It has been said that talent is universal, but opportunity is not.
International Folk Art Market Mission and Vision
The Mission of the International Folk Art Market is to create economic opportunities for and with folk artists worldwide who celebrate and preserve folk art traditions. The International Folk Art Market envisions a world that values the dignity and humanity of the handmade, honors timeless cultural traditions, and supports the work of folk artists serving as entrepreneurs and catalysts for positive social change.
What is Folk Art?:
IFAM: What is folk art?
- FOLK ART is rooted in traditions that come from culture and community.
- FOLK ART techniques may be self-taught or learned in a school or family setting.
- FOLK ART employs an infinite range of physical materials, as well as the immaterial vehicles of dance, music, spoken word, and food.
- FOLK ART is made by hand for both for community use as well as for sale to external audiences.
- FOLK ART is a living discipline, constantly changing and transforming. It reflects the lives of its diverse makers with varying combinations of history and tradition, cosmology and myth, beauty and wit, creativity and personal expression, as well as observations and descriptions of the world around us.
- FOLK ARTISTS make the decisions about what they make and sell. This freedom keeps tradition alive with each new generation that embraces it.
- FOLK ART is of, by, and for all people. It expresses ways in which communities and individual makers shape and express nuanced systems of identity, gender, class, power, belief, economics, aesthetics, and creativity.
What is the International Folk Art Market| Santa Fe?:
Imagine a place where cultures from all corners of the globe are celebrated; where folk artists, often marginalized in their own communities, are elevated. Where the humanity of the handmade isn’t just discussed, but is right in front of you as you move from stall to stall at a bustling outdoor event, taking in the shades, symbols, and smiles of nearly 60 countries gathered in one place.
Every July this experience is made real when the International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe — a mecca for master folk artists and catalyst for social change across continents — unfurls its magic.
Half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 per day and indigenous cultures are rapidly disappearing at a rate of 30 per year. In the process, traditional lifestyles are being threatened by larger global economic forces that all too often split communities apart, devalue hand-crafted tradition, and interrupt knowledge traditionally handed down from generation to generation.
The artisan sector represents the second largest industry in the developing world, and therefore holds potential for large scale positive social change. As a result, folk artists across the globe need markets to sustain their livelihoods, preserve their cultures, and support their families. IFAM | Santa Fe addresses the challenge of an interconnected world by providing an innovative approach to increasing global and cultural understanding through its partnerships and related educational programming.
“It’s like few other places in the world because it’s the world gathered all in one place,” CBS Sunday Morning noted after visiting. And while this extraordinary gathering can’t be fully expressed in statistics, the numbers tell a compelling story. Annually, over 2,100 dedicated volunteers help create the event, giving over 40,000 hours of work toward everything from stuffing envelopes to high level event coordination.
More than 150 artists participate, trekking to the United States from 60 different countries after applying for visas and making international shipping and travel arrangements. These artists represent another 25,690 members of cooperatives and groups that ultimately impact the lives of 256,900 more family and community members. Then, in only 21 hours–from a Friday to Sunday evening–20,000 visitors attend the event, purchasing $3 million in folk art. Artists consign their artwork to IFAA and all sales are handled by IFAA. On average, nearly $20,000 per booth is sent back to artists in their native countries. More often than not, the income helps sustain entire communities. When artists return home, wells, bridges, and even schools are built. From revered culture-bearers to young artists re-imaging ancient forms, the artists at the Market, their stories of hope, and the celebration of what makes us uniquely human, make for a transformative experience that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.