Jennifer Joy Jameson
March 30, 2017

Amy Kitchener

California’s traditional artists and arts advocates have a new representative at our nation’s official repository for archival folklife materials. Executive Director and ACTA Co-Founder, Amy Kitchener, received her Congressional Appointment to serve on the Board of Trustees for the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress on February 27, 2017.

Amy states, “I am honored to serve as a congressional appointee to the American Folklife Center, especially during this moment in history. The existence of the AFC affirms the critical role that government should play as a steward to preserve and present American folklife—helping us discover, remember and celebrate who we are as a people. I’m pleased to serve as the only California representative on the Board of Trustees in my work as the founding executive director of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts.” Amy explained that the trustees are responsible for stewarding and guiding the center. According to the AFC, the board meets several times a year in Washington, D.C. to “review the operations of the Center, engage in long-range planning and policy formulation, and share information on matters of cultural programming.”

The AFC holds many special collections from our state, including the Work Projects Administration Northern California Folk Music Project. The collection includes Sidney Robertson Cowell recorded musicians from many immigrant and migrant communities, which define our state’s history, including Armenians in Fresno, Russian Molokans in San Francisco, tunes from the Gold Rush, and Mexican wedding music, among others. AFC collections featuring recordings from California’s native community have been instrumental in the repatriation of sacred and ceremonial practices among a number of the state’s tribes, including recordings from the Federal Cylinder Project and the Maria LaVigna “Native American Heritage on Wax” Anthology.

Amy continues, “For me, these collections affirm the unique cultural contributions of Californians—from California’s First People to recent immigrants. We have long lived, worked and played side by side and thrive in our diverse expressions – this is California’s gift to the rest of the country. I believe that affirming our diverse cultural traditions and sharing them is a foundation of what it means to be American.”

Congressman Jim Costa of California’s 16th District, who spearheaded the nomination, states in a press release, that “Amy’s expertise and passion for the arts will undoubtedly add value to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. I know Amy will apply her strong Valley roots and decades of experience as she joins the Library of Congress in preserving our nation’s cultural diversity and rich traditions. […] Amy will proudly represent our state with great dedication.”

Michael Doyle of the Fresno Bee writes: “The position will put her atop a world-class archive and expose her to a wide array of cultural movers and shakers.” 

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 artists. In 1976, the American Folklife Center was established by the U.S. Congress to preserve and present American folklife. 

Amy will be representing the people of California at her first official board meeting in Washington on April 25.