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National Council for the Traditional Arts Announces Leadership Transition

NCTA logo sepiaNOVEMBER 29, 2017—The National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) announced today that Julia Olin plans to step down as Executive Director during 2018. Olin will continue to be actively engaged with the organization, serving as the NCTA’s Artistic Director and Director of Special Projects & Initiatives, and facilitating the transition to new leadership. A national search to fill the executive director position is being conducted.

Founded in 1933, the NCTA is the nation’s oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the presentation and documentation of folk and traditional arts in the United States.

As Executive Director since 2004, Olin has worked tirelessly to advance the NCTA’s mission. She joined the organization as associate director in 1990, working in close partnership with longtime Executive Director Joseph Wilson (recipient of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship and the Library of Congress Living Legend Award.)

Says Olin, “While we had very different styles, Joe and I were philosophically and aesthetically attuned. To have this unique, venerable organization entrusted to my care has been both an honor and a significant responsibility. It has been my goal to strengthen NCTA’s foundations, to safeguard its legacy, and to chart a path that expands the scope and impact of our work while remaining true to the NCTA’s mission and standards of excellence.”

In making the announcement, George Holt, Chair of the NCTA’s Board of Directors said, “Julia Olin’s skillful and impassioned leadership brought the organization through a challenging time of transition and has carried it to new heights of achievement and impact in the 21st century. Under Olin’s stewardship, NCTA’s flagship program, the National Folk Festival, has delivered lasting social, economic, and cultural benefits to communities as diverse as East Lansing, Michigan; Bangor, Maine; Richmond, Virginia; Butte, Montana; and Greensboro, North Carolina. She’s overseen the completion of a 16-year project to digitize and preserve invaluable field recordings from the burgeoning NCTA archives and transfer them to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Like her predecessor Joe Wilson, Julia has been a powerful and effective advocate for traditional artists and arts organizations, and has provided critical leadership in the realm of cultural policy. The board is immensely grateful for Julia’s extraordinary service, and delighted that she’ll continue to assist with the organization in a different capacity.”

Innovative and critically acclaimed programming has thrived during Olin’s tenure. In addition to the production of the thriving National Folk Festival and its several vibrant legacy festivals, other notable initiatives include national touring programs highlighting African American, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Appalachian music and dance traditions, large-scale cultural events on the National Mall, and a permanent exhibition at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax, Virginia. The NCTA continues to serve federal agencies, producing the National Heritage Fellowships for the National Endowment for the Arts, and assisting National Park Service units across the country with cultural planning. In its home state, the NCTA works closely with the Maryland State Arts Council’s Maryland Traditions Program, producing annual events and managing special projects.

Today, the NCTA’s work provides performance opportunities for more than 2,000 musicians, dancers, craftspeople and other tradition-bearers annually in free public programs that serve nearly a million people and reach millions more through various media platforms. Local economic activity directly stimulated by NCTA programs is estimated to generate not less than $92 million in a typical year.

Olin has been involved with the research, documentation, curation and public presentation of traditional music and culture for 44 years. Since joining the National Council for the Traditional Arts in 1990, Olin has organized, directed or produced 29 national performing arts tours, been involved in the planning, artistic direction and production of 76 national festivals, 23 recordings of traditional music, and 34 programs for public radio and television. She has worked for 27 years with National Park Service units across the nation to develop cultural programs, exhibitions and other projects.

Prior to her association with the NCTA, Olin conducted extensive fieldwork under the auspices of Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts (MFFA) that resulted in a major collection of traditional Ozark music, ballads and stories, and co-produced the recorded anthology I’m Old, But I’m Awfully Tough: Traditional Music of the Ozark Region that received a Grammy nomination for best album notes. Olin was also involved in the programming and production of numerous regional traditional arts events and programs, and enjoyed a successful career as a vocalist and musician.

The job description and application procedures can be accessed via the following link: https://ncta-usa.org/job-openings/