As the granddaughter of Greek immigrants, Tina Bucuvalas was always interested in culture. She pursued a master’s degree in Folklore and Mythology from University of California, Los Angeles and a doctorate in Folklore from Indiana University. In 1985, she moved to Florida for a contract position with the Florida Folklife Program where she conducted fieldwork for the Miami folklife survey. She fell in love with the state’s cultural landscape and a year later was hired by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, now HistoryMiami, where she established the South Florida Folklife Center. Her fieldwork formed the basis of exhibits, public programs and a book, South Florida Folklife, coauthored with Peggy Bulger and Stetson Kennedy. She was once again hired by the Florida Folklife Program in 1995 where she served as State Folklorist for 13 years documenting a wide array of traditional culture.
In addition to coordinating exhibits, festivals and core programs, Bucuvalas produced public radio shows, coauthored Just Above the Water: Florida Folk Arts and received a Fulbright Scholarship to study public folklife in Greece fueling her interest in Florida’s Greek community. In 2009, she was hired as the Curator of Arts and Historical Resources for the City of Tarpon Springs, known for its thriving Greek community. Spearheading efforts to integrate folklife into historic preservation, she successfully nominated Eatonville and Rose Hill Cemetery for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and secured a traditional cultural property designation for Tarpon Springs’ Greektown Historic District. For more than 30 years, Tina Bucuvalas has advocated on behalf of Florida’s folk and traditional arts and artists, fostering countless opportunities for Floridians to engage with the state’s dynamic cultural heritage.