April 19, 2021

This year, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts is awarding $271,000 to 55 organizations to support folk and traditional arts.

Since 2005, the Living Cultures grants have supported over 750 community-based projects, with $4 million in funding across 50 counties in California. This year’s cohort represents a diverse array of cultural communities and their respective artistic forms of knowledge. We’re proud to promote them all, from the tradition of Somali women’s poetry known as gabay in San Diego, to  the documentation of Northern California-based Lucumí/Santeria elders to include arts, language, and music practices. Read about the grantee organizations and their cultural practices below.

Introducing our 2021 grantees. Congratulations!

African American Miniature Museum

African American Miniature Museum: New Horizons in Technology

The organization will develop a virtual museum tour, a stop motion video, and a coloring book for children, as well as to acquire artifacts to create new work for the video.


African Queens Dance Company

Dance and Drum Workshop

The organization will continue its after school program for children and teens, teaching dance and drum rhythms from Haiti, Congo, and Senegal.

Musicians from the Afro-Peruvian Fest. Photo by Raul Ruiz.

Afro-Peruvian Fest

Afro-Peruvian Fest 2021

The annual festival will gather artists and culture bearers in California and create a bridge with Afro-Peruvian artists and culture bears in Peru, through virtual concerts and workshops for all ages.


Students play the jarana during a Son y Fandango class at the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts. Photo by Javier Tamayo.

Alisal Center for the Fine Arts

Son Jarocho Y Fandango Program

The organization will hold weekly virtual workshops to teach the son jarocho musical genre and foster the community practice of fandangos.


Balay Kreative

San Francisco
Inabel nga Indayon: Inabel Cradle/Blanket

The organization will hold a workshop series to engage the San Francisco Bay Area Filipinx-American community in the first-ever production of an inabel (traditional Ilocano weaving) cradle cloth in the United States.


Ballet Folklorico El Tapatio de San Dieguito (BFETdeSD)

San Diego
BFETdeSD Free Cultural Dance Classes

The dance ensemble will provide six months of free Mexican ballet folklorico instruction to students financially impacted by COVID-19.


Banteay Srei

S.A.U.C.E.: Southeast Asian Unity through Cultural Exploration

The organization will once more offer their S.A.U.C.E. program, which incorporates traditional Southeast Asian culinary arts with traditional storytelling.


Berkeley Old Time Music Convention

Fiddle Convention Legends: A Cultural Exchange

Funding will help cover artist fees and related costs for tradition-bearers from Virginia and North Carolina who exemplify the highest standards of Southern old-time music.


BrasArte the Damasceno Brazilian Cultural Exchange

Yemanja Arts Festival 2021

Honoring the goddess of the ocean in the African-Brazilian candomblé tradition, this year’s virtual festival will include lectures and panel discussions, dance and percussion workshops, and performances.


Charya Burt (center) corrects the posture of two classical Cambodian dancers, Visal Pov and Soka Pov. Still from a video by Rob Burt.

Charya Burt Cambodian Dance

Charya Burt Cambodian Dance Digital Legacy Library

Funds will support the development of a digital Cambodian dance legacy library, consisting of dances from the classical repertory, new works created by master artist Charya Burt, and instructional videos on classical dance and costuming.


Chavalos De Aqui y Alla

San Francisco
Chavalos Dance Program: Chavalos Danzas por Nicaragua

The organization will hold several Nicaraguan dance performances in the Mission District of San Francisco, in coordination with Mission Meals Coalition’s food hub distribution events.


Children take part in a Cheza Nami program. Photo courtesy of the organization.

Cheza Nami Foundation, Inc.

Traditional African Arts for Culturally Responsive Enrichment

The organization will hold a weekly virtual afterschool African storytelling and dance class.


Comunidad Anqari

San Mateo
Sikuris Tropa

The organization will hold a series of virtual classes and workshops to teach and practice the Andean music style of Sikuris. Funds will also support the purchase of traditional Siku pan flutes.



