Alliance for California Traditional Arts

Alliance for California Traditional Arts: Home to Everyone

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) is a non-profit serving California’s rich and diverse field of traditional artists and cultural practitioners. ACTA promotes and supports ways for cultural traditions to thrive now and into the future. Thus, we are pleased to support this project by engaging our audience in contributing ideas that are representative of California’s extraordinary cultural prosperity and creativity. We have developed a resource tool for ACTA’s audience and others to contribute recordings to the Golden Record here.

ACTA would include  a sampler of recordings collected via our ongoing Sounds of California project. Initiated in 2015, Sounds of California is a research and community engagement project that explores music and soundscapes as vital expressions of collective experience. In partnership with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, and national Latino public radio network Radio Bilingüe, ACTA has focused particular attention on how stories of migration and immigration are embedded and archived within music, sound, and social practice. ACTA is in the process of developing a microsite which will be a public archive of our community-based documentation in several different California neighborhoods and communities later this spring. Below are a few selections from our Sound of California collection:

      • In 2020, ACTA commissioned local musicians with connections to Boyle Heights to compose original songs that represent the histories and current stories of the neighborhood, throwing light on Boyle Heights’ existence as the home some Japanese Americans returned to following incarceration during WWII, as the first stop for new immigrants from Mexico, as a sanctuary for mariachi musicians, and a changing landscape shaped by freeways, gentrification, and other changes. We recommend starting with Mariachi Plaza by Angelica Mata, and then listening to the full playlist, here.
      • Next, watch a video of LOS DIABLOS DE OAXACALIFORNIA, Grupo Nuu Yuku & Banda Brillo de San Miguel Cuevas. California is home to the largest number of indigenous immigrants from Oaxaca, who make up a major part of the 21st Century farm labor force. After a long day’s work in the fields facing extreme conditions and low wages, friends and families come together to practice traditional music, dance, foodways and other expressions that foster a sense of belonging and feeling of home. This recording was part of our Sounds of California program at the 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The film was co-directed and produced by Amy Kitchener and Jon Ching.
      • Enjoy a video about ACTA’s 2017 Sounds of California program in Mayfair. ACTA visited the Mayfair district of East San Jose in 2017, working with our partner, The School of Arts & Culture, housed at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. The occasion was a year-long initiative known as Celebrate Mayfair, an effort by organizations and residents to create a new narrative for their under-resourced neighborhood. At the center of this effort is the central tenet that by connecting people to one another, changes towards better health, safety and urban blight can be addressed by the people who live there. It is also an important way to recognize the assets of a neighborhood instead of characterizing it only through real and perceived deficits. Hear from some of the artists who participated in the Sounds of California recording sessions in Mayfair in this video.
      • The inaugural Sounds of California concert took place at the Oakland Museum of California, where we explored the themes of our State’s diverse population where through the lens of immigration and migration. This Sounds of California concert was co-presented by Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Radio Bilingue and Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in partnership with the Oakland Museum of California at James Moore Theater in the Oakland Museum on December 6, 2015. Hear the performing artists from the 2015 concert in dialogue with each other and ACTA board president Dan Sheehy in this video.


Bounseung Synanone, Lam Phu Tai , Suggested by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts; Bounseung is a master khaen player currently living in Fresno, California and originally from the Savannakhet Province in Laos.

Bounseung Synanone, Lam Salavane, Suggested by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts; Bounseung is a master khaen player currently living in Fresno, California and originally from the Savannakhet Province in Laos.

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