ACTA Announces 2011 Living Cultures Grants Program Grantees

ACTA - Posted on 05 January 2011

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Awun Ohun Omnira Choir (Voices of Freedom) presents songs of that connect African American history to African spirituality.ACTA is pleased to announce that it is awarding $320,000 in grants to California nonprofit organizations to support exemplary projects in folk and traditional arts through its Living Cultures Grants Program.  Forty-nine grants across the state represent a diversity of community-based traditional arts including Hmong folktales and oral histories in Fresno Counties; Irish sean nós dance workshops in San Diego; Teatro Chicano workshops in San Benito County; Konkow Wailaki Maidu song, dance, and language workshops in Butte County; African American quilting in Oakland; and the celebration of Japanese culture in Santa Cruz.  One hundred fifty-seven applications were reviewed by a distinguished panel of cultural and community experts over a four-day period, and the final grant selections were approved by ACTA’s board of directors.  ACTA’s funding partners include the Walter and Elise Haas Fund; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the James Irvine Foundation; and the Surdna Foundation.  ACTA is supported by the California Arts Council and is its statewide partner in serving the folk & traditional arts field.

“Our goal is to support the wealth of California’s diverse cultural traditions,” noted Amy Kitchener, ACTA Executive Director.  In its six-year history, the Living Cultures Grants Program has supported nearly 250 community-based projects with over $1.5 million.  “We are reaching into many corners of the state,” continues Kitchener, “with small, strategic funding that makes a huge difference to our grantees.”

2011 Grantees

African American Quilt Guild of Oakland • Oakland, Alameda County • $5,000
This project supports an exhibition of quilt works by members of the guild intended to introduce and promote the tradition of quilting to the local African American community.  On display will be heritage quilts belonging to the guild members. “These pieces of our past act as points of comfort for our collective memory,” writes Marilyn Handis, the project director.  The exhibition entitled Sankofa: Preserving Our Past-Designing Our Future will take place on April 9, 2011.

Ali Akbar College of Music
• San Rafael, Marin County • $ 7,050
Established in 1967 by sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, the school represents one of the first and longest running institutions for the study of Hindustani music.  The mission to teach, perform, and preserve the classical music of North India includes the intricacies of raga (melody) and tala (rhythm).  Under the direction of master tabla musician and percussion director Pandit Swapan Chaudari, this project will provide teacher funding to work intensively with a group of teens, ages 13-19.  Sarod will be taught by AACM-trained teacher Bruce Hamm.  This initiative will launch the institution’s special outreach to teen students.

Arab Cultural & Community Center • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $5,000
Support for the 17th Annual Arab Cultural Festival will provide artist fees for folk and traditional artists to participate in this widely attended event to be held in October 2011 in San Francisco’s Union Square.  The arts provide a unifying force for the diverse populations that make up the Arab world.  The festival will feature artists from Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Iraq, and Palestine representing music, dance, theater, and spoken word.  The project is an important outreach effort of the Center which provides culturally competent social services to the community year round.

Association for the Advancement of Filipino Arts & Culture • San Pedro, Los Angeles County • $7,500
On September 10-11, 2011, the 20th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture will take place in Point Fermin Park.  The folk arts component will include traditional performances, lectures, and workshops in dance, music, spoken work, pageantry, play, and ritual.  The Filipino-American demographic represents a multi-culturally diverse community with over 100 distinct languages spoken.  This festival, according to project director Jilly Canizares, “…is a safe common ground where people come together in an educational, entertaining, and celebratory gathering of artists, culture bearers, and community.”

Banteay Srei youth leaders interacting with their students in a cooking and storytelling session.Banteay Srei • Oakland, Alameda County • $7,125
SAUCE (Southeast Asian Unity through Cultural Exploration) is a program that brings together young Southeast Asian women of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese origin who are engaged in or at risk of sexual exploitation.  Through culinary workshops and traditional storytelling by older women in the community, the pairing of foodways and stories help provide ways to cultivate stronger connections to family and culture.  Food plays a central role in Southeast Asian culture and is at the core of any family gathering.  The matriarchal setting of the kitchen provides a natural and culturally appropriate setting for not only these traditions to be learned by many of these first-generation young women, but also helps focus how family support networks can be a resource for those who seek alternatives to the sex trade.  Funding will support the workshops and administration of the program.

