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At the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, we acknowledge a significant and accelerating decline in cultural vitality. While globalization connects us in new ways, it also threatens the world’s cultural diversity.

Social, economic and political forces—like urbanization, oppression, war, genocide, climate change, and mass production of culture—pressure traditional cultures to assimilate. In the face of these challenges, communities persist in preserving and practicing their living cultural heritage. Our Cultural Vitality Program works with communities to bolster these efforts.

Program Goals
  • Understand and mitigate threats to cultural vitality
  • Scale our impact through partnerships, convenings, and thought leadership
  • Transform public understanding about cultural diversity
Guiding Principles
  • We ensure that all projects are community-based and built through local partnerships
  • We are committed to multi-generational engagement
  • We strive to identify locally appropriate solutions
  • We evaluate all activities for impact
  • We apply adaptive management, continually learning from evaluations of our work

Key Initiatives

Annual Reports

  • Cultural Vitality Annual Report, 2022–23.
  • Cultural Vitality Annual Report, 2021–22.
  • Cultural Vitality Annual Report, 2020–21.
  • Cultural Vitality Annual Report, 2019–20.


Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Cultural Vitality Program, educational outreach, and more.