Grants for Folk Art Apprenticeships Available
The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts offers up to $4000 for a master folk artist to pass their tradition down within their community. Most people think of folk arts coming from ethnic groups (like Amish quilts or Mandinke African drumming) but they can also come out of geographic regions (like Appalachian square dancing) and occupational groups (like fly tying or decoy carving). What all these folk arts have in common is that they are passed down from one generation to another in non-academic settings.
Erie Arts & Culture’s Folklorist in Residence, Kelly Armor is excited about this grant. “In our fast-paced, modern society, it is hard for people to find the time to keep their traditions going. This grant has inspired many of Erie’s folk artists to sustain and even deepen their traditions.”
Erie has two grantees this year. David Kambowa, a composer and multi-instrumentalist, is teaching the musical traditions of the African Pentacostal church to Jackson Kabarole. Both men were born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and now live in Erie. David states, “Our music encourages us to sing and dance together in our own way. It is really a good thing. It helps us not forget our culture. Our churches are the strongest way we have to keep our culture alive in Erie.”
Anjali Sahay is apprenticed to her sister to learn Kathak, an ancient classical dance originating in northern India. She is meeting with her sister remotely who has a Kathak dance academy in the Bay Area of California. Anjali explains, “Kathak is rooted in telling the stories of Hinduism and originally was done in the temples. There is a repertoire of poses and movements but the choreography is continually developed.” Anjali is also active with Erie’s American Pacific Asian Association.
The grant deadline is April 19, 2022. Please contact Kelly with any questions.
This grant is made possible by The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Meet our Folklorist in Residence
Kelly Armor is a folklorist, singer, multi-instrumentalist, storyteller, and teaching artist. For the past 25 years, she has worked intensively with Erie’s New American community. Her work has focused on identifying New American artists and supporting their work to preserve their culture and traditions in their new home, while also creating systems for the greater community to honor, celebrate and benefit from New American’s indigenous knowledge.
From 2003-2018, Kelly worked as the Folk Art & Education Director at the Erie Art Museum. There, she initiated Old Songs New Opportunities as a job development and cultural preservation program. This program prepared Latinx and former refugees to work in early childhood settings and to use their traditional songs on the job. A major initiative of this project sent New American song coaches into hundreds of early childhood classrooms across the county, teaching their songs and culture to thousands of students and hundreds of teachers.
Before her tenure at the Erie Art Museum, Kelly spent a decade as a professional performer who interpreted folk music from East Africa, Appalachia, and the British Isles. She toured the country presenting at coffee houses, festivals, schools, and concert venues. Kelly has a B.A. in Ethnomusicology from Friends World Program of Long Island University, where she conducted field work from 1986 – 1989 in Kenya and Tanzania with a focus in traditional music, Swahili language, and English language instruction.