Folk Arts

The ARTS Council’s Folk Arts program supports folk art traditions practiced in the Southern Finger Lakes through public programs, documentations, and advocacy.  With funding from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), and working with the New York Folklore Society, we are part of a network of Folk Arts programs throughout New York State.

What are Folk Arts?

Folk Arts connect people.  Folk Arts celebrate the shared history and culture of local communities.  Folk Arts extend creativity beyond formalized genres of art and music to include the everyday expressive practices of life and work. Folk Artists draw on traditions and repertoires passed on through generations. In the Folk Arts Program, we prioritize programming, documentation, and advocacy that support the continuation of traditional art forms within local communities.


Documentation allows the Folk Arts program to identify artists and communities in our region who might otherwise go unrecognized for their artistic traditions.  Documentation records stories and art forms and adds to our public heritage. Documentation is the first step in the process of creating public programs and creating pathways for advocacy. Through interviews, oral histories, photography and video, we continually add to a growing archive of Folk Arts practiced in our region. Do you have a story to tell or an art form to share? The Folk Arts Program wants to take note.

Public Programs

Public Programs allow us to showcase the Folk Arts alive in our communities today. Through festivals, concerts, museum exhibits, lectures, and workshops, our public programs help bring Folk Arts practiced in individual communities into a larger public arena. Do you want to join in? See our events page for opportunities learn about and participate in traditional arts in our region.  The Folk Arts Program welcomes you to attend our events.


Folk Arts aren’t always included or recognized within the larger scope of funding and support within the Arts. Culturally-based, immigrant, and local communities sometimes struggle to access support for the creative work that makes their lives unique and vibrant. The Folk Arts Program works to provide pathways to grants and funding, public visibility, and technical assistance for communities who are working to maintain their creative heritage. Do you have a need? The Folk Arts Program is here to help.

Meet the Folk Arts Coordinator

T.C. Owens is a folklorist and videographer. For the past decade he has worked collaboratively to document, preserve and present the vital traditions of everyday people and their communities. He holds an MA in Folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has worked at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, Media Mobilizing Project, and as a contract folklorist for the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in Northeast Pennsylvania, where he grew up. He is also a director and producer of the documentary short, Our Side: The Other Atlantic City

Explore the pages in our Folk Arts section of the website to discover our many programs past and present.

Information on The ARTS Council’s Folk Arts program can be accessed by contacting T.C. Owens, Folk Arts Coordinator, at 607-962-1332 x206, or