Celebrating Colorado’s Cultural Heritage Through Folk and Traditional Arts Projects

The Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) Division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced today that 21 artists and art organizations across Colorado have been awarded Folk and Traditional Arts Project Grants. From Phillips to Delta counties and Huerfano to Denver counties, these grants will help preserve, celebrate and document the local artistic traditions and heritage of unique Colorado communities. 

“By celebrating Colorado's folk and traditional arts, we preserve values and traditions that are passed from generation to generation,” said OEDIT Director, Eve Lieberman. “The recipients announced today will help carry on the diversity, culture and heritage of Colorado communities, offering all of us the opportunity to realize the rich history our state holds.” 

The Folk and Traditional Arts Project Grants seek to enhance community well being, cultural identity, economic vitality, and sense of place especially in areas that are often underrepresented in the contemporary art space. Funds will support the creation, presentation, or teaching of folk and traditional arts, and/or the documentation of folk or traditional arts and cultural heritage through community archiving, oral histories, photojournalism, video or other creative works.

Among the recipients, the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation will use the grant funds to publish a cookbook of recipes and stories representing Huerfano County. Another project will focus on documenting the Lakota language in traditional songs by creating digital sing-along videos to encourage younger generations to learn the lyrics and understand their origin stories. Through the “Shining a Light on the Art of Quilting” project, the Colorado Black Arts Movement will reinvigorate the artistic traditions and values associated with quilting in the Montbello, Green Valley Ranch, and Park Hill neighborhoods of Denver. As part of the grant’s preservation efforts, all funded projects will be archived in the State Archives and made accessible to the public through History Colorado. 

“Folk and traditional art is a vital and ever evolving artistic tradition that reflects the cultural life of a community. We are so pleased to see renewed interest nationwide in preserving these traditions and are proud to celebrate Colorado’s many unique communities,” said CCI Director, Josh Blanchard. 

The Folk and Traditional Arts Grant was developed in response to a two year planning process with a stakeholder group engaged in Colorado’s folk arts. A total of $61,940 is being awarded to 21 artists and art organizations, funded in part by a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Today’s recipients include: 

Alamosa County

  • Adobe de Oro - Ballet Folklorico - $3,000 - Semillas de la Tierra, the San Luis Valley’s oldest Ballet Folklorico dance group, will offer a public performance and celebration.
  • Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area - Hispanic Folk Dances - $3,000 - For the production of a short documentary on the history of local folk dances and music within the San Luis Valley. The film will feature Los Vecinos Bailadores, a group of retired community members who practice and perform the Hispanic dances that have been staples of the community since Hispanics first settled in the San Luis Valley in the mid-nineteenth century.

Arapahoe County

  • Child of this Culture Foundation - Folk Dance and Hip-Hop - $3,000 - This project celebrates Aurora and Denver's vibrant Hip Hop community through a collaboration with the School of Breaking hip hop school and the Denver-based group No Mo Violence Folkloric Dance Group at the Spot 2.0.  
  • Colorado Asian Pacific United - Little Saigon Memory Project - $3,000 - The Little Saigon Memory Project, a collaborative initiative between History Colorado and Colorado Asian Pacific United, aims to capture the narratives of Vietnamese, Chinese-Vietnamese, and other Asian immigrants and refugees in Denver’s Little Saigon area.

Boulder County

  • Roots Music Project - African and Black American Music - $3,000 - Roots Music Project's Juneteenth celebration in Boulder, CO will amplify and honor the rich legacy of African musical traditions on Black American Music, and present Zimbira, a dynamic 10-piece ensemble steeped in the traditional music of Southern Africa.

Costilla County

  • Dana Maestas - Documentary project - $3,300 - "The Heritage Project – Recuerdos: Remembrances of Indo-Hispano Elders of the Rio Culebra Villages" is an oral history project documenting interviews of approximately five to ten ancianos (elders) living in the San Luis de la Culebra villages of southern Colorado. 

Delta County

  • The Learning Council - Blacksmithing - $3,000 - “Reviving Roots” Skill Build Workshops will provide free blacksmithing instruction in Paonia. 

Denver County

  • Flamenco Denver - Flamenco Art Form - $2,950 - Free Flamenco en tu Calle outdoor community performance and workshop this summer at La Raza Park in Denver.
  • Colorado Black Arts Movement - Quilting - $3,000 - To reinvigorate the artistic traditions and values associated with quilting in the Montbello, Green Valley Ranch, and Park Hill neighborhoods of Denver through the "Shining a Light on the Art of Quilting" project.
  • Askkanwii Filmmaking Hub Incubator - Ramadan Traditions in Morocco - $3,000 - Documentary film by Moroccan filmmaker Imad El Outhmani that captures the essence of how Ramadan is celebrated by Moroccan immigrants in his Denver community.
  • Art Students League of Denver - Papel Picado - $3,000 - Documentary film capturing artist Guadalupe Hernandez's intricate and technical process of creating Papel Picado.
  • Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand - Lakota Language and Song - $3,000 - Documentation of Lakota language in traditional songs through digital sing-along videos to encourage younger generations to learn traditional song lyrics and understand the stories behind the songs.

Grand County

  • Grand Lake Creative District - Cowboy Boot Making - $3,000 - “Intro to Cowboy Boot Making” class at Rocky Mountain Folk School.

Huerfano County

  • Spanish Peaks Community Foundation - Community Cookbook - $3,000 - Creation and publication of a community cookbook highlighting the rich legacy that food represents in the folk and traditional arts of Huerfano County.

Jefferson County

  • Golden History Museum - Native “Jewels” in Traditional and Contemporary Indigenous Fashion - $3,000 - Exhibition at the Golden History Museum examining the use of Native “jewels,” (specifically elk teeth and dentalium shells) in traditional and contemporary Native American arts, clothing and jewelry.

Larimer County

  • Dwayne Iron - Native American Music - $3,000 - Digitization and teaching of Native American powwow and ceremonial songs and the creation of powwow drums in Northern Colorado. 
  • Northern Colorado Intertribal Pow-wow Association - Native American Traditional Arts and Cultural Heritage Teachings - $3,000 - Supporting weekly classes that provide space for Native individuals and families to reconnect and learn about their heritage and culture.

Montezuma County

  • Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance - Traditional Native American Arts - $3,000 - Supporting Four Corners Indigenous Art Market, a vibrant celebration of Native artistry and cultural heritage that brings together talented artisans from many of the 26 Tribes and Pueblos traditionally associated with Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Phillips County

  • Phillips County Family Education Services - Spanish Folkloric Dance Program - $3,000 - Providing a three-week summer program offering Paquimé Spanish Folkloric dance lessons and a recital for the community of Holyoke, CO.

Pueblo County

  • Chavez Huerta Preparatory Academy - Mexican Folk Dance/Ballet Folklorico - $2,000 - "Bailes de Aztlan (Dances from the Chicano Ancestral Homeland)" project in Pueblo, CO.

Saguache County

  • HEART of Saguache - Colcha Embroidery - $3,000 - Free colcha embroidery workshop in Saguache, CO, provided by the San Luis Valley Colcha Embroidery Project, a collaboration between HEART of Saguache, The Range, and artists in the San Luis Valley.
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