Folk Art and Social Change Fellow - Job Opening


At the Philadelphia Folklore Project (PFP), we stand with the Black Lives Matter protesters and those who seek justice. We are committed to amplifying Black voices, words, and wisdom—from which we draw both strength and direction—and we see it as our responsibility to fight with communities of color against the daily violence of systemic racism.

Founded in 1987, as part of a small but significant movement of newly-created independent public folklife agencies, PFP documents, supports, and presents Philadelphia-area folk arts and culture–both the arts of people who have been here for generations and of those who have just arrived. Folklife—diverse vernacular traditions, local knowledge, and cultural heritage—is an often-overlooked resource for powerful social change and community well-being. We work to strengthen the folk cultural life of our communities because we believe that the quality of urban life is directly related to the persistence, diversity, and vitality of our vernacular folk cultures. 

PFP is known for urban folk arts programs with imagination and integrity, for deeply engaged and responsible collaborations with community partners, and for the intellectual rigor of our work. We are deeply embedded in the cultural life of Philadelphia. Select program highlights from the past few years include a feature-length, award-winning documentary film, Because of the War, focused on Liberian women and their use of traditional music to make peace in their communities; cultivation of participatory community klezmer music and dance, and ethnographic documentation and exhibition focused on community visibility and the reclamation of space through Mexican home altars and offerings. 

Annually, PFP offers exhibitions, concerts, workshops, and assistance to artists and communities. By conducting ongoing ethnographic research into community-based local arts, history, and culture, PFP continues to preserve a record of Philadelphia's folklife. Its arts education programs, online & media publications, documentary films, exhibitions, and other resources offer alternative versions of Philadelphia that deepen the public’s understanding of local traditional arts and those who create them. We are devoted to changing the landscape in terms of access and investment in community infrastructure, building power, and possibilities in the cultural life of our city. We believe that folklife in action will always be one of the chief means communities have to represent their own realities in the face of powerful institutions. 



Job Title: Folk Art and Social Change Fellow

Reports To: Executive Director

Status: Exempt, Full-time (1-year position with the opportunity for renewal)

Hours: 35 hours per week (including frequent evenings and weekends). The ability to flex with a weekly schedule/hours based on community work is a must.

Posted: July 2020

Deadline to Apply: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through August 10, 2020.  

Expected Start Date: September 2020



Mission: The Philadelphia Folklore Project works to sustain vital and diverse living cultural heritage in communities in our region through collaborative projects, research, documentation, and education, prioritizing folk and traditional arts in service of social change.

Work: We identify local folk artists and support their artistic growth; produce public programs advancing folk artists and traditions significant to Philadelphia communities; develop education programs benefiting children and adults, and document outstanding practitioners and practices. 


The Folk Arts & Social Change Fellow is a professional folklorist and cultural worker who reports to the Executive Director and works collaboratively with staff, artists, and community members on project and program design, development, and implementation. The Fellow oversees PFP’s Folk Arts and Social Change Residency program and participates in the organization's educational partnerships. Programming operates with the premise that folk cultural knowledge has the power to be transformative in community-led social change. The position requires a cooperative approach, and diverse perspectives are valued as central to the core mission. As such, the Folk Art and Social Change Fellowship is not only about amplifying the organization’s public work and reach but also about addressing underserved and underrepresented identities and perspectives in the field of folklore today. While the position will require substantial flexibility due to the unpredictable nature of the COVID19 pandemic, in FY21, the position will be largely focused on diverse place-based work, healing traditions and public health, and our Gita Santi: Indonesian Community Initiative. 

The Fellow will:

  • Conduct fieldwork, documentation & interpretative initiatives as well as train and oversee artists and community participants in these roles

  • Engage in outreach and community organizing activities as they relate to project development and execution

  • Provide technical assistance to local folk artists and community organizations via PFP’s Community Cultural Welfare Group

  • Produce a variety of written & media content ranging from program press releases, web copy and  marketing materials, to grant narrative and scholarly commentary

  • Manage project budgets

  • Assist the Executive Director with targeted fundraising initiatives 

  • Provide processing, digitization, and finding aid support for PFP’s archives 



The successful candidate will be self-motivated, detail-oriented, energetic, and highly organized with 2-3 years of related work experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience. They will also have:

  • Commitment to collaborative community-driven work that advances racial and cultural equity as well as social justice
  • A graduate degree in Folklore or Ethnomusicology is preferred.
  • Demonstrated excellent oral and written communication skills, including an ability to communicate well across cultures and to relate effectively to a diverse group of people
  • Proven time management and problem-solving skills; an ability to thrive working under deadlines and handling multiple tasks without sacrificing attention to detail 
  • Demonstrated commitment to personal integrity, striving for excellence, and collaborating with others to achieve new levels of effectiveness and impact
  • An enthusiastic and collaborative approach to work, a sense of humor, and a willingness to learn
  • Experience in ethnographic fieldwork, artistic programming, coordinating meetings and public events
  • Experience estimating and managing project budgets
  • Facility with crafting project grant narrative
  • Solid technology skills, including proficiency with MS Office Suite, strong word processing, and spreadsheet skills. Proficiency in basic video editing and Adobe design software is a plus. Comfort working in new digital formats and remote ethnographic methodologies is a must. 
  • English proficiency required. Proficiency in a second language is desirable



The salary for this one year position is $50,000 plus a benefits package. Benefits include comprehensive health insurance (medical, vision, dental, life and disability), paid sick days, vacation, holidays, subsidized professional development, and an annual research sabbatical of one month in January.


The Philadelphia Folklore Project is fully committed to Equal Employment Opportunity and to attracting, retaining, developing, and promoting the most qualified employees without regard to their race, gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, citizenship status, veteran status, or any other characteristic prohibited by state or local law. Philadelphia Folklore Project is dedicated to providing a work environment free from discrimination and harassment and where employees are treated with respect and dignity.


Send a letter of interest that outlines the skills and experience that make you a good candidate and include a resume and the names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers of three references to In the email, please indicate your earliest availability, and whether we need to keep your application confidential. In addition, please provide one (or more) writing sample with an explanation of the sample context and who else was involved in the writing or editing.

Application Checklist:

  • Letter of interest

  • Resume

  • References

  • Availability

  • Confidentiality

  • Writing samples