Bay Area Flamenco Partnership • Oakland, Alameda County • $7,125
This presenting organization provides students of flamenco arts with an opportunity to study with visiting artists from Spain who represent the continuity of traditional flamenco forms by its leading Gitano (gypsy) families.  A series of workshops and performances will take place in the Festival of Flamenco Arts and Traditions which will occur in April 2011.  A key focus is to create expanded opportunities for cultural exchange with Bay Area local flamenco artists and students.

Berkeley Old Time Music Convention • Berkeley, Alameda County • $7,125
Funding will support artist fees for tradition bearers who exemplify the highest standards of Southern old-time musical styles.  Visiting the Bay Area in September 2011 for the 9th annual-multi-day festival will be: Ginny Hawker, traditional Appalachian singer with her husband Tracy Schwarz, master musician and cultural expert; Mike Bryant, Tennessee fiddler; and Kirk Sutphin, banjo and fiddle master player from Western North Carolina.  The Convention includes concerts, master classes, informal music-making sessions, and participation in a panel discussion.

Bomba y Plena Workshop • Oakland, Alameda County • $7,500
Caminos de mi Cultura is an education and performance project that aims to increase the skill level and knowledge of traditional Puerto Rican music and dance practitioners in the Bay Area.  Interaction and exchange with three master artists from New York-based Los Pleneros de la 21 will enrich the skill level of California-based artists and strengthen cultural ties.

California Chinese Orchestra • Oakland, Alameda County • $5,000
Free or low-cost music lessons in traditional Chinese music are offered to students, aged 8- 80 years old.  The school is located in the highly cohesive community of downtown Oakland where composer and master musician, Jeffrey Wong, has taught students for over a decade.  Students learn Chinese musical notation system and learn to play pipa (lute), erhu (2 string violin), guzheng (zither), yanqin (hammered dulcimer), and the bamboo flute.  The orchestra mounts a yearly concert which is supported by a large group of volunteers.

Cambodian Community Development, Inc. • Oakland, Alameda County • $7,125
Please Don’t Stop the Music is CCDI’s foremost community project dedicated to healthy youth development through the learning of traditional Khmer folk music traditions.  A ninety-one year old master musician and survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide teaches the khim, a stringed instrument stretched over a trapezoidal sounding board played with two flexible bamboo sticks.  Thor-che, a high-pitched two-string bow vertical fiddle, is taught by another community master musician with 30 years of experience.  The music is passed on in the oral tradition and students are documenting the lessons in order to preserve this endangered art form.  Funding will provide support for the weekly classes.

Center for Multicultural Cooperation • Fresno, Fresno County • $7,125
Youth and adults will create participatory media documenting Hmong culture and folktales.  Interdisciplinary teams work together with elder storytellers to conduct oral history interviews in Hmong, and produce short documentary videos with English subtitles.  The digital stories will combine a narrative, images, and special effects into 3-5 minute videos highlighting folktales which are representative of Hmong culture.

Central California Alliance for the Preservation of Mariachi • Delano, Kern County • $7,460
Collaborating with the Delano Union School District afterschool program, the mariachi program will benefit from the teaching expertise and coaching of Gustavo Rodriguez, a master mariachi trumpet musician.  Mr. Rodriquez will instruct an additional trumpet class for students and will record a mariachi music album with the students of the City of Delano over the 10 months of his residency.

Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indigena Oaxaqueño • Fresno, Fresno County •  $7,125
Funding will support the organization’s planning and implementation of the 11th Annual La Guelaguetza in Fresno.  This traditional and well-known Oaxacan festival has its origins in pre-Columbian times in the Zapotec region.  Indigenous communities got together to give offerings to the goddess of rain, nature, corn, and fertility.  The word connotes “friendship and sharing,” explains project director Leoncio Vasquez Santos.  In recent times, California migrant communities have organized Guelaguetza celebrations as a way to bring Oaxcan communities together to preserve and promote their rich and multidimensional culture.  Project goals include increasing the understanding of other communities of the Oaxcans culture, to provide children and youth of Oaxcan descent who were born or raised in the United States an opportunity to learn and value their indigenous identity, and to support the development of leadership, organizational, and public speaking skills of indigenous immigrants by involving them in the planning of this event.

