About Us

Traditional Arts Indiana (TAI) is a partnership established in 1998 between Indiana University Bloomington and the Indiana Arts Commission.

Traditional Arts Indiana is dedicated to expanding public awareness of Indiana’s traditional practices and nurturing a sense of pride among Indiana’s traditional artists. TAI identifies, documents, and seeks to understand more fully the many ways in which cultural values are embedded in daily life. It calls attention to neglected aesthetic forms that firmly ground and deeply connect individuals to their communities–from the spoken text to the hand-made object to customary behavior. TAI’s overarching goal is to integrate and connect cultural heritage to educational activities, cultural conservation, arts, and community development at the local, state, and national levels.

TAI actively documents Indiana’s traditional arts and artists through interviewing, recording, and photographing individuals and groups throughout the state about their crafts and traditions. TAI archives materials for public use in the Indiana Historical Society Library and Archive, and produces public programming to present its ethnographic research to communities. TAI also collaborates and consults with other cultural specialists and organizations about cultural documentation methodologies and presentation of materials through public programming.

Is Traditional Arts Indiana part of a national network? Yes. TAI is one of many public folk arts programs in many states across the U.S. dedicated to preserving, promoting, and presenting their state’s cultural heritage and traditional arts and artists. Learn more about public folk arts programs by visiting TAPnet. Many state folk art programs are housed within state arts agencies and are supported by the state, the National Endowment for the Arts , and other organizations and funders.

American Folklife Preservation Act

In 1976, the United States congress passed P.L. 94-201, The American Folklife Preservation Act of 1976 (20 USC 2101), which created the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The Act defines folklife as:

“the traditional expressive culture shared within the various groups in the United States: familial, ethnic, occupational, religious, regional; expressive culture includes a wide range of creative and symbolic forms such as custom, belief, technical skill, language, literature, art, architecture, music, play, dance, drama, ritual, pageantry, handicraft; these expressions are mainly learned orally, by imitation, or in performance and are generally maintained without benefit of formal instruction or institutional direction.”

With regard to the preservation of folklife, the Act states:

“that the diversity inherent in American folklife has contributed greatly to the cultural richness of the Nation and has fostered a sense of individuality and identity among the American people; . . . [and] that it is in the interest of the general welfare of the Nation to preserve, support, revitalize, and disseminate American folklife traditions and arts. . . .”