Fund for Folk Culture. Encyclopedia Of American Folklore

Nonprofit, publicly supported foundation established in 1991 to help answer the need for
increased funding for the field of folk arts and culture. The Fund for Folk Culture (FFC)
is dedicated to the preservation, dissemination, study, and appreciation of the multiplicity
of folk cultures in the United States and abroad. The fund raises monies from
foundations, public-sector sources (such as the National Endowment for the Arts), and
private individuals, and then regrants funds to organizations, individuals, and projects in
the folk arts and culture. The FFC also provides technical assistance, education and
consultation as services to the field.
The fund was created as a vehicle to provide a national, non-profit corporation as a
response to the increasing need for a flexible, private organization that could bridge the
gap between private-sector funding sources and the growing folkculture field. In 1990
conversations began between Jillian Steiner Sandrock, who had initiated the nowdiscontinued folks-arts funding program of the L.J. and Mary C.Skaggs Foundation, and
several important individuals in the folkculture field. These individuals, who formed a
Fund for Folk Culture planning committee to assess the feasibility of creating the FFC,
included Alan Jabbour, director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of
Congress; Joseph T. Wilson, executive director of the National Council for the
Traditional Arts; folklorist Archie Green; and cultural historian Raye Virginia Allen. This
planning committee for the fund ultimately became the organization’s founding board of
trustees. The FFC’s initial funding came from the National Endowment for the Arts folk
arts program, the National Council for theTraditional Arts, the L.J. and Mary C.Skaggs
Foundation, and contributions from individuals.
Shortly after its incorporation in 1991, the organization entered into a partnership with
the James Irvine Foundation to create and administer a folk-arts regranting program. This
was a specialized program to support folk arts and tradition bearers in the state of
California, with funding provided by the James Irvine Foundation. In May of the same
year, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund commissioned the FFC to undertake a
national needs assessment for the folk-culture field. Results of this national survey, which
involved approximately 900 individuals, led the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund to
launch a major initiative to support the folk arts in the United States. As part of this
initiative, the fund made a $1 million grant to the FFC to underwrite the Lila WallaceReader’s Digest community folklife program. The FFC’s first national regranting
program, the pilot effort supported communitybased activities to preserve, strengthen,
and document folklife and folk-arts traditions, as well as to present them to the public in
educational and celebratory programs.
A relatively new organization, the Fund for Folk Culture envisions a future in which it
will continue and expand state, regional, national, and international technical assistance
and grant-making programs and function as an advocate for folk culture in the broader
spheres of the arts and humanities, economic development, and education.
Charlie Seemann