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In the mid-day sun, two performers dance in a cobble-stoned town square. Above them hang small Tunisian flags and behind them people of all ages clap and watch, smiling.

During one of the many daytime musical performances at the Mouled Festival in Tunisia, members of a troupe get the crowd going in front of the stage with dancing and clapping.

Photo Courtesy of Raafet Khiari/USAID.

  • Center Receives $1.5 Million Philanthropic Gift To Continue Cultural Vitality Program

    The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage has received a $1.5 million gift from Ferring Pharmaceuticals to continue its support of the Cultural Vitality Program, which partners with artists and their communities to sustain languages and cultural practices in the face of immense change.  

    Social, economic, and political forces—including climate change, armed conflict, genocide, oppression, urbanization, and mass production of culture—disrupt and devastate communities. With Ferring’s founding sponsorship in 2019, the Center established the Cultural Vitality Program to address these challenges. Over the first three years of the program, we raised an additional $4.5 million and began work with African American and Native American artists and communities, as well as communities in Armenia, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Kazakhstan, and Tunisia.  

    “The projects we’ve developed with our community partners have had a major impact on the ground,” said Halle Butvin, the Center’s director of special projects and lead of the Cultural Vitality Program. “Together we’ve created new income streams for artists and innovative tools to engage youth in language and cultural practice. Focusing on cultural vitality to improve livelihoods and youth engagement builds the community resilience necessary to face current and future challenges.” 

    Ferring’s latest contribution provides the resources necessary to continue the program, initiating new partnerships and projects in rural North America, Eastern Europe, and the Arctic, while sharing out the most effective tools and practices to sustain languages and cultural practices. The American public will continue to learn about the partner communities and their cultural heritage through Smithsonian Folklife Festival programming, musician exchanges, new Smithsonian Folkways recordings, and Folklife Magazine articles.  

    “Ferring’s support encourages the Smithsonian to figure out how it can aid cultural communities to extend their heritage in new, creative ways, for the civic, educational and economic benefit of living people,” said Richard Kurin, the Center’s interim director. “In implementing these projects and learning from them, the Cultural Vitality Program can have an important impact in promoting humankind’s robust cultural diversity around the world.”

    About Ferring Pharmaceuticals

    Ferring Pharmaceuticals is a research-driven, specialty biopharmaceutical group committed to helping people around the world build families and live better lives. In the United States, Ferring is a leader in reproductive medicine and maternal health, uro-oncology and in specialty areas within gastroenterology, including microbiome therapeutics and orthopaedics.

    In recent years, Ferring has provided support for several initiatives of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, including the One World, Many Voices Folklife Festival program in 2013, the Sustaining Minoritized Languages in Europe research project in 2015, and the Sustaining Traditional Weaving in Bhutan project in 2017. 

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