Son Jarocho musician Cesar Castro leads a music circle.
Building Healthy Communities
Social Cohesion and the Traditional Arts

Participation in arts and culture that is rooted in community can catalyze transformative social change.

Our work at ACTA facilitates the engagement of artists and organizers with deeply rooted traditional arts processes and values as a way of informing local social justice efforts. The practice of community-centered art helps build sustainable opportunities for co-creation, engagement, and change.  ACTA invests in frameworks of traditional art practices that are rooted in participation, mentorship, communal aesthetics, and the acuerdos (agreements) that come with those communal aesthetics.

One way we do this is through the  Building Healthy Communities initiative, launched by the California Endowment  to address health inequities in 14 California communities. Since 2011, ACTA has been bringing traditional artists together with community members in Boyle Heights, Merced, Santa Ana, and the East Coachella Valley to open pathways for connection, reflection, and mobilization through the practice of art.

Click below to see the traditional arts at work! 
Marion Coleman at work on a quilt in Castro Valley, CA. Still from a video produced by Sara Aguilar in association with the Alliance for California Traditional Arts and the National Council for Traditional Arts for the National Endowment for the Arts.
WATCH: Quilting a History with National Heritage Fellow Marion Coleman

"It's always a thrill to think about the ancestors and what they endured. It gives us the courage to think that we can endure too."
- Marion Coleman
In 2018, Bay Area master artist Marion Coleman was awarded a  National Heritage Fellowship  from the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation's highest honor for folk and traditional arts. In this video produced by Sara Aguilar, Marion  shares the history and practice of African-American quilting with ACTA's Special Projects Manager Lily Kharrazi. Raised in a family of quilters, Marion now uses the art form to tell stories of African-American history and culture, social justice, and womanhood.  The cultural art of quilting  that has been handed down for generations  empowers Marion to share her distinctive way of looking at the world through color and pattern.

Marion also has a long, rich history of collaboration with ACTA, having been a master artist in our Apprenticeship Program to Ora Clay in 2015; she is a past recipient of our Traditional Arts Development contract, and the membership of her guild, the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland, received Living Cultures grants in 2013 and 2015. Watch the video to learn more about this extraordinary California artist!
Save the Date!
Cultural Equity Summit with REMAP: LA

April 17, 2019 | All day

National Center for the Preservation
of Democracy
100-198 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Organized by ArtChangeUS REMAP: LA with support from ACTA and other core partners, this Cultural Equity Summit  will gather cultural leaders, artists, grantmakers, and community members to advance cultural equity strategies and innovative practices at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy  on Wednesday, April 17, 2019  in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.

The United States is being remapped by its people. By 2042, the population of US communities of color will eclipse the historic white majority. While the population has shifted on the ground, institutional leadership and funding across the arts and all sectors have not kept pace. Leading the nation, Los Angeles and New York City have implemented major studies of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their cultural communities. The Summit  asks: What role do we each play in moving towards a shared future?  Join a  public sector  discussion led by heads of city arts agencies moving research into action from Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle.

As part of the symposium ACTA will be offering a Traditional Arts Roundtable Series (TARS) event  called " Sharing Methodologies of Transformative Cultural Practice," where ACTA's Building Healthy Communities  (BHC) Artist Fellows will be presenting alongside historian and Black Studies scholar Dr. George Lipsitz from UC Santa Barbara  on  our local impact work with the BHC initiative.
Remembering Amber Tell

2018 ACTA Apprentice Amber Tell (L) with Master Artist Nzingha Camara (R).

Join us in remembering and honoring Amber Tell  (1997-2019), an extraordinary young woman from South Los Angeles rooted in the cultural expressions and traditional knowledge of the West African diaspora.  She passed away on February 4, 2019.

Amber was centered in the West African dance and drum community of Leimert Park, a neighborhood celebrated for its historic and contemporary contributions to African-American arts and culture . She participated in ACTA's 2018 Apprenticeship Program under West African master dancer Nzingha Camara. Nzingha worked with Amber, who was already a skilled drummer, on developing her repertoire in the dances of the Bambara people of Guinea, Mali, and Senegal. Amber showcased her artistic development through the apprenticeship with "Mama" Nzingha in a newly choreographed performance and public workshop during the Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks last summer in Leimert Park. 

Amber's connection to her traditional practices, in her own words:

"Learning and practicing traditional West African drum and dance has helped me to better under/over/inner-stand myself as a young black woman. Learning and knowing my heritage and where my ancestors come from and how they practiced specific principles relating to Earth and its cycles. Knowing the art form has evolved me into a strong woman and healer; it serves as a healing and binding tool throughout the community. The vibration from the ancient instruments, voice (word sound power) is all healing in itself. Once the sound and movement connects it brings the whole village together; being aware of the environment and the blessed energy surrounding the music is all in one Love."

The ACTA community will remember Amber's legacy as a powerful spirit who encouraged and facilitated healing, transformation, and greater understanding of each other through the richness of West African dance and drum in California.
Welcoming Network Scholarship for Creative Placemaking:  ArtPlace America and Welcoming America are pleased to offer a new opportunity for local arts and culture leaders  to participate in Welcoming America's Welcoming Network . Through a new Creative Placemaking Scholarship program, selected organizations will have the opportunity to draw on the tools and resources available to Welcoming Network members while acting as peer leaders -- sharing good ideas and receiving recognition in local, national and global settings for their arts-driven immigrant inclusion and welcoming efforts. Click to learn more.  DEADLINE: 03/15/19

Arts and Accessibility Grant Funding:  The National Arts and Disability Center at UCLA has announced the availability of 2019 Arts and Accessibility grants funding, in partnership with the California Arts Council. The statewide program offers financial support and assistance to increase opportunities to engage with the arts by people with disabilities throughout California by providing small but critical grants to individual artists and arts organizations.  Artists may request up to $3,000 for activities that advance their creative work and careers, including the creation of new work. Click to learn more.

Arts Impact Stories Campaign: In a state as diverse and culturally rich as California, the arts serve to give voice to our many communities, spark individual creativity, foster empathy and understanding, spur civic engagement and serve as a continual source of personal enrichment, inspiration and growth. How has access to public funding helped an arts program, artist or organization make a difference in your community? How can the arts create a meaningful outcome on some of our state's most pressing issues? Send in your narrative, a link to an article or blog post, a work of art or a video illustrating your arts impact to Californians for the Arts. They will share these on social media and in their public awareness campaign throughout the month of April. Submit your story here.

Emergency Health Grant for Women 2019: The Women's Center for Creative Work (WCCW) is excited to announce the fourth year of our Emergency Health Grant for Artists initiative! $60,000 in grant money is available to eligible artists of all fields with a medical, mental health, or dental emergency or an illness-related financial need.  We welcome applications from professional artists of all disciplines who live in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, or Orange Counties, and those who identify as one or more of the following: female, transgender, non-binary, low-income, or person of color (including, but not limited to: individuals of African-American, Asian, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Middle Eastern, or Pacific Islander descent). Click to apply. DEADLINE: 04/07/19

Arts in Corrections Coordinating Organization RFP:    The California Arts Council is currently seeking proposals from arts organizations for the purpose of diversifying the range and number of arts workshop offerings as part of California's Arts in Corrections program. Organizations interested in providing rehabilitative arts services for incarcerated individuals at state correctional facilities are encouraged to apply for funding. Click for detailed information about the Arts in Corrections program and how you can apply.  DEADLINE: 04/08/19
Want to learn how you can support the work of ACTA?
The Alliance for California Traditional Arts is the California Arts Council's official partner in serving the state's folk and traditional arts field.
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