Chaksam-Pa Tibetan Dance & Opera Company • El Cerrito, Alameda County • $7,500
Funds will support the first ever U. S. production of a traditional Tibetan Opera known as ache lamo.  Culture bearer and lead artist Tsering Wangmo writes, “In Tibet, this day-long event would be performed outdoors under a tent and is attended by families in traditional dress who share picnics of favorite foods.  People wander in and out of the tent to watch the most beloved parts of the opera which tell tales of religion, morality, good, and evil.”  The production will bring together artists who live in North America to the Bay Area in October 2011 to present ache lamo, now rare in Tibet.  The growing Tibetan community is now three generations strong, but young people have not had the opportunity to see this rare tradition.

City of San Fernando Recreation & Community Services • San Fernando, Los Angeles County • $7,500
The Mariachi Master-Apprentice Program provides systematic instruction for beginning and advanced level students in violin, guitar, guitarrones, vihuelas, trumpets, and folk harp.  Incorporating artistic and historical accuracy while preserving the tradition of mariachi music forms, the program is distinguished by the participation of master artists and culture bearers Nati Cano, a National Heritage Fellow from the National Endowment of the Arts, as well as Jesus Guzman, the recognized musical director of Mariachi Los Camperos de California, and Sergio Alonso, a harpist and member of National Mariachi Advisory Committee of the National Association of Music Education.  Serving 140 youth annually, the City of San Fernando is 89% Latino.  Funds will help underwrite instructor fees and supplies.

CubaCaribe • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $7,125
The 7th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music will be held over three weekends in April and May 2011.  Exploring the diverse traditions of the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, as expressed through dance and music, the program will include 10 performances, five master classes and lectures on the art, religion, history, and politics of the Caribbean, showcasing master traditional artists from Cuba, Haiti, and the United States.  This year the festival includes an East Bay venue which will expand its reach to new communities.  The festival is under the artistic direction of Ramon Ramos Alayo, Cuban dance artist of folkloric and contemporary forms.

Native Trinidadian Val Serrant will teach youth with Dance Kaiso.Dance Kaiso • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $5,000
A summer intensive in San Francisco neighborhood Bayview-Hunter’s Point will provide African-American teens with a hands-on, back-to-the-source exploration of the roots of rap and hip-hop culture.  Exploring West Indian art forms from Trinidadian Calypso to Carnival dances, songs, chants, and drumming will provide a context to understanding the role of the African Diaspora to current popular forms.  Master artists and culture bearers are Wilfred Mark and Val Serrant from Trinidad, as well as Robin Frey, long-time arts educator of Caribbean dance forms.

Diamano Coura West African Dance Company • Oakland, Alameda County • $7,125
Funds will support the 16th Annual Collage des Cultures Africaines, a convening on March 10-13, 2011.  One goal of the convening is to bring awareness of the increasing African population and diverse cultural differences that exist within the African community in the Bay Area.  Dance and music workshops provide the community with an opportunity to learn from master artists and to promote creative collaboration.  Other events include discussions which address issues that face artist communities, as well as an African marketplace.  A Gala performance features guest artists alongside Bay Area dance companies who reflect the African diaspora.  Under the leadership of Dr. Zak Diouf from Senegal and Naomi Washington Gedo of Liberia, Diamano Coura has played a leadership role in teaching African arts in the Bay Area for decades.

El Centro Cultural de Mexico • Santa Ana, Orange County • $7,125
The project will bring together people from Los Angeles, San Fernando, Santa Ana, the Bay Area, and San Diego for a week-long session of son jarocho workshops.  Under the direction of master musician Cesar Castro and ensemble Los Utrera, one of Veracruz’s most renowned groups today, the workshops will concentrate on the art of improvisation.  The concept of this gathering is similar to one that is held annually on the other side of the border.  The southern California location will provide a way for families who cannot afford to travel to Mexico for a week the ability to have an intensive workshop and community experience.  Forging stronger relationships and a tighter-knit cultural community allow for the community of son jarocho musicians to grow and prosper throughout the state.

