National Endowment for the Humanities Reviews Funding for Folklore Projects

WASHINGTON, (July 6, 2000)

Folklore consultant to assess NEH folklore projects, offer program recommendations

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has appointed Robert Baron, director of the folk arts program at the New York State Council on the Arts, to a yearlong position as the agency's folklore consultant. Mr. Baron will provide an assessment of NEH's past funding of folklore projects and make recommendations on how to build on that foundation.

"Folklore is a little-recognized field of the humanities yet it lies at the heart of our self-understanding as human beings," said NEH Chairman William R. Ferris. "Folklore is about the art of storytelling, the nature of legend, the creativity of ordinary citizens and the representation of character. Its subject matter ranges from Aesop's fables to complex theories of performance and repertoire. Its forms include genres as diverse as ballads, beliefs, contemporary jokes and classic fairytales. Given NEH's mission of broadening every citizen's understanding of culture and national identity, the Endowment seeks new ways to foster research and public understanding about the complex mix of folk traditions that underlie creativity in diverse national cultures. I am pleased to welcome Robert Baron as NEH's folklore consultant. His long experience in the folk arts and in public programming will provide a critical perspective on where NEH should be headed in the area of folklore studies."

Robert Baron has held a variety of positions at the New York Council on the Arts. Since 1985 he has directed the council's folk arts program, which supports the documentation, presentation and interpretation of folklife programs at museums, historical societies and community-based cultural groups. From 1996 to June 2000, he directed the council's museum program, which provides support for exhibitions, exhibition planning, museum education and interpretation, collections management, field services and operations. He was a senior research specialist at the Brooklyn Museum of Art from 1977 to 1979.

Mr. Baron has been a leader in the folklife field for years, holding a number of advisory positions with organizations including the American Folklore Society, the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. He holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Chicago.

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