Maryland Traditions: Maryland’s State Folklife Program
What is folklife?
Folklife is all around you. It’s in the music that makes your culture unique, the special dishes on your family dinner table, and the customs that mark your holidays. In a nutshell, folklife is made up of the living cultural traditions that help to define who you are and where you’re from.
Folklife can be based on ethnicity. Marylanders who come from other places bring their folklife with them in the form of traditional dances or foods. Folklife can be based on place. Head west to Appalachian Maryland, and you might hear the sounds of old time mountain music passed down over generations. Or, folklife can be based on occupation, as with the oystering, crabbing, and boatbuilding traditions of the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland Traditions is the folklife program of the Maryland State Arts Council. Since 1974, state-employed folklorists have worked to identify, document, support, and present Maryland folklife through grants, awards, festivals, and other programming. Learn more about our work below, or contact Director Chad Edward Buterbaugh at (410) 767-6450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Offered annually, the Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award funds a year-long period of study between a master and apprentice artist. These awards support the passing down of folklife in a wide range of living cultural traditions.
Heritage Awards recognize long-term achievement in folklife, or community-based living cultural traditions handed down by example or word of mouth. Awards are given through the Maryland Traditions state folklife program and annually recognize one recipient in each of three categories: Person/People, Place, and Tradition.
Hosted in Salisbury from 2018-2020, the National Folk Festival is a free celebration of the nation’s living cultural traditions. Maryland folklife practitioners are featured at the festival’s Maryland Traditions Folklife Area. The National Folk Festival is produced by the Maryland-based National Council for the Traditional Arts.
The Maryland Folklife Archives contain fieldwork data collected by Maryland state folklorists since 1974, along with many more folklife materials. This public archive is housed in the Special Collections of the Albin O. Kuhn Library at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where digitization work is ongoing.
Folklife Network grants fund organizations serving as regional folklife centers in Maryland. Grants are administered through the Maryland Traditions state folklife program and support activities that identify, document, support, or present the living cultural traditions of Maryland’s diverse communities. Current regional folklife centers receiving Folklife Network funding are: Frostburg State University (Allegany County), Sandy Spring Museum (Montgomery County); St. Mary’s College of Maryland (St. Mary’s County); University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore County); and the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University (Wicomico County). Learn more about the Folklife Network here.
National Heritage Fellowships
The National Heritage Fellowship is the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Given annually by the National Endowment for the Arts, fellowships honor artists’ excellence and contributions to folk and traditional arts in the United States. Seventeen awards have been given in Maryland since the first class of recipients were recognized in 1982. Read about them here.
All grantees are required to submit a Final Report communicating data required by the National Endowment for the Arts. This required data can be found here. For program specific Report information, please see the corresponding Guidelines.