The Folk Art Apprenticeship program helps to assure the survival, development and continued evolution of community-based traditional art forms found throughout Mississippi. The program allows master traditional artists to pass along their unique skills to promising novice artists that work in their art form. The master artist works with the apprentice on a one-on-one basis over an agreed upon period of time to teach specific aspects of the tradition.

Many types of traditional artists can benefit from this program. Some examples of artists who have received Apprenticeship grants in the past include boat builders, quilters, old-time fiddlers, traditional potters, basketmakers, and blues guitarists. The program is focused on supporting forms of creative expression that have been an important part of community life for many years and that are passed on informally rather than taught through formal classes. Please consult with the Folk and Traditional Arts Program Director (contact information at bottom of the page) to see if your art form qualifies for this program.

MAC also accepts Apprenticeship applications from foodways practitioners. MAC recognizes the creativity and cultural significance of foodways to the history and identity of Mississippians. The program honors foodways artists who make dishes that are directly related to the soil and climate of the state, or to the ethnic and regional heritage of their families or communities. Whether you are frying fish, rolling dough, stuffing tamales or canning figs (or something in between), MAC encourages you to share your expertise by participating in the Apprenticeship program.

The Apprenticeship grant award is $2,000. No cash match is required. The master artist and apprentice work together to determine the budget for their project. The majority of the grant funds (80 percent or more – $1,600) should be set aside for the master artist’s teaching fee. The remaining amount can be used to purchase supplies (only expendable items, not permanent equipment) and for mileage incurred by the apprentice (this should be estimated using the State of Mississippi’s current mileage reimbursement rate.

Application Deadline: March 1

Before submitting an application, MAC recommends you thoroughly read the Frequently Asked Questions.

Please note: Apprenticeship grants are reported as income for the recipients. MAC is required to report the grants to the IRS and issues tax documents (a 1099 form) to the Master Artist (the named recipient of the grant).

Who May Apply

The master artist and their potential apprentice must apply together. The master artist should be recognized within their community as an accomplished artist within a community-based traditional art form. They should be active in the art form, either performing or creating new work on a regular basis. The master artist should have developed their skills through an informal, traditional manner rather than through formalized courses.

The apprentice should not be a beginning artist. Since the apprenticeship will take place over a short period of time, the apprentice should have enough experience in the art form to benefit from the intensive, one-on-one training. For example, an apprentice blues guitarist should be able to play well enough to work on more advanced techniques during the apprenticeship.

Preference will be given to master artists and apprentices who are members of the same community or cultural group. One of the desired outcomes of the program is to support the continuation of traditional art forms within the communities where they originated. Therefore, it is important that both the master artist and the apprentice have a deep understanding of and commitment to the culture that their art form reflects.

Review Criteria

A panel of experts in various traditional art forms reviews the Apprenticeship applications. Applicants should address the following criteria in their application:

  • The master artist’s demonstrated mastery of their artform and the connection of their work to local traditional culture (the work’s connection to tradition applies to both master artist and apprentice) (40 points)
  • Evidence that the master artist’s work demonstrates creativity within a community-based tradition (40 points)
  • Evidence that the apprentice has sufficient skill to benefit from working with the master artist (20 points)

MAC gives funding priority to first-time applicants to the program that represent an underserved tradition.

How To Apply

The master artist and apprentice must apply together to the Apprenticeship program. Apply online using the eGRANT system or mail in one original and one copy of the following items in the order listed:

  • Folk Arts Apprenticeship Description Forms completed by both the master artist and the apprentice. Please provide as much information as you can about yourself and the proposed apprenticeship.
  • One copy of work samples from both the master artist and the apprentice. The accepted formats are listed below.
  • A description of the work samples, including title (if applicable), date of the performance or when the work was completed, and any other information necessary for describing them.

