Folklife Program

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

Folklife Program staff plan and present special projects that have statewide impact. We honor traditional artists of outstanding ability who are valued by their communities. Exhibit development, festivals, touring programs, school programs, curriculum development, conferences, and documentary sound recordings, films, and videos are examples of projects produced since 1985. Documentary materials resulting from these projects are shared via our website and the field notes, sound recordings, photographs and slides, and film and videotape footage are preserved in office archives, University of Nevada-Las Vegas Special Collections/Oral History Program, and in the American Folklife Center/Library of Congress.

The NAC Folklife Program promotes appreciation of Nevada’s folklife and traditional arts by producing special projects, publications, exhibitions, recordings and films; by documenting living traditions; by maintaining an archives of documentary materials and resources; and by supporting arts-related activities undertaken by individuals and organizations who have successfully competed for grants and awards.

Folklife is…

  • the music and dance of our communities
  • the things we make
  • the celebration of daily and special events
  • the work we do
  • the ways we learn
  • the expressions of faith and fellowship
  • the places we call home

Home Means Nevada and Nevada Stories – our online video series – provide opportunities for viewers to become familiar with Nevada’s living folk cultures and folk art practitioners, first-hand.


AREX Grants (community and cultural arts residency programs)

Folk and traditional artist residencies, demonstrations, and performances 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

The Living Traditions Grant program funds individual 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. Read more

The Nevada Heritage Awards (NHA) honor Nevada folk artists whose work in the folk arts has had a significant impact on the people and communities of the state. Read more


The Folklife Program regularly engages in cultural surveys to discover folk artists and folklife activities, and to document cultural communities that are resident in Nevada. Our folklorists can help municipalities and non-profit organizations to design and implement research, documentation, and community engagement projects. Contact the Program Director for more information.

Feature digital “exhibitlets” showcasing folk and traditional arts documented by the NAC Folklife Program.

Since its inception in 1985 the Nevada Arts Council’s Folklife Program has documented the existence and development of Nevada’s diverse geographical and cultural communities and its resident folk artists. Today the Folklife Archives constitute a significant intellectual, historical and educational resource with relevance to many fields of inquiry. The Nevada Folklife Archives is a dynamic fieldwork collection that continues to grow and change with new and ongoing research. Its content includes original fieldwork generated by the agency’s Folklife Program staff and project contractors; and folk art objects acquired for exhibits showcasing Nevada’s traditional arts. Contact the Folklife Specialist for more information.

Folklife Program provides workshops designed for artists who wish to gain information and skills necessary for marketing, self-promotion, public presentation and exhibition, school residencies, and/or to join the Artists in the Schools + Communities Roster. Generally presented in partnership with an arts or cultural organization, these workshops range from half-day to multi-day training, depending on the subject matter. Contact the Folklife Program if you are interested in sponsoring a workshop or for information on upcoming workshops.


Rivers & Headwaters is a regional folklife fieldwork project to identify and document tradition bearers and traditional activities related to rivers, headwaters, and watersheds in western United States. Our focus has been the Muddy River, which empties into Lake Mead and the Colorado River. Irrigating the Moapa Valley with water from the Muddy River made agriculture possible for the early Mormon pioneers. Among the crops that they brought to the area were pomegranates. Descendants of those pioneers still live in the area, as do the pomegranates. This film examines the pomegranate harvest, juicing, jelly making, and the Pomegranate Arts Festival.


Staff provides technical assistance to individual artists and organizations for the development and maintenance of Folklife festivals, exhibits based on traditional arts, artist referrals, cultural inventories, folklore publications, and other related public programs, as well as research methodologies in traditional arts and culture.
  • Folklife Director, Patricia A. Atkinson, 775.687.7103 or email
  • Folklife Specialist, Rebecca Snetselaar, 702.486.3739 or email