The Alliance Announces Living Culture Grants Program Grantees


ACTA - Posted on 26 January 2009

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Last month, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts welcomed 46 grantees to its Living Cultures Grants Program.  The Alliance’s Living Cultures Grants Program funds nonprofit organizations to support exemplary projects in the traditional arts in California, with grant awards up to $7,500.  This year’s grantees represent the largest geographic reach of this program since its inception four years ago.  Forty-six grants totaling $279,555 were made to nonprofit organizations implementing projects that include a wide range of artistic genres, including Japanese gardening, Native Californian storytelling, Tibetan opera, and Garifuna music, dance, and language, among many others.  The projects range in scope from cultural festivals, purchases, retreats and workshops with master artists, to endangered language and traditional knowledge retention.  In future issues of The New Moon, details regarding attending public components of some of these projects will be included in the calendar section.

The Alliance’s Living Cultures Grants Program is supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and the East Bay Community Foundation.

Access, Inc. • San Diego • $6,750
The Mixtec Intergenerational Initiative will provide traditional arts programming and language classes in order to strengthen and validate the cultural identity among the Mixteco population. Neither fluent speakers of English or Spanish, the Mixtec population have long encountered prejudice on both sides of the border.  Classes and workshops on traditional medicine, music and dance, crafts, foodways, and ceremonies are scheduled throughout the year.  The program is in its second year and will expand to serve the many families that responded in its inaugural year.

Advocates for Indigenous Language Survival (AICLS) • Vallejo • $7,500
Funds will support students who have graduated from the AICLS’ Master-Apprenticeship Program to enable further immersion with the few fluent speakers of endangered Native California languages.  Traditional arts, skills, ceremonies, beliefs, and performances will be learned, documented, and shared within their own communities.

Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center • San Francisco • $4,455
Music lessons for 150 youth aged 5-12 will focus on learning to play the danh-tranh (or zither) as well as learning to sing Vietnamese folk songs.  The weekend and afterschool program will result in two community-based public performances: the Mid-Autumn Festival which occurs in September 2009 and a new initiative, Vietnamese American Performing Arts Celebration, which will include a youth leadership group of teens and will be scheduled for late spring.

Bay Area Blues Society • Oakland • $4,500
The contributions of living master musicians, Sugarpie DeSanto, Jimmy McCrackin, Johnny Otis, and Esther Mabry will be documented in oral histories, DVD performances, and audio files, contributing to the legacy of the development of the blues tradition that has thrived in Oakland, Richmond, and other Bay Area communities since the 1940’s.  Documentation will be available on the worldwide web as well as part of UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library online collections.

Berkeley Old Time Music Convention • Berkeley • $6,750
Four tradition-bearers who exemplify Southern old time musical styles will hold master classes, perform in concert, participate in informal music sessions, and a panel discussion at the 7th annual event in September 2009.  Artists include: Travis and Trevor Stuart, fiddle and banjo players from western North Carolina; Ginny Hawker, traditional Appalachian singer; and Kenny Hall, mandolin player from the Central Valley of California.

Black Storytellers of San Diego, Inc. • San Diego • $4,500
Hush-Somebody’s Calling My Name
is a research and performance project based upon the history of African Americans in the West, who in 1833 came from Philadelphia and have continued this migration into the 21st century with evacuees from the New Orleans and Gulf floods.  Oral histories of elders born in San Diego will also be incorporated into the storytelling project.  Performances are scheduled for Fall 2009.

California Chinese Orchestra • Oakland • $6,750
Continuing its mission to preserve traditional classical Chinese music, the Passing on the Lineage project is a free music education program to study traditional Chinese instruments and compositions.  Students range in age from 8 to 80 years of age.  A public performance is scheduled for December 2009 featuring the work of composer and conductor, Jeffrey Wong.

California Indian Storytelling Association (CISA) • Fremont • $6,750
The 10th Annual Southern California Indian Storytelling Festival features indigenous storytellers from tribes throughout California.  This event contributes to the revitalization of indigenous oral traditions by providing forums for these underserved communities.  Storytelling serves as a means of learning from one another, discussing issues, passing on the stories to new generations, educating the public.  The event will be held on May 2, 2009, at the Palm Springs Senior Center.

Cambodian Community Development, Inc. (CCDI) • Oakland • $5,000
Engaging Cambodian youth and middle school teens in traditional arts activities will encourage the continuation of these cultural assets into the future and utilize the skills of living master artists in the community.  CCDI will organize music classes taught by local master artist, Nhep Prok, who has, upon arriving in the U.S. at age 64, has been the primary teacher of most Cambodian musicians in Oakland.  The music program follows the successful introduction of dance lessons to the community last year.

