August 3, 2021
Idaho: Mexican Music Project
Musician Damian Rodriguez features in this mini-documentary film as part of the Mexican Music Project with Idaho Commission on the Arts. Video courtesy Idaho Commission on the Arts
The Idaho Commission on the Arts (ICA) is dedicated to creating meaningful, authentic relationships with traditional arts communities across Idaho. As part of this drive, the ICA Folk and Traditional Arts Mexican Music Project is an ongoing effort to record the traditional and contemporary music being played in Mexican-American communities across southern Idaho. The project also highlights the stories of the musicians and audiences through complementary interviews.
Drawing inspiration from a 1980 ICA folklore album, Soy Mexicano, the Mexican Music Project began in 2016 with a general field scan to understand the breadth of live music making. Over the following five years, the ICA Folk and Traditional Arts program has partnered with multiple ethnologists, translators and the Boise State University Film Department to develop the capacity to work with more than 20 bands, record more than 200 hours of music-making and interviews and participate in countless community cultural events.
ICA is producing a series of minifilms that feature the different artists. ICA expects to produce one video for each of the 20 artists and bands, and is working to make them accessible to both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communities through cross-language subtitles. The partnership between ICA and the Idaho Mexican music community has continued to benefit both the state arts agency and the participating artists and bands. There are aspirations to grow the initiative by creating a more formal network of Mexican-American musicians across Idaho and possibly producing a CD.
This project and other folk and traditional programs present an opportunity for ICA to reach new communities in unconventional ways. While the groups being featured are important to the communities they represent, few of them are incorporated as 501(c)(3)s, making them ineligible for typical grant vehicles. By investing directly in recording and supporting event production, ICA is able to work beyond its typical grant making to provide important public services to Southern Idaho. This initiative also “flips the script” by putting arts communities in control of developing their own programs.
More information on the Mexican Music Project is available in a short interview conducted by Spokane Public Radio [8:25-17:10]. For questions about the Mexican Music Project or other ICA Folk and Traditional Arts programs, contact Steven Hatcher.
In this Issue
From the President and CEO
State to State
- South Carolina: Learning Initiative Partnership
- Idaho: Mexican Music Project
- Massachusetts: Recovery Recommendations
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