El Teatro Campesino • San Juan Bautista, San Benito County • $7,125
A two-month theater outreach program will travel to rural farm-working towns of the Salinas Valley in Central California featuring free performances and theater workshops rooted in the Mexican carpa tradition and its descendant, Teatro Chicano.  Artistic director Luis Valdez founded the company 45 years ago, which was instrumental in creating the educational and cultural wing of the United Farm Workers movement.  The producing artistic director, Kinan Valdez, is the son of the founder.

Filipino American Development Foundation • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $7,125
The San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival and Parade brings together the diverse Filipino community of the Bay Area to create the large paper lanterns associated with the Christmas season.  This folk tradition is taught by master artists and involves different generations and skill levels to create the lanterns that will be publicly displayed in a parade through historic Filipino town in downtown San Francisco.   The collective spirit highlights a cultural value know as bayanihan and as festival director, MC Canlas notes, “The community comes together to affirm our connectivity and our spirit particularly during these challenging times.”
First Night Monterey • Monterey, Monterey County • $5,000
Funding will support ongoing lessons in Mexican folklorico dance to 70 children in an afterschool program at the Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Salinas.  Master artist Ramon Silva will teach two classes weekly which will result in several public performances.  Opportunities for children to continue into more advanced classes will be available through Mr. Silva’s company, Tonatiuh-Danzantos del Quinto Sol.  Family involvement includes assisting with all aspects of the production and regional costuming to which the children will be introduced.

Galería de la Raza/Studio 24 • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $5,000
Master classes in son jarocho, the improvisatory musical style indigenous to Veracruz and Cuba, will be offered through five three-hour workshops.  Taught by master artists who are members of the musical group Los Soneros del Este, the interrelationship of music, poetry, dance, and improvisation will be emphasized.  The program will begin in April 2011 and culminate in June 2011 with a participatory performance and jam known as a fandango.  The son jarocho classes will serve the multi-generational Latino Bay Area residents, some originally from the Veracruz region.

Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, Inc. (GAHFU) • Los Angeles, Los Angeles County • $7,125
The mission of GAFHU is to preserve and promote Garifuna culture in the United States.  Funding will support ongoing classes for the Garifuna Language and Culture Academy.  Each week, the Academy broadcasts beginning and advanced language sessions via the internet to thousands of listeners.  Culture classes include drumming, singing, and dance.  The unique history of this endangered population is recognized as one of mankind’s intangible treasures by UNESCO.  Originally brought over by the slave trade to the Caribbean, the Garifuna intermarried with indigenous Island-Carib Amerindians on the island of St. Vincent.   When the British took over the island, war broke out with many Garifuna sent to an island off the coast of St. Vincent where half of them died.  Over time, migration to Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala took place.  In the 1950’s the first Garifuna came to the United States.  The Los Angeles-based community is playing a leading role in the revitalization movement.

Hernandez Mariachi Heritage Society, Inc. • South El Monte, Los Angeles County • $7,500
Funding will provide for beginning, intermediate, and advanced instruction in mariachi music to 60 elementary students in an after school program in Central Los Angeles which is 98% Latino.  Support for three master teachers and an aide will provide ongoing lessons in violin, vihuelas, guitar, guitarrón, trumpet, and voice.  The program will be under the direction of Jose Hernandez, who is a renowned teacher, composer, and arranger in the genre.  A long-time member of Mariachi Sol de Mexico, he tours internationally and has organized many festivals in the past.

Hmong Association of Long Beach, Inc. • Long Beach, Los Angeles County • $7,125
Queej not Gangs is an inter-generational Hmong folk arts school for youth and adults who, because of war, refugee camp dislocation, and acculturation to American life, have missed traditional arts transmission.  Each Sunday, the program offers ongoing classes in the qeej, a bamboo wind instrument used in funeral and wedding rites; pan dau needlework; traditional dance; drumming; folk story telling; top spinning; and Hmong language.  The goals are to preserve the Hmong legacy and traditions by honoring the elders in the community who teach various classes and to identify new culture bearers among the youth.

