Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Receives $1.5 Million Philanthropic Gift To Continue Cultural Vitality Program

February 16, 2023
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The Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage has received a $1.5 million gift from Ferring Pharmaceuticals to continue its support of the Cultural Vitality Program, which partners with artists and their communities to sustain languages and cultural practices in the face of immense change.  

Social, economic and political forces—including climate change, armed conflict, genocide, oppression, urbanization and mass production of culture—disrupt and devastate communities. With Ferring’s founding sponsorship in 2019, the center established the Cultural Vitality Program to address these challenges. Over the first three years of the program, the center raised an additional $4.5 million and began work with African American and Native American artists and communities, as well as communities in Armenia, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Kazakhstan and Tunisia.  

“The projects we’ve developed with our community partners have had a major impact on the ground,” said Halle Butvin, the center’s director of special projects and lead of the Cultural Vitality Program. “Together we’ve created new income streams for artists and innovative tools to engage youth in language and cultural practice. Focusing on cultural vitality to improve livelihoods and youth engagement builds the community resilience necessary to face current and future challenges.” 

Ferring’s latest contribution provides the resources necessary to continue the program, initiating new partnerships and projects in rural North America, Eastern Europe and the Arctic, while sharing out the most effective tools and practices to sustain languages and cultural practices. The American public will continue to learn about the partner communities and their cultural heritage through Smithsonian Folklife Festival programming, musician exchanges, new Smithsonian Folkways recordings and Folklife Magazine articles.  

“Ferring’s support encourages the Smithsonian to figure out how it can aid cultural communities to extend their heritage in new, creative ways, for the civic, educational and economic benefit of living people,” said Richard Kurin, the center’s interim director. “In implementing these projects and learning from them, the Cultural Vitality Program can have an important impact in promoting humankind’s robust cultural diversity around the world.” 

Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage 

The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage uses the power of culture to increase understanding, strengthen communities and reinforce our shared humanity through rigorous research, educational programming and community engagement. Through the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, exhibitions, documentary films and videos, symposia, publications and educational materials, the center works to sustain traditional and expressive culture such as music, language and craft in a wide variety of locations around the world. For general inquiries, email

Ferring Pharmaceuticals  

Ferring Pharmaceuticals is a research-driven, specialty biopharmaceutical group committed to helping people around the world build families and live better lives. In the United States, Ferring is a leader in reproductive medicine and maternal health, uro-oncology and in specialty areas within gastroenterology, including microbiome therapeutics and orthopaedics. For more information, visit  
In recent years, Ferring has provided support for several initiatives of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, including the “One World, Many Voices” Folklife Festival program in 2013, the Sustaining Minoritized Languages in Europe research project in 2015 and the Sustaining Traditional Weaving in Bhutan project in 2017. 

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