San Francisco
17th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music

The organization will present the work of choreographers and performers active in the traditional dance and music of Cuba, the Caribbean, and African diaspora at its annual festival.


Dancing Cy(i)phers

Back to the Root: Dancing Ancestral Cosmograms

The organization will hold a workshop series and three-day symposium to continue to explore and share understandings about African diaspora dances that utilize the spine and pelvis in an effort to understand the deeper meaning of the techniques themselves.


Participants perform Marinera Limeña in an online class by De Rompe y Raja. Images courtesy of the organization.

De Rompe y Raja Cultural Association

¡Sigamos haciendo comunidad virtualmente!: Peruvian Music and Dance Classes on Zoom

Funds will support an offering of virtual classes and cultural presentations on the traditional Afro-Peruvian dances and percussion of the Peruvian coastal region.


EarthLodge Center for Transformation

Long Beach
Annual Earthlodge Center African Dance and Drum Intensive Workshop

The organization will host their annual drum and dance workshops on Juneteenth 2021, sharing the expertise of four Black LGBT women who will teach virtual classes in West African drum and dance.


Celebrating Diwali with the Ektaa Center. Photo courtesy of the organization.

Ektaa Center

Ektaa Fest 2021

The organization will present five cultural events showcasing traditional Indian dance forms and music styles, in order to build community among local Indian artists as well enable the broader community to experience diverse classical Indian performances.


Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians

San Fernando
Language Through Songs Series

During a series of 8 virtual music sessions spread across the four seasons, Native language use will be reinforced through music, seasonal songs, and construction and use of traditional instruments.


Gâta Bantu Congolese Traditional Dance Company

Ha Mbongui African Dance and Drum Conference

Funds will support the fifth annual three-day conference in Santa Cruz, featuring master artists in traditional dance, drum, and song, from Congo, Haiti, Guinea, and Senegal.


Great Leap’s 2020 FandangObon video shoot to reach communities during COVID-10. Photo by Daren Mooko.

Great Leap, Inc.

Los Angeles

The organization will foster collaboration and dialogue during free community workshops and a culminating festival, which reach deep into Los Angeles’ Mexican, Japanese, and African American communities and engage people of all ages and backgrounds through traditional participatory arts.


Greenly Art Space

Signal Hill
Native American Artists: Traditional, Contemporary and Beyond

The organization will facilitate a series of virtual panel discussions between Native American artists working in a variety of artistic traditions and modalities, and from a range of tribal backgrounds. The project will culminate with a curated gallery exhibition.


House of AWT. Photo courtesy of the organization.

House of AWT (Artists Working Together)

Los Angeles
The House of AWT Vogue Dance Project

Funds will support a series of online Vogue dance classes taught by “Legendary” artists from the House and Ball community, as well as a series of virtual Balls.


Inspired Sound Initiative

Los Angeles
Roots for Challenging Times

The organization will present a traditional music and dance lecture-demo series for underserved communities and at-risk youth in south Los Angeles, showcasing traditions from Veracruz, Mexico; Andalusia, Spain; West Africa; and the Middle East.


International Eye Los Angeles

Los Angeles
History, Artistry and Practice of Jamaican Jonkanoo

The organization will curate a multidisciplinary exhibition and performance consisting of costume displays, an online broadcast, and a live experience highlighting the art and practice of Jamaican Jonkanoo over time, through music, movement and costumes.


Kalashree Foundation

Redwood City
Virtual Library Project

Funds will support the creation of the organization’s virtual library to serve as a resource for both teachers and students of classical Indian music. A series of inaugural recordings will document the qualities and attributes of select ragas (a melodic framework).


Weaving with Kalingafornia. Photo courtesy of the organization.

Kalingafornia Laga

Castro Valley
Lumin-awa Tako! (Let Us Heal Together!)

The organization will offer community workshops on Kalinga (indigenous Filipino) songs, chants, and dances.


Kinnara, Inc.

