In 2019, the Arts Endowment released a report, Living Traditions: A Portfolio Analysis of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Folk & Traditional Arts Program, which examines the agency’s folk and traditional arts portfolio. The report revealed that states and cities with strong folklife programs help to attract more federal arts dollars to their home regions. The report also identified significant gaps in the map of national arts funding for the folk and traditional arts, and highlighted the need to connect related organizations and individuals to promote and strengthen the folk and traditional arts field. Based on this data, we are pleased to announce two important expansions of Arts Endowment funding, which will enrich our commitment to the field of folk and traditional arts.
The Arts Endowment will make a $1,000,000 investment in a National Folklife Network to develop new folklife infrastructure in spaces where it does not currently exist. The National Folklife Network will be managed through a cooperative agreement to cultivate the development of seven pilot folklife programs—four in rural areas, and three in urban areas. The four rural regions are the Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Inter-mountain West, and Alaska, while the three urban folklife programs will be in cities on, or east of, the Mississippi River. Each location faces its own unique challenges, including weak infrastructure, a diffuse population, and deeply ingrained poverty.