Japanese Cultural Fair • Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County • $7,125
Marking 25 years this year, this comprehensive one-day fair presents traditional Japanese culture by collaborating with the City of Santa Cruz Sister Cities Program, Watsonville-Santa Cruz Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Watsonville Taiko Group, and many others.  Funding will support artist fees to present a variety of arts from the tea ceremony, Okinawan folk and traditional dance, koto instrumentalists, taiko drumming, storytelling, and martial arts demonstrations.  The fair takes place on June 18, 2011.

JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $5,000
The Mizrahi Cultural Outreach Series highlights the traditions of Jews (Mizrahim and Sephardim) who have lived primarily in Arab and Muslim lands.  The series will highlight the cultures of Yemen and Iraq with the participation of Yemenite dance artist, storyteller, and vocalist Margalit Oved Marshall; second-generation filigree artist Yehuda Tassa; and Baghdadi kosher cuisine by Pearl Sofaer.  The series will take place in February-March 2011 in conjunction with a photography exhibit, Last Jews of Yemen.

KlezCalifornia, Inc. • Berkeley, Alameda County • $7,125
A Yiddish Culture Festival is planned for Sunday February 27,2011, in Santa Rosa.  Eight workshops, one performance, a five-hour children’s program, and a culminating klezmer dance party will wrap up the day.  Established in 2000, the nonprofit’s mission is to build a vibrant Bay Area-wide community to promote and celebrate Yiddish culture which refers to the language, arts, and customs of 1,000 years of Jewish life across Eastern Europe.  Much of this population was killed in the Holocaust in World War II.  The renaissance of klezmer music and the revitalization of language will be in full display by the next generation of culture bearers who will be teaching workshops. 

Kodo Arts Sphere America
• Los Angeles, Los Angeles County • $7,125
Funding will support the 2011 KASA Workshop and Concert tour featuring Chieko Kojima, master folk dancer and former artistic director of Japan’s famous taiko company Kodo, and Kaori Watanabe, master percussionist.  The workshops and performances will in March 2011 in Alameda County and in Los Angeles.  The project will reach approximately 500 people.  “Although indigenous to Japan, the taiko has taken on a life of its own in North America and its role as a centerpiece for community continues.  Since the early seventies, Japanese Americans have been using the taiko as a voice for their community and expression of their cultural identity,” explains project director Donna Ebata.

Konkow Wailaki Maidu Indian Cultural Preservation Association • Oroville, Butte County • $7,125
The project will utilize language teaching materials in the context of cultural experiences to expose tribal members to traditional songs, dance, and language, all of which are inextricably interconnected.  Centered around two family campouts in the traditional Konkow Wailaki Maidu homeland territory where the language developed, three culture bearers who are semi-fluent will be central to the development of the work to keep the language, songs, and stories alive.  Kate Hedges, project director and tribal secretary notes, “There is a growing awareness of the critical condition of the sustainability of the culture within the tribal community.  There is a realization that without active revitalization efforts now, the cultural traditions of dance, song and language will be lost.”

Living the Tradition presents a day of bagpipes. This cross cultural display features many displays of piping, such as Irish piper Joey Arbata.
Living the Tradition • Fort Bragg, Mendocino • County • $6,600
Drone Magic: Festival of Bagpipes will be held on December 5, 2011, at the Croatian American Cultural Center in San Francisco.  Featuring piping traditions from around the world, the instrument can be appreciated as a solo instrument or as part of an ensemble.  California-based artists often play with family and represent traditions from Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, and Sweden.  Honoring the December holiday season, winter solstice celebrations like St. Lucia Day in Sweden, Uralas of the Hungarian Csango people in Moldavia, and Hogmanay in Scotland are featured.  The festival artistic direction is provided by Ferenc Tobak, master piper from Hungary.

Merced Lao Family Community, Inc.
• Merced, Merced County • $5,000
The Hmong Youth Cultural Group is designed to address the needs of Hmong youth, ages 8-18, by helping them to understand the meaning of their traditional clothing, language, songs, dance, the qeej (a traditional Hmong bamboo reed instrument), and the stories and legacy of their history and culture.  The program will help close the gap between elder generations and American-born and raised youth.  Community elders will be teaching the culture classes on a bi-weekly basis.  Public performances have been one of the key attractions to the program.

