The New Moon
December 19, 2022 | Vol. 19, No. 10
Identity, Intimacy, and Improvisation:
An ACTA Intern’s First Steps into the World
and Work of Folk and Traditional Arts
by Emma Kwok

When I was a child, I loved asking my parents and grandparents about their migration stories. Following the Communist Revolution in China, my father’s family journeyed to Hong Kong (a British colony at the time, in the 1950s), to Canada, to Texas, and to California. My mother’s family, spurred by the same event, traveled to Taiwan, to Brazil, and then to the United States, where they too eventually settled in California. It was here in California that I was born and raised, hungry to understand what it means to be Chinese and American while feeling only loosely tethered to both identities. By hearing my family’s stories, I learned which aspects of identity informed by place have remained with us, which we have left behind, and why.
"From songs to double dutch rhymes,
and from jiu jitsu to murals,
creative expressions are a link to people
and places which transcends generations, carrying home and family across
time and space."
Master percussionist Francis Kofi Akotuah (L) and apprentice in in Ewe Akpoka Drumming, Selasie Ama Dotse (R; photos courtesy of Elana Cohen-Khani and Copas).
Caring for the Taproot, Caring for one Another…
Join us in Supporting the Traditional Arts!

The COVID-19 pandemic and this time of deep cultural and social reckoning have prompted us to reexamine who and what matters. 

Borrowing from horticulture, our “taproot” metaphor in our new publication, Tending the Taproot: Opportunities to Support Folk & Traditional Arts in the United States​​, describes how traditional arts as a collective provide stability and innovation. The health and vitality of underground roots tended by taproot artists contribute directly to the community vigor above ground. 

Although traditional arts expressions have survived generations of change and upheaval, the vast majority of taproot artists and organizations they lead have not received significant public and private investments to realize long-term visions for change in their communities. 

You can help change this.
Will you join ACTA’s mission and make a tax-deductible gift
to support California's taproot artists and
thriving cultural communities?  
In Case You Missed It...
1996 NEA National Heritage Fellow and founder of Harlem-based Puerto Rican ensemble Los Pleneros de la 21, Juan Gutierrez (L), with performers. Photo: Tom Pich Photography.
Tending the Taproot: 
Opportunities to Support Folk & Traditional Arts in the United States

A new publication of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, researched and written by Amy Kitchener, M.A., Shweta Saraswat-Sullivan, Ph.D., and Lily Kharrazi, M.A.

Tending the Taproot: Opportunities to Support Folk & Traditional Arts in the United States presents the findings of the Alliance of California Traditional Arts’ (ACTA) Taproot Initiative. This national planning effort, aimed to re-center traditional and folk artists and their art forms as catalysts for transformation and restoration in our larger society, is aligned with other important movements in the arts and culture sector to spur critical thinking and action during this hallmark moment of radical change.

This new report offers operational recommendations as a call to action to support taproot artist-leaders and organizations with focused investment in funding and development to do more and do better, resources for infrastructure, elevated national recognition, and new standards for robust data and research infrastructure. Our recommendations are evidenced by qualitative and quantitative research findings, grounded in ACTA’s quarter century of experience as a funder and advocate in this field.
Engaging Tradition Video Series:
Mural Making with
Wenceslao Quiroz

Wenceslao discusses community-based mural arts with Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Joe Galarza, and Dr. Luis-Genaro Garcia

Engaging Tradition is a series of educational videos that share the histories, practices, and communities behind several of California’s cherished traditional art forms. These videos are designed for teachers, students, and anyone interested in learning about traditional arts in a variety of educational settings. Browse through the videos below and you will find visualizations of history, personal narratives from culture bearers, and participatory demonstrations with artists, each contributing a thread to the rich cloth of our shared cultural heritage.
Searching for quilting lessons?
Looking to hire a square dance caller?

Try the California Traditional Artists Plaza

A new, free resource for artists and the public
to Learn, Hire, and Engage.

ACTA's California Traditional Artists Plaza facilitates engagement with artists by foregrounding work-for-hire opportunities that will positively impact the livelihoods of traditional artists. During the Covid-19 pandemic, ACTA saw a need to build out a new tool to increase opportunities not just for sharing information, but for hiring traditional artists for both remote and in-person engagements, recognizing their work as critical to the economic recovery of the California arts sector.

The California Traditional Artists Plaza creates a new, centralized space for traditional artists to advertise their work and create new connections online.

Submit a profile today, or browse the artists' dynamic offerings, from remote lessons, to consultations, to handmade visual arts and crafts. 
2007 Apprenticeship mentor artist Leanne Mounvongkham and apprentice Kami Thephavong in Northern Lao Weaving and Foodways, Fresno. Photo: Sherwood Chen/ACTA.
Featured Opportunities__________________
Creative Recovery LA is a new grant initiative to address pandemic impacts on the arts and the creative economy, one of the most economically significant and hardest-hit sectors, while leveraging the unique capacity of arts and culture to catalyze our region’s economic recovery, civic connectivity, and community wellbeing. Through this initiative the Department of Arts and Culture will award over $26 million in American Rescue Plan funds to deliver financial relief and recovery to the LA County nonprofit arts and culture sector.

The Cultural and Community Resilience program supports community-based efforts to mitigate climate change and COVID-19 pandemic impacts, safeguard cultural resources, and foster cultural resilience through identifying, documenting, and/or collecting cultural heritage and community experience. The program prioritizes projects from disadvantaged communities in the United States or its jurisdictions, and NEH encourages applications that employ inclusive methodologies. This NOFO covers the January and May 2023 deadlines.

The Center for Cultural Power, through the Creative Corps Pilot funding offered by the California Arts Council has opened up opportunities for community-based artists and culture bearers to effect systems change and advance narrative interventions with the Constellations x California Fellowship! Applications for the fellowship are open until January 4, 2023 at 11:59pm. Email: for any inquiries.
ACTA 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 and their communities.