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Maggie Holtzberg

Maggie HoltzbergMaggie Holtzberg, Manager, Folk Arts & Heritage Program, Massachusetts Cultural Council (1999 to the present), Director of Cultural Programming, Lowell National Historical Park (2010- to the present). Director, Folklife Program, Georgia Council for the Arts (1992-1999)

Education and Accomplishments: PhD folklore & folklife, University of Pennsylvania (1987), BA ethnomusicology, Wesleyan University (1979). Publications & public folklore work: Produced Lowell Folklife Series (2010-2014); curated Folk Craft & Foodways area, Lowell Folk Festival (2008-present). Author of Keepers of Tradition: Art and Folk Heritage in Massachusetts (2008), The Lost World of the Craft Printer (1992), and Portrait of Spirit: One Story at a Time (1996). Co-directed documentary film Gandy Dancers (1994); produced Georgia Folk: A Sampler of Traditional Sound (1989). Exhibition: Keepers of Tradition: Art & Folk Heritage (2008) with companion website, public programs, and audio tour; Radio features on WBUR 90.9’s Here and Now and WUMB’s Commonwealth Journal. Member, American Folklore Society (since 1982), member AFS Public Programs Section (since 1995), AFS Program Committee (2013), Member, Folklorists in New England (1999-) and current chair (2012-13); Member, Folk Arts Peer Group Planning Committee for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (2013-14). Served as panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, Southern Arts Federation, New Jersey Arts Council, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and Maine Arts Commission.

Statement:  My folklore work has centered on the needs of individual artists: documenting their traditions, helping them sustain their work, and raising their visibility. State arts agencies have served as home base, first in the Deep South and later in New England. Most recently I’ve worked for the National Park Service through an agreement between the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Lowell National Historical Park. My experience in brokering such partnerships would serve the Society well. If elected, I will work to strengthen the perception of our discipline so that educators, policymakers, healthcare providers, arts presenters, business and religious leaders, and mainstream media will see us as the go-to source for consultation and employment.


Over the last 30 years, I’ve learned how to delve into pockets of what Archie Green called "vernacular creativity” and shine a light on them so that those outside these traditions come to understand and appreciate them, while those within them are validated and honored. This work requires scholarly rigor and real-world practicality: something Jim Griffith referred to as "having your feet firmly planted on the ground and your head in the clouds.” As a folklorist who is often tasked with providing high quality traditional artists for public programs, I understand the need for ethnographic field research; I will advocate for AFS to take a stand on the importance of public folklorists getting out of the office to do serious, in-depth field research. The Society will grow stronger by integrating the work of public and academic folklorists. We should work toward making the academic/public sector distinction disappear. As a member of the AFS Executive Board I will promote the view that we all seek the same goals.


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