Foodways Applicants – In addition to the items listed above, please include:

  • A short narrative (up to one page in length) that explains the history and importance of the food(s) the Master Artist makes within their cultural or regional community.
  • Three to five letters of support for the Master Artist. These should be written by members of their community who have a good understanding of the Artist’s skills, such as representatives from local social organizations or cultural groups. The letters should verify the artist’s skills and knowledge, give details about the context in which the Artist’s food tradition occurs, and explain the role of the applicant in helping to continue a particular foodways tradition.
  • Two to three letters of support for the Apprentice. These should be written by members of their community who have a good understanding of the Apprentice’s skills, such as representatives from local social organizations or cultural groups. The letters should speak to the Apprentice’s skills and knowledge and their potential for later working as a practitioner of the foodways tradition being focused on in the project.
  • Copies of newspaper or magazine clippings featuring the Master Artist that detail their contributions to their specific foodways tradition. If available, please also include any clippings that feature the Apprentice.

Please do not staple or bind your application materials.

Work Samples

Note: With the exception of video samples, all work sample types can be submitted electronically through the eGRANT system.

  • Performance-based Artists: Applicants such as traditional musicians or dancers should submit one copy of an audio or video recording demonstrating their performance ability. Acceptable formats include audio compact disc or DVD. The recording must have been made within the last three years. Please submit the best quality recording of your work you have available. Musicians should include multiple songs on their sample, each demonstrating different aspects of their playing ability (for example, a fiddler would want to include a faster breakdown tune as well as a waltz to show the range of their playing). Recordings should be appropriately labeled with the applicant’s name and description of the performance (including song titles and type of song).
  • Visual Artists: Applicants such as quilters or potters should submit one set of digital images that feature six different samples of work completed within the last three years. The images should be saved in JPEG format at 72dpi, with no image wider than 1600 pixels. They should be saved on a CD-R disc with each image numbered to correspond with the work sample listing. Only the required images should be included on the CD-R. They should not be saved as part of a presentation program file (like PowerPoint). The work must have been completed within the last three years. Please submit the best quality images that you have available.
  • Foodways Artists: Foodways applicants should submit one DVD at least ten minutes in length that demonstrates their artist quality and the traditionality of their foodways practice. The recording should show the master artist (depending on length of process) preparing for or creating a dish they plan to teach the apprentice. As part of this demonstration, the Master Artist should include comments on the cultural importance of particular ingredients, techniques or elements of the recipe. The Master Artist should also speak to how/where they learned to prepare the respective dish. The recording must have been made within the last three years. Label the DVD with the applicant’s name and description of the foodways tradition (ie: canning, biscuit making, pig roasting, pecan pies, etc).Foodways apprentices must also submit one DVD at least ten minutes in length. The recording should show the apprentice (depending on length of process) preparing for or creating a traditional dish which has inspired them to learn more about regional or ethnic cooking. The apprentice should speak to how/where they learned to prepare the respective dish, and why it has inspired them to further their knowledge of traditional foodways.

Return Of Work Samples

For applicants submitting work samples through the mail, please notate on the disc case whether or not you would like it returned. Applicants who want their work samples returned by mail must send a self-addressed mailer with sufficient postage attached to it. Work samples may also be picked up July 1st through 31st at MAC’s office during regular business hours. Please make arrangements with the Folk and Traditional Arts Program Director before visiting the office. All work samples will be discarded after July 31st if no instructions are given for their return.

Application Timeline

January 15 – Draft Application Deadline (if submitting a draft)

March 1, 2018 – Folk Art Apprenticeship application deadline

April 2018 – Review of applications by the grant panel (the specific panel date will be available by late March. Applicants are allowed to attend panels.)

June 2018 – MAC Board meets and makes final funding decisions on all applications

July 2, 2018 – Applicants are notified whether their application was funded or not. No information on the grants (including whether or not an applicant will be receiving an award or the amount of the award) will be available from MAC prior to this date.

Grant Payments

Folk Art Apprenticeships are paid in two equal installments:

  • 50% of the grant award following receipt and approval of a properly signed contract
  • 50% of the grant award following receipt and approval of the final report.

For more information on the program, contact Maria Zeringue at 601.359.6034 or mzeringue@arts.ms.gov.