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Folk and Traditional Arts Resources

by Ellen Mueller

A woman of medium skin tone shows off a colorful assortment of Native pottery.
Photo Credit: Cliff Hollis
Senora Lynch of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe leads a pottery workshop as part of the Big Read at East Carolina University.

This collection of resources is tailored to serve folk and traditional artists and practitioners in the Arts Midwest geography.


Are you a folk and traditional arts practitioner seeking support? Whether you’re looking for folk schools, grant opportunities, events and gatherings, affinity groups for your artistic medium, or help negotiating payments, we have curated an extensive range of valuable tools and information to elevate your practice. Explore, learn, and let your folk and traditional arts journey flourish!

Do you have a resource to add to this list? Email Ellen Mueller with your addition.

Educational Resources 

Folk Schools in the Arts Midwest Geography 

This list was sourced from these three sites, which also includes schools in other regions of the United States. Explore the interactive Google Map below, or read on for a state-by-state listing.

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Iowa 

  • Center for Belonging Folk School (Decorah, IA); They gather all ages around a wide variety of cultural activities old and new, in and around a beautiful homemade gazebo in the Iowa woodlands. They offer people a chance to listen and be heard, both by each other and by the chorus of nature. 
  • Iowa Ceramics Center & Glass Studio (Cedar Rapids, IA); Offers a wide variety of programs in both clay and warm glass for all ages and ability levels, as well as a gallery and shop featuring local artists.
  • Land Alliance Folk School & Retreat Center (Oxford, IA); Situated on a diversified farm in southeast Iowa, the campus offers a wide variety of experiential education and retreats for all ages. Central to their vision is sharing the experience of agrarian life. The measured pace of tending the land, learning its skills and celebrating the art forms that have risen from it, helps to preserve the health of our communities. 
  • Three Pines Farm (Cedar Falls, IA); A fifth-generation family farm, rich with history and beauty, nestled in the heart of the Cedar Valley of Iowa. We support the arts & artisans, uniquely build community, learn with joy, and preserve craft. 
  • Turkeyfoot Folk School (Iowa City, IA)
  • Vesterheim Folk Art School (Vesterheim, IA); In-person and online classes are offered at this school, which emphasizes the region’s ancestral ties to Norway and long history of Norwegian immigrants. You can learn the Norwegian decorative art of rosemaling here, for example, or take a Nordic cooking class. 
  • Villages Folk School (Keosauqua, IA); Many traditional folk school offerings are available here, from blacksmithing to soapmaking, all in a quiet, rural setting within the historical communities of Van Buren County, Iowa. 

Illinois 

Indiana 

Michigan 

  • Finnish American Folk School (Hancock, MI); Traditional Finnish crafts take center stage here, through courses in tapestry, Finnish folk music, and Nuno wet felting, among others. Other classes include wheel-throwing, mending, and beginning weaving. 
  • Michigan Folk School (Ann Arbor, MI); The focus at this school is on homesteading skills, and they offer an extensive range of related courses—from learning to use wax canvas to “Roadkill 101.” 
  • Porcupine Mountains Folk School (Ontonagon, MI); This folk school is located in Michigan’s largest state park, in the Porcupine Mountains, known locally as the “Porkies.” Some of this year’s one- to two-day classes include Traditional Finnish Folk Dancing, Birch Bark Container, Portable Outdoor Chair, and Soap Making. After taking in a class, students can take advantage of all the outdoor activities that come with a 60,000-acre wilderness area. 

Minnesota 

  • American Swedish Institute (Minneapolis, MN) – Nordic handcraft workshops; Nordic foodways classes 
  • Aspire Artisan Studios & Folk School (Waconia, MN) 
  • Avon Hills Folk School (Avon, MN); For more than 50 years, friends, neighbors, and students have been gathering at this wooded site to try their hands at a traditional, seasonal craft (think maple-sugaring) or join an immersive event, like a weekend of “forest-bathing.” 
  • Danebo Folk School (Minneapolis, MN); On the west bank of the Mississippi, in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, you can spend a week getting acquainted with Danish food, music, folk dancing, and handcrafts. Workshops are taught in the mornings and emphasize non-competitive learning at one’s own pace. 
  • Duluth Folk School (Duluth, MN) 
  • Ely Folk School (Ely, MN); In the far reaches of northern Minnesota, on the edge of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Canoe Area, participants can join a community dance party, gather for a makers’ event, or learn about the Indigenous Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. 
  • Folk School Warroad (Warroad, MN); Provides learning experiences in art, culture, local history, traditional crafts and exploration and enjoyment of local natural resources. 
  • Marine Mills Folk School (Marine-on-St.-Croix, MN); Take a welding class, or learn how to make your own mozzarella. This school’s widely varied courses are offered online and in person, in a small village alongside the Minnesota River. 
  • North House Folk School (Grand Marais, MN); Students at this Lake Superior-based school will find a variety of offerings, many with a regional emphasis. In addition to timber frame-building and woodfired pizza-making courses, you’ll find classes on topics ranging from “Tramp Art” to studying the lichen that grows in nearby forests. 
  • Rail River Folk School (Bemidji, MN) 
  • Raspberry Island Folk School (Raspberry Island, MN) 
  • School of Yoga and Nature Arts (Beaver Bay, MN); Offers continuing education, meeting space rental, nature, yoga, and lodging. 