Movimiento Cultural de la Union Indigena • Salinas, Monterey County • $7,480
The project, Triqui Dreaming—Artists, Youth, Community Join Together, will support artists and workshop leaders working in two areas of defining cultural traditions for Triqui migrants to California: weaving and music.  The Triqui originate from a small region of the Sierra Mixteca of Oaxaca.  For more than three decades, a growing number have been settling in the United States.  Like many immigrant communities, the children are less exposed to the traditional arts of their parents and grandparents.  Through a sequence of 16 workshops, 30 youth participants will actively participate in learning music and weaving.  The project will culminate in a presentation of work and community celebration.  Activities will build upon teenagers’ involvement with traditional culture and inter-generational ties.  The project will involve both young women and men since weaving is traditionally done by women and most musicians are men.

Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $7,125
Textural Rhythms: Constructing the Jazz Tradition, Contemporary African American Quilts is the name of an interdisciplinary traditional arts exhibition and public program series which combines two of the most culturally significant African American traditions: quilting and jazz.  Funds will support the public programs series which include workshops, lectures, artists’ panel discussions, curator conversations, film screenings, monthly live jazz performances inspired by the exhibition quilts, monthly quilts in process demonstration with the African American Quilters Guild of Oakland, and an improvisational quilting workshop with Ed Johnetta Fowler-Miller, one of America’s foremost quilt artists.

Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $7,125
“A commitment to the inter-generational transfer of Hawaiian traditions is seen as ultimately having an ever widening effect on family, friends, and community as we honor the legacy of our ancestors and reassert the importance of our common Hawaiian heritage,” writes kumu hula (master artist) Patrick Makuakane about the importance of classes for youth ages 5-12.  Funding will support two separate classes for youth with two 12-week sessions in the spring and summer and continuing with a six-week session in the fall.  Teaching the classes are halau (group) member Julie Mau and second-generation halau member Makani de Silva.  Both have been participants in cultural immersion studies of ancient hula and protocols known as ‘uniki.

Oakland Asian Cultural Center • Oakland, Alameda • $7,500
Support for traditional Mongolian folk dance classes which will meet twice a week for ninety minutes will provide 14 Mongolian youth, ages 6-12, with opportunities to learn a repertoire of dances.  The ongoing classes will culminate in a public performance for community members who number about 200 local families.  The partnership between the OACC and the Mongolian community will help provide a venue for the community’s cultural offerings and to help to increase visibility for this fairly new community to the Bay Area.

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir • Oakland, Alameda County • $7,125
The project provides music education to teens through the cultural traditions of gospel music and spirituals.  Through this structured music program teens will learn about the cultural and historical context of the music, understand its influence on specific contemporary music forms, and provide a transformative and empowering learning experience.   Under the musical direction of gospel singer and arranger Terrence Kelly, the youth will have numerous performance opportunities.

Omnira Projects • Oakland, Alameda County • $5,000
Roots of Faith, Roots of Freedom will provide Oakland’s African American community with opportunities to promote healing through a series of observances that honor the history of slavery and emancipation.  Using traditional song and movement, the history of African Americans is linked to Africa by means of Lucumi and Ifa spiritual practices whose roots are found in West African religious practice.  Public presentations and ritual observances will take place during Black History Month; Juneteenth commemoration which marks the emancipation of slaves by Abraham Lincoln; the Maafa observance held in the fall to commemorate the tragedy of the passage of slave ships to the new world; and Watch Night, an African American ritual derived by a similarly named observance of  Methodists.  In the African American tradition, Watch Night represented a somber possible last time a slave family might be together before being sold to pay a landowner’s debt after Christmas time.  The Omnira Project will commemorate this with a New Years’ Eve chorus of song and chant, including running spirituals from the Black church.

Sekhou Senegal
• Oakland, Alameda County • $5,000
Nuit du Bazin-Jama Ak Bolo (Bringing in Peace, Love, and Unity) is a West African ceremonial and cultural event that will take place on May 22nd.  “The purpose of the extravaganza is to create an image of West Africa through music, song, and dance while focusing on real life customs and traditions.  The evening is filled with pomp and grandeur, of traditional and melodious lyrics in Bambara, Mandinko, French, and Wolof…” observes artistic director Oussenyou Kouyate from Senegal.  The evening will host a number of traditional artists from West Africa who will be in residence over the weekend to offer workshops to the public in dance and music.  The event is widely attended by West African nationals who live in California.