Los Angeles
Kinnara Taiko Archive Project

This project will collect, preserve, and share Kinnara Taiko’s 52-year history. Funds will support purchasing key equipment and conducting interviews with original members of Kinnara Taiko.


KlezCalifornia, Inc.

El Cerrito
Klezmer Music, Yiddish Song, and Klezmer Dance Workshops

Funds will support twelve free, online workshops in Yiddish culture to provide a new generation of Yiddish culture-bearers with participatory learning experiences in klezmer style music, Yiddish song style, and klezmer dance.


Kumu Hula Association of Northern California

E Ola Ka Hula! (Long Live The Hula!)

The organization will hold a series of online learning activities with traditional Hawaiian cultural experts to teach Hawaiian chants and dances, traditional lauhala weaving, and Hawaiian language.


Māhealani Uchiyama, director of Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance. Photo by RJ Muna.

Lao Community Cultural Center of San Diego (LCCC-SD)

San Diego
Lao Boat Racing 2021

Funds will support the center’s annual Lao boat racing festival, where Lao music, food, and traditional dance compliment the boat racing in celebration of Boun Ok Phansa, one of the Lao high holidays.


Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance

African American Mbira Project

This project aims to introduce, support, and perpetuate the music of the mbira (a family of instruments traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe) within the African American community, through weekly online classes and the presentation of master mbira players.


Mahsa Vahdat Voice Studio

The Poetic Voice: Virtual Persian Vocal Workshop Series with Mahsa Vahdat

The organization will present a workshops series in traditional Persian music and vocals. 


Manilatown Heritage Foundation

San Francisco
Kommunity Kultura

Funds will support the kulintang ensemble Kultura Kapwa, as well as Kommunity Kultura, an online interactive program teaching kulintang music, dance and regalia traditions of the Maguindanao and Maranao tribes of the Southern Philippines.


Archival image of musicologist Meir Noy playing the accordion. Photo courtesy of the organization.

Meir Noy Yiddish Song Project

Meir Noy Yiddish Song Project (Doubly Suppressed, Doubly Forgotten)

This project brings to light and shares the songs collected by musicologist and ethnographer Meir Noy, through a series of recordings, community presentations, and workshops aimed at expanding knowledge of Yiddish song and transmitting their lore to a new generation.


Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino

San Bernardino
Raíces y Alas (Roots and Wings)

The organization will hold monthly Mexican arts and culture workshops in Spanish. 


Mexi’cayotl Indio Cultural Center

Chula Vista
Ma Timoyolixmatican: May We Learn About Our Hearts

Funds will support a series of multimedia events to showcase 46 years of cultural teaching and preservation of Azteca dances, Nahuatl language, spiritual traditions, and folk arts.


Mundo Maya Foundation

Los Angeles
Mundo Maya Visions 2021 – Healing Through Culture

Grant funds will support the expansion of the organization’s online presence, increasing its capacity for virtual cultural programming.


Oloshas Uniteds Yemaya gathering at the beach. Photo courtesy of the organization.

North American Guqin Association

Union City
Inheriting Guqin Music – Memories of Old Masters

The organization will produce a multi-faceted project centered on the Chinese guqin (a seven-stringed zither), including: a concert, a master class, a guqin exhibition, and a yaji (an artistic salon).


Oloshas United Bay Area

Preserving Our Rituals: Arts, Music and Language of the Bay Area Orisha Community

Funds will support the creation of a video archive and website of interviews and discussions among the elders of the Santeria/Lukumi community in the San Francisco Bay Area


Omnira Institute

Roots of Faith, Roots of Freedom

The organization’s annual cycle of programming brings the medicine and spiritual knowledge derived from African and African American traditions — specifically Lukumi spiritual traditions and the practice of the “ring shout,” started by enslaved people who kept alive this form of African ancestor observance – to public forums where Black people are prevalent. 


Image courtesy of PIEAM.

Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum

Long Beach

Funds will support a series of inter-woven projects and their documentation, including performances, virtual gatherings, workshops, and ceremonies. The projects will honor the stories of everyday Matao/Chamoru people and the complexities embedded in their approaches to cultural reclamation.


