaving, and ukulele instruction.
Native Women’s Collective, McKinleyville
The grant funds an inaugural project focusing on creating traditional necklaces. The necklaces will become part of a lending bank of regalia to be shared with members of Native communities in the far north.
Network of Myanmar American Association, Monterey Park
The grant will support traditional Burmese dance classes and performance programs for youth, along with new costumes featuring regional attire from Myanmar.
North American Guqin Association, Union City
The guqin, a seven-stringed plucked zither, is a Chinese musical instrument with a history of more than 3,000 years. The grant will support a guqin concert and a round table discussion about the instrument’s history.
Oaxaca Tierra del Sol, Windsor
The grant supports the Oaxacan spring festival of Guelaguetza, a cultural festival featuring music, dance, and culinary arts of the 16 ethnic groups from the state of Oaxaca.
Omnira Institute, Oakland
The project “Roots of Faith, Roots of Freedom” promotes healing among the African American community by honoring the history of slavery and emancipation. Programs take place during Black History month, Juneteenth, the Black-Eyed Peas Festival, and the African American Day of the Ancestors.
Our Lady’s Guild, Red Bluff
The grant supports Mexican folklorico lessons for youth, and provides teachers a stipend to attend professional development conference to advance their skills.
The grant funds a women-focused radio series for the indigenous Purepecha community. The radio programs will highlight customs, traditional textiles, and music as a way of bringing solidarity to an often-isolated community.
Rara Tou Limen Haitian Dance Company, Oakland
The “Rasanble! Haitian Arts & Culture Festival” celebrates the rich cultural traditions of the Haitian community. The festival brings together master artists of dance, drum, and food as well as scholars on Vodoun and the Kreyol language.
The arts and drum community organization will hold workshops with an artist-in-residence from Salvador, Brazil.
Senderos, Santa Cruz
The grant supports free Mexican folkloric dance classes and Oaxacan Banda de Viento music instruction for Latino immigrant youth. The after-school program prepares youth to perform in community events and the annual Guelaguetza Festival.
Silk Road House, Walnut Creek
The dombra is a long-necked stringed instrument from Central Asia. The grant will fund dombra music classes in advance of a visit from master artists who will perform for the Spring equinox festival of Nowruz.
Souly Dance Arts, Los Angeles
Wilfried Souly is a dancer/choreographer originally from Burkina Faso who dedicates his work to contemporary African dance. During Black History Month, the group celebrates dance and drum artists at “Djanjoba,” a big gathering of the Mandé African community.
Teatro de la Tierra, Fresno
This group is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of Mexican and Latin American art and culture. The grant will support a project exploring how indigenous Mixtec traditions are practiced during Dia de los Muertos, and students will study the drawings of Jose Guadalupe Posada.
Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras, Los Angeles
This theater group consisting of day laborers examines social justice issues. The grant supports a new theater piece, “Historias Del Rio 2017,” based on the stories and narratives of immigrants working and living along the river.
Tekura Jegnas, San Diego
Kalenda is the stick fighting practice of the Caribbean and African American communities. Master artists and practitioners will teach workshops, which culminate with a public presentation during Kwanzaa season in December.
The grant supports a series of dance and drum workshops at the “Ultimate Doundounba Festival,” based on a traditional West African (Guinea) dance known as the “strong man dance.”
Ventura County Arts Council, Ventura
The grant supports free classes and looms for the indigenous immigrant Mexican community to learn from master Zapotec weaver Porfirio Gutierrez.
Veretski Pass, Berkeley
“Tsen Shtern (Ten Stars)“ is a project that contributes to the cultural renewal of pre-Holocaust Czech-Jewish music. The musical ensemble will bring this genre of klezmer music to the public through a CD release and public performances.
WasabiKai, Los Angeles
Japanese pottery and Ikebana flora design classes at the Senshin Buddhist Temple will teach students how to create their own tokonoma or a ‘mindful alcove.’
World Stage Performance Gallery, Los Angeles
The West African drumming project SHINE (Sisters Healing Inspiring Nurturing Empowering) MUWASI (In the hands of God) will provide free classes for women in Leimert Park. The class will perform at the 3rd annual Women’s Drumming Conference in July.
Xiadani del Valle, Fresno
This folklorico company performs indigenous Oaxacan dances from Mexico. The grant supports traditional dress for twenty members and a learning exchange with Los Angeles-based dance teachers.
The Living Cultures Grants Program is supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Flora & William Hewlett Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation, with additional support from the California Arts Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles Arts Commission.
Read the full Press Release .