Southern Finger Lakes Traditions

Ira Heyward, a member of USW local 1000, musician and coach. Provided by the Heyward family.

The Southern Finger Lakes Traditions website presents profiles of people, places
and events rooted in our many regional cultural identities. Ranging from Ukrainian pyhroy making to Black musical traditions to South Asian dance, these multi-media profiles are based on field work primarily conducted by ARTS Council Staff. The project shares the stories of local traditions and the people who maintain them by using short videos, audio interview excerpts, and photo essays. Each profile is placed on a searchable map and highlights the ways in which these people, places and events are products of our broader community, reach across lines of difference and reflect to the wider public the diverse cultural fabric of our region. While the locus of the work currently revolves around Elmira, over time and through collaboration, profiles will span Steuben, Schuyler and Chemung counties. While the initial profiles are currently produced by ARTS Council staff, in time they will represent the work of participants from the upcoming Community Documentation Workshop.

Dinorah Peters, cook of Mexican dishes. Photo by T.C. Owens.

Culture and community ground us in times of uncertainty and unrest. Likewise, our traditions, annual celebrations, and artistic practices reflect our shared cultural identities. They bring us joy and they bring us together. These things we do together reflect who we are, where we come from, and are the products of the worlds we live in. The ability to share these traditions amongst broader communities creates a broader vision of our region and can foster a more democratic culture.

None of this would be possible without the thoughtful and generous participation of the tradition bearers featured. May their dedication and vision be guiding lights as we continue to shape this region together.

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This project is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Southern Finger Lakes Traditions has been artfully designed by Marc Rubin Associates and skilfully built by Scope Design.