Performers from the Parangal Dance Company. Photo by RJ Muna.

Parangal Dance Company

San Bruno
Maguindanaon Sagayan – Process of Archiving and Preserving through Filmmaking

The organization will film a documentary to preserve and increase access to information about the practice of Sagayan, a pre-Islamic dance of the Maguindanaon in Mindanao, Philippines.


Purple Silk Music Education Foundation

Celebrating Cantonese Folk Songs of the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad: A Community-Based Youth Arts Learning Project

The organization will hold classes in its after-school Chinese music program focused on the Cantonese folk music traditions of the Chinese immigrants who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad in the mid-1800s.


Regional Organization of Oaxaca

Taller de Colores, Sabores y Formas en la Celebración del Dia de los Muertos (Workshop of Colors, Flavors and Forms for the Day of the Dead Celebration)

The organization will hold a series of workshops on the traditions, foods, and crafts and that are practiced by Oaxacan indigenous communities as part of the Day of the Dead Celebration.


Master drummer Babara Bangoura and Khalil Cummings lead a drum circle at the annual Dundunba Festival of the Rhythm Arts Alliance. Photo by Michelle Moro.

Rhythm Arts Alliance

Culver City
Leimert Park Master Drum, Dance, and Song Classes

Funds will support the organization’s monthly, multi-generational master class workshops in African drum, dance, and song.


SAMAHAN Filipino American Performing Arts & Education Center, Inc.

Chula Vista
Workshop and Performances of Maguindanao Dances and Music

The organization will hold workshops and performances of indigenous dances and music of the Maguindanaoans, an Islamic tribe in Mindanao, Philippines.


School of the Getdown

East Bay Blues Festival

The organization will produce the East Bay Blues Festival to showcase authentic blues performances and radio programming celebrating local blues history.



Santa Cruz
Sustaining Our Roots: Mexican Traditional Music and Dance

The organization will provide free traditional Oaxacan banda de viento (wind band) music instruction and baile folklórico (Mexican folkloric dance) instruction for Latinx youth.


Somali Community of San Diego

San Diego
Nation of Poets Presents: Gabay

The organization will host an event bringing together Somalis of all ages in the San Diego community in celebration, dialogue, and engagement with Gabay, or Somali classical poetry.

Tabla maestro Swapan Chaudhuri (L) with the late sarod artist Ali Akbar Khan (R). Archival image courtesy of the organization.

Swapan Chaudhuri Digital Archive and Library

San Rafael
Swapan Chaudhuri Digital Archive and Library – Online Beta Launch

The organization will launch a virtual learning experience and comprehensive archive of over 40 years of audio and video recordings and written transcriptions of classes taught by Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, a master of the North Indian percussion instrument, the tabla.


Van-Anh Vo & Blood Moon Orchestra

Vietnamese Lullaby: Wisdom from Parents to Children

Through a series of online and live presentations designed for a multi-generational audience, the organization will teach and share Vietnamese traditional lullabies with the San Francisco Bay Area’s Vietnamese community as well as the public.


Ventura County Arts Council

Tomol Project

A series of presentations, including a mural, a video, and a series of classes taught to native students, will introduce and highlight the significance of Chumash tomol (canoe) culture.


Veretski Pass musicians. Photo by Dana Davis Photography.

Veretski Pass

The Promiscuous World of Jewish Music Lecture and Workshops Series

The group will hold a series of virtual lectures and workshops about traditional pre-Holocaust, previously forgotten Jewish music with the goal of preserving and invigorating this repertoire.


Weaving Spirits Festival of Two-Spirit Performance

San Francisco
Weaving Spirits Festival of Two-Spirit Performance

Funds will support the second year of this Two-Spirit Native American performance festival, showcasing a range of genres, intertribal voices, and both “urban” and “reservation” Natives – all powerfully rooted in their traditional cultures.

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