Working with a variety of artists and community collaborators to produce arts-based public health messaging for communities that have experienced high levels of infection and low vaccine rates during the pandemic, this project seeks to engage Austin-area community members in conversations that respect community knowledge, embrace lived experience, and help identify and overcome the complex barriers affecting equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The five PSAs, each with a short and long version, are designed for sharing through social media, peer-to-peer messaging platforms, and broadcast. View each & learn more on the pages below, or watch on YouTube and listen on Soundcloud.
An English-language message featuring the Western swing music of the Hot Club of Cowtown captured at historic Texas dance hall Devil’s Backbone Tavern in Fischer. Produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Erik McCowan and Texas Folklife program coordinator Peter Breithaupt.
A mixed English- and Spanish-language message featuring the Son Jarocho music of Güateque Son and dancers from Ballet Folklórico de Austin. Video work by local videographer Joe Rocha, with Fiesta Gardens and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center serving as scene.
A Spanish-language message featuring the Conjunto music of Johnny Degollado (“El Montopolis Kid”) and Jean Jacques ‘J.J.’ Barrera, and the Hillside Miracle mural by Raúl Valdez. Produced by Gabriela Kane Guardia, with videography by Chris Sibley of Papalote Productions.
A Spanish-language message featuring the Huapango music of Los Trovadores de Raúl Orduña, dancers from Ballet Folklórico Lo Nuestro, and murals by Luis Angulo (known as Uloang) and Carmen Rangel. Produced by eight-time Lone Star Emmy winning director, producer, and educator Chelsea Hernandez of Panda Bear Films and shared in partnership with the No Seas Wey campaign.
It is irrefutable that the stories we share amidst COVID-19 have a significant impact on the public perception of, and engagement with, communities’ trust of the medical field and commitment to health interventions. Public trust in government and fellow citizens is at or near historic lows.
There is ample evidence to support the positive role folklorists, tradition bearers, and arts leaders can play in building trust amidst communities by highlighting educational messaging in the form of folk and traditional artistic expression, but also in countering misinformation that is actively being spread.
Together with peer messengers, Texas Folklife hopes to bring a strong understanding of the power of folklore and folklife, a respect for community knowledge and lived experience, and a nuanced understanding of how to combat misinformation through the traditional arts. This project is part of a larger public health effort to help end the COVID-19 pandemic in our local communities, and sets the stage for future endeavors that explore the power and potential of traditional arts in overall community health.
All of our work is supported by our generous donors. We are grateful for the generous support of Austin Public Health, which funded three of the PSAs. Additional support for a fifth, forthcoming PSA was provided in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts' Arts Respond Program.
Please note that Texas Folklife is not sanctioned to provide medical advice. We are simply collecting input from and responding to community views. Official medical resources should be consulted before making a decision that impacts your health.