Centro de Unidad Popular Benito Juarez, Inc. • Bakersfield • $7,500
The Guelagetza was originally a celebration held each year to propitiate the gods in return for sufficient rain and a bountiful harvest.  It is one of the most popular celebrations in Oaxaca, Mexico.  This celebration finds a new home among the estimated 7,000 residents of Kern County who are originally from the state of Oaxaca.  The 2009 Guelagetza attracts the indigenous Mixtec community who work primarily in agriculture.  The cultural event provides a community gathering point with entertainment, traditional foods, and information booths regarding social services.  Funds will support artist and travel fees for two dance companies: Ballet Folklorico Nueva Antequera, who performs a diverse repertoire from the state of Oaxaca; and Grupo Folklorico Se’e Savi, whose area of specialty is Mixtec culture.

Chaksam-Pa Tibetan Dance and Opera Company • El Cerrito • $7,500
Losar
(or Tibetan New Year) is regarded as the most auspicious cultural event for Tibetans.  The Bay Area community event will be organized by members of the Chaksam-Pa Dance and Opera Company, who are graduates of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, located in Dharamsala, India, which is still home to the largest exile community outside of Tibet.  Scheduled on February 27, 2009, approximately 1,000 Bay Area Tibetans will enjoy ritual foods, altars, displays of traditional opera, music, and dance traditions.  English translations will be provided in order to maximize the experience for Tibetan-American youth.

City of San Fernando • San Fernando • $ 7,500
The Mariachi Master Apprentice Program brings together mariachi masters with youth ages 10-18, in an instructional experience that focuses on advanced and beginner instrument instruction, arrangement, and performance skills.  Approximately 140 youth participate annually.  The primary goal of the program is to preserve the tradition mariachi music through a quality apprenticeship program that incorporates artistic and historical accuracy. 

Coyote’s Paw • Arcata • $5,000
Coyote’s Paw, an indigenous art cooperative is led by tradition- bearer and master artisan George Blake.  He is a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and is also of Yurok descent.  In a series of workshops planned over the year, he will be training a group of committed   men from several different Northern California tribes to carry on the tradition of constructing sinew-backed bows.  Historically, sinew backed bows were an essential tool used daily for hunting both small and large game to feed families and villages.  These bows are also used in ceremonies conducted by the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa peoples. 

Croatian American Cultural Center • San Francisco • $5,000
Funds will support fees for traditional artists participating in the 9th Annual Bulgarian Music and Dance Festival in May 2009.  Festival highlights include two afternoon master classes in Bulgarian dance and vocal music and an evening length concert that will feature six traditional Bulgarian ensembles and soloists. 

CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music • San Francisco • $6,750
A three week festival scheduled for Spring 2009 will present the work of eight choreographers highlighting the traditional dance and music of Cuba and Haiti.  The festival, now in its fifth year, helps to provide perspectives on the Caribbean’s complex social and political issues. The festival includes lectures, master classes, and workshops with the master artists. Over seventy-five dancers and musicians will participate in performances.

De Rompe y Raja • Alameda • $6,750
Drawing upon the African influence in Latin America, a concert-length program, Diaspora Negra, will bring together the Afro-Latin dance and music of six cultures.  Community-based artists and master artists will share the stage to feature the traditions of Uruguay, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Peru, Mexico, and Venezuela, in a concert scheduled for September 2009.

Diamano Coura West African Dance Company • Oakland • $7,500
Collages des Cultures Africaines
is a 4-day event that brings together master artists and performing companies from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world to celebrate music, dance, history, artwork, and cultures from African and the African Diaspora.  The program includes dance and drum workshops, free school performances, a high school workshop, and a free breakfast with discussion on community concerns.  This year’s featured theme is “Diaspora Drumming Explosion” and a symposium at the Museum of the African Diaspora will focus on the transmission of drumming traditions.  The event will conclude with a drumming procession celebrating the many cultural contributions from Africa to America.  Collages will take place March 12-15, 2009.

El Centro Cultural de Mexico • Santa Ana • $4,500
An exhibit of Son Jarocho instruments featuring the work of culture-bearer and master musician Cesar Castro will be the occasion to celebrate a seven-year relationship between the Chicano and Chicana dancers and community workers in California with a group of traditional Son Jarocho musicians from Veracruz, Mexico.  This bi-national group has worked over time to collaborate on numerous traditional arts projects.  The exhibit and fandango opening will bring together novices, long time students, and other community residents for an evening of dance, music, and verse and community participation.  This event is scheduled for September 2009.

