About ACTA


What are folk & traditional arts?

Folk & traditional artists are tradition bearers: people who transmit what they believe, know, do, and create with others who share a common heritage, language, religion, occupation, or region.  These expressions are deeply rooted in and reflective of a community’s shared standards of beauty, values, or life experiences.  Folk and traditional arts are, ultimately, passed on from one generation to the next and express a collective wisdom, rather than a unique personal aesthetic.

Mission

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts promotes and supports ways for cultural traditions to thrive now and into the future by providing advocacy, resources, and connections for folk and traditional artists.  From Ohlone basketry and African-American quilt-making to cowboy poetry and Vietnamese opera, California is home to hundreds of diverse traditions.

Staff

Photo by Craig Kohlruss

Amy Kitchener, Executive Director, co-founded the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) in 1997.  Understanding California’s unique position as the nation's epicenter for diverse cultural and multi-national communities, ACTA's work has focused on social change through grantmaking, capacity and leadership development, technical assistance, and bilingual program development. Trained as a public folklorist with an M. A. from UCLA, Amy has piloted participatory cultural asset mapping in neglected and rural areas of the state and consults with other organizations and across sectors on this method of discovery and inclusion of community voices.  She continues to serve as a consultant for many national organizations and has taken part in two U.S.-China Intangible Cultural Heritage exchanges. She has published on a variety subjects involving California folklife, including immigrant arts training and transmission, and Asian American folk arts. She serves on the board of the national Grantmakers in the Arts and was recently appointed by the US Congress as a Trustee of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.  Amy and husband Hugo Morales are the proud parents of twin boys who dance and sing with regularity. Photo by Craig Kohlruss.

CONTACT: Fresno Office | akitch@actaonline.org | (559) 237-9813 and (415) 346-8700

Lily Kharrazi, Program Manager, has been with ACTA since 2005 managing the Living Cultures Grants Program, the Traditional Arts Roundtable Series and other initiatives since 2005. She has been an advocate of culturally-specific art making in the Bay Area for three decades. Lily has a degree in Dance Ethnology and interdisciplinary Ethnic Arts from UCLA, training under pioneer of the field, Allegra Fuller Snyder. She worked as program director with the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival from 1991-2003. She has served as an adjudicator and consultant to local, regional, and national arts and culture foundations. Lily worked in the field of refugee resettlement and arts education prior to her years at ACTA. She continues to study dance and yoga. 

CONTACT: San Francisco Field Office | lilyk@actaonline.org | (415) 346-5200

Russell Rodríguez, Ph.D., Program Manager, has extensive experience as a cultural worker, academic, and accomplished artist. Rodríguez received his Ph.D. from the department of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2007, he became a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow. Rodríguez worked as a curator for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage annual festival, co-curating the Latino Music Program in 2004; and 2005, he co-produced the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings CD compilation Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano Movement. Rodríguez is an accomplished musician, composer, and dancer specializing in performance styles of huasteca, jarocho, mariachi, and other traditional music forms of Mexico.  In 2010, he completed work as the assistant producer and musical director for the documentary La Danza Escenica: El Sello de Rafael Zamarripa. Today Rodríguez continues to play music professionally with Mariachi Mundial de Mexico and Los Hijos de José. He speaks fluent Spanish. Russell joined ACTA in May 2012.

CONTACT: Santa Cruz Field Office | rrodriguez@actaonline.org | (831) 334-5040

Crystal Murillo, Executive Assistant, has over eleven years of experience. She previously worked at the corporate headquarters of Gottschalks, Inc., as an Assistant Buyer serving in the overall management and day to day operations of the Petites buying office. Crystal also worked for ITT Technical Institute as an Enrollment Specialist, coordinating admission for prospective students and at Table Mountain Rancheria, planning travel arrangements for tribal members and employees and assisting with administrative support. Crystal graduated from California State University, Fresno, with a BA in Anthropology. She also holds an MBA and runs her own photography business. A dedicated community volunteer, Crystal has organized teams for Relay for Life, Team in Training, The ALS Assoc., and Walk MS. Crystal joined ACTA in July 2016. 

CONTACT: Fresno Office | cmurillo@actaonline.org | (559) 237-9812

Photo by John Bajana

Beto González, Program Specialist, comes to ACTA with almost 20 years of experience in the performing arts in Los Angeles. Beto is an experienced musician, producer, and ethnomusicologist specializing in the traditional music of Brazil and the African Diaspora in Latin America.  A first-generation American, Beto was born in New York to Brazilian immigrants who then raised him in São Paulo before relocating to Los Angeles.  He is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and bandleader and is the founder and artistic director of Samba Society, a collective of musicians from the Brazilian community of Southern California. He also performs regularly with MôForró, another Brazilian group that performs traditional and original music inspired by forró, the accordion-driven dance music from northeast Brazil.  Beto holds Masters degrees in both Latin American Studies and Ethnomusicology from UCLA, is a Fulbright scholar, and is fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish.  Prior to joining the ACTA team, Beto worked for a number of performing arts organizations including the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Viver Brasil Dance Company, and Levitt Pavilions of Greater Los Angeles and Pasadena. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Inglewood Cultural Arts.  Beto joined ACTA in February 2016. Photo by John Bajana.  

