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Mon, 2019-10-21 10:29

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Texas Folklife

Folk and Traditional Arts of Texas

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Our Mission

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and presenting the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. 

What Is "Folklife"?

Folklife is the accumulated traditions practiced or appreciated by members of a group who share a common history or way of life. A group's traditions may include a wide range of skills and knowledge, from customs and belief to stories and songs, from music and dance to crafts and other decorative handmade objects. Generally, traditions are learned informally and passed on from one person in the group to the next, often orally, by imitation, or in performance.

What We Do

Since 1984, Texas Folklife has honored the cultural traditions passed down within communities across Texas and explored their importance in contemporary society. Texas Folklife has been called “one of the state’s true cultural treasures” by the Austin American-Statesman for the accessible, joyful arts experiences we provide.  Texas Folklife produces programs throughout the state that bring Texas traditions to life for new generations, including:

    • Performances • Community Residencies • Exhibitions • Education programs & Curriculum Materials • Apprenticeships • Radio and television projects

In 1984, three folklorists conducted the Texas Folk Art Survey, journeying around Texas in search of Texas folkways. What they found, in communities large and small from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande, was a vital, creative and often extraordinary cultural expression. The resulting landmark exhibition, Handmade and Heartfelt: Contemporary Folk Art in Texas, toured Texas museums throughout 1985 and 1986. Texas Folklife was founded to continue this process of discovery, and to connect diverse communities through a celebration of shared traditions.

Texas Folklife promotes, presents and documents the state’s rich cultural legacy through a vibrant mix of exhibitions, performances, community residencies, apprenticeships, and educational programs. Texas Folklife is committed to preserving the diverse living heritage of Texans, while exploring the vital role of tradition in contemporary society. Dubbed “one of the state’s true cultural treasures” by the Austin American-Statesman, Texas Folklife is widely viewed as a model for public folk arts programming for the joyful experiences we make possible. Programs such as the “Big Squeeze” statewide youth accordion contest and the “Accordion Kings & Queens” concert bring together diverse audiences to share and experience Texas traditions.  We have produced national multi-media projects supported by National Public Radio and PBS, including The Border Radio Show and The Big Squeeze documentary. We are now in the post-production phase of a short documentary film about Santa Muerte, a Mexican folk saint with a growing presence in Texas.

Texas Folklife benefits from a strong reputation among regional and national peers and colleagues in the arts. The American Folklife Center in Washington, D.C. has invited us multiple years to present Texas artists such as blues legend Barbara Lynn, trio Los Tres Reyes, conjunto Los Texmaniacs, and Western Swing and Texas fiddle band The Quebe Sisters at The Library of Congress’ Coolidge Auditorium and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in their “Home Grown: The Music of America” series.  The National Endowment for the Arts has consistently funded a number of programs, including our youth media program “Stories from Deep in the Heart”, “A Place at the Table,” a statewide study of regional food traditions, and our longstanding “Apprenticeships in the Folk & Traditional Arts” program, with the support of a State Arts Partnership Award with TCA. Recently, the Grammy Museum Foundation granted Texas Folklife a major award for our Archival Preservation Project, helping us to digitize, catalog, and share archival audio holdings that represent a slice of Texas music culture and history.

  • During his tenure at Texas Folklife, Lockwood has overseen a variety of flagship Texas Folklife programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts funded Apprenticeships in the Folk & Traditional Arts and Stories from Deep in the Heart youth radio program, Accordion Kings & Queens, The Big Squeeze ...

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  • Ian Hallagan is the Programs & Grants Coordinator. Ian received his MA in Performance Studies from Texas A&M University in 2016, and his BA in Folklore & Ethnomusicology from Indiana University in 2014. He has previously worked with musical ensembles of undergraduate college students that perform genres from big band jazz to math rock, metal, and everything in between. Ian has also worked as an assistant archivist for the Archives of African American Music and Culture, and reviewer for...

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  • Becky Bingman coordinates Texas Folklife's Gallery Exhibits and has been involved the arts and education community for 25 years. Before joining Texas Folklife, Becky worked with the Kentucky Collaborative for Teaching and Learning, where she organized artist workshops for teachers, and developed arts programming and curriculum materials for Kentucky Educational Television. She has a long-standing interest in indigenous and unschooled artists. As gallery director at Appalshop, the nationally known media arts center in...

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  • Gabriela Kane is the Operations Manager for Texas Folklife. She completed a portfolio in the Arts and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship Program and an MA in Latin American Studies at UT Austin. She previously attended Texas A&M University where she received a BA in Spanish and International Studies with a concentration in Arts and Culture. In Historic Downtown Bryan, she managed the SEAD Gallery as an arts-based community development initiative of Advent GX. Through her graduate studies,...

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  • Danea Johnson is the Stories from Deep in the Heart Program Director. She is responsible for coordinating and implementing the overall project, and served as the program coordinator for the 2019 Stories Summer Institute. Johnson has worked with community nonprofits for the past five years, and has lived in Austin for 10 years. She earned a BA in Women’s & Gender Studies, and Middle East Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where she first began making short documentaries, and also holds a BA in Mass Communication-Journalism. She...

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Charlotte Spencer (Board Chair) |  Austin, TX 

Armando Sanchez
(Vice Chair) |  Houston, TX

Doyal Nelms
(Treasurer) |  Austin, TX 

Cathy Brigham 
(Secretary)  |  Austin, TX

Heyden Walker (Immediate Past Chair)  |  Austin, TX

Rick Heysquierdo
 |  Houston, TX

Susan Morehead
  |  Austin, TX

Derek Garson
| Austin, TX

Tom Ellis | Dallas, TX

Jeff Jackson | Austin, TX



DR. DAN MARGOLIES (Consulting Scholar)

Dr. Margolies (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) is professor of History at Virginia Wesleyan College.  His research examines a wide array of interdisciplinary topics in history, ethnomusicology, and folklore, including legal and musical spatiality, migrant music and transnationalism, and the application of sustainability to Conjunto music in Texas and morin khuur in Mongolia.