Artist Harold Akyeampong honored with Nevada Arts Council Folk Arts Fellowship
The 2022 recipient of the Nevada Arts Council’s Folk Arts Fellowship is Harold Akyeampong of North Las Vegas. Born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, he moved to Las Vegas from New York City. His passion for Ghanaian ceremonial music, dance, folktales, and rituals has been shared with students and audiences at the Brooklyn Arts Council, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, City Lore, the Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theater, and many other prominent arts and cultural organizations.
Akyeampong’s work in Nevada as a Ghanaian African dance teacher and performer, drum master, choreographer, ethnomusicologist, producer and citizen folklorist has been focused in “hands-on” school and community-based workshops that explore the profound impact of African music on world music styles. He presents the creative, rhythmic, and musical aspects of Ghanaian music-making as a vital, integral, and essential element of community life.
“Growing up in rural Ghana, it was common to see young people following, helping and learning from master performers in a community,” Akyeampong said. “This was how the knowledge and love of local folklore and folklife and folk arts was passed down to me.” He pursued those interests with study at the Institute of African Studies’ School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana in Legon-Accra and later at the State University of New York.
“I continue to participate in this art form because it shows and validates my identity, my sense of pride, and provides the opportunity for a career as a cultural ambassador—teaching and performing for both Ghanaian and non-Ghanaian audiences and students as a way of encouraging global multicultural understanding and appreciation,” he said.
The Folk Arts Fellowship celebrates the vitality of Nevada’s Folk and Traditional Arts. It recognizes artists living in Nevada who demonstrate excellence in their work. Folk arts are maintained within communities defined by cultural connections such as a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geographic area. They include traditional hand-crafted objects, ceremonial costumes, music, dance, rituals/celebrations, and verbal arts.
For more about Nevada Arts Council grants visit the agency’s web page on grant offerings.