Center for Art, Tradition and Cultural Heritage

Organizational Background Statement


New York City’s neighborhoods abound with living cultural traditions from all parts of the world – the diverse expressions of music, dance, poetry, storytelling, theater, visual art and handcraft that reflect the city’s immigration history and its dynamic, creative present.  More than 170 languages are spoken in the City, and each of these linguistic communities also represents a cultural community – possessing its own artistic traditions, distinct art forms, living artists and practitioners.


CATCH is a non profit created by a group of NYC organizations to develop collaborative projects that foster New York City’s living cultural heritage. CATCH is a consortium of four nationally prominent organizations with almost 100 years combined programming experience in folk arts –  Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD), City Lore, Society of the Educational Arts (SEA, a Latino children’s theater) and World Music Institute (WMI). These groups have joined together to (a) create a permanent home for the traditional arts and for their own organizations; (b) develop collaborate projects among the four founding organizations and other groups; and (c) incubate and assist smaller, ethnic-specific groups to develop their own organizational structures and foster the cultural heritages of their respective communities.


In 2007-2008, the Center for Art, Tradition and Cultural Heritage (CATCH) formally came into existence as an organizational home for the collaborative programming which had taken place between the partners for decades. CATCH received its incorporation on March 27, 2009.  With City Lore as the fiscal sponsor, CATCH received grants of $50,000 from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, a grant of $100,000 from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and $200,000 from the Mertz-Gilmore Foundation to enable the partners to create a strategic plan for a building to house folk arts organizations.  Although the groups are still working on plans to acquire a space, CATCH has inspired a series of collaborations among the founding organizations.  These have included the Black Sea Roma Festival, a collaboration of CTMD and World Music Institute, and a Brazilian Poetry Dinner and Dance, a collaboration of City Lore and SEA.  CATCH received a grant from NEA in 2012 for Self Representations: Romani Music and Culture in Diaspora, and in 2013 for Live from the POEMobile: Poetry and Community.


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