Louisiana Folklife Center receives NEA grant

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of the Arts Endowment’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. Included in this announcement is an Art Works award of $10,000 to the Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University for the 41st Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. This is one of 1,015 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category.

“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” said Carter, “We celebrate organizations like the Louisiana Folklife Center for providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”

“We are deeply honored that the festival has received an Art Works award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, the director of the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. “Although the format of this year’s festival will be virtual rather than live, the power of Louisiana’s traditional folklife can still be distinctly felt. To echo last year’s theme, Vive la Louisiane!”

Like so many events throughout Louisiana, the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival was not able to be held this summer as a face-to-face event due to the ongoing pandemic. Pivoting to a virtual format, the festival will be held exclusively online. Many of the music groups that would have played live at the festival have been filmed playing sets at their homes, performing on porches and in backyards, as well as other places significant to the artists. The music sets, accompanied by interviews by Rasmussen with each of the groups, will be placed on YouTube. Groups planning to take part in the festival include Blake Miller and the Old Fashioned Aces, Cane Mutiny, Hardrick Rivers and the Rivers Revue Band, the Katrice LaCour Trio, the Lee Benoit Family Band, the Pine Leaf Boys, Rusty Metoyer & The Zydeco Krush, Soul Creole and the Yvette Landry Trio. In addition to a music performance, the Pine Leaf Boys also filmed a Cajun fiddle workshop with acclaimed musicians Wilson Savoy and Chris Segura. A performance and interview with Ron Yule, the 2019 Louisiana State Fiddle Champion, was also filmed for the festival. Many of the musicians have a French heritage, befitting the 2020 festival theme “Celebrating Louisiana’s French Cultures.”

Rather than live streaming the videos, each video will be placed permanently on YouTube on the 2020 Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival channel, which is projected to be completed by October.

“The 2020 virtual festival will serve as a kind of time capsule of Louisiana folk music, providing a filmic archive of some of the best musicians in the state as they keep tradition alive,” said Rasmussen. “We are grateful to be able to highlight these tradition bearers, who carry on their cultural heritage in such an exemplary manner.”

A crafts component is also featured as part of the festival, providing patrons with opportunities to purchase homemade crafts in a virtual marketplace as well as participate in a virtual silent auction.

The crafts marketplace and silent auction will both go live on August 17 on the Louisiana Folklife Center’s Facebook page, Louisiana Folklife Center (NSULA).

For more information, call (318) 357-4332.

The Louisiana Folklife Center was established at Northwestern State to identify, document, and present Louisiana’s cultural and folk traditions and to provide public access to this material via the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.

Pictured above: Soul Creole is among the groups scheduled to take part in the virtual format of the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.