Interns help document Massachusetts festivals

I’m delighted to have two energetic interns working with me this summer. Ellen Arnstein is on the verge of completing the BFA program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Signe Porteshawver is entering her junior year at Tufts University. Since late May they have been researching and working on compiling a comprehensive list of ethnic, folk, and agricultural festivals in Massachusetts. In addition to attending and documenting selected festivals, they are also adding their fieldwork findings to the “Celebrations” theme of our website. Below is their first guest blog post:

Every other year, St. Mary’s Assumption Albanian Orthodox Church in Worcester hosts one of the area’s largest Albanian festivals. Over a three-day weekend in mid June, St. Mary’s welcomed many of the areas 15,000 plus Albanian residents, as well as many other visitors from within and beyond the state. As interns for the Folk Arts and Heritage program, we came across the Albanian Festival in our research of Massachusetts’ public celebrations. We had the pleasure of attending this year’s festival as both visitors and fieldworkers, along with over 20,000 other attendees, taking in various aspects of Albanian culture. Along with other festival-goers, we enjoyed homemade traditional Albanian food – including some delicious leek pie and some smoky lamb kebab – while listening to traditional and contemporary Albanian music spun by recent Albanian immigrants, DJ Andrea and DJ JT.

One of the most exciting parts of the day was watching the folklore dance troupe, comprised solely of young congregation members, who choreograph traditional Albanian dances to perform at the festival every other year. The festivities all took place outside of the beautiful St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, whose walls are covered in magnificent icons written by Albanian iconographer Dhmitiri Cika.

We’re excited to be working with Maggie Holtzberg and everyone else at the MCC, and look forward to occasionally sharing our work as guest bloggers on this blog. When we’re not attending festivals around the state, we’re researching and compiling an annotated list of all public celebrations in MA that we can find, working towards a comprehensive festival listing for the state, and to add to the MCC and MOTT’s Worldfest. Please check out our ever- updated Google Calendar – and be sure to let us know what we’re missing!

Cross-state Apprenticeships in the Traditional Arts

Boston based Bashkim Braho and Waterbury, Connecticut Albanian Dancers. Photo by Lynne Williamson.

You may know of a traditional craftsman, musician, or dancer with which you’d like to apprentice. If you live in Massachusetts, you can apply for an MCC Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant. But what if the master artist lives in the neighboring states of Connecticut or Rhode Island? You are in luck. The Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program offers a unique program that supports the learning of traditional (folk) artistic skills called the Southern New England Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. The beauty of this program is that it’s specifically designed to foster learning across state lines. For example, an apprentice in Rhode island, can study with a master artist living in Massachusetts, and vice versa. The deadline is fast approaching so check out their guidelines by contacting Lynne Williamson, director of the Southern New England Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.