Parangal Dance Company • Daly City, San Mateo County • $5,000
With California serving as home to over 900,000 Filipinos, the project to offer free dance classes to the public was initiated in order to provide a resource to experience traditional Filipino culture.  Dance workshops to the large and diverse Pilipino community in the Bay Area will include history and cultural knowledge from the diverse regions of the Philippines.  The Parangal Dance Company is made up of 30 members who include a core group of 15 artistic team members.  The project will also concentrate on providing specific training to this group by artistic mentor and choreographer Eric Espartinez Solano, in order to strengthen the company as a whole and to train new teachers.

Pride of Erin Ceilli • San Diego, San Diego County • $4,971
Funding will continue for a second season the Sean Nós Dance Workshop Series.  This percussive form is an older version of Irish step dance and is performed to traditional music in more intimate settings, such as pub-based Irish music sessions and community celebrations such as weddings.  It is a more casual and accessible mode of performance which is broadly inclusive.  The master artist is dancer and traditional musician Ben Powers.  With the addition of Maldon Meehan, whose expertise is also in sean nós and set dance, the workshops will also be held in the Pomona area of Los Angeles County.

Relampago del Cielo, Inc. • Santa Ana, Orange County • $7,125
For over 35 years, Relampago del Cielo has provided classes in folk dance that is representative of the various regions of Mexico.  More than 200 students enrolled in dance classes in 2010.  There are 8 levels of dance offered to students who range from pre-school to adult.  What began as a grassroots community-based organization is one of the oldest, respected, and established Mexican folkloric and cultural organizations in the United States.  Support will underwrite instructor fees for teen students in particular, as well as production costs for the annual student concert.  Under the direction of Marlene Pena-Marin and eight instructors, classes begin on January 8, 2011, and culminate in the student concert on November 19, 2011.

Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) • Los Angeles, Los Angeles County • $7,125
Funding will support the teaching of the angklung, or Southeast Asian bamboo idiophone which is played in interlocking patterns and demands full ensemble cooperation.  While originally from Indonesia, it is now prevalent in the Philippines.  As part of SIPA’s afterschool youth program, the ensemble known as Himig Kawayan (Sound of Bamboo) SIPA Youth Angklung Orchestra Ensemble is primarily made up of youth from elementary, middle, and high school students.  They perform at civic events, festivals and at SIPA-produced events.  This is the only anklung ensemble in the Western United States.  Through the learning of the instrument, students will gain understanding of basic geography of the Philippines, identify major lowland cultural ethnic groups and languages, and understand more fully the concept of cultural transmission between peoples in reference to angklung music.

Stepology • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $7,125
The Bay Area Tap Festival presents established and emerging artists in the field of rhythm tap in an annual week-long event that combines workshops and main stage performances.  Master dance artists who exemplify the art of improvisation teach and encourage students to join in a tap jam and community showcase performance.  Panel discussions and other activities make this festival important to the preservation, promotion, and continued evolution of American rhythm tap.

Teatro de la Tiera • Fresno, Fresno County • $7,125
Funding will support the project Generaciones which offers free bilingual music education classes in guitar and voice, using Mexican traditional and Latin American folklore to teach participants 12 years and older.  Classes are taught by NEA National Heritage Fellow Agustin Lira and two accomplished singer/guitarists.  Funding will also support a pilot children’s ukelele workshop series and vocal training workshop series for children ages 8-12 years old.  Classes meet twice a week and advanced students will plan for a show in May 2011 in several venues in Fresno.

Voice of Roma • Sebastopol, Sonoma County • $7,500
The 15th Annual California Herdeljezi Festival, a traditional Romani (gypsy) cultural arts festival that occurs on or near the spring equinox, will take place on May 5-6, 2011, in Sebastopol.  The two day event will include workshops, films, lectures and performances that showcase Romani music, songs, dances, stories, foods, crafts, traditions, and customs in a unique and culturally authentic context.  Funding will support the inclusion of Romani musicians to further increase the public’s knowledge of the history of Romani peoples.  This year’s theme, Romani Trail, will showcase the diverse styles and connectedness of Romani artists from around the world.  They include Oliver Rajamani, India; Ruzsa Niklolic-Lakotos, Austria-Hungary; Petra Gelbar, Czech Repbulic; Vadim Kolpakov, Russia; Rumen Sali Shopov, Bulgaria; Ismail Lumanovski and Chris Bajmakovich, Macedonia; and Stevens Family Gypsy Boys, America.

