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Program Director: Lynne Williamson
Core Funders: National Endowment for the Arts, Connecticut Commission on the Arts
Project Dates: Ongoing program

Program Overview
Ethnic, immigrant, and occupational communities in Connecticut have an extraordinary commitment to maintaining their cultural heritage and identity while experiencing and adapting to new social and cultural environments. The Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program (CHAP) works with these communities to explore their social, economic and political realities through traditional cultural and artistic expression. Serving as the state-wide folk and traditional arts program, CHAP conducts fieldwork research in partnership with artists and other community members, and transforms research results into activities of interest to a broad audience. CHAP documents the state's diverse ethnic and occupational artistic traditions, and supports artists and their communities through educational and public programs that communicate these traditions to Connecticut citizens. CHAP collaborates with a regional network of artists, community scholars, advisors, agencies and organizations on projects such as documentation of community traditions, production of performances and exhibits, radio broadcasts, curriculum development, promotion and marketing of traditional artists, and education services.
Dancer Rachel Hall from Trinidad prepares the costumes of young stiltwalkers for their performance at the Sankofa Kuumba Summer 2002 Festival in Hartford.
Photo: L. Williamson
Project Goals and Objectives
Conduct fieldwork research in Connecticut's diverse ethnic and occupational communities to document their artistic traditions.
Communicate the richness of these cultural traditions to Connecticut residents.
Enhance the capacity of the state's traditional artists and their ethnic communities to reach new markets and audiences for their work.
  Project Contact:
Lynne Williamson
CHAP Director

Program Details
Building long-term relationships and trust with partner communities is the cornerstone of CHAP's work. Fieldwork research that includes participation in community events, informal conversation, taped interviews, photography, and discussion provides the basis for project development, which is done collaboratively between CHAP staff and community members. The program aims to represent the vibrant diversity of the state's ethnic and occupational communities and encourage the preservation and transmission of knowledge held within the community through its artists and other cultural caretakers. CHAP's projects often use traditional arts to examine the social, economic and cultural concerns faced by member communities. CHAP has located and documented over 160 visual and performing artists, along with 75 ethnic and community organizations from over half of the 125 groups currently represented in the state's population, including Southeast Asian, Tibetan, Greek, Native American, Norwegian, Portuguese, Peruvian, Cape Verdean, Polish, and Puerto Rican communities. Current CHAP projects include: new folks arts in education initiatives; cross-state apprenticeship opportunities with traditional arts masters in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts; summer workshops for adults to learn traditional art forms; and improving accessibility of the program's collected archive of information and images from artists and their communities.

Tibetan weaver Tsultrim Lama of Old Saybrook, CT works on a rug.
Photo: L. Williamson

Click here to visit CHAP's New Website

Southern New England Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program

The Sewing Circle Project

Caribbean Carnival Arts Project

Click here to see a list of CHAP Exhibits

Read about CHAP Bus Tour "Tibetan Culture in CT" on March 25, 2006

Click here to read a Hartford Courant article about CHAP.