American Folklife & TAI

Read the Spanish-language version of this page here.

TAI is part of a national network, 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 US Public Folklore Programs at the American Folklore Society.

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. . . .”