Wednesday, November 1, 2023

The Fiddling Thomsons Awarded 2023 Governor's Arts Awards for Folk Heritage

On October 23, 2023, the Governor's Arts Awards recipients were celebrated during a live streaming awards ceremony, filmed at Studio Lab in Derry. The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, in cooperation with the Governor's Office, biennially takes the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and recognize outstanding contributions to the state’s arts and cultural life made by individuals, organizations and communities through the presentation of the Governor's Arts Awards

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is delighted to announce the Fiddling Thomsons as the recipient of the 2023 Governor's Arts Awards in Folk Heritage. The Folk Heritage Award "recognizes a New Hampshire traditional folk artist who has made a significant contribution to his or her art form and the cultural community, reflecting a lifetime of achievement." The 2023 Folk Heritage Award was sponsored by Sanborn Mills Farm.

Photo: The Fiddling Thomsons at the GAA's. Photo by Abbigail Nelson.
Ryan and Brennish Thomson are a father and son duo who perform and teach a wide variety of folk music on multiple instruments. Known as The Fiddling Thomsons, they travel throughout New Hampshire, the U.S. and overseas, bringing the heritage of New England folk music to people everywhere.

Ryan learned to play via his mother, father, and extended family through the aural tradition. Brennish started playing fiddle at age 2 and grew up surrounded by music, accompanying his father to gigs and teaching activities. Thus, they both learned by the passing down of tunes through the generations. Brennish has also mastered guitar, mandolin, banjo, and hand- held percussion instruments including bones and wooden spoons. He teaches both children and adults in his surrounding community and at fiddle schools and music camps nationally.

Ryan is a multi-instrumentalist as well. He plays fiddle, 5 string banjo, pennywhistle, accordion, and piano, among others. He has authored numerous fiddling and fiddle books, recordings, and instructional DVD videos on various musical topics.

Together, The Fiddling Thomsons have performed at many New Hampshire venues, such as libraries, parks, festivals and dances. With their performances is often an educational component. They are both adept at engaging with their audiences, giving history of tunes and anecdotes. Their tunes were passed on to them in the aural tradition, from generation to generation, and they continue to pass on the musical heritage.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

NHSCA FY24 Grant Opportunities

Youth Arts Project (YAP) Grants fund high-quality educational opportunities in the arts. Arts learning fosters positive social and emotional skills and bolsters creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. YAP grants broaden access to diverse forms of artistic and cultural practices and can engage youth in contributing to community goals. Grants fund programs in all arts disciplines including dance, theatre, media, music, visual arts, craft, and creative writing. Engaging teaching artists to lead the arts learning is a core element of this program. Deadline: April 7, 2023

Artist in Residence (AIR) grants fund artist residencies that bring juried teaching artists into classrooms and public schools to support creative learning and skills development in the arts. AIR grants funded by the State Arts Council are intended to show best practices for this work and can support residencies in a variety of arts disciplines. Deadline: April 21, 2023

Public Value Partnerships for general operating support of nonprofit cultural organizations are an investment in the cultural infrastructure and creative economy of New Hampshire. A limited number of competitive and matching grants will be awarded to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that demonstrate excellence in planning, administration and programming. Grantees are expected to provide high quality and broadly accessible arts experiences, activities and services for New Hampshire citizens. They are also expected to promote the arts as integral to the local economy by developing and maintaining close relationships with other community-based organizations and businesses and policy makers. Deadline: April 28, 2023

Arts in Health Project Grants support arts activities that occur in community spaces and health-based facilities; the latter may include hospitals, social service agencies, rehabilitation/ recovery centers, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, adult day centers, senior centers, veterans’ homes, hospice/grief programs, and correctional facilities. Deadline: May 5, 2023

Arts Conservation License Plate ("Moose Plate") Grants support the conservation of publicly owned artworks, artistic elements of publicly owned historic cultural facilities that serve as sites for arts programming, projects that improve public access to significant publicly owned artwork or arts documents, and projects that make publicly owned historic cultural facilities and the arts programming that takes place in them, more accessible to the public. LOI Deadline: May 5, 2023; Full Grant Deadline: June 23, 2023

Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants help communities preserve their cultural heritage through the learning and passing on of traditional arts– including crafts, music, and dance - so that future generations can continue to benefit from them. Apprenticeship grants fund a master traditional artist to teach an experienced apprentice in one-to-one sessions for a minimum of 65 hours over a period of six to ten months. Traditional arts are passed down from one generation to the next within communities through observation, conversation, imitation, and practice. They represent a sense of beauty, skills, knowledge, and community values refined over generations and are an important part of our living cultural heritage. Communities can be defined in many ways such as groups that share the same ethnic heritage, language, geographic area, religion, occupation, or way of life. Deadline: June 30, 2023

Arts for Community Engagement (ACE) project grants support community enrichment and public benefit by providing access to high quality arts performances, activities, and programs presented by community-based organizations, Main Street programs, and municipalities. This grant category supports a wide range of activities including performances, concerts, exhibits, workshops, community arts programming, and collaborative public art projects that engage the arts and artists for the benefit of New Hampshire residents and communities. Deadline: July 7, 2023

Folklife and Traditional Arts Project Grants support projects that focus on presenting and preserving folklife and traditional arts in New Hampshire. The goals of this funding category are to deepen the appreciation for and understanding of folklife and traditional arts so that they continue to be a meaningful and visible part of our community life, support traditional artists and cultural communities so that they can continue to preserve these living traditions, and sustain the variety of folklife and traditional arts so that future generations may continue to benefit from them. Deadline: July 7, 2023

Artist Entrepreneurial Grants recognize the importance of the creative workforce to New Hampshire’s economy. Artist Entrepreneurial Grants support opportunities that will benefit artists’ careers, including the development of business skills, participation in programs to raise the level and quality of their art, and participation in programs that will bring their art to the widest possible markets. Quarterly Deadlines: May 5, August 4 and November 3, 2023, and February 2, 2024

The Arts in Health Artist Directory is a resource for organizations in search of artists who are experienced and skilled in leading projects that deliver health and healing benefits within a variety of health care settings, or in leading public health-focused work in partnership with health-based entities and professionals. Artists may apply to either the Health & Healing Track or the Public Health Track, or they may submit separate applications to both. Performing, literary, media and visual artists are eligible to apply. Deadline: Rolling

The Traditional Arts & Folklife Listing is a directory of traditional artists, community scholars, and folklorists who are available for performances, demonstrations, workshops, and other community-based presentations in New Hampshire. The Heritage & Traditional Arts Program provides this service both as a resource for arts organizations, museums, community groups, schools, and other groups that want to include traditional arts and artists in their programs and for artists who wish to present their traditions in community settings. The Listing provides contact information, areas of specialty, and types of presentations artists can offer. Deadline: Rolling

Teaching artists on the Arts Education Roster work as both professional artists and experienced educators. They bring deep content knowledge and real world perspectives to facilitate hands-on project based learning. Teaching Artists supplement school curricular offerings and enrich learning opportunities in our communities, diversifying the artistic disciplines and forms that students experience. These professionals share their expertise to facilitate creative and meaningful engagement in the arts. Deadline: Rolling

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

NH State Council on the Arts announces Folklife and Traditional Arts project grant awardees

The N.H. State Council on the Arts has announced that more than $60,000 in funding will be awarded in fiscal year 2023 through its two Folklife and Traditional Arts grant programs: Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants and Folklife and Traditional Arts project grants.

Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants assist in the preservation of traditional and heritage-based arts by funding a master traditional artist to teach a qualified apprentice in one-to-one sessions.

FY2023 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants were awarded to:

  • Aishwarya Balasubramanian, Nashua and Swathi Jaisankar, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Misty Batchelder, Concord and Janine Condi, Concord
  • Marina Forbes, Rochester and Eileen Riggs deCastro, Boylston, Mass.
  • Sherry Gould, Bradford and Anita Blanchard, Goffstown
  • William Gould, Bradford and Darryl Peasley, Contoocook
  • Garry Kalajian, Bradford and Jay Davini, Goffstown
  • Shyam Nepali, Manchester and Rewant Bagchand, Hooksett
  • TJ Wheeler, Hampton Falls and Lillian Buckley, Kittery, Maine

Folklife and Traditional Arts project grants support both ongoing and new projects that focus on presenting, cultivating, documenting and preserving folklife and traditional arts in New Hampshire.

Projects funded through FY2023 Folklife and Traditional Arts project grants are going to:

  • American Independence Museum, Exeter
  • Franco-American Centre, Manchester
  • Hopkinton Historical Society, Hopkinton
  • Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, Warner
  • Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, Nashua

The State Arts Council’s Folklife and Traditional Arts program supports art forms that are passed informally from generation to generation through demonstration, conversation and practice. These arts reflect the cultures of community groups that can be defined by ethnic heritage or by occupation, religion, geography, way of life, language or familial groups.

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, a division of the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, enhances the quality of life in New Hampshire by stimulating economic growth through the arts, investing in the creativity of students, making the arts accessible to underserved populations and preserving heritage arts. Learn more about the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts at

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

2022 New Hampshire Festivals, Fairs & Celebrations


Runjuan Huang demonstrating Chinese calligraphy at the 2017 Concord Multicultural Festival. Photo provided by the NH State Council on the Arts.

It's that time - summer is here again in New Hampshire! With great weather, there are lots of celebrations, fairs and festivals to be excited about this summer! Below are some festivals, fairs and other celebrations in and around New Hampshire to enjoy! Make sure to check out area Old Home Days, music and food festivals, and agricultural fairs as well!

June 22-27; June 30-July 4 Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Folklife Festival
July 9-10 Warner, NH 21st Annual Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum PowWow
July 16
Exeter, NH American Independence Festival
July 23
Milton, NH Old Stage & Tavern Days
July 24
Loudon, NH Open Farm Day at Sanborn Mills Farm
July 29-31 Lowell, MA Lowell Folk Festival
August 6-14 Newbury, NH 89th Annual Craftsmen’s Fair
August 19-21 Manchester, NH Mahrajan Middle Eastern Festival
August 19-21 Thornton, NH Boogie N' Blues Festival
August 26-28 Salisbury, MD National Folk Festival
August 24
Nashua, NH BrazilFest
September 10
Laconia, NH Laconia Multicultural Festival
September 16-18 Manchester, NH Glendi - A Greek Festival
September 16-18 Lincoln, NH New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival
September 16-October 6 West Springfield, MA The Big E
September 17
Nashua, NH Nashua Multicultural Festival
September 18                Concord, NH Concord Multicultural Festival
September 24
Keene, NH Keene International Festival
September 24-25 Concord, NH Capital Arts Fest
September 24-25 Portsmouth, NH Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival
September 25
Warner, NH Harvest Moon Festival
November 5
Portsmouth, NH Dawnland StoryFest


If there are additional festivals, fairs and/or other celebrations not listed here, please feel free to let us know!