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The Folklife Program of the Nevada Arts Council seeks to discover, understand, document, and support significant cultural traditions wherever they arise. Some of our grant programs encourage individual folk and traditional artists and practitioners to preserve and perpetuate their art forms and lifeways. Other grants support community engagement with traditional festivals and celebrations, foodways, and performance. Our education initiatives promote collaboration between traditional artists and schools or community groups in support of hands-on learning opportunities for all ages.
From Washoe basketry and African-American gospel singing to cowboy poetry and Ukrainian pysanky (egg decoration), Nevada is home to hundreds of diverse traditions.  Some folk and traditional arts have been transported here from other regions or countries and have taken root to become interwoven with Nevada’s cultural landscape and identity; some have flourished on the 27 tribal reservations and colonies in the state; others have developed locally with specific occupational groups.


Folk and traditional artists are tradition bearers -- people who transmit what they believe, know, do, and create with others who share a common heritage, language, religion, occupation, or region.  These expressions are deeply rooted in and reflective of a community’s shared standards of beauty, values, or life experiences.  Folk and traditional arts are generally passed on from one generation to the next and express a collective wisdom rather than a unique personal aesthetic. To meet some of Nevada’s folk artists and hear what they have to say about their traditions, click on Nevada Stories.



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This thirteen-part radio series from 1986 presents vignettes of Nevada’s multi-faceted folk culture. The shows were produced from recordings made on location – in folk artists’ home, places of work, and at public gatherings. From the making of neon signs to the construction of Shoshone cradleboards, from Basque dance music to buckaroo poetry, the cultural diversity of Nevada is only hinted at in this series—there is much, much more!

The series is now made available via digitization and web design by Nevada Arts Council staff, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Folk and Traditional Arts Program and the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. Additional images are from a variety of sources including the Nevada Folklife Archives, Nevada Historical Society, Western Folklife Center, and the World Wide Web. To lear more about Nevada's master artists and traditional arts, click here.

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Gary and Sheldeen Haleamau of Henderson are the recipients of the 2015 Nevada Heritage Award. Nominator Nevada folklorist Rachel Hopkin noted that the Haleamaus reflect, “…the Aloha spiritual path which guides their lives and involves the practice of presence, humility, perseverance, unity, and honesty… they are artists of great distinction who believe it is their responsibility to pass on the art, music, and culture that will keep Hawaii alive,” even on the mainland. Read more.

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The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress has purchased the original photographic materials made for “Honest Horses: Wild Horses of the Great Basin,” an NAC traveling exhibition and a book of the same name (University of Nevada Press, 2006) from photographer Paula Morin. As a part of this agreement, the Nevada Folklife Archives transferred the oral history materials gathered during the fieldwork for the project to the AFC to complete and support this important collection on the status of wild horses in the American West. Read more.   NTI Exhibit Info.



The Artist Residency Express (AREx) Grant is designed for community and educational sponsors to host a short-term artist residency (one to three days) using an artist on one of the NAC artist rosters (Arts Learning, Folk Arts and Tumblewords.) Non-roster artists may be used, but require additional support materials/work sample. The residency design allows the artist to explore his/her discipline with students, teachers and community members through classes, demonstrations, lectures and discussions, rehearsals, performances, or community events. AREx grants are offered on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year while funds are available. Read more.


The Folklife Apprenticeship Program encourages the continuation of Nevada’s diverse traditional culture by providing grants to skilled master artists to teach committed apprentices through intensive instruction in their art form. A master artist works with one or two apprentices during a one-year period. Read more about  Past Folklife Grant Recipients and download a copy of Handed Down: Nevada's Living Folk Arts 1988-1998 for information about the first ten years of the NAC Folklife Apprenticeship Program. You can also view our newest exhibition – One is Silver, the Other is Gold: Celebrating 25 Years of Folklife Apprenticeships – now touring statewide through the Nevada Touring Initiative! The application deadline for projects beginning July 1, 2014: March 17, 2014

Click here to read the Folklife Apprenticeship Grant Guidelines and Instructions; download the Application Form; then register on GO™  where you can start your online application and upload all the required documents and work samples. Contact Folklife Program staff before you begin your application!


Non-competitive grants of up to $1,500 throughout the year are offered to nonprofit organizations and government entities, including Tribes, to support projects that present, document or preserve traditional arts. Read more

The Nevada Heritage Awards honor Nevada folk artists whose work in the folk arts has had a significant impact on the people and communities of the state. Read more.

PDGs support attendance at professional development activities and are up to $650 for out-of-state activities, up to $500 for in-state activities, and up to $350 for NAC-sponsored activities. Eligible applicants in the Folklife category include folk and traditional artists, community scholars, and Nevada-based folklorists.


Folklife staff will come to your community and help you design and implement community Folklife research and documentation projects. Contact the Program Coordinator for more information.

Since its inception in 1985 the Nevada Arts Council’s Folklife Program has documented the existence and development of Nevada’s diverse geographical and cultural communities and its resident folk artists. Today its Folklife Archives constitute a significant intellectual, historical and educational resource with relevance to many fields of inquiry. The Nevada Folklife Archives are a dynamic fieldwork collection that continues to grow and change with new and ongoing research. Its content is limited to:
  • original fieldwork generated by the Nevada Arts Council’s Folklife Program staff and their paid contractors; and
  • folk art objects acquired for exhibits showcasing Nevada’s traditional arts.
To peruse the fieldwork in the Folklife Archives is to travel with a folklorist on a quest to see, hear and understand the people and communities that populate our state. Folklorists have documented gatherings and festivals in communities large and small—from the Pine Nut Festival in the small town of Schurz to the International Food and Folklife Festival in sprawling Las Vegas—and  have conducted site visits to document more than 200 Folklife Apprenticeship Grants that have been awarded since 1988. Read more.

Folklife Program provides workshops designed for artists who wish to gain information and skills necessary for marketing, self-promotion, public presentation and exhibition, school residencies, and/or to join the Nevada Folk Arts Roster (see above.) Generally presented in partnership with an arts or cultural organization, these workshops range from half-day to multi-day trainings, depending on the subject matter. Contact the Folklife Program if you are interested in sponsoring a workshop or for information on upcoming workshops.


Staff provides technical assistance to individual artists and organizations for the development and maintenance of Folklife festivals, exhibits based on traditional arts, artist referrals, cultural inventories, folklore publications, and other related public programs, as well as research methodologies in traditional arts and culture.


Folklife Program Coordinator   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it           775.687.7103
Folklife Program Associate   Rebecca Snetselaar          702.486.3739



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