Join us for the 2023 Folklife in the South gathering (FITS, for short), June 8-10, 2023, at Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville, Alabama. FITS is a regional gathering that brings together community leaders, folklorists, traditional artists, educators, documentarians, activists, students, and other cultural workers from across the Southeast to learn from one another, celebrate traditional arts, discuss issues relevant to our region, and forge partnerships across disciplines, states, generations, and communities.
This year’s theme, “Folklife in a Textured World,” evokes the role of folklore and traditional arts in the complexity of contemporary life in the South.
The FITS gathering is not a typical, formal, academic conference, but a collaborative convening that welcomes anyone interested in the diverse folklife of the American South. We encourage participants to wear comfortable clothes, take breaks when needed, and come prepared to meet with other attendees for workshops and presentations as a group. FITS has convened on a regular basis since the 1980s. This year, South Arts is partnering with the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Alabama Folklife Association, and the American Folklore Society to hold the first FITS gathering since 2017.
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What are Folk and Traditional Arts?
The South is home to an abundance of traditional art forms, whether they are indigenous to the region or reflect the traditions of immigrant communities. Traditional arts are shared aesthetics, practices, and values of families, geographic communities, occupational groups, ethnic heritage groups, etc. Traditional arts are learned orally, or by observation and imitation, often through a mentor artist instructing an apprentice. These traditions are usually maintained without formal instruction or academic training. Some traditional arts have a deep-rooted history with little change, while others are constantly evolving and adapting to their changing environment.
Some examples of traditional art forms practiced in the South include Afro-Cuban batá drum, Catawba pottery, Zydeco music, Indian Bharatha Natyam dance, Anglo American quilting, Peruvian retablos, African American foodways traditions, Chinese Zheng, Cherokee storytelling, Traditional Vietnamese Medicine, and Minorcan netmaking, among others.
- Online Registration Opens: January 17, 2023 | Click here to register
- Session Proposal Submissions Open: January 17, 2023 | Click here to submit a session proposal
- Session Proposal Submissions Close: February 15, 2023
- Agenda Announcement: Early April 2023
- Online Registration Closes: May 24, 2023 or when registration is full
- In-Person Gathering:
- Thursday, June 8, 2023, 1:00pm – 8:00pm CT
- Friday, June 9, 2023, 8:00am – 10:00pm CT
- Saturday, June 10, 2023, 8:00am – 12:00pm CT
- Self-Guided Field Trips: June 10, 2023 (after 12:00pm CT)