Women’s Audio Mission • San Francisco, San Francisco County • $5,000
Funding will launch the Traditional Mongolian Folk Music Preservation Project.  Bringing together traditional Mongolian folk musicians to Women’s Audio Mission to record music in a professional recording studio, the musicians will be able to perform in the WAM performance venue and give public live and webcast interactive lectures about their musical traditions and creative process.  All recordings will be given to the artists for preservation, posterity, and distribution.  The project is under the direction of WAM founder and director, Terri Winston.

Yuva Bharati • Palo Alto, Santa Clara County • $4,000
Immigrant Indians in the United States are keen on preserving traditional arts and passing them on to their children.  Yuva Bharati is a nonprofit organization that promotes classical Indian music and dance by broadcasting 30-minute segments on public access television in a program known as Swara Lahiri.  The telecast is available in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, as well as webcast through internet archives.  Since 2007, over 200 emerging and established artists have been recorded in the Mountain View studio.  The entire operation is volunteer-run, from shooting to post production work.  Funds will support the continued ability of the volunteer run endeavor to rent the production facilities, pay cable access fees, and web hosting.

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ACTA Announces 2011 Living Cultures Grants Program Grantees

Awun Ohun Omnira presents songs that connect African American history to African spirituality (Photo: Tobaji Stewart, 2010)

Omnira Project's Awun Ohun Omnira Choir (Voices of Freedom) presents songs of that connect African American history to African spirituality.  Photo: Tobaji Stewart

Banteay Srei youth leaders interacting with their students in a cooking and storytelling session (Photo: ACTA)

Banteay Srei youth leaders interacting with their students in a cooking and storytelling session. Photo: ACTA

Dancing on the tarima, or wooden platform, at the end of a Galeria de la Raza son jarocho workshop (ACTA, 2009)

Dancing on the tarima, or wooden platform, at the end of a son jarocho workshop at San Francisco's Galería de la Raza in 2009. Photo: ACTA

Iraqi music at the annual Arab Cultural Festival (Photo: ACTA)

Iraqi musician's at the Arab Cultural & Community Center's annual Arab Cultural Festival.  Photo: ACTA

Living the Tradition presents a day of bagpipes, a cross cultural display featuring many displays of piping. (ACTA)

Living the Tradition presents a day of bagpipes. This cross cultural display features many displays of piping, such as Irish piper Joey Arbata, featured at Living the Tradition's 2010 festival. Photo: ACTA

Manuela Carrosco from Spain teaches Bay Area Flamenco Partnership students the nuances of her style (Photo: ACTA)

Manuela Carrosco from Spain teaches Bay Area Flamenco Partnership students the nuances of her style.  Photo: ACTA

Margalit Oved and Yehuda Tessa's mezzuzah

JIMENA's Mizrahi Cultural Outreach Series will feature Yemenite Jewish dance artist, storyteller, and vocalist Margalit Oved Marshall (left) and second generation Yemenite Jewish filigree artist Yehuda Tassa.  Seen here is a mezzuzah by Tassa, which hangs on a doorway and contains blessings handwritten in Hebrew.

Master Afro-Caribbean dancer Wilfred Mark and students of Dance Kaiso (Photo courtesy of Dance Kaiso)

Master Afro-Caribbean dancer Wilfred Mark and students of Dance Kaiso.  Photo courtesy of Dance Kaiso

Members of the Filipino folk troupe Parangal Dance Company (Photo: Jeff Jakosalem)

Members of the Filipino folk troupe Parangal Dance Company. Photo: Jeff Jakosalem

Parols at the Filipino American Development Foundation's Parol Lantern Festival & Parade (Photo courtesy of the organization)

Members of the Philippine Consulate of San Francisco participate in the Filipino American Development Foundation's Parol Lantern Festival & Parade in 2009. Photo courtesy of Filipino American Development Foundation