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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 professional folklorists Pat Jasper, Elizabeth "Betsy" Peterson, and Kay Turner 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.  They founded Texas Folklife Resources (now dba Texas Folklife) 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 award-winning Stories from Deep in the Heart youth radio program, Accordion Kings & Queens, The Big...

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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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  • 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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  • Maya is the Marketing & Membership Coordinator and has been involved with Texas Folklife for 3 years since she started as an intern in  September 2017. Maya manages all Texas Folklife social media and newsletters, fundraising campaigns, membership tracking, and communications and provides administrative and program support. She earned a BA in Urban Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. 


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  • As the Program Coordinator for Texas Folklife’s Apprenticeships in the Folk & Traditional Arts Program, Pete works with a diverse range of tradition bearers to foster the continuation of Texas’s traditional arts and cultures through intensive mentorship. Pete is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Texas at Austin. Studying local and global music cultures of Tanzania, with a concern for issues of popular culture, urbanism, development, labor, cultural politics, and globalization, Pete’s research has been supported by Fulbright-IIE and the Presser Foundation....

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  • Jeannelle oversees Texas Folklife’s award-winning Stories From Deep in the Heart program, coordinating projects that empower students and community members throughout the state to tell their stories. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ethnomusicology at The University of Texas at Austin. In both her research and applied work, Jeannelle is interested in how technology intersects with cultural heritage and traditions. As a researcher, she has conducted work throughout the U.S. and Argentina on digital folklore and emergent Latin music scenes. In 2019...

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  • As Texas Folklife's Grants Coordinator, Kate Murray works with the Executive Director, Operations Manager, and programmatic team to manage the organization's grant portfolio and drive new avenues of funding that help bring our various programs to life. She has also served Texas Folklife as producer for Stories From Deep In the Heart, facilitating lessons in podcasting techniques at local elementary schools, helping develop...

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  • A lifelong arts lover and advocate with 15 years of experience in arts research, programming and presenting, Sarah Rucker is the founder of Full Gallop which strives to bridge cultures and connect communities through creative collaborations and programs. She has a personal mission to...

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Jeff Jackson 
(Board Chair) |  Austin, TX 
Jeff Jackson has a Masters degree in nonprofit management and leadership from Texas State University. He has 30 years of experience using experiential education as a teaching method with at risk teens.  His passion is working with and promoting Texas underground music and art.

Armando Sanchez (Vice Chair) |  Houston, TX
Armando Sanchez is a music industry executive with strong partnerships among many Texas-based
artists of various genres. His awards include two GRAMMYs for his work as an executive producer. Armando is a Texas Aggie’86 and resides in Houston, Texas.

Melanie Morgan (Secretary) | Austin, TX
Melanie Morgan Gomez, Ph.D Ethnomusicology is the Director for Strategy, Analysis and Planning, AP Higher Education for the College Board where she oversees budget, major event planning, and analysis and reporting for outreach efforts to advocate for the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. Prior to this, Melanie worked at the University of Texas at Austin in grant writing and development for the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Natural Sciences, and Business, and as Director for Membership and Public Affairs at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Texas.

Sean Hale (Treasurer) | Austin, TX

Derek Garson
 | Austin, TX
Derek is a business manager and sales strategist currently helping people get jobs at Indeed. In addition to board service at Texas Folklife Derek has supported the Austin community through work with Communities in Schools and various food banks in the area.. Derek holds a MBA from UT McCombs School of Business and a B.S. in Finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

Tom Ellis | Dallas, TX
Tom Ellis has been involved in music as a music critic, performer, promoter, biographer, and teacher
since the late 1960s. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas.




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.