Cultural Commissions – Lily Khazzari

The Wallace Initiative commissioned working papers/artistic responses from Bay Area artists about deepening, expanding, and diversifying cultural participation, hoping to generate new ideas and spark conversations between regional artists and arts organizations.

Traditional arts (sometimes referred to as ‘folk arts’) encompass a myriad of performing and visual art traditions passed down through generations of peoples throughout the world. Many of these art forms have been threatened, silenced, or neglected throughout history; sometimes falling into oblivion because of genocide or suppression. In this age of instantaneous media and vast demographic shifts, how can traditional arts and artists continue to grow their audiences and ensure a future for their art forms?

Lily Kharrasi, dance ethnologist and freelance writer, has spent her life steeped in traditional arts. She is currently the Living Cultures Grants Program Manager at the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA), and has worked with the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, in arts education, and in the refugee resettlement field. In her short essay, A Banana Peel is Good for Headaches, Lily explores the resiliency of traditional arts communities.

…Traditional arts are often hidden from the larger public view, not so much because they don’t want to share practices with outsiders, but because the driving force behind such arts is internal to the communities that practice them…

Please click here to download a PDF of A Banana Peel is Good for Headaches.


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In 2008, The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) embarked on a four-year funding partnership to encourage systemic and sustainable structural change in the relationships of Bay Area arts organizations to their audiences, supported by the Wallace Foundation. Community offerings during the grant period (2008-2011) included seminars, workshops, large public convenings, implementation grants, development of a regional shared mailing list, and expansion of the website.




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