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Contact: Matt Harris
Iowa Arts Council Administrator

Folk & Traditional Arts Program

Need to talk it through?

In addition to the resources listed below, Iowa Arts Council staff is ready and willing to consult with you or your organization about folk & traditional arts ideas, plans, and opportunities. 

Assistance can range from a simple email or phone conversation, to more in-depth consulting.  Reimbursement for travel (at state rates) or staff time (at $25/hour) may be requested for consultations that require substantial time; however we make every effort to keep such costs to a minimum.

For assistance with folk & traditional arts, contact:
Matthew Harris


New Iowa Folklife Curriculum Available

iowa folklife 2 curriculumThe Iowa Arts Council is pleased to announce the debut of Iowa Folklife Volume II., which explores the traditional music, foods, dance, rituals and crafts of Iowa’s diverse cultures. This online resource includes content pages, photos, audio samples, suggested readings, lesson plans, and a variety of online resources for students (k-12) and educators. Use the whole curriculum or just one unit! Enhance your experience by inviting featured traditional artists or those from your community into your classroom. Consult the Folk & Traditional Artists link for each unit, the Iowa Folklife Roster, or Iowa Roots for artist contact information, and apply for an Iowa Arts Council grant for artist fees and other program expenses.

Iowa Folklife: Our People, Communities and Traditions (curriculum guide)

Iowa Folklife Education GuideThis updated kit (lessons, CD, videos, links, and support material) is available online (click on hotlink above) and in hard copy at all Iowa junior and senior high schools as well as in all senior citizen centers, Iowa college and university history and education departments, State Library, and the State Historical Society of Iowa resource center. The lessons and support materials may be copied for educational purposes only; materials may not be copied and resold for profit.


Iowa Roots

Iowa Roots features stories, music and talk with traditional artists from a variety of ethnic, geographic, occupational and religious groups found in Iowa. Iowa Roots is a production of the Iowa Arts Council and Iowa Public Radio.

Iowa Folk & Traditional Arts Roster

This resource provides contact information for Iowa folk and traditional artists. These artists may be contacted for a variety of public programs about Iowa folklife. Find members of this roster by searching the Iowa Artist Directory.

Iowa Place-Based Foods

Place-based foods have a unique taste related to the soil, water, air, and climate of a region as well as with the ethnic or regional heritage of their producers. Explore these web pages and learn the “stories” about a variety of Iowa place-based foods.

Iowa State Fare

Iowa State FareThese 1996 studio recordings feature eight ensembles and one solo performer selected to appear in the Iowa Sesquicentennial program at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife. Iowa State Fare showcases the vitality and diversity of the state's musical traditions on the occasion of the celebration of 150 years of Iowa statehood. Scandinavian string band melodies, Meskawaki Indian love songs, gospel harmonies, polkas, old-time fiddling, Mexican folk songs, and blues are some of the vibrant community-based musical traditions presented in this unique collection of Iowa music. The CD booklet features essays, bibliographic information, and lyrics with translations. Produced by Folkways Records, it is available from the Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies at the Smithsonian Institution.

Cultural Organizations and Translators – Resource List

This listing provides dozens of names of individuals and organizations providing helpful connections to cultural communities in Iowa: African, European, Asian, African American, American Indian, Latino, and more.

New Immigrants and Refugees

Iowa has become a place of refuge for many culture groups. Their presence offers Iowans a unique opportunity to learn about diversity, new customs, and traditions. The unique cultures in our societies are often misunderstood, however, making it difficult for newcomers to adapt to their American homeland.

Some of the immigrants and refugees who are working hard to make Iowa home include Afghanis, Asian Indians, Bosnians, Iraqis, Latinos (Colombians, Cubans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Mexicans, Nicaraguans, Peruvians), Pakistanis, Russians, Somalis, Southeast Asians (Tai Dam, Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodians, Hmong), Sudanese (Nuer, Shilluk, Maban, Dinka).

We can:

Iowa State Archives

The Iowa State Archives serves as the custodian of a special collection of Iowa Folklife materials.

Publications on Iowa Folklife

Other folklife publications are available in the State Historical Society of Iowa Library.

Folklife on the Web

American Folklore Society

The American Folklore Society is an association of people who study and communicate knowledge about folklore throughout the world. Our more than 2,200 members and subscribers are scholars, teachers, and libraries at colleges and universities; professionals in arts and cultural organizations; and community members involved in folklore work. Many of our members live and work in the US, but their interests in folklore stretch around the world, and today about one in every eight AFS members is from outside the US.

American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

The American Folklife Center aims to be the national center for folklife documentation and research, and this Web site offers a virtual destination for those who cannot visit the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is a research and educational unit of the Smithsonian Institution promoting the understanding and continuity of diverse, contemporary grassroots cultures in the United States and around the world. The Center produces the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, exhibitions, documentary films and videos, symposia, publications, and educational materials.

Cultural Arts Resources for Teachers and Students

The CARTS Web site is a virtual extension of City Lore's educational programs and its National Network for Folk Arts in Education.