Folklife Program

Shoshone Beaded Medallion, Shawn Collins, South Fork, Elko County, NV

Folklife may not be what you suppose.

Do you have a nickname? Do you remember a favorite childhood playground game?
Does your family prepare special foods for holidays or birthdays?
Did you learn which direction to drive a screw with the phrase “Righty tighty, lefty loosey?”

Yes, folklife includes old songs and native baskets, but it also involves what we learn informally in everyday life: family games, jokes, internet memes, food traditions, even hairstyles.

Everyone has folklore. It is universal and infinitely varied, yet it is unique to each person, family, cultural group, and community. We learn traditions in our various cultural groups such as families, neighborhoods, age peers, friends, clubs, and so on. Many traditions are old—even ancient—while others may be relatively new. Innovation, variation, and sharing keeps them alive through generations and across distances.

Folk and traditional arts include verbal arts such as storytelling, music, dance and movement, and hand-made objects. Folklife encompasses folk arts, but also beliefs, customs, rituals, technologies, foodways, festivals and celebrations, sports and games, style and costume.

The NAC Folklife Program promotes appreciation of Nevada’s folklife and traditional arts by producing projects, publications, exhibitions, recordings, and films; documenting living traditions; maintaining the Nevada Folklife Archives of photographs, recorded interviews, field notes, and folk art objects; and supporting the folk and traditional arts activities of individuals, organizations, and communities through grants, consultations, and technical assistance.

Our online video series – Home Means Nevada and Nevada Stories – feature Nevada’s living folk cultures, folk artists, and cultural practitioners.

The Nevada Folklife Archives, which contain more than 40,000 photographic images and over 500 audio interviews recorded by the NAC folklorists since 1986, document Nevada’s living folk cultures and communities. Digitized images are being uploaded to a new public access website on Flickr, and original slides and negatives from 1986-2000 are being transferred to the American Folklife Center/Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. for long term preservation and public access.


FY19 ARTIST RESIDENCY EXPRESS GRANTS (community and cultural arts residency programs)
Folk and traditional artist residencies and hands-on learning activities may be eligible for funding through the NAC’s Artist Residency Express (AREX) grant program. Master artists available to conduct a residency may also be listed in our Artist in Schools + Communities Roster. Read more

Living Traditions Grants fund master folk artists and cultural organizations to support exemplary traditional arts projects in Nevada. Non-competitive grants of $1,500 are awarded to projects that demonstrate significant impact within a particular tradition or cultural community. Applications are being accepted for projects taking place before June 30, 2019. Read more

The Artist Fellowship recognizes exceptional individual artists for excellence in their work with a $5,000 grant. In 2019 the NAC will open the Fellowship to folk and traditional artists in all disciplines. Note: Folk and Traditional Arts applications are judged separately from those in the Contemporary Arts. Read more


Coming soon…

Coming soon…


Folk & Traditional Arts Fellowship

The Artist Fellowship Grant now includes Folk & Traditional Arts Fellowship defined by cultural connections such as a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geographic area. Folk & Traditional Arts Fellowship Fellowships will be offered in Material Culture and Performing Arts. Read More


Technical assistance to individual artists and organizations includes consultation on folklife festivals, exhibits featuring traditional arts, and other public programs. Folklife Specialists also make artist referrals, conduct cultural inventories, and advise on developing competitive grant applications.
  • Folklife Specialist, Carson City: Patricia A. Atkinson, 775.687.7103 or email
  • Folklife Specialist, Las Vegas: Rebecca Snetselaar, 702.486.3739 or email