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Folklore’s not dead: Inspiring heritage caretakers | Civic Europe
Arts and cultural activities, Environment and sustainability

Folklore’s not dead: Inspiring heritage caretakers

Engaging the cultural landscape of rural Moravian folk communities to bring together rural/urban, senior/young population & to inspire future heritage caretakers who will shepherd the local identity


Who is behind this?

Helena Tovarkova

Nadace Veronica (Veronica Foundation)

Czech Republic

Who is joining forces?

Jihomoravská komunitní nadace (South Moravian Community Foundation)

Czech Republic

Ekotextil design (study programme at SŠUD Brno - High School of Arts and Design)

Czech Republic

The project comes to life through the collaboration with Czech-American artist & heritage caretaker Sonya Darrow.


Idea pitch

South Moravia is the last resort of traditional dress, customs and folk art practices within the Czech Republic giving it a strong sense of local distinctiveness. Exploring this unique opportunity, “Folklore's not dead” brings attention to the disappearing heritage caretakers - mostly older women within the rural communities - in order to connect them to the urban population to find and inspire the next generation of heritage caretakers and with environmental and cultural sustainability in mind.

Where will your project idea take place?

South Moravia: Moravská Nová Ves, Lanžhot, Břeclav + extended to Brno to involve the young urbanites

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

South Moravia is the last resort of traditional dress, customs and folk art practices within the Czech Republic giving it a strong sense of local distinctiveness. The governing bodies around folklore are keeping these traditions frozen and rigid not enabling them to catch up environmentally and socially with the young generation, making folklore just a display activity to watch at festivals. There are a few isolated genuine heritage caretakers, mostly older women, who are living these traditions everyday, keeping them fresh and part of their day to day activities. They lack the resources and capacities to connect to the younger/urban generation and wider public and they are strongly marginalized in their rural communities based on their gender and socio-economic status (mostly retired).

Who are you doing it for?

We will work with the aging rural population of South Moravia who are heritage caretakers (women 70+) and bring them together with different backgrounds of people, who are invested & interested in local cultural heritage and folk art practices. Specifically we will work with students 15-20 (High School of Arts & Design), young designers & artists from Brno (25-40) and active people in the local community around those aging heritage caretakers, who want to participate in making the folk art practices more culturally, socially and environmentally sustainable.

How do you plan to get there?

The project will be based on 6-7 workshops that will be centered around senior rural heritage caretakers & will be facilitated by Czech-American artist Sonya Darrow: 2 workshops with students, 1 workshop with designers/artists, 3-4 workshops for general public/enthusiasts. Roundtable/discussion midway through the project + final conference to share the experience will be organized. Our approach will be based on Sonya Darrow´s unique intermedia practice which balances between textiles/sound/social engagements. As a lasting legacy an exhibition will be the final output (with a travelling version).Throughout the whole project, the base of South Mor. Comm. foundation (Moravská Nová Ves) will serve as a community hub open for people to stop by + get to know more about ongoing activities.

What are the expected results?

We will develop new approaches towards cultural and environmental sustainability, which will not only benefit local communities, but also other heritage communities facing similar issues. Additionally, we will promote lifelong learning initiatives around heritage caretaking, which results in a stronger and more supportive community established around living folk art practices. A network of local empowerment within the wider community will provide further social engagements to happen, which wouldn’t happen without this project. The most important result is to inspire future heritage caretakers as well as to build diversity within these local communities, which will create a broader audience to take part in the initiative.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

We consider heritage caretakers to be the heart of the local community, their humble role mostly underappreciated. They shepherd the local identity, a real sense of place that we consider much needed to face today´s rise of empty nationalism. A meaningful folk art practice that people can engage in strengthens the genuine sense of place and makes people truly rooted in their community and care for others/for their environment. At the same time it gives the right amount of confidence not to fear other/different cultures/people and to be able to participate in the EU. With an increased mobility and increased urban population, heritage caretaking and living folklore practices cannot rely on passing on in the family, thus we are creating a wider community to inspire future heritage caretakers.

Why is this idea important to you?

Not long ago, we could see women in their everyday folk expressions on the street, on the bus, or riding to work in the fields. Over time, these encounters became rare. Importance is being given to honor these heritage caretakers; to understand & collaborate with their expressions before it disappears from our cultural landscape. It is a crucial time to bring together different narratives to reweave the fabric of social life between generations and place. Unfortunately, a generation of women grew-up in a time that didn’t allow for achievements, so it’s important to give them a platform to be heard/witnessed; to be part of the dialogue for future heritage caretakers. This idea promotes lifelong learning, which gives the aging population an opportunity to be inspired & to inspire others.

€ 32000,-

Total budget

€ 25000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

personnel costs 10.000 EUR
workshops costs 4.000 EUR
public relations 3.000 EUR
travelling exhibition costs 3.000 EUR
conference costs 2.000 EUR
travel and accommodation costs 1.000 EUR
office expenses 500 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would benefit from links to other projects dealing with heritage caretaking and specifically engaging the aging rural population with the urban population. Projects that are operating within the neighbouring regions (Austria, Slovakia) might be a source of inspiration and a networking opportunity



Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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