National Endowment for the Arts Supports Folk and Traditional Arts 

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National Endowment for the Arts Director Cliff Murphy on Fueling Creativity

The National Endowment for the Arts’ Cliff Murphy has held a grantmaking position with NEA since 2015. He serves as the director of Folk & Traditional Arts and manages the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, as well as serving as Acting Director of Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works.

The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent agency that supports exemplary arts projects throughout American communities. This is done via grantmaking, national initiatives, partnerships, and events. Enacted by Congress in 1965, NEA made over $5 billion grants between its creation and 2008. NEA is involved with multiple disciplines of folk and traditional art, including dance, design, folk music, literature, museums, music, visual arts and more! In 2017, NEA’s funding was threatened by Congress, yet, they have still prevailed.

Cliff was previously the director of Maryland Traditions, the folklife program of the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). In 2011, Cliff launched the state’s first Maryland Traditions Folklife Festival, and also managed the Maryland Traditions grant program supporting apprenticeships and projects. Cliff also produced the state’s annual Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts (ALTA) Awards.

In 2014, Cliff helped to establish a partnership with the University of Maryland Baltimore County to bring MSAC’s 40 years of folklife archives into the university library system, making the collection available to the public.

Cliff holds a doctorate in Ethnomusicology from Brown University, has authored numerous publications, including a forthcoming book on country music traditions of the Mason-Dixon Line. An active member of the American Folklore Society and the Society for Ethnomusicology, Cliff has also co-produced a recurring radio program on Maryland folk traditions for WYPR Maryland Public Radio in Baltimore, Maryland.

I know you’ll enjoy Cliff’s overview of how the NEA supports folk and traditional arts in diverse communities through educational initiatives, programs to fuel creativity and the transmission of culture, and fostering connection and appreciation for the rich diversity of U.S. culture.

More information on the National Endowment for the Arts can be found here.

Credit of header photo: David Cournoyer, First Peoples Fund.

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