Our Mission

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts promotes and supports ways for cultural traditions to thrive now and into the future.


Our vision is for a culturally and racially equitable California.

In our increasingly fractured society, we believe ACTA will play a critical role in shaping a positive future for California where the unique value of every culture is respected, sustained, and appreciated. Through our programs, services, and funding opportunities for the traditional arts, we are weaving a more integrated, just, and empathetic social fabric across California. Founded in 1997, ACTA is a 501(c)3 non-profit and for 24 years served as the California Arts Council’s official partner in serving the state’s folk and traditional arts field.

California is a leading creative and cultural capital in the world. With 1 in 4 Californians identifying as first generation immigrants, our state is at the forefront of the country’s shift toward racial and ethnic plurality. We are home to an abundance of cultural traditions embedded in California families and communities. From Ohlone basketry to Japanese koto music, from Oaxacan mask-making to queer voguing competitions, we recognize California’s breadth of cultural practice as sources of social belonging, power, and justice.


We’ve supported California’s living cultural heritage for more than 20 years.

ACTA is a statewide and national leader dedicated to supporting cultural practitioners and their communities. We travel up and down California from our offices in Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, reaching every corner of the state. We work in partnership with communities, learning from their own articulation of assets, needs, and aspirations in order to craft responsive programs and services. ACTA aims to serve as a bridge between cultural communities, providing opportunities for exchange, collaboration, and connection to new resources. 

Since our founding in 1997 by cultural workers, arts administrators, and artists, we have distributed more than $7 million in grants to more than 1,660 artists and organizations throughout 50 counties in the state. 

ACTA's Arts in Corrections program offers traditional arts workshops in 18 California prisons, like this African drumming workshop led by Abdullatif Bell Touncara at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, CA. Photo: Peter Merts.

Students of the Urasenke School of Chado lead a matcha tea brewing workshop as part of ACTA's 2018 - 2019 Traditional Arts Roundtable Series (TARS) in Los Angeles. Photo: Timo Saarelma/ACTA.

Somali women show handcrafts at a San Diego celebration of Buranbuur, or women’s oral poetry, supported by ACTA's Living Cultures grant. Photo: Lily Kharrazi/ACTA.

ACTA celebrates two California artists receiving the 2018 National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA in Washington D.C. From left to right: ACTA Board President Daniel Sheehy, master quilter Marion Coleman, master altarista Ofelia Esparza, and ACTA Executive Director Amy Kitchener. Photo: Julián Carrillo/ACTA.

Thirteen-year-old Sruti Sarathy (R) trains with master musician Anuradha Sridhar (L) in Carnatic violin as part of ACTA's Apprenticeship Program. Photo: Sherwood Chen/ACTA.

An Afro-Colombian drumming class at Homeboy Industries, part of ACTA's 2019 Reentry Through the Arts pilot program serving the recently incarcerated population. Photo: Shweta Saraswat/ACTA.

Master artist Natividad González Morales shares techniques of barro (clay) sculpting in the Eastern Coachella Valley as part of ACTA's Building Healthy Communities program. Photo: Quetzal Flores/ACTA.

A young artist from the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center prepares for one of ACTA's Sounds of California concerts in Bayview, CA. Photo: Sonia Narang/ACTA.

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We believe traditional artists make resilient communities.

Our partnering artists are tradition-bearers in their communities, contributing what they believe, know, do, and create with others who share a common heritage, language, religion, occupation, or region. These expressions are reflective of a community’s shared standards of beauty, values, life experiences, and collective wisdom. We believe that it is through these collective traditions that practitioners can mobilize and become catalysts for the transformative and restorative value of arts in society.

ACTA ANNUAL REPORT 2019_final cover only

ACTA Annual Report: 2018 - 2019

Learn about ACTA's accomplishments over the past fiscal year through stories, photos, and graphics!



Our Funders

Many generous hands have supported our journey of more than 20 years. Here, we are privileged to honor the institutional partners who have funded our work, whether it be this year or a past year.

18th Street Art Center
American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
ArtPlace America
Artivist Entertainment
Barr Foundation
California Arts Council
California Community Foundation
The California Endowment
California Humanities
Center for Cultural Innovation
Center for Ecoliteracy
Central California Community Foundation
City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
Columbia Foundation
East Bay Community Foundation
Fund for Folk Culture
Fresno Arts Council
Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Hellman Foundation
The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
Humboldt Area Foundation
The James Irvine Foundation
The Lia Fund
Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture
Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies
Markusen Economic Research Services
The Metabolic Studio, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation
MiaBo Foundation
Montana Folklife Festival
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Humanities
Radio Bilingüe
Reis Foundation
Runyon Saltzman, Inc.
San Francisco Arts Commission
San Francisco Grants for the Arts
The San Francisco Foundation
Smithsonian Center for Cultural Heritage
Southwest Folklife Alliance
The Patricia D. & William B. Smullin Foundation
Southwest Folklife Alliance
Surdna Foundation
Taproot Foundation
University of California, Davis
The William James Association
Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA

Photos of TARS LA event on December 1, 2018 at JACCC, shot by Timo Saarelma.

ACTA's Work

Learn about ACTA's core programs which provide funding and support to artists and organizations across California, as well as our consulting and collaboration opportunities that serve the traditional arts field at the local, state, and national level.

Invest in California’s cultural wealth.

Every gift is a commitment to a culture bearer, and the people of California.