CONTACT: Los Angeles Field Office | beto@actaonline.org | (213) 346-3285

Patricia Miye Wakida, Development and Donor Engagement Manager, Patricia is a fourth generation Japanese American artist, writer, and community historian based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past fifteen years, she has done editorial, curatorial, or development work with numerous cultural institutions such as Heyday Books, Cal Humanities, San Francisco Center for the Book, Intersection for the Arts, the Japanese American National Museum, the Oakland Museum of California, and the California Historical Society, and has served on numerous nonprofit boards.  She has studied as an apprentice papermaker in Gifu, Japan, and as an apprentice printer and hand bookbinder in Berkeley, California; to this day, she still maintains her own linoleum block and letterpress business under the 'wasabi press' imprint, handcarving and cranking out whimsical prints of flora and fauna on 100 year old equipment. She lives in the heart of the Fruitvale district of Oakland, California, with her husband and son.  Patricia joined ACTA in May 2016.  

CONTACT: Oakland Field Office | pwakida@actaonline.org | (510) 710-7212

Amy Lawrence, Operations Manager, has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999.  She served as the Education and Tour Coordinator for the Fresno Historical Society and managed the Society’s museum store.  Lawrence earned a multiple subject teaching credential from CSU, Fresno, and has taught second, third, and fourth grade elementary school students.  She holds an M.A. in History and her master’s thesis, Minnie Eshleman Sherman: Agricultural Pioneer, Social Activist, City Mother, won a research merit award from CSU, Fresno.  Lawrence joined ACTA in June 2009.  

CONTACT: Fresno Office | alawrence@actaonline.org | (559) 237-9812

Kenya Curry, Arts in Corrections Program Coordinator/Administrative Assistant, has over seven years of experience in administrative work and customer service.  She previously worked at the Willow International Center where she served as a student aide in student admissions and student activities.  Curry graduated from CSU, Fresno, with a degree in Criminology and a legal studies certificate.  Kenya coordinates ACTA’s artistic residencies in California Correctional Institutions, currently in five prisons including Valley State Prison, Pleasant Valley State Prison, California Correctional Institution, California State Prison, Los Angeles County, and California Rehabilitation Center. Kenya joined ACTA in November 2010. 

CONTACT: Fresno Office | kenya@actaonline.org | (559) 237-9812

Marisa Martinez, Arts in Corrections Project Coordinator, is coordinating artistic residencies in five different state facilities throughout southern and central California, with up to four traditional arts-based classes running at each facility. Marisa was born and raised on the east side of Los Angeles in a family of artists, progressive educators, and conscious thinkers. A performing artist, singer, and songwriter, Marisa also studies traditional Mexican folk music with a community of Mexican and Chican@ musicians in Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Education from UCLA, and comes to ACTA with years of community arts-based organizing and development experience, as well as an early childhood education background. She was a political and cultural organizer during her college years within student organizations, working around issues of race, politics, class, LGBTQI issues, and the arts. After college, she taught preschool at Pacific Oaks Children’s School in Pasadena, a progressive school, based in emergent and anti-bias curriculum. She then made a career change and began working with Nobuko Miyamoto at Great Leap, helping to organize the FandangObon Eco Fest, rooted in the Little Tokyo Community that celebrates the similarities and difference between traditional music and dance-based cultural convening methods throughout Japanese, Mexican, and African cultural traditions. Marisa was part of the organizing team that developed the first ever FandangObon Environmental Encuentro in Los Angeles that took place at the Aratani theater in Little Tokyo. Marisa joined ACTA in January 2017. 

CONTACT: Los Angeles Field Office | mmartinez@actaonline.org | (626) 695-9922

Jennifer Joy Jameson, New Media Communications Manager, is a public folklorist and cultural organizer originally from Encinitas, California near San Diego. Jennifer came to ACTA from the Mississippi Arts Commission where she served as the Folk and Traditional Arts Director since 2014, administering traditional arts grants, providing consultation to artists and organizations, revived and managed the digital publication Mississippi Folklife, and led fieldwork projects related to a wide range of cultural arts. Jennifer also works in new media for SPACES Archives, a non-profit archive dedicated to documenting and advocating for the preservation of international art environments. With an M.A. in public sector folk studies from Western Kentucky University and a B.A. in folklore and ethnomusicology from Indiana University, Jennifer has worked with museums, archives, festivals, and cultural organizations on the federal, state, and local level, including positions at the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Traditional Arts Indiana, the Kentucky Folklife Program, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and Tennessee’s historic Highlander Center. Jennifer joined ACTA in March 2017.

CONTACT: Los Angeles Field Office | jjameson@actaonline.org | (760) 805-8002

   
   

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