December 1, 2015

North Carolina Folklife Institute

 Fall = New Beginnings at NC Folk!

scenes from the 1976 Statewide Folklife Festival

Scenes from the 1976 Statewide Folklife Festival

Fall 2015 marks a season of exciting new beginnings for NC Folk. We’ve been around for the past 41 years, from putting on North Carolina’s first statewide folk festival in 1974, to working behind the scenes to support folklife programs of the NC Arts Council, to working statewide from our Durham offices.

But much of our work has always been “in the field”: working in cooperation with members of communities all across the state to document their traditions, helping equip them with the tools and skills to carry out projects of their own, and partnering with people, organizations, and localities in North Carolina to tap into folklife’s great potential as a tool for community development.

To maximize our resources and energies, NC Folk has moved out of our Durham office.

  • For many years we managed the folklife archives for the North Carolina Arts Council, to ensure that the public (especially communities documented in the archives) could have easy access to these materials. We are delighted that, through a three-way collaboration, these archives now have a great new home at the State Archives in Raleigh. Over the last two years NC Folk staff and interns have worked hard to digitize much of our contributions to the archive, so we’ll continue to have ready access to the rich products of our four decades of documentation. And of course, now our documentation is native digital, and continues to be archived and catalogued, with the goal of making as much as possible available online.
  • Meanwhile, our work has kept us out of the office more and more of the time. In just the past month members of our staff have been to Clinton, Cullowhee, Lexington, and Pembroke! We find that most people connect with us online — through our enormously popular monthly newsletter, on Facebook or other social media, or via our website.

For these reasons, we’ve decided to convert to a largely virtual office. We’re excited about shifting money from rent and other overhead into more robust service options, more online access to archival materials, and more online publications that share our research.

NC Folk staff Evan Hatch and Sarah Bryan

Evan Hatch (l) and Sarah Bryan

To make this ambitious plan a reality, we have also reconfigured our staff team. Sarah Bryan is our Director of Administration and first point of contact. Sarah worked with NC Folk in the past and brings the unique insight of a professional folklorist who knows the history of our organization and understands administration from every perspective — fieldwork project management, grants, archives, and more. We are delighted to have Sarah back with us!

Evan Hatch joins our team as Director of Programs and Development. A very accomplished folklorist, Evan served for more than a decade as Director of Folk and Traditional Arts Programming for the Arts Center of Cannon County in Woodbury, Tennessee. There he designed and implemented a progressive, award-winning folk arts program that provided a national model for similar organizations. But he is a North Carolina native, and we are delighted to have helped woo him home.

Joy Salyers continues as Executive Director. You’ll find that, while NC Folk’s physical footprint has become smaller, our staff and overall organizational capacity have grown, further increasing our ability to carry out great work across the state. We’ll now primarily be working remotely and from the field, offering even more community trainings, site visits and consultations, and documentary fieldwork, as well as boosting our web and social media presence. Keep an eye out for us online and on the road! We’re thrilled about the future.


The North Carolina Folklife Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Donations can be made online or by check: PO Box 61222, Durham, NC 27715.