Traditional Arts Program

The South Dakota Arts Council’s Traditional Arts Program serves community-based artists and organizations who are carrying on skills and esthetic forms that are rooted in cultural groups and are sustained by face-to-face interactions. Traditional or folk arts are found in the state’s oldest communities as well as our newest immigrant groups, and are an important component of our identity. They include such forms as Lakota beadwork, saddlemaking, fiddling, Norwegian woodcarving, Nepali music, diamond willow cane carving, Finnish weaving, Dakota flute music, blacksmithing, and star quilt making, to name just a few.

The Traditional Arts Program is dedicated to documenting, supporting, and presenting these rich traditions so they can be shared more widely and be recognized for the ways they enrich our state and our communities. Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants allow the teaching of traditions between a master and apprentice; these are the only grants specifically for folk artists, but individuals and organizations are also eligible for other SDAC grant programs such as fellowships and project grants. The Traditional Arts Program also undertakes special projects based on field research and documentation and culminating in some kind of public presentation, such as an exhibit, festival, publication, or cultural tourism product. All of the program’s documentary materials, primarily photographs and audio interviews, are deposited in the South Dakota State Archives for permanent storage and are available for future research.


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