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Finding Folklife Between the Freeways: Notes from the Los Angeles Folk Arts Program

My first day on the job in 1985 as Los Angeles Folk Arts Coordinator, a casting director called, looking for movie extras. Did we know any Tibetan organizations in town? If not, Nepalese would do. As I flipped through an out-of-date ethnic directory, I marveled at how little was known of the local cultural landscape, eclipsed as it was by the world of the image-makers. I wondered how feasible it would be to carve a niche for traditional arts in "Tinseltown." It was fine for my colleagues elsewhere to survey a rural county, visiting basketmakers who used local grasses or old-time fiddlers who played for barn dances. But Los Angeles is a young

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