Broadly defined, folk arts are expressions of community identity and values. They are cultivated informally among individuals by word of mouth or example. Whether practicing a traditional craft, art, technical or occupational skill; performing music or dance; or marking important moments of life or the year with special foods or customs, folk arts are deeply rooted in community life. They foster human creativity and transmit cultural values that affirm community ties.
The American-Scandinavian Foundation is committed to celebrating and preserving Nordic (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sápmi, Sweden) cultures throughout the United States. By supporting folk arts and traditional cultures in the Upper Midwest, in particular, ASF recognizes and celebrates the mastery of individual artists or practitioners, facilitates the cultivation of skills and understanding among younger generations, brings greater visibility to Scandinavian arts and traditions, and highlights the centrality of cultural expression to the lives of residents.
Two kinds of awards are available – fellowships for artists/practitioners of traditional skills and grants for public programs and community projects. All of the grants encourage both the practice of folk arts and cultures and the presentation of these arts to public audiences.