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History
A capsule chronology: highlights of the Philadelphia Folklore Project (1987 - 2007)

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Where were you in January 1987? The Philadelphia Folklore Project was a brand new project - not even an organization yet - just a handful of folklorists moving into a small back room at the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial. From the start, we could be found in many corners of the city doing fieldwork: listening to what was important to people, paying attention to who cared about local culture (and why), talking to folk artists, getting to know people and groups working to keep culture alive and vital in our neighborhoods. We came to know many hundreds of you: people whose efforts are significant, and whose voices and points of view we have come to believe in deeply. Despite the often-touted diversity of the city's neighborhoods, we saw (and still see) incredible neglect of (and even active suppression of) the folk cultural traditions rooted in peoples' experiences. Back then, we saw some work that we thought needed to be done; we kept following the work (trying to understand it, to get better at it). We've grown over time - becoming an organization, moving from projects to programs, growing staff - but we are still small, close-to-the-ground, guided as best as we can be by diverse community perspectives, vernacular (fine-grained, high-context, local, rooted, particular) understandings, and a dedication to a fully inclusive and equitable way of valuing artistic expression, traditional knowledge, folk arts. PFP is just part of a bigger set of histories of the city's diverse and remarkable folk and traditional arts: cultural heritage and community legacies sustained by thousands of individuals, city-wide and beyond. We are all part of the story of people working together to sustain meaningful cultural diversity, and to shape real alternatives for our communities. . .

1987-8
It was the hundredth anniversary of the American Folklore Society, a national organization of scholars and practitioners. How should folklorists mark a centennial? We thought it was time to know more about the current place of folklore in our city, a place that had been so important 100 years before in establishing this field of study. Who were the people and organizations that were actively committed to sustaining community cultural heritage here and now? To whom did folklore and folk arts matter, and why? With start-up funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts (thanks to Ella King Torrey, who had been a student of folklore), we opened our office in a third floor room at the Fleisher Art Memorial, began field research investigating Philadelphia folk cultures, started publishing Works in Progress, our magazine, and established our Philadelphia Folklife Archive. Our technical assistance and organizing dates to these years, too. As we met people and groups who were trying to preserve and support local folk arts and culture, the needs were evident, and we set to work to help people carry out their plans: their own visions for community-based folk arts. We have been guided by many different peoples' inspiring visions, and hard work, from the start. And we started as (and continue to be) learners: our own research that first year was focused on understanding how the city's many organizations supported folk arts, on the folklife of family businesses, and on Italian folk arts - traditions central to the neighborhood in which we had settled. The first teams of researchers (on various projects) included Jim Abrams, Ruth Cary, Dierdre Crumbley, Jan Greenberg, Joan Gross, Stephanie Kane, Hong-Joon Kim, Maggie Kreusi, Jerrilyn McGregory, Dorothy Noyes, Riki Saltzman and others.

1989
This was the year we were gearing up for: the 100th anniversary of the American Folklore Society. More than one thousand folklorists from all around the world came to Philadelphia in October, and joined Philadelphians who turned out for Philadelphia Folklore Month, a city-wide celebration of folklife, with 121 events offered by 70 organizations. (People told us we were ambitious— code for foolhardy— as we planned this. Like other first-timers, we had no idea how huge an undertaking this could be. But many people responded to this call to name arts and traditions that mattered to them. Much of our work included seeking out people who were deeply engaged in cultural heritage/folk arts preservation and practice, and facilitating a way for such people to work together to draw attention to these critical efforts in community vitality.) We also took on some special research-based projects. For Folklore Month, the PFP and Fleisher (our first home and landlord) created a major exhibition on the arts of our own South Philly neighborhood: Uses of Tradition: Arts of Italian Americans in Philadelphia, curated by Dorothy Noyes. We supplemented the exhibition with palm-weaving workshops, a book, and walking tours of the neighborhood's dressed windows, and of the work of Italian craftsmen around the city. (Later, we turned Uses into a smaller traveling photo exhibition.) We worked with the Smithsonian and the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum (now AAMP) to develop Stand By Me, an ethnographic photo exhibition by Roland Freeman on African American expressive traditions in Philadelphia, including fieldwork contributed by PFP folklorist Jerrilyn McGregory. Other PFP staff did fieldwork focused on family businesses, traditional gardening, Italian folk arts, and African American folklife, and we talked to hundreds of people, recording and photographing these important arts of everyday life. We offered workshops on grants for folk cultural organizations and on doing oral history, and we provided technical assistance which resulted in grant support for apprenticeships and projects involving Hal Taylor (European-style carved marionette-maker), Blanche Epps (traditional gardener), the Lithuanian Folksong Quartet, and a Latino festival organized by Iris Pagan at Thomas Eakins House.

1990
We had only expected to be a temporary project, but the process of developing Philadelphia Folklore Month taught us that there was work to do: we saw a real need for building community supports for the documentation, preservation and presentation of our city's folk arts. After Folklore Month was over, we reorganized as one of the nation's first wave of independent private not-for-profit folklife organizations. During this year, we presented the Lithuanian Folk Song Quartet (a group we had assisted) in our new Community Concert series on the eve of Lithuanian Independence, in a moving (and standing-room-only) concert. This was the first performance for these musicians outside the Lithuanian community. Our second concert event featured LaVaughn Robinson and Germaine Ingram in an intimate performance and discussion with these important Philadelphia tap dancers. We curated two exhibitions as part of the "Art in City Hall" program: Passing on Traditions: Sixteen Master Folk Artists was a retrospective exhibition examining state support of master/apprentice partnerships, co-curated with the Folklife Center of International House. Preserving Traditions was a PFP exhibition introducing a wide range of local folk arts, past and present, and the first in what would be more than a decade of collaborations with local documentary photographer Thomas B. Morton. Brief catalogs accompanied each show. Our annual grants workshop led to technical assistance for apprenticeships and projects involving Chamroeun Yin (Khmer classical dance), Mom Sak (Khmer beadwork), and the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia.

1991
Valuing the kinds of learning that come from collaborative projects, and building on the work we had already done, we began intensive fieldwork with a team of Cambodian and "American" young people and folklorists (including Bill Westerman, Leendavy Koung, Rihu Su, Prolung Ngin and others) leading to a photographic exhibition using family pictures, and images by Khmer and American photographers: Bamboo Shoots Grow Up to Be Bamboo: Cambodian Folk Arts in Philadelphia opened at the Samuel Fleisher Art Memorial and traveled to United Communities of Southeast Philadelphia. Also as a result of this project, we presented a Community Concert featuring Cambodian master musician Koung Peang and his pleang kar ensemble, performing "kat sao," a traditional haircutting ceremony that is part of a Khmer wedding. A second community concert featured Reverend Carolyn Bryant and the Preston Singers in a grassroots gospel community concert. We held our first Folk Art Auction, and published our first resource volume, the Guide to Philadelphia Folklife Resources, compiled by a half dozen researchers, and edited by Margaret Kreusi, listing information on 301 groups that in different ways present, preserve or support local folk cultures. We completed four brief videos on Folk Arts on folk gardening, mummery, palm-weaving, and Khmer arts. Our annual grants workshop and follow-up technical assistance resulted in support for apprenticeships and projects involving Chamroeun Yin (Khmer classical dancer), Phally Doung and Son Ren (Khmer folk dancers), Chia Ker Lor (Hmong basket weaver), and Furman Humphrey (African American carver).

1992
We began our work in folk arts education with Representing Folk Culture, a workshop for teachers on moving past stereotypes, combined with a resource fair. It introduced Khmer musical ensembles to teachers and community groups interested in, but largely unfamiliar with, some of the issues, histories and significance of Cambodian folk arts. Our field research included two continuing collaborations: the Cambodian Community Documentation Project in which a team of seven Khmer youth and two "American" folklorists kept working together to document Khmer artists and folk art traditions in the city, and the Antecedents to ODUNDE Project in which researchers (including, over time, a range of researchers like Hayley Thomas, Karen Buchholz and others) explored African American traditions of festivals and gatherings in South Philadelphia's historically African American neighborhoods. Also this year, about forty Cambodian American students were drawn into the Khmer Arts Education Project: classes and apprenticeships that began at the Fleisher Art Memorial and spilled into the Cambodian neighborhoods of South Philadelphia. Artists instructed students in their own homes. At different periods, folk painting and drama classes occurred every day of the week. Three artists were officially involved as masters and teachers. In practice, six artists actually took on critical roles as masters and teachers, while older students often instructed younger ones; these efforts were documented by Bill Westerman, who contributed a PFP working paper reflecting on issues in folk arts education. We held our second annual Folk Art Auction, republished our Guide to Philadelphia Folklife Resources (with additions from a new team of researchers and edited by Jennifer Michael) issued two working papers, and kept up publication of Works in Progress, our magazine. Our annual grants workshop and technical assistance led to support for apprenticeships and projects involving Lao traditional dancers, Southeast Asian New Year traditions (Hmong, Lao, Vietnamese, overseas Chinese, Khmer), Eang Mao and Raky Mao (Khmer painters).

1992-3
We curated a multicultural photo exhibition, You, Me and Them: Photographs by Thomas B. Morton, which opened at Fleisher, and presented a Community Concert with the Peang Koung and Van Pok ensembles featuring pleang kar, roam vung, and lakhon music. Behind the scenes, we continued our collaborations on the Cambodian Community Documentation Project, and the Antecedents of ODUNDE Project and began helping the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition with the Southeast Asian New Year's Project involving fieldwork and publications in five communities. In a new project on Multicultural Issues and the Law, Bill Westerman aimed to examine ways in which culture impacted justice. Working with Germaine Ingram, we began research on African American tap dance, with a special focus on uncovering some of the stories of local African American women tap dancers, calling the project the Philadelphia Tap Initiative. We offered a series of technical assistance workshops and convened a roundtable meeting of traditional artists to assess needs. Our technical assistance programs raised $55,000 for/with traditional artists and community groups.

1993-4
Cambodian American students continued participating in the Khmer Arts Education Project, our experimental effort (in collaboration with the Fleisher Art Memorial) to value local arts and to increase arts education opportunities for Cambodian children. The exhibition Giants, Kings and Celestial Angels: Teaching Khmer Arts in Philadelphia, featured work by teaching artists Peang Koung, Eang Mao, Sipom Ming, Chamroeun Yin and their students. We began fieldwork for our first Art Happens Here project to showcase folk artists in their own neighborhoods; Teresa Jaynes coordinated the team effort to identify folk artists in West Philadelphia, in partnership with the Haddington Development Corporation. For the Law and Culture Project, PFP staffer Bill Westerman interviewed lawyers and legal consumers and developed a series of workshops centered on parajudicial features of culture - matters outside the written record of a case but often among the most significant features impacting upon a legal transaction. Workshops and a working paper were results. We were also busy with advocacy and organizing for public funding for arts, holding 11 different workshops and community gatherings, bringing people together around issues of equity and access for folk arts. These workshops and our technical assistance leveraged about $110,000 in grant funds for traditional artists and grassroots cultural organizations.

A group of rhythm tap dancers gathered for Philadelphia Tap Initiative rehearsal sessions under the direction of tap dancer, (and PFP Board co-chair) Germaine Ingram.

More fieldwork unrolled as part of Hucklebuck to Hip Hop, an ODUNDE project to document African American social dance as a vital folk art form in South Philadelphia. PFP helped with ethnographic research, technical assistance, grant-writing (and, eventually a book and fabulous community dance parties). We continued offering technical assistance on the SEAMAAC New Year's Project; two volumes on Hmong kwv thiaj and Khmer New Year's celebrations were completed. Researcher Benita Binta Brown completed a guide to local African American movement art traditions; researcher Troy Richardson completed a first Native American Arts Survey Project. We held another great Folk Art Auction.

1994-5
The Philadelphia Tap Initiative went public this year. On a snowy February weekend, we produced three sold-out performances of Stepping in Time, a fabulous revue of veteran African American entertainers, directed by Germaine Ingram and featuring Edith "Baby Edwards" Hunt, Libby Spencer, Hortense Allen Jordan, Isabelle Fambro, Henry Meadows, LaVaughn Robinson, Delores and Dave McHarris, Kitty DeChavis, Dottie Smith, Ruth Mobley and many others.

Art Happens Here moved our exhibitions outside Fleisher's walls and into eight community sites, literally reinvesting in local capacity to represent culture, and making folk artists more visible in their own neighborhoods at Taller Puertorriqueño, Point Breeze Performing Arts Center, Mill Creek Jazz and Cultural Society, Southwest Belmont Community Association, Free Library of Philadelphia (Kingsessing and Haverford Branches), Italian Market Florist, and on SEPTA busses.

We published three thick issues of Works in Progress and a bilingual lakhon bassac book, the first of its kind. (Publication parties celebrated!) Technical assistance efforts diversified, reaching individual artists as well as grassroots folk cultural agencies, blossoming into a several session "free schools." Organizing and advocacy continued: we fought cuts at NEA and PCA.

Collaborations with Fleisher Art Memorial, ODUNDE, SEAMAAC and the Hmong Association bore fruit: Chamroeun Yin joined the Fleisher faculty. ODUNDE continued Hucklebuck to Hip Hop cabarets, and published a book: the project established the significance of African American social dance as a folk art form, and engaged community members in discussions about their own art history! New publications came from the SEAMAAC New Year's Project; the Hmong Association continued to knit folk cultural programs into its ongoing year.

We plowed some of these learnings into a new effort with Debbie Wei at the School District Office of Curriculum Support: an anti-racist Asian Folk Arts Education Project. Students, teachers, and artists began working on model curriculum and pilot programs. Amidst all this activity, we offered workshops, community gatherings, and artists' breakfasts, and a Folk Art Auction featuring an artists' marketplace. We began our first archive re-housing and computerization project. Finally, pushed by more projects than a part-time staff could support, we transformed into an agency with a full- and part-time staff this year.

1995-6
PFP offered 10 public programs this year, including 6 workshops for artists and grassroots folk cultural agencies, a publication party for artists featured in our magazine, and two Community Concerts, both at Fleisher Art Memorial. One of the concerts featured Native American a cappella women's ensemble Ulali. A second concert featured Chamroeun Yin, Khmer court dancer. The Ulali concert came out of Art Happens Here fieldwork conducted last year; the group includes Pura Fé, a local singer, and her cousin and longtime friend. This trio had not previously performed locally, despite their growing reputation; they have since been booked for the national Folk Masters series, and elsewhere. We began booking six traveling exhibitions (Uses of Tradition: Arts of Italian Americans in Philadelphia; You, Me and Them: Photographs by Thomas B. Morton; Giants, Kings and Celestial Angels: Cambodian Arts in Philadelphia; ODUNDE African American Festival: Twenty Years on South Street; Plenty of Good Women Dancers: African American Women Hoofers from Philadelphia; and Keep It Real.) The exhibitions traveled to 10 sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, reaching an estimated 7,250 people.

Our Asian Folk Arts Education Project, an ongoing collaboration with the Office of Curriculum Support of the Philadelphia School District, began production of concrete tools for artists and teachers with a new children's book on Chamroeun Yin, and a slide-tape/video on Asian American youth. Through the Cambodian Narratives Project, we interviewed twelve local storytellers; the publication was be added to the Asian Folk Arts Education project developed above. Signs of our growth: we began working with the Center for Applied Research on PFP strategic planning for the future. We moved out of Fleisher a dozen blocks - to rented space in a former speakeasy on Wharton Street - shifting from the northeastern to the southwestern side of our Italian market neighborhood. Finally, we were one of just three independent folklife centers around the US to receive a prestigious Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund award. Core staff included Michele Jackson, Teresa Jaynes and Debora Kodish.

1996-7
We proudly premiered the first documentary to bring attention to the little-known and long-overlooked histories, experiences, and arts of African American women tap dancers, rolling out a 52-minute videotape called Plenty of Good Women Dancers: African American Women Hoofers from Philadelphia. At nine public previews, we got solid feedback. The completed documentary (co-directed by Germaine Ingram, Barry Dornfeld and Debora Kodish) premiered to a standing-room-only house at the Philadelphia Clef Club, and included live performances and a public reception. Additional public screenings reached both school groups and a general public: 943 people. At a riveting tap dance workshop with Jeni LeGon and Edith Hunt at Point Breeze Performing Art Center, a diverse crowd of tap dancers were treated to amazing lessons from the elders! To publicly share some of the wonderful historic photos we found in our research, we curated a traveling exhibition, also called Plenty of Good Women Dancers, opening it at the Clef Club to a standing-room-only reception.

Our six traveling exhibitions reached 16 sites: from Kensington to Bryn Mawr, Camden to Harrisburg and many points in between. We rehabbed six of the existing exhibits from Art Happens Here in community sites. Together, this amounted to 55 exhibitions and programs reaching 22,514 people. We produced a second series of slide/tape shows produced on video. Four technical assistance workshops helped artists get grant support to create and teach: Frito Bastien (Haitian painting), Furman Humphrey (African American carving), Chia Kue (Green Hmong needlework), Mogauwane Mahloele (South African percussion), Hawa Moore (Liberian singer), Kulu Mele African American Dance ensemble, Ione Nash (African interpretive dance), ODUNDE, and others.

We began Social Dance Project fieldwork investigating social dance traditions of African and Caribbean immigrants. Community cultural workers observed that few places seem available for people to gather regularly; local artists named lack of opportunities and support among key obstacles to actively practicing their arts. This project was a step towards seeing what might be done. And we completed our first archive indexing project, with a manual and index compiled for 28,095 photographs, 881 audiotapes, 214 videotapes, 69 shelf feet of manuscripts/paper ephemera, and 103 artifacts.

1997-8
Our first Philly Dance Africa program (the result of our Social Dance Project fieldwork, coordinated by Stacy Ford) drew a standing-room-only crowd to the Urban Education Center in West Philadelphia to dance Ghanaian kpanlogo, Liberian moonlight dance, Haitian konpa and South African indlamu. We also offered dance workshops and performances in schools and community sites around the city to introduce immigrant artists to new audiences. We opened a new Art Happens Here exhibition, Artists in Exile, with photographs by Thomas B. Morton, at the CEC (later to travel to the Paul Robeson House) and we hosted a screening of our Plenty of Good Women Dancers videotape on National Tap Dance day. We tried a new Home Season program to support folk artists in local performances, assisting with the presentation of Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble, Philadelphia Klezmer Heritage Ensemble, Rennie Harris PureMovement, and Cambodian folktale performances. We began offering folk arts education residencies at a school in our South Philadelphia neighborhood. A total of 68 individuals and groups attended our five technical assistance workshops, receiving $42,267 in grant funds from a range of funders. We published three issues of our magazine, Works in Progress, two calendars, and six more brief slide-tape shows/videos profiling local folk artists. Our traveling exhibitions were seen in nine different sites - from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Toledo, Ohio, to Wilmington, Delaware, and widely in Philadelphia.

1998-9
Our second Philly Dance Africa program again featured first-generation African dancers, chiefly immigrants and refugees, who practice important regional and ethnic dance traditions but who seldom perform or are seen regionally. The program expanded into a day-long program of workshops culminating in a participatory dance party, this time at the African American Museum, and including two ensembles' week-long residencies in a neighborhood school. We expanded our Folk Arts and Multicultural Education offerings this year, offering six on-going weekly residencies placing exceptional local folk artists in neighborhood classrooms and community centers. Residencies offer young people a chance to explore a wide range of world dance and drum traditions: Liberian, Afro-Cuban, Cambodian, Chinese and Vietnamese traditional dance and Trinidadian steel drumming - all arts with a special cultural relevance to youth and adults at residency sites. We continued to offer our six traveling exhibitions, booking 21 showings in diverse sites, from California to New Jersey. As one of our Art Happens Here programs based on fieldwork in local communities, Elizabeth Sayre curated Crafting Celebrations: Six Caribbean Folk Artists, an exhibition with Taller Puertorriqueño, featuring six traditional artists: Terrence Cameron, master craftsman of Trinidadian steel drums, Confesor Melendez, a maker of Puerto Rican cuatros, Edwin Arocho, maker of Puerto Rican vejigante masks, and Cecil Griffiths and Bobby DeSouza, makers of Trinidadian carnival costumes. We offered three grants workshops for artists and organizations, supporting these with technical assistance and consultations. Approximately 76 people attended these workshops, receiving about $120,000 in grant funds for their work. We were honored to receive a Stand Up for Justice award from Asian Americans United.

1999-2000
Based on three years of fieldwork and interviews with more than 170 Philadelphia activists and artists, the new exhibition Folk Arts of Social Change opened in September at the Fleisher, showcasing more than 600 artifacts significant in peoples' lives. Curated by Teresa Jaynes and supported by a team, the project (which also involved public gatherings, performances, and tours) explored how folk arts have been used in struggles for justice, and how movements for social change have relied on expressive folk traditions. PFP's ongoing concern with linking folk arts and progressive vision shaped the approach and angle of vision; Teresa's skill as an installation artist attentive to vernacular forms resulted in compelling presentation, including dozens of pairs of peoples' shoes (accompanied with stories: how do you walk the walk?), a wall of "talking" cards in which people recorded chants, and more. The show encouraged people to think about the everyday practice of art and activism, both reclaiming and in a way "defamiliarizing" these terms. Folk Arts of Social Change highlighted everyday acts of resistance, avoiding a "great person" approach to social history, instead shining the light on hundreds of local people's efforts, experiences and expressions, and bringing folks together in the process. The project encouraged attention to the ways in which we recall and remember struggles for justice, large and small. We preserved the Bill and Miriam Crawford dining room collage - 50 years of social change memorabilia and movement-building, which was included in the show, and which became a focus of interest and impromptu storytelling. Folklorists Gerry Davis and Beverly Robinson, both sadly now passed (long before their time), were guiding spirits for this effort.

Our third Philly Dance Africa program, coordinated by Joan Huckstep, built bridges, partnerships and understanding, responding to local African American dance community interest in inclusion in any presentation or definition of what counted as "African" and encouraging exploration of the widely different approaches to such things as authenticity, ownership and rights to particular dances and traditions, appropriate style, presentation and representation, and questions of respect and value. The project involved the careful selection and nurturing of three pairings of continental and diasporan ensembles: Eteko Bonyoma (Congolese) with Ione Nash Dance Ensemble, Liberian Cultural Dance Troupe with Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble, and South African Traditional Ensemble with Kariamu and Company: Traditions. It resulted in a sold-out event.

Folk Arts and Multicultural Education offerings grew to nine residencies serving 128 students. Traveling exhibitions were booked in 20 sites, from Texas to New Jersey. Four grants workshops and 60 days of free technical assistance and consultations served 100 artists and agencies; 46 people received more than $459,000 in grant funds! More than our own annual budget! Workshop "graduates" won significant awards, including Pew Fellowships in the Arts (7 out of 13 awards, in the first year of grants to folk artists). However, peoples' applications represented more than 1.3 million dollars in potential folk arts programs, reflecting a fraction of need and of what could be. As it is, this year is a high-water mark in folk arts funding in our city.

PFP received a Community Empowerment award from Bread and Roses.

2000-1
Our longstanding Art Happens Here program has taken different shapes, but always has focused on building supports for local folk and traditional arts. This year, the project morphed into Dance Happens Here (DHH), centering on the needs of folk, ethnic and vernacular dancers and dance traditions. We began documenting and assisting with community festivals: the AAU Mid-Autumn Festival, the Khmer/Lao New Year celebration and ODUNDE (for a special "Philly Dance Africa at ODUNDE!" performance). These programs helped dance artists to perform and produce work in community sites, and included technical assistance for artists, and a Best Foot Forward workshop, aiming to give artists feedback on their work. Twenty-one attendees received frank and helpful feedback from panelists Suzanne Callahan, Terry Liu and Katrina Hazzard-Donald. Over the course of the year, our DHH efforts also included a survey of 30 ethnic organizations regarding their dance activities and needs, research on dance scholarship, and ongoing technical assistance and video documentation.

Other TA (Technical Assistance) continued for artists working in other genres, and for community groups committed to folk arts; we offered six workshops over the course of the year, completed an assessment of our TA programs, and assisted 44 constituents in raising $185,472 in grant funds for folk and traditional arts in our region.

In our FAME (Folk Arts and Multicultural Education) program, we produced twelve artist residencies in public schools and community sites. It was a good year for documentary resources, too. We completed a major archive rehousing project, started up our website, reprinted In my Heart I am a Dancer (which was accepted by the Developmental Studies Center as one of 100 best multicultural books for kids, and included in their after-school KidsLit program), completed and published a teachers' guide to In my heart, and published a special issue of WIP (16:1/2) on Asian Folk Arts education. Our traveling exhibitions reached about 6,100 people in 8 sites from Philadelphia to New Jersey to North Carolina.

2001-2
Dance Happens Here (DHH) responded to folk and traditional dancers' needs with a menu of supports: performance opportunities at community festivals (AAU Mid-Autumn Festival, Feria del Barrio, South 7th Street Cambodian and Lao New Year, and ODUNDE) residencies, video documentation, program planning, grant-writing help and more. We helped Carole Boughter celebrate a 75th birthday party for tap dancer LaVaughn Robinson. We were planning for the next Philly Dance Africa, this time a collaboration with ODUNDE and Gadangme Association involving technical assistance and support for both partners; we added an open call for Philly Dance Africa artists, and invited guest scholars to help curate.

Ten traveling exhibitions bookings reached some 30,000 people at sites across Philadelphia and New Jersey. Overall, we offered 43 public programs reaching 43,551. Our TA (Technical Assistance) efforts, coordinated by Shawn Saunders this year, included five workshops. We assisted 34 individuals/groups in raising $103,097 for folk arts. FAME (Folk Arts and Multicultural Education) grew to fifteen residencies, including the Women's Music Project, a special effort involving Nana Korantemaa Ayeboafo, Leendavy Koung, and Susan Hoffman Watts. PFP worked with a coalition of community groups (Philadelphians United to Support Public schools) to fight the impending privatization of our schools - one of the many problematic results of the state's takeover of our school system.

We published Works in Progress 15:1/2, and a new documentary video, "Look forward and carry on the past: stories from Chinatown" (a collaboration of Asian Americans United, PFP, and Barry Dornfeld). Broadcast on WYBE, it was the first of our "Space Wars" efforts to document and support embattled communities facing gentrification. A PFP Working Paper, "Cultural Barriers to Justice in Greater Philadelphia," by Bill Westerman, was cited in the final report of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Court System; it lent language to the recommendations.

A Benefit Party honored Germaine Ingram. Aided by a management consultant, Board members began our second long-range planning effort. We started searching for a new home, completed a first technology plan, received an archive assessment from Dr. Michael Taft (from the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center), and grew to four full-timers: Toni Shapiro-Phim, Shawn Saunders, James Yoo and Debora Kodish.

2002-3
Philly Dance Africa, a collaboration with Gadangme Association and ODUNDE, was another sold-out event, including a traditional outdooring ceremony in which local and international Ga dignitaries bestowed honorary titles of asafoatse and asafoanye upon Christine Wiggins and Alonzo Mattthews. PFP gave honors as well: a special recognition award and support for a trip to Ghana to Ione Nash. Featured performers were Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble, Liberian National Cultural Ambassadors, Moisture, and Lisanga Ya Bana Kin.

Women's Music Project artists Leendavy Koung, Susan Watts, and Nana Korantemaa Ayeboafo taught young people and developed their own work, presented in concerts at the Clef Club and Indre Studios. Our traveling folklife exhibits were seen in five sites from the Philadelphia Airport to Corning, New York. Thirteen teaching artists in our arts education program, Folk Arts and Multicultural Education (FAME) worked with217 students. We produced 34 events reaching 99,000 people.

Overall, 40+ different artists and grassroots groups came to free technical assistance workshops and got help, raising $171,890 for their projects. Artists fulfilled dreams: developed community programs, purchased needed costumes, planned long-imagined visits to Africa, and accomplished performances on prestigious stages - often in the face of enormous obstacles. We continued to develop Dance Happens Here as an artist support and TA program. We crunched numbers and analyzed: our technical assistance programs, from 1987 to the present, represented assistance to 206 constituents resulting in more than $1.5 million dollars for folk and traditional arts.

We finished and broadcast on WYBE our documentary videotape on folk arts and social change in Chinatown, "Look forward and carry on the past: stories from Chinatown" (co-directed by Debbie Wei, Debora Kodish and Barry Dornefled and a collaboration between AAU, PFP, and Dornfeld.) It won 2nd prize for documentaries in the First Glance Film Festival. We received the George Bartol award for excellence in Arts Education. And we worked with others to express opposition to the relentless drive to war in Iraq.

2003-4
It was a big year for our folk arts education efforts. Eight FAME (Folk Arts and Multicultural Education) artist education residencies reached 231 students. And PFP staff worked closely with Asian Americans United and Charter School planning team members to develop a proposal for opening FACTS, the Folk Arts and Cultural Treasures Charter School: a powerful way of developing our collective vision of culturally respectful and culturally relevant education for justice.

We produced three concerts as part of our artist development programs (Musicians in Residence/Art Happens Here), filling the house and gaining real learnings on many fronts. Nine TA (technical assistance) workshops and open classes served 35 groups/ individuals who developed 56 grant applications, receiving $408,885: more than our own annual budget! We lifted/leveraged more than our own weight in resources for others this year.

The two main publication efforts this year, a children's book and a video documentary, are collaborations with artists and/or local residents about the value of specific places and the culture and history in/of that place. Debbie Wei, Sifu Cheung, Shuyuan Li and Aaron Chau completed Look forward and carry on the past, a beautiful children's book about folk arts and community preservation in Chinatown. "I choose to stay here", our documentary video collaboration with Rosemary Cubas, Lisa Segarra, Iris Torres and others at Community Leadership Institute, and Barry Dornfeld aired on WYBE. Thanks to volunteer lawyers from Ballard Spahr, we finally cleared copyright for our documentary on African American women tap dancers, Plenty of Good Women Dancers. More than 115,000 people saw PFP programs, thanks to documentary broadcasts.

After two years of looking at properties and considering a variety of options, we acquired a new site (735 S. 50th St), and developed a program and architectural plan that will allow for enhanced PFP programs there. We passed an accessibility review hearing and received a zoning variance for the site. We continued discussions with artists related to their potential use of the place, and contacted neighbors to get feedback on programs. And we figured out how to finance these dreams, with the help of lawyer Dina Schlossberg and the good folks at the Reinvestment Fund.

2004-5
We moved into our new home: a MAJOR achievement! Thanks to incredible volunteer effort from 76 people (including heroic efforts by Ming Chau, Beijing Opera artists, AAU allies, many artists, children of artists, and wonderful friends), and 7-day-a-week work in April and May, we completed floors, painting, phone lines, and considerable other indoor work, began planning (and even digging) gardens, negotiated with construction folks and architects, monitored budgets and work, packed up, moved out of rented storage space and Wharton Street, and moved into our new home. Our Fels intern, Stephanie Takaragawa, organized the move of the archive, and did a massive amount of rehousing, digitization, and database improvements. A great accomplishment. We became homeowners: a 2-story Philadelphia rowhouse started truly turning into our home. Artists came by with parents and kids: this place feels like home to many.

PFP staff and board continued to work with AAU as partners in the effort to develop the Folk Arts and Social Change Charter School (FACTS). Our charter was granted March 9, 2005 - an amazing accomplishment - and the next six months were a blur of work getting ready for school to open in September (even more amazing)! Our FAME (Folk Arts and Multicultural Education) programs engaged 129 students in 8 residencies, taught by 13 artists. Culminating performances reached 3,765 students.

And what a busy year: Art Happens Here residencies, tailored to the specific artistic needs and goals of participants, included Germaine Ingram, Ollin Yolitzli, Herencia Arabe, and Elaine and Susan Watts. We held open studio visits for each to showcase work in progress. Germaine Ingram and jazz musicians presented a magical Dance Happens Here (DHH) performance. A Local Knowledge program on African American storytelling at the Art Sanctuary featured Dr. Kathryn Morgan, Linda Goss and Thelma Shelton Robinson. "If these walls could talk", our exhibition on the Crawford's dining room - the first program in our new building - was attended by more than 120 people, and warmly received, as was "We shall not be moved," Tom Morton's photo show, also at 735 S. 50th Street, and a contribution to ODUNDE's 30th anniversary. Six , technical assistance workshops held in our new home, and additional support served 35 individuals/groups. Toni Shapiro-Phim and Barry Dornfeld worked on a "video postcard" on klezmer musicians Elaine and Susan Watts; we completed the documentary I choose to stay here, finished Plenty (broadcast on WHYY to at least 30,000), produced a 3rd printing of In my heart I am a dancer, and of course, we kept publishing our magazine.

2005-6
We moved in last year in early summer, but this fall, we officially opened our new building with a celebration and then experimented with a first full year of programs here, thinking a great deal about process, learnings, relationships. Across town, we were also busy: our Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS) opened and we ran 7 free folk arts education residencies there and in a community site in our neighborhood, reaching 299 youth in all. Teaching artists included Linda Goss, Dottie Wilkie/Kulu Mele, Mogauwane Mahloele, Chamroeun Yin, Sifu Cheung, Shuyuan Li and Kormassa Bobo. The establishment of FACTS - with a folk arts and cultural equity vision at its heart - is a major accomplishment!

And if that wasn't enough, we returned to large-scale producing downtown, with Dance Happens Here, our first major production in four years, brilliantly curated by Toni Shapiro-Phim and marked by stellar artistry (30 artists!), two sold-out houses (487 people in all), help from 47 volunteers: and the achievement of 2 premieres and much learning. Participating artists included Germaine Ingram (African American tap dance) premiering new choreography to a new composition by extraordinary jazz musician Tyrone Brown (and ensemble) in honor of writer John Williams, Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble (West African and Afro-Cuban dance) showcasing work blending West African dance and hip hop, Thavro Phim (premiering a work of lakhon khol, Cambodian masked dance) and Amatak, his ensemble of Cambodian dancers, reunited for this program, as they are dispersed across the country. (Only 6 dancers in the US know this art form). People emerged from the theater in an altered state, especially naming their appreciation of the chance to see, in the company of so diverse and welcoming a crowd, a single evening of such extraordinary artistry from traditions with which they were often unfamiliar.

Salons in our new building featured the following artists in intimate settings: Zaye Tete (Liberian song), Fatu Gayflor (Liberian song), Susan and Elaine Watts (Jewish klezmer music), and Joe Tayoun and Roger Mgridichian (Lebanese and Armenian music). We continued screenings of a documentary video produced by PFP and Community Leadership Institute, storytelling sessions, and salons with cultural workers focusing on diverse local heritage projects, including Lois Fernandez (stories of ODUNDE, including a storytelling contest gathering community memories of this important festival on its 30th anniversary, and culminating in the giving away of photographs from the Tom Morton exhibition, noted below), Carol Finkle (deaf culture), Suzanne Povse (occupational folklore), and several artist gatherings.

We curated three exhibitions in our new home and welcomed people to experience them: "If These Walls Could Talk," an installation of the dining room collage/memory walls of Bill and Miriam Crawford, marking 50 years of work for social change locally; "ODUNDE: 30 Years Here! Documentary photographs by Thomas B. Morton," and "Community Fabric," featuring textile work from 19 artists. This year, in all, we produced 51 public programs featuring 77 folk and traditional artists and reaching a conservative estimate of 17,053 (with broadcasts, more likely 67,603) people in all. This includes 1,662 people at programs at our new building.

We published the 35th issue of our magazine, worked to improve distribution of our children's books and documentary videos, completed and broadcast (on WHYY) a 3-minute "video postcard" on klezmer musician Elaine Watts. And we maintained our archive, doing routine accessioning and digitizing, undertaking a conservation assessment, and working with peer groups nationally to address preservation needs. We offered 9 Technical Assistance workshops, and additional support and follow-up consultation and coaching, serving 103 attendees.

Some of this work happened thanks to the presence of our long-awaited and needed third staff-person, Roko Kawai, who began this summer on a part-time basis.

2006-7
To mark our 20th birthday, we turned to our elders: artists who have been working far longer than 20 years in their particular traditions. We featured them (and their works and thoughts) in salons and exhibitions in this new home: ways to explore the state of folk and traditional arts, to reflect on the past together, and to imagine the kinds of futures that may be possible. Salons also offered people (you all!) chances to share their appreciation of dedicated and significant artists: Yvette Smalls (hair braiding), Ayesha Rahim (crocheted hats and crowns), Eric Joselyn (arts for social change), Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun (Hmong paj ndaub), Vera Nakonechny (Ukrainian weaving), Christina Johnson (African American quilting and textiles) and others. Closing our exhibition "Community Fabric," we opened a new exhibition of work by Eric Joselyn, "What you got to say," filling our gallery with a sampling of hundreds of banners, props, and artifacts produced by Eric with others, as part of movements for social justice here in Philadelphia. Pang Xiong and other advisors (incuding 1.5 generation Hmong) helped to curate the exhibition "We choose to be strong: 28 years of Hmong needlework in Philadelphia," a chance to rethink the social and artistic history of Hmong people over the last 28 years. These "Folk Arts House" efforts were curated by Debora Kodish.

We produced a major Musicians-in-Residence concert (African Song/New Contexts) featuring Zaye Tate, Fatu Gayflor and Mogauwane Mahloele in two shows at World Cafe with special additions: Nana Korantemaa opened with a libation in Akan tradition. And we closed the show with an honoring of local Liberian performing artists, specially invited on stage. This year, we offered 11 free folk arts education residencies for 373 young people at FACTS and in community sites. Teaching artists (16 in all) included Linda Goss, Dottie Wilkie/Kulu Mele, Mogauwane Mahloele, Fatu Gayflor, Chamroeun Yin, Losang Samten, Sifu Cheung/ Helen Gym, Shuyuan Li, Kormassa Bobo, Zaye Tete and Thavro Phim. These public programs were all directed by Toni Shapiro-Phim.

We reprinted (for the 4th time) In my heart, screened We Play Klezmer, and Plenty of Good Women Dancers in the "Black Lily" film festival and on local stations (DUTV, WHYY) and published our 36th issue of Works in Progress. A new essay on "Plenty" by Germaine and Debora was published in On Tap.

Looking back. . .

Over the past 20 years, we have been part of more than a dozen long-term (and many still on-going) collaborative projects with grassroots community groups, reinvesting in community infrastructure and literally making local folk artists more visible and viable in the very communities in which artists live and work. Overall, since 1987, we have:

  • produced community projects (200+ public events, 57+ artist residencies, and 19 ethnographic exhibitions reaching 13,000 - 60,000 people each year),

  • developed documentary resources on local folk arts (36 magazine issues, 9 books, 11 working papers, 12 videos, 2 curriculum guides, and an archive of 49,000+ items).

  • and offered services (advocacy, free technical assistance, consultation and other programs for folk artists and grassroots cultural organizations reaching more than 250 individuals and groups and resulting in more than $2,625,000 in funds going to local artists and agencies. In many cases, these were the first outside dollars to be invested in low-income communities of color for folk arts preservation and performance.

We are proud to have received the following awards and recognition:

  • "Passing the Torch and Building Legacies" award in recognition of commitment and dedication to African rooted dance, arts and culture" from Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble (2007)

  • the inaugural Councilman David Cohen Award for "outstanding commitment to social and economic justice" from The Philadelphia Cultural Fund (2006)

  • David P. Richardson Community Service Award for steadfast support and commitment to the art and cultural groups in our communities" from ODUNDE (2005)

  • Human Rights Award for Arts and Culture, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (2004)

  • George Bartol Award for Excellence in Arts Education from the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation (2003)

  • Community Empowerment Award from Bread and Roses Community Fund (2000)

  • Stand Up for Justice award from Asian Americans United (1999)

  • in addition to awards for our documentary videos and children's books.

WE THANK YOU ALL!

WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO BE WALKING ON THE SAME ROAD WITH YOU ALL. . . . .