Two musicians on perform on stage under a green wash of light.  A woman sits right holding a microphone wearing a bright orange top.  To the left, a man sits on a stool playing guitar.  He wears a blue top and a flat cap.

Image: Doris A. Fields, aka Lady D and R & B, soul, and blues musician from Beckley performs at The Freefolk Brewery in
Fayetteville, WV. Credit: Jordan Lovejoy

Central Appalachia Living Traditions (CALT) is a multi-year program designed to promote the understanding, and recognition of folk arts and culture in Central Appalachia through a three-part program that invests in folk arts communities while seeding new folk and traditional arts experiences and honoring underrecognized practitioners of Central Appalachian traditions across the region. This new initiative has been developed in response to Mid Atlantic Art’s Central Appalachian Folk and Traditional Arts Research and Survey Project (CAFTA) completed in 2020. To read the CAFTA Project Executive Summary click here

Mid Atlantic Arts has partnered with the area’s three state folklife programs, Ohio Arts Council, West Virginia Folklife Program, and Virginia Folklife Program, in order to connect CALT with state-based folklife initiatives and promote the sharing of knowledge and resources across the region, particularly in border communities.  

This program serves the counties of Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia designated as Appalachian by the Appalachian Regional Commission. For a full list of those counties click here

Program Areas

CALT has three program areas: Folk Arts and Culture Community Anchors Initiative, Folk and Traditional Arts Experiences, and Recognizing Folk Arts and Culture Champions. Collectively, these new programs are intended to stabilize local venues, create greater connectivity among organization and community leaders, increase the visibility of folk arts and culture, and facilitate the transmission of artistic skills and cultural knowledge. The programs will be launched in phases beginning in June 2021 through April 2024.


Emily Hilliard, Program Director, Folk & Traditional Arts,

Follow CALT on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Logo mark is a circle with yellow, blue, and plum geometric sections designed to look like stylized mountains. To the left are the word Central Appalachia Living Traditions in plum colored type.
Recognizing Folk Arts & Culture Champions

The Recognizing Folk Arts and Culture Champions Initiative is a series of folk arts and culture fellowship programs initiated through partnerships established with organizations deeply immersed in communities of artistic practice. These fellowship programs intend to honor underrecognized tradition bearers through local award events that engage the community to celebrate culture and heritage, as well as through local, regional, and national publicity. Each fellowship includes a financial award that encourages recipients to continue their work passing on artistic skill and cultural knowledge to a younger generation.

National Association of Black Storytellers logo

The National Association of Black Storytellers Black Appalachian Storytellers Fellowship

Mid Atlantic Arts, in conjunction with South Arts, is thrilled to partner with the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) as they launch the Black Appalachian Storytellers Fellowship program.

The Black Appalachian Storytellers Fellowships are intended to honor, celebrate, and support Black storytellers residing in the Appalachian counties (as designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission) of Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The goals of the fellowship program are to preserve and advance the understanding of Black Appalachian storytelling that embodies the history, heritage, and culture of African Americans, and to build bridges through intergenerational opportunities.

NABS Black Appalachian Storytellers Fellowships will provide six (6) $4,000 awards (with limited restrictions) to support experienced practitioners and culture bearers with opportunities to examine, research, develop, perform, and/or document the Black Appalachian storytelling tradition. One fellowship will be awarded in each of the six eligible states.

Fellows will receive funds for travel to the “In the Tradition…” 40th Annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference, November 9-13, 2022, in Baltimore, MD. Fellows will also receive membership to the National Association of Black Storytellers from September 2022 – December 2023. 

The mission of the National Association of Black Storytellers to promote and perpetuate the art of Black storytelling—an art form which embodies the history, heritage, and culture of African Americans. Black storytellers educate and entertain through the oral tradition, which depicts and documents the African American experience. A nationally organized body with individual, affiliate, and organizational memberships, NABS preserves and passes on the folklore, legends, myths, fables, and mores of Africans and their descendants and ancestors – “In the Tradition…” .

Applications are due August 20, 2022. Learn more and apply here.

Appalachian Food Summit Logo. Brown and gold word mark with a stylized sun of beans above. Appalachian Food Summit Foodways Practitioner Fellowship

Mid Atlantic Arts has partnered with the Appalachian Food Summit (AFS) on the Appalachian Food Summit Foodways Practitioner Fellowship program.

The Appalachian Foodways Practitioner Fellowships are intended to honor, celebrate, and support foodways tradition bearers and practitioners in Central Appalachia who have made significant and long-term contributions to sustaining and supporting the foodways heritage of their respective communities.

The 2022 Appalachian Foodways Practitioner Fellows are:

  • Yawah Awolowo of Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Travis and Rebecka Fugate of Emmalena, Kentucky
  • Wayne Riley of London, Kentucky

Learn more about this year’s fellows here. Watch the Foodways Practitioners Fellowship awards ceremony here.

The Appalachian Food Summit is a community of writers, scholars, advocates, restaurateurs, farmers, producers, chefs, and mountain foodways enthusiasts gathered around the table with a shared mission to honor the past, celebrate the present, and support a sustainable future for Appalachia, its food, and its people.

Check back here or sign up for our newsletter for next round notifications.

Folk and Traditional Arts Experiences

Coming Soon!

