Past ArtsWA Folk & Traditional Artists Activities

Created in 1991, the Washington State Arts Commission’s Folk Arts program helped to preserve, present, and protect the traditional arts of Washington’s many diverse cultures. Program goals were to document, identify, honor, and perpetuate these traditions by encouraging public awareness and appreciation of folk arts. In May 2013 the Folk Arts program was discontinued due to budget constraints. Materials from Folk Arts projects are still available through the links provided below.

Folk Arts Tours. The ArtsWA Folk Arts Program, in partnership with Northwest Heritage Resources, published ten heritage audio tour guides for Washington State. The guide books contain tour maps, photographs, recordings, and interpretive texts featuring music, stories, and information about the cultural treasures that occur along selected, well-traveled routes through the state. The guided audio portions correspond with driving time during the trips, pointing out cultural heritage along the way. The tours are available online at

Folk Arts and Senior Living Communities. A wealth of knowledge about traditional arts in Washington was preserved by the oldest members of the state. A good number of senior living communities were visited in order to interview some of their members, who shared valuable information about forms of traditional arts they still remember from the old days.The inreviews were recorded and processed later.

Folk Arts Archives. A $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts supported digitizing our collection of folk and traditional images through a partnership with State Archives. We digitized more than 8,000 images, which are now stored at the State Archives.

The Folk & Traditional Arts in the Parks Program is a partnership between ArtsWA and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. One such program is Hip Nic, held each summer in Saint Edwards State Park, in Kenmore. The event features postive hip hop, which emphasizes positve values and the empowerment of urban young people, but genuinely reflects their experiences and concerns in a style relevant to their culture. The Hip-Nic is part of a wider effort by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to attract more ethnic and racial diversity to state parks and to outdoor recreation in general, and to interest young people of color in outdoor recreation and recreation-related careers. Increasing diversity and providing enjoyment, health, and learning programs are part of our state park agency’s 2013 Centennial goals.

The ArtsWA American Masterworks is a series of five short films that focus on a few of the excellent arts and artists of Washington State: Produced by Laughing Dog Pictures and Sparkworks Media of Seattle, the ArtsWA Masterworks series is part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius, a major initiative of the National Endowment of the Arts created to acquaint Americans with the best of their cultural and artistic legacy. Through American Masterpieces, the National Endowment for the Arts sponsors performances, exhibitions, tours, and educational programs across different art forms that reach large and small communities in all 50 states. Click on the links below to watch the videos on our YouTube channel.

∧ back to TOP