Esperanza del Valle • Capitola • $5,000
Working with master artist Ramon Omornes Ortiz of Guadalajara, Mexico, the folklorico company Esperanza del Valle will continue in its mission to disseminate the traditional dances of Mexico to the surrounding community.  Five new dances will be added to the company’s repertoire.  Funds will also support the addition of four men’s charro outfits and two women’s Jalisco dresses to the company’s costume inventory.

Filipino American Development Foundation • San Francisco • $6,750
The Parol Lantern Festival occurs during the month of December approaching the Christmas holiday.  It has become a potent symbol of hope, blessing, family, and community solidarity for many Filipinos.  A series of workshops to teach the folk art of creating the star lantern (parol) will take place from September to December 2009.  Funding will support the parol-making workshops which culminate in a parade through the neighborhood which was historically Filipino Town and now is a diverse multicultural and economically challenged urban downtown area.

Fresh Meat Productions • San Francisco • $5,000
Continuing the exploration of queer sensibility and traditional arts, funds will support the commissioning and presentation of two original works based on traditional Japanese taiko and Appalachian clogging.  The ensembles are led by queer artistic directors.  A panel discussion exploring the relationship of community traditions to LCGT art and culture will be led by folklorist and consultant to the project, Kay Turner.  The festival will take place in June 2009.

Galeria de la Raza/Studio 24 • San Francisco • $4,500
A June 2009 program, Mastering Son Jarocho, will include three-hour classes and a performance of traditional Mexican Jarocho music.  The master class will perpetuate the performance of the traditional vocals and instrumental music of the Mexican son.  Artists will include the ensemble “Los Soneros del Este” and a panel discussion led by an ethnomusicologist will also be part of the program.

Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United • Long Beach • $6,750
The Garifuna Culture and Language School is an educational program that seeks to preserve and disseminate the Garifuna culture and language in southern California.  Classes will be held throughout the year for both children and adults.  Youth classes incorporate music, dance, and drumming into the curriculum.  Garifuna-Americans come from St. Vincent, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize.  Their language, an Arawak-based language, has been recognized by UNESCO as one of the world’s endangered cultural assets.

Global Women Intact • San Francisco • $7,500
The San Francisco African Dance and Drum Festival is a five-day workshop and will offer classes in dance and drumming with traditional African artists from Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Congo, and the Gambia.  Concert performances by the master artists will also be featured.  Events will take place in San Francisco and Oakland on November 4-8, 2009.  The Festival director, Sia Amma, is a Liberian activist who educates and lobbies against female circumcision as a practice in African society.

Haitian Dance and Drum Retreat • San Francisco • $6,750
The Veve Project will be a unique installation series and performance involving 7 master artists from Haiti who will create a Trase Veve, a drawing of the sacred symbols of the Lwas or gods of Vodou.  Under the direction of master drummer and Vodou priest, Frisner Augustin, a culturally informed view into the rich practice of Vodou will be presented to the community at large.  Master artists will hold classes and workshops as well as discussion forums during the September 2009 retreat.

Halau O Kawainuhi • Antioch and Santa Cruz • $5,000
Mau A Mau,
which in the Hawaiian language means forever and always, is a project designed to educate and stimulate discussion about the kapa or bark cloth making.  This project will create a traditional Hawaiian pa’u hula (hula skirt) while teaching the art of Hawaiian kapa making to a new generation of hula dancers.  Teaching will be done by the most traditional means available which involves history, language, genealogy, research, storytelling, and basic protocols that relate to the preparation, use, and care of clothing in old and modern day Hawai’i.  Participants will assist the lead artist Wendeanne Ke’aka Stitt in softening, dyeing, and patterning the 3 foot x 24 foot of kapa required to complete the pa’u hula.  Culture-bearer Kumu Pau’i Peralto will be advising this creation of the first hula skirt to be made outside of Hawai’i by traditional means.

HanNuRi Korean American Cultural Troupe • Los Angeles • $4,500
Funding will support the project Individual Play in Community Ritual, which seeks to develop among its members and students a higher skill and technique level in understanding  the Korean dance and drumming folk art form Poongmul and Korean Shamanistic ritual Kut.  Emphasis will be on the learning of solo performances from different regions of Korea.  These learned skills and techniques will be shared with the community at large in performances celebrating the Lunar New Year and Korean Autumn Harvest Festival.

