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Contribute Today to Celebrate 25 Years of ACTA!

In 1997 at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, a group of artists, public folklorists, and cultural workers met to imagine a statewide network to animate and grow California’s diverse community of culture bearers and organizations in the folk and traditional arts field. Fast forward more than 25 years, and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts has supported over 1,750 folk and traditional artists and organizations, providing them with over $7.8 million in grants.

For months, we’ve been working on an oral history project documenting over 25 amazing years of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. We gathered stories from dozens of current and former grantees, staff, board members, partners, and colleagues, and dove into our archives of programming, grantmaking, research, and advocacy to tell the story of ACTA through five individual timelines, which will launch early next year.

From bringing the healing power of traditional arts to incarcerated people to preparing local residents to document the sonic landscape of their communities — join us in looking back on five special moments that we’ve shared in our quarter-century journey to lift up California's extraordinary traditional arts practices.

2001 Apprenticeship pair Stan Rodriguez (left) and his teacher, master Kumeyaay singer Jon Meza Cuero, practice in a San Diego park, 2001. Photo: Chris Simon/ACTA.

1999 — ACTA launches our inaugural cohort of the Apprenticeship Program, providing essential funds for 20 mentor artists to provide one-on-one training to apprentices in the traditional arts. Jon Meza Cuero, the only Kumeyaay practitioner who knew the Wildcat ceremonial songs, was a mentor to apprentice Stanley Rodriguez. After years of rigorous study, Stan, an educator, language teacher, and tribal singer, keeps the traditional song cycle alive and well and mentors others. Now in its 23rd year, over 400 Apprenticeship pairs have helped to sustain our state’s cultural practices.

2009 — ACTA collaborates with the leading national Latino public radio network Radio Bilingüe to showcase traditional artists on air in the Spanish-language series Raíces: Art Moments on Radio.” Our collaboration with Radio Bilingüe and our commitment to partnering with leaders in the field to promote our state’s cultural diversity continues to this day.

AIC participants in a son jarocho workshop with Quetzal Flores and César Castro at California State Prison in Corcoran in 2014. Photo: Eric Coleman/ACTA.

2013 — Responding to a call from the California Arts Council, ACTA brings the healing power of traditional arts to the state prison system. Aligned with our Building Healthy Communities initiative and a study we published in 2011 on promoting health through traditional arts, we launched impactful programs at three state prisons, including California State Prison in Corcoran. Dozens of teaching artists at 18 institutions have since connected incarcerated individuals with their cultural heritage through art forms like Mexican son jarocho and Afro-Colombian percussion. Since then, we’ve employed over 50 teaching artists at 17 prisons, impacting over 4,000 people.

Grupo Nuu Yuku joined by Banda Brillo de San Miguel Cuevas at the 2016 Sounds of California program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Photo: Prayoon Charoennun.

2016 — ACTA collaborates with the Smithsonian to bring the Sounds of California to the 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., with a series of concerts, performances, and activities. We platformed over 60 California artists exploring how changes in music and sound reflect demographic shifts in America, like Afghan rubâb player Homayoun Sakhi and Grupo Nuu Yuku, a Mixteco dance group from San Joaquin Valley. Watch the video to learn more.

Fogo Na Roupa dancers, led by Linda Yudin from Viver Brasil, in Carnaval San Francisco's 2023 parade. Fogo Na Roupa is a 2023 Living Cultures Grantee from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. Photo: Courtesy of the organization

2023 — ACTA awards the largest cohort ever with our Living Cultures Grant, supporting 98 traditional artists and culture bearers with a total investment of $850,000. From ecological knowledge of Big Valley Rancheria in Lake County, to Triqui textiles in Monterey, Lao dance in Fresno to West African Malinke music in San Bernardino, ACTA’s impact can be felt all across the state. Click here to learn more.

Our community-driven efforts to sustain cultural practices in California, champion health equity and civic engagement, and build the field of traditional arts have been essential to the livelihoods of many traditional artists. But arts funding is unreliable, and the majority of traditional artists have not received enough investment to implement long-term changes in their communities. 

You can help change this. 

Help us build the next 25 years by giving today to support California's extraordinary traditional artists and cultural communities. With your donation in honor of over 25 years of ACTA, $25, $250, or even $2,500 – or a gift in any amount – you will directly contribute to building sustainable communities through the restoration, healing, and transformational power of traditional arts and culture.

Click the "Give Today" button on the right to make a tax-deductible contribution.

Or you can send a check to:

Alliance for California Traditional Arts

744 P Street, Suite 307

Fresno, CA 93721

Contact: Amy Kitchener, Executive Director

[email protected]