Two complimentary grant opportunities, Pop-Up Experiences and Community Project Grants will provide new resources to organizations organizing and producing events and projects that bring community members and practitioners together around folk and traditional arts practice and cultural knowledge. Grants will support projects that encourage broad public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of living traditions and/or grow and disseminate artistic skill and cultural knowledge within the community – prioritizing community-level outcomes.

To receive news about these new grant programs, sign up here.

Folk Arts and Culture Community Anchors Initiative

This comprehensive program provides targeted resources and support to select community anchors of folk arts and culture in the region with the goal of dramatically impacting the sustainability of traditional practice and cultural knowledge. Participant communities will be identified in consultation with our State Folklife Program partners and other constituents. 

To ensure long-lasting impact at the community-level, each selected community anchor site will develop a Community Folk Art and Culture Team to represent their community. With the support of Mid Atlantic Arts’ Folk and Traditional Arts Program Director, the team will collectively lead the planning and implementation of the project, including the creation of a Community Folk Arts and Culture Plan that details strategies and activities to increase the sustainability of folk arts and culture in their community, specifically through the intergenerational transmission of artistic skill and cultural knowledge. The Team will then be invited to apply, in collaboration with local organizations and artist/practitioners, for up to $75,000 in support of approved project activities that align with their plan. Members of the Team may include community scholars, community leaders, advocates, folk and traditional arts practitioners, and affiliated business owners. 

Learn more about the Central Appalachian Folk and Traditional Arts Survey and Planning Project

About the CAFTA Survey and Planning Project

Completed in spring 2020, the Central Appalachian Folk and Traditional Arts (CAFTA) Survey and Planning Project was a project of Mid Atlantic Arts in cooperation with the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN).

During this multi-year project, Mid Atlantic worked in collaboration with LiKEN and a dynamic and dedicated group of Field Team and Advisory Group members to assess the needs and opportunities for a folk and traditional arts program in the region of Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia designated as Appalachian. Learn more about the target area for this project.

Mid Atlantic Arts owes substantial gratitude to the hundreds of individuals who contributed to this project by providing valuable information to the Field Team. We deeply appreciate the traditional artists, culture bearers, community leaders and members, organizers, business owners, and arts advocates that generously offered local context and personal insights about their cultural practice and experiences. Learn more about our project partners.

What did we learn?

For a quick overview of the CAFTA Project and findings, please check out the CAFTA Executive Summary. 

View the Executive Summary as a PDF

Detailed project findings are available in the materials listed below. We hope that these materials can serve as a resource to others creating, studying, and working in the region. 

CAFTA Final Report
A summary of project activities and research methods and presentation of findings based on specific learning objectives.

View the Final Report as a PDF
Download an accessible word version of the Final Report

CAFTA Comprehensive Program Proposal
Program recommendations for Mid Atlantic Arts and the field at large based on opportunities identified in the Final Report

View the Comprehensive Program Proposal as a PDF
Download an accessible word version of the Comprehensive Program Proposal

CAFTA Photo Gallery
A collection of images taken by the CAFTA Field Team during the project

Open the CAFTA Photo Gallery

CAFTA Inventories
Listings of artists and practitioners, programs, and events documented through the program. These lists are not all-inclusive; if you feel your name, organization, or event is missing from this data, please contact Jess Porter, Program Officer at

View Inventories

Questions regarding the CAFTA Project should be directed to Emily Hilliard at

Counties Served

The CAFTA Project and Central Appalachia Living Traditions program serve the areas of Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio defined as “Appalachian” by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The specific counties that fall within the ARC’s designation are included below:

Ohio: Adams, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, and Washington

West Virginia: All counties: Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Monongalia, Monroe, Morgan, Nicholas, Ohio, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood, and Wyoming

Virginia: Alleghany, Bath, Bland, Botetourt, Buchanan, Carroll, Craig, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Henry, Highland, Lee, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, Rockbridge, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe. The following independent cities in Virginia are also within the Appalachian Region: Bristol, Buena Vista, Covington, Galax, Lexington, Martinsville, Norton, and Radford.

CAFTA Program Partners


The Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) is a link-tank for community-based research to build economic futures based on local assets, values, and visions. Visit the organization’s website to learn more: (

CAFTA Field Team

To complete the required field work across a wide geographic area, LiKEN assembled a dynamic team of folklorists, community scholars, and traditional arts practitioners already actively engaged in the target counties. Below is a listing of Field Team members.

Sophia Enriquez
Crystal Good
Dr. Katie Hoffman
Jess Lamar Reece Holler
Dr. Mary Hufford
Lucy Long
Jordan Lovejoy and Michael Gallimore
Nicole Musgrave
Bethani Turley

CAFTA Project Advisory Group

In order to recognize and access the expertise and wisdom of the many professionals that have already contributed significantly to the understanding of cultural heritage and living traditions of Central Appalachia, Mid Atlantic Arts assembled the CAFTA Project Advisory Group. Comprised of 14 professionals with diverse backgrounds and experiences, the Advisory Group provided significant feedback and guidance to Mid Atlantic Arts and the LiKEN team throughout the duration of the project. A full listing of members is included below.

Cristina Benedetti
Andrew “Drew” Carter
Danille Elise Christensen
Robert Colby
Doris Fields “Lady D”
Elena Foulis
Rosemary Hathaway
Ellesa Clay High
Emily Hilliard
Steven D. Kruger
Luke Eric Lassiter
Jon Lohman
Cassie Patterson
Travis Stimeling