Hmong Association of Long Beach, Inc. • Long Beach • $5,000
The Queej Not Gangs Cultural Arts Program is an inter-generational Hmong cultural preservation program which teaches youth and adults a variety of traditional arts practices.  Many practices were disrupted due to the experiences of war, refugee camps, and acculturation to America.  Youth will be engaged in learning traditional dance, drumming, and language.  Adult classes include learning the queej (a 6-reed flute), pan dau (needle work), and Mekong marriage negotiation protocols.  Funds will support the cultural arts programming.

Kawaiisu Language & Cultural Center • Bakersfield • $6,750
In recognition of the critical need to preserve the endangered language and traditional knowledge practices of the Kawaiisu Native California Indians, this grant will support a series of workshops that will result in documenting the work of two culture bearers and their apprentices.  The multimedia documentation will serve to perpetuate the language and culture which have been orally transmitted through the generations.  The project, Voices in Your Pocket, will be delivered on i-Pods in an effort to revitalize and preserve cultural practices and engage younger members of the tribe to learn traditional knowledge. 

Khmer Arts Academy • Long Beach • $5,000
Funding will support free year-round classical dance training and performance opportunities for dancers from the greater Long Beach Cambodian community.  The school has 50 students between the ages of 5-18 currently taking class who will have at least twelve opportunities to perform in public at community-based events.  Master artists in residence will work with all students.

Kodo Arts Sphere • Los Angeles • $6,300
Scheduled for May 2009, Kodo Arts Sphere will present Yoko Fujimoto and Yoshikazu Fujimoto in workshops and performances in San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego.  Both artists, who are members of the renowned taiko group Kodo, will offer workshops in taiko basics as well as in folk dance and folk songs with an emphasis on lullabies.  California hosts the largest taiko community outside of Japan.

Kulintang Arts, Inc. • San Francisco • $7,500
The Philippine Master Artists in Residence Program will host T’boli master artists of Mindanao for a two-month residency from February to April 2009.  The master artists will focus on teaching youth and adult participants primarily in an after-school program at the Filipino Education Center and at the Bayanihan Community Center in an effort to deepen the understanding and knowledge of Pilipino indigenous music, dance, and cultural traditions.  The visit will be documented on video.

Lahydi Dance Theater • Oakland • $6,750
Support for the 5th Annual Guinea Dance and Drum Festival will showcase artists from Guinea, Senegal, and Mali.  Many are former members of the most prestigious dance and drum companies in their native countries.  Classes will be held during the week and carry through for one full weekend, May 6-10, 2009.  The festival will host a Saturday night Dundunba (traditional party) celebration in downtown Oakland.  There will be an African market where vendors are able to sell and display their goods and free children’s classes.

Living the Tradition • Fort Bragg • $6,300
Drone Magic: The Festival of Bagpipes
is a concert featuring the piping traditions of ethnically diverse traditional musicians from Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, and Sweden.  Although from different ethnic backgrounds, the pipers all play variations of an instrument built with the same fundamentals of reeded pipes attached to a bag used as a reservoir to hold air.  This celebration of the bagpipe begins earlier in the day with mini-concerts, exhibits, and traditional food.  The concert will take place in December 2009 and the winter season adds meaning to the traditions presented such as the Koleda of Bulgaria, St. Lucia’s Day of Sweden, and New Year Uralas of the Hungarian Csango people of Moldavia.

Maya Vision • Los Angeles • $5,000
The Maya Vision organization is composed of a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual group of leaders representing several of the 13 different languages that ethnic Mayans living in the Los Angeles area speak.  What has successfully brought this diverse group together has been the traditional marimba music that appears at all cultural events.  The marimba is considered a sacred and honored instrument.  Currently, there are 12 individuals who come together to learn, share, grow, and promote a sense of Mayan identity through music.  Funds will assure the transmission of marimba teaching by providing a rehearsal space for lessons and provide the purchase of sound equipment for use at cultural events.

North American Guqin Association • Union City • $4,500
Masters and Masterpieces of the Guqin
will highlight the traditional Chinese musical instrument known as qin.  A concert featuring Professor Li Xiangting from China will join with California based masters, Wang Fei and Lu Pei Yuan to present a concert of masterpieces from different periods of Chinese history with pieces from 200 to 2000 years old.  The project also includes lecture-demonstrations and master classes.  These events are scheduled in May and June 2009.

Oakland Asian Cultural Center • Oakland • $7,500
Focusing on traditional culinary practices in Asia, the Seasonal Dishes workshops series will occur between February and December 2009.  This series will celebrate and preserve the oral tradition and history of the passing on of traditional family recipes.  Emphasizing traditional diet based on seasons and its relationship to cultural identity, health, and well-being, the OACC website will also document the recipes, stories, and cultural traditions surrounding the food.

Odissi Vilas: Sacred Dance of India • Santa Rosa • $7,500
Under the direction of Odissi master dance artist, Vishnu Tattva Das, a full performance in May 2009 will highlight 3 schools of Odissi dance.  Guest artists from India will join Das in a concert, Triveni (confluence of three), exemplifying the role of the male artist in Odissi dance.

Producciones de Marin • Alameda • $4,500
La Marimba y las Tradiciones de Guatemala
is a residency led by master Guatemalan marimba player and teacher Julio Landoni that will include a two-day marimba workshop and performance of traditional Guatemalan marimba music by Mr. Landoni’s ensemble, Ixim Tinamit (People of Corn) along with vocalist Ana Nitmar.  The residency will take place over the course of one weekend at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in March 2009 and the concert will take place at the BRAVA Theatre Center.

Realistic Education in Action Coalition to Foster Health / REACH LA • Los Angeles • $6,500
Reach LA is a youth driven organization serving African-American and Latino gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who are struggling with issues that prevent them from fully engaging in a larger community.  Lacking a safety net of supportive family, schools, churches, or community organizations, a nationwide network of House and Ball communities was established in the late 1980’s and 90’s.  In Los Angeles alone there are 17 “houses” which provide a safe support system for transgender youth of color who are exploring their sexuality and identity.  The main activity of the house is to compete in local “ball” events, where members are recognized for dance, modeling, and fashion artistry.  Funds will support the activities of the annual competition/performance, as well as a series of youth workshops on the history, artistry, and cultural legacy of the House and Ball community.  Goals of the project are to develop a knowledge-base and appreciation of their history in order to pass on this legacy from one generation to the next.

Riverside Public Library Foundation • Riverside, $4,500
A multifaceted series will promote appreciation and preservation of the Inland Empire’s cultural heritage in a series of free performances slated throughout the year.  Local artists from South India, Poland, Hungary, and Mexico will be featured through expressions of music, dance, poetry translations, visual arts, and literature.

Sangati Community Center for South Asian Music • San Francisco • $6,500
Occupying a small storefront in San Francisco’s Mission District, the Sangati Center has become known for its innovative approach to serving a traditional art form through presenting frequent public performances.  As a public art-house, based on a sliding-scale admission (no-one turned away for lack of funds), over 150 concerts have been presented since its founding in 2006.  Funding will support a 4 month series of public chamber concerts of Indian classical music between February and May 2009.

South County Historical Society • Arroyo Grande • $6,750
Three workshops and a field trip to Manzanar National Historic Site will be documented in a publication which will continue the legacy of Japanese American garden design.  The workshops will be taught by an 89-year old distinguished Japanese landscape architect, Kodo Matsubara, and held on a historic Japanese American site in Arroyo Grande.  The field trip to Manzanar will focus on the garden constructed by Japanese Americans interred there during World War II.  The project is intended to educate and inspire local and general public about the cultural values of the Japanese American experience in southern San Luis Obispo County.

Teatro de la Tierra • Fresno • $7,500
Two performances of the play Esperanza & Luz: A Tale of Two Immigrant Women will offer free admission to low income families, children, students, and seniors.  Written by NEA National Heritage Fellow, Agustin Lira, the story was inspired by firsthand experiences of recent Mexican immigrant participants in theater workshops.  The play employs the carpa (or corporal) style of theater.  Funds will support artist fees and production costs.

Venezuelan Music Project • Oakland • $5,000
The Venezuelan Music Project was founded in 1997 by Jackeline Rago with the mission of sharing the sounds and cultural traditions of Venezuela with diverse audiences.  Eight of the nine-member ensemble were born and raised in Venezuela.  Funds will be used to complete an audio CD began in 2007 which will provide a reference tool for audiences participating in lecture-performances, workshops, and concerts.  It will also enhance the professional development of the band by updating VMP’s promotional package and providing income to enhance the musical group’s outreach.

Voice of Roma • Sebastapol • $7,500
The 13th Annual California Herdeljezi Festival, a traditional Romani cultural arts festival, will be held on May 1-2, 2009, featuring in-home gatherings, workshops, and daytime and evening performances that showcase Romani music, songs, dances, storytelling, foods, crafts, and customs.  The 2009 festival will focus on generation-to-generation transmission of culture featuring a number of multigenerational performing artists.  Funds will support artist and speaker honoraria.  The festival is a major educational and cultural forum for exposing the political plight and cultural assets of people known pejoratively as gypsies.

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