International Folk Art Market, The World’s Largest Folk Art Festival

| Published: | Last Updated: April 22, 2022 | ,

CEO of International Folk Art Market Stuart Ashman on Evolution of Creative Arts

The International Folk Art Market in Sante Fe is the world’s largest folk art festival. Stuart Ashman is CEO, and in 2019, the Market celebrated the 16th annual gathering of the world’s master folk artists with over 150 artists from 50 different countries.

The Mission of the International Folk Art Market (IFAM) is to create economic opportunities for and with folk artists worldwide who celebrate and preserve folk art traditions. IFAM envisions a world that values the dignity and humanity of the handmade; honors timeless cultural traditions; and supports the work of folk artists, serving as entrepreneurs and catalysts for positive social change. Since its founding, IFAM has generated total sales of over $30 million and impacted an estimated 1.3 million lives worldwide.

The work of IFAM revolves around one weekend of the year, and it takes constant and careful planning to organize more than 1000 artists from 100 different countries. Each year, artists have the chance to be awarded any of the following awards: the Community Impact Award to honor extraordinary examples of the IFAA mission through social change; the Living Traditions Award to honor extraordinary examples of IFAA’s mission through the preservation of culture to pass on to future generations; Friend of the Market Recipient to honor outstanding leadership; Soul of the Market Recipient to honor an individual who embodies compassion, wisdom, and ethos of the Market; Community Support Recipient to honor outstanding leadership through expanding opportunities; and finally an Honorary Chair recipient.

Stuart is a cultural ambassador who has worked in the arts for over 30 years. From 2003 -2010, he served as Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. He has also held leadership positions at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, both in Santa Fe, and the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California.

I know you will enjoy this conversation with Stuart and a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s biggest folk art market, the evolution of the folk art tradition, and the future of the creative economy—as well as hearing from Stuart about the influences of Cuba, photography and music in his own artistic journey.

For more information on the International Folk Art Market, visit

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Director of Smithsonian Folk Life and Cultural Heritage Center

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