VOL. 10 NO. 5
is published bi-monthly by the Kentucky Arts Council. Please send comments,
questions and information to The Blue Moon, Kentucky Arts Council, Old
Capitol Annex, 300 West Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601-1980 or call 502/564-3757V/TDD
Toll Free: 1-888-833-2787
As a result of a growing partnership between the Kentucky Folklife Program and the Program in Folk Studies at Western Kentucky University, a Kentucky folklife conference is scheduled to take place in Bowling Green, November 14-15, 2003. This conference will include workshops, presentations, panels and discussions about such topics as bringing folklife into the schools, helping heritage festivals reflect local traditional culture, presenting folk artists in communities, and documenting regional folklife using local community scholars.
"During the course of our outreach throughout the state, helping schools and communities with local folklife projects such as festivals and oral history workshops, we have seen a great deal of interest in learning more about folklife documentation and preservation," says Brent Bjorkman, Folklife Specialist with the KFP. "Once involved with documenting and presenting folklife in their own community many individuals begin to understand how empowering folklife studies can be. Often the elements of folklife that are uncovered become a source of local community pride."
The KFP and WKU hope that the conference will bring together a wide range of individuals from around the region interested in all aspects of folklife. For more information about how you can participate in this groundbreaking folklife event please contact the Kentucky Folklife Program.
In order to further prepare readers for this year's Kentucky Folklife Festival, here are some answers to frequently asked folklife questions.
What is folklife?
The Kentucky Folklife Program defines folklife as artistic and cultural traditions shared by a group and maintained over time. Folk groups can be defined by a wide variety of factors such as occupation, recreation, religion, ethnicity, or geography. When folklorists study a folk group, they explore the group's customs, beliefs, technical skills, handicrafts, arts, rituals and oral traditions. Though people often think of folklife as something "other" people have, most of us participate in several folk groups during an ordinary day. Whenever we join a club or play on a team, for instance, we partake in recreational folklife. Similarly, family and community folklife influence the way we celebrate holidays and birthdays. One common misconception about folklife is that it is old-fashioned or obsolete. While some traditions have a long history, older customs change and new folklife constantly emerges. Sometimes change comes from within an established folk group, such as when children invent a new game or a boat builder utilizes technological innovations. Other times, change comes from outside a region's traditional folk groups. When members of an ethnic group migrate to a new area, for example, the folklife of both groups often changes. Folklife, in other words, is a dynamic process rather than something set in stone.
What does the Kentucky Folklife Program do, beyond the Festival?
How does folklife work with education?
Teachers interested in making folklife a part of classroom content will find the Kentucky Folklife Program's A Teacher's Guide to the Kentucky Folklife Festival an extremely valuable tool. Although developed to complement the festival this guide contains materials also useful for those who have yet to attend. The Teacher's Guide includes an introduction to folklore, folklife readings, lesson plans, classroom activities, and a resource guide. Downloadable copies of this guide are available on our website, or can be mailed upon request.
How can I learn more?