North Dakota 

  • Crooked Lane Farm Folk School (Colfax, ND) ; a learning community devoted to lifelong learning for individuals and families, committed to preserving, growing, and celebrating the rural community through education and the arts.  The school offers meaningful activities that encourage creativity, personal growth, and a chance to learn just for the sake of learning. 

Ohio 

  • Federal Valley Resource Center (Stewart, OH); offeres a free instrument lending library, instrument lessons, art lessons, dance, gardening and some foodways preservation 
  • The Glouster Project (Glouster, OH); restores quilts, teaches quilting and rag rug weaving  

Wisconsin 

  • The Clearing Folk School (Ellison Bay, WI); Founded in Northern Wisconsin’s Door County nearly 100 years ago to give people a place to reconnect with nature, this folk school’s mission is evident in its programming, which encourages close contact with the surrounding environment. 
  • Driftless Folk School (Viroqua, WI); Study herbalism or organic farming methods in the unique Driftless regions of Southern Wisconsin. Seasonal art and craft classes are offered, as well as courses geared towards sustainability and land stewardship. 
  • Folk School at Folklore Village (Dodgeville, WI) 
  • Humble Oak Outdoor Learning & Arts Collective (East Troy, WI); Psrovides nature-based programming to connect individuals of all ages more deeply to themselves, the land, and the greater community. 
  • Lost Creek Adventures (Cornucopia, WI); Lost Creek is a full-service paddling outfitter and guide service that also offers workshops helping connect people with the natural world. Located at the western entry to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, classes are available not only in water-related sports like kayaking and paddle boarding, but also in traditional skills like hide tanning and drum making. Courses are offered at their off-grid house and workshop or at various other adventure locations. 
  • Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts (Mineral Point, WI); Offers one- to multi-day workshops and retreats in a variety of arts and crafts, a robust summer children’s program, a Winter Writers Residency Series, and a host of annual special events. 

Academic Craft Studies Programs 

Interested in schools with craft workshops and courses? Check out this curated list from American Craft Council.

Academic Folklore and Heritage Studies Programs  

Want to know where to study folklore? Check out this list from Ohio State University (last updated in 2013).

Library Guides on Folklife Studies 

Library guides are online resources that include curated information on a variety of topics. Here are a few of our favorites covering folk and traditional arts.

Folk and Traditional Arts Groups 

International 

Native Nations 

  • White Earth Cultural Division – Monthly programming provided by the White Earth tribe that is open to the public. Workshops focus on red willow, drumming, beading, and cultural teachings. 
  • Sitting Bull Visitor Center – Sponsored by the Sitting Bull College, the Visitor Center offers workshops grounded in traditional Lakota teachings. Such as, quillwork, beadwork, and parfleche. See their Facebook page for more details on these. 
  • Generation Indigenous Ways – A Native nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth with the knowledge of STEM education using Lakota values, traditional ways of life and arts. Example; making their own bow and arrows, learning how to use them and then bridging this knowledge to understand velocity.  
  • Lakota Youth Development – A state-wide Native nonprofit that works with youth to develop social and leadership skills by teaching traditional Lakota songs, dances, and cultural values. 

US National (General) 

US National (Media-Specific) 

Arts Midwest Region

Folk and Traditional Arts Directories and Maps 

Folk and Traditional Arts Grants  

National 

Arts Midwest Region

Folk and Traditional Arts Events 

Other Resources  

Reports and White Papers 

Assessment and Evaluation Tools


  • Headshot of a smiling person of light skin tone with brown hair pulled back, wearing small circular earrings and a green turtle neck sweater.

    Director of Programs

    Ellen Mueller (she/her) is the Director of Programs at Arts Midwest. She specializes in strategic project management, and has been directing programs since 2013.

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