Sounds of California sign welcomes visitors. Photo: Lily Kharrazi.

Between the Symbols of the Nation: Two Weeks in D.C. with "Sounds of California" at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

by Lily Kharrazi, Program Manager
Leaving our California offices on June 27th, Amy Kitchener, ACTA's Executive Director, Russell Rodriguez, Quetzal Flores, and I (program staff) arrived in Washington, D.C. for the culmination of a near three-year planning process. We were off to present artists and culture-bearers and be hands-on for the nation's 49th annual Folklife Festival, held outdoors for two weeks each summer. Our task had been to think about and create a program that could portray California through the lens of immigration and migration with our partners the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage , Radio Bilingüe, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the Smithsonian Latino Center and the American Folklife Center.    

What could be more relevant, contested, and timely with a presidential election ahead than to focus on the most diverse state of the union? Did you know that California's population has no one clear majority and that one in every four Californians are foreign born? It is a State, according to the last U. S. census, where many embrace the mixed-heritage category, and it is home to the largest Native American population in the country. The curation of the Festival was in the able hands of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage team: Sojin Kim, Jim Deutch and Olivia Cadaval who worked with us as the co-producers and presenters to create a site that would weave together an investigation of these facts, and more, to reflect the resiliency of California communities.


ACTA is proud to announce that two Master Artists from California, Artemio Posadas and Bounxeung Synanonh, are among the nine recipients of the 2016 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships, the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.



ACTA Welcomes New Executive Assistant Crystal Murillo

ACTA is excited to introduce our newest staff member, Crystal Murillo. As ACTA's new Executive Assistant, Crystal will be working closely with Executive Director Amy Kitchener, assisting in her day to day work, along with coordinating ACTA's IT infrastructure and database.

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Mestre Amen Santo, Eduardo Martinez Arvilla, and Hector Rivera play the drums of Brazil, Colombia and Puerto Rico at Brasil Brasil Cultural Center. Photo: Philip Graulty.

Just settling into my new position and armed with funding from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, I was tasked with curating a new round of ACTA's signature Traditional Arts Roundtable Series (TARS) throughout LA County. The Series, which began in 2008, was designed to strengthen intercultural arts networks and to offer opportunities for traditional and tradition-based artists and arts advocates to learn from one another through intimate discussion, technical assistance, skill-building, networking, and sharing community-based arts and culture.

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Sustain Arts Bay Area is an easy-to-use online tool tailored to meet the needs of arts administrators, arts funders, cultural policy makers, and individual artists in the Bay Area. At, users can find data on local cultural organizations, track funding connections between funders and grantees, view audience participation and demographics by zip code and discipline, and explore key findings that highlight striking trends in the Bay Area arts sector. All resources are free and open to the public.

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