IOV is a worldwide organization of individuals and institutions working to document, preserve and promote all forms of folk art, both tangible and intangible. The organization was founded in Belgium in 1979 and is registered under the laws of Austria, where the Office of the IOV Secretariat is located.
IOV sponsors national and international folk art festivals as well as cultural exchanges of performing artists and visual art. Through its scientific and pedagogical symposia and workshops, IOV encourages scholarly research, documentation and publication on topics related to folk art and traditions.
Recent conferences have explored aspects of storytelling, children’s games, legends, crafts, folk tales, dance, weaving and textiles, tool making, religious practices, costuming, architecture, social practices and seasonal celebrations. The UNESCO Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, with its emphasis on research and documentation, provides the framework for IOV programs and projects.All IOV members participate in the General Assembly, which meets every fourth year. The General Assembly approves revisions to bylaws, elects officers and approves budgets and financial expenditures. The Executive Board is comprised of the officers, commission chairs and regional leaders and is responsible for the overall success of IOV’s programs and projects. The Presidential Council, which consists of the officers and Secretary-General, oversees the Secretariat, engages in long, medium and short range planning, implements IOV policy and develops membership programs and benefits. The IOV Secretariat is staffed by the Secretary General, and is responsible for the day to day operations of IOV.