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.

Who is a master artist? A master artist is a skilled and experienced practitioner of a traditional art form. The master artist acts as a mentor and teacher to the apprentice.

Who is an apprentice? An apprentice is an emerging traditional artist who has an established skill set and seeks to enhance their knowledge and understanding of their art form through one-on-one instruction.

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 8, 2021

Please note: With the implementation of our new eGRANT system, MAC will no longer accept paper applications. Instructions on how to register with the eGRANT system are available here. Applications will be accepted beginning on February 1. To be considered for funding, applications must be submitted and authorized by 11:59 p.m. on March 8.

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).

What are the Folk and Traditional Arts?

The folk and traditional arts are artistic expressions of community life. A community is a group of people held together by common bonds such as shared beliefs, language, identity, ethnicity, occupation, recreational interests, and regional affiliation. In short, folk arts often reflect the shared values, identity and aesthetics of a community. 

Folk artists working within a community-based art form demonstrate a balance of individual creativity expressed within a collective arts tradition. Traditional artists usually learn informally through apprenticeships, imitation, and/or face-to face instruction, and folk arts are usually passed down from one generation to the next. There can be breaks in tradition when people migrate to new places or as a result of changing ways of life. Traditions adapt and grow over time, thus folk art can be a reflection of change and innovation as well. 

Examples of folk art include pine-needle basket weaving, Native American beadwