What We Do

Folklore means something different to everyone - as it should, since it is one of the chief means we have to represent our own realities in the face of powerful institutions. Here at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, we work 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.

Established in 1987, we are an independent public folklife agency that documents, supports, and presents Philadelphia-area folk arts and culture - including the arts of people who have been here generations and those who have just arrived. We work to preserve and 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.

Annually, we offer exhibitions, concerts, workshops and assistance to artists and communities. We conduct ongoing field research into community-based local arts, history, and culture, and we preserve a record of Philadelphia's folklife in our archive. Our arts education programs give young people opportunities to study with amazing and diverse artists. Our publications, videos, travelling exhibitions, and other resources offer alternative versions of Philadelphia. With our work, we try to deepen public understanding of local traditional arts and the peoples and communities that create them.

Interested in learning more about folklore and folk arts?

•   What are Folk Arts?

•   Pitfalls and possibilities: Presenting folk arts in the schools

•   Additional readings are in our section on resources for educators.