VOLUME 10, NO. 1
June 19, 2012 
About Us:
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 folk and traditional artists and their communities.

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Alliance for California Traditional Arts
Recent Blog Posts  

Reflections on Kalinga Weaving: Blog #1 (5/3/2012)
Holly Calica
June 14, 2012

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Upcoming Events

34th Annual Ethnic Dance Festival
Through July 1, 2012
San Francisco

Bulgarian Music and Dance
June 19, 2012

Kitka and Tzvetanka Varimezova: Enjovden
Jun 21 - Jun 21, 2012

Concierto El Rey III
June 23, 2012
Los Angeles

Flamenco Classes at LACC
June 24 through Jul 22, 2012
Los Angeles

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List your event or exhibit

Current Exhibits
Through August 26, 2012

Precious Cargo: Childbirth and Cradle Baskets in California Indian Culture
Through August 31, 2012

View all exhibits...

Dear Friends,


Can you imagine California without the sounds of mariachi, blues, Japanese Taiko, or old time fiddle?  All types of food from Africa, Asia, and Latin America help us to explore the many tastes of the world.  Native storytellers and weavers maintain the history of our state and provide a foundation for California culture.  Hundreds of cultural expressions are vibrant today thanks to the tradition bearers that pass knowledge and culture from generation to generation.  We are incredibly fortunate to live in such a unique state!


The Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) sustains these traditional arts with advocacy, financial resources, and connections for folk and traditional artists.  Since 1997, we have raised over $2.3 million to support the work of 600 organizations and individuals!  From Ohlone basketry and African-American quilt-making to cowboy poetry and Hindustani music, ACTA supports a wide array of cultural communities.


In 2012, we hope to expand our work with the support of people like you who understand the necessity of folk and traditional arts.  We seek the inclusive support of many people to give what they can, so we can all share the success.  Any amount is appreciated.  You can donate with your credit card via PayPal or with a check.  


A hardworking young Latina mother in Fresno thinks supporting traditional arts is so important to her children's future that she donated $100.  An aging Asian American in Ventura County who knows that ACTA has played an important role in preserving his culture just sent us $200 from his limited savings.  A paralegal working with farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley just sent $25. What amount can you comfortably contribute? 


Below you will find a few stories that demonstrate how traditional arts matter in our lives.


We sincerely thank you for your consideration of our request.



Amy Kitchener

Executive Director



Alliance for California Traditional Arts
Drumming classes at the Hmong Association of Long Beach build physical and spiritual strength and harmony.  Photo: Kutay Kugay 


ACTA supported the Hmong Association of Long Beach's Qeej Not Gangs program.  Started by Hmong immigrants concerned about their children's growing alienation from their parents' generation, the free culture school connects youth to the traditions of their parents and grandparents.  Pan dau reverse embroidery, qeej (pronounced "ghang," a bamboo mouth organ) music, cheexai (funeral chants), dance, drumming, and Hmong language are taught and learned for six hours every Sunday.


A generation of young people have been raised and educated here since the early days of Hmong resettlement in Long Beach in the 1980's.  Refugees continue to arrive and now find a vital organization which provides services, community building, and a cultural oasis that has been hard fought and hard won.




Alliance for California Traditional Arts
Ty'ithreeha Allen (center) is flanked by Dolli McCovey (left) and Aurelia Robbins (right), participating at a Ihuk Ceremony in 2006. Ty'ithreeha and Dolli's maple bark skirts were created during an ACTA-supported apprenticeship between Holly Hensher and Pimm Allen.  Photo: Pimm Allen

In Humboldt County, ACTA supported basketweavers Holly Hensher (Karuk) and Pimm Allen (Yurok/Karuk) in creating maple bark skirts worn by girls and women in tribal ceremonies, most notably the Ihuk Ceremony, celebrating a girl's entry into womanhood.  The Ihuk Ceremony was revived in 1996 by a dedicated group of Karuk families, after not having been practiced for over 80 years.  


The ceremony, Holly notes, "is about prayer, about being a good person.  When you look around at who is there in that circle around you... to support you, [you] know and appreciate that fact.  When you are making a skirt like this, you are thinking about these things.  You are thinking about how it is to be appreciated by a whole community and having a role and responsibility in that community.  And that gives you value."   




In San Francisco, Glide's Women's Center is home to the ACTA-supported Healing Through Negro Spirituals program.  Serving vulnerable women who have suffered violence in their lives, this program is a powerful testimony to the link between traditional arts and health and well-being.


Weekly, women gather to learn and sing Negro spirituals, and, as mentor-teacher Wanda Ravernell, describes: "They sing themselves to laughter and tears of joy and realization, the realization that a whole people who once suffered the burden, pain, and sorrow of slavery have made it through and that today, just as those songs comforted the souls of those long gone, so can those very same songs lift burdens today, the burden of domestic violence, the stigma and denigration of drug addiction or alcoholism...."




Flavio "Paps"Alarez (in blue) strives to instill Garifuna language and culture in a younger generation of Los Angeles-raised Garifuna-Americans.  Photo: Sherwood Chen 

During the annual Wanaragua celebration, as drummers, singers, and masked and costumed dancers travel in a day-long procession from household to household, the Garifuna people -- native to the Caribbean's St. Vincent -- honor their ancestors.

As a Wanaragua chief, Flavio "Paps" Alvarez leads and coordinates the procession each year in South Los Angeles
.  Says Paps, "It is important to keep [Los Angeles-based Garifuna] together.  We become a family, and I consider the drummers, dancers, and singers part of my family in Los Angeles.  We get together regularly, and like a family, we can count on each other when we need help.  In Guatemala, I had an extended family all around me.  Here in Los Angeles, I have the Wanaragua group."

ACTA supported
an apprenticeship between Paps and his grandnephew Carlos Gonzalez, ensuring the Wanaragua continues with strong leadership into the next generation.


Members of Kings County Regional Traditional Folk Arts' Ballet Folklorico Sol del Valle.  Photo: Kings County Regional Traditional Folk Arts
Kings County Regional Traditional Arts, started in a small garage as the dance group Ballet Folkorico Sol del Valle, has grown into a 2,500 square foot facility offering classes in mariachi music and dance (folklorico, hip-hop, and salsa) to children, youth, and adults, the majority of whom belong to Latino farmworking families.  Located in Armona (population in 2010: 4,156), it is the only center of its kind in this rural area of the Central Valley; students travel from numerous rural communities beyond Kings County, including Fresno and Tulare Counties.

With operational support from ACTA in 2010, the center doubled its annual budget, including over $5,000 in individual donations.  The center is also thriving in terms of the number of participants, which has increased by 40% in one year.

Maria Vasquez, whose 4 children were students at Kings County Regional Traditional Arts, speaks to the impact this center is having on participants' lives: "What Kings County Regional Traditional Arts is doing for the communities in Kings County is immeasurable.  Because both Juan [executive director] and Consuelo [folklorico director and board member] are college graduates, they encourage all the students to pursue a higher education.  They instill pride of who we are and where we come from and provide strength to keep doing better in life.  I know that the 15 year relationship between the cultural center and my own family has always been a positive one.  By performing in public, my children have become more confident and self-assured.  My oldest daughter graduated from pharmacy school and my oldest son is a certified mechanic.  Two daughters are still in college.  I honestly believe that folklorico dancing with the center inspired me and my children to excel in life in general."

Contact ACTA
[email protected]

   The Alliance for California Traditional Arts is the California
   Arts Council's  official partner in serving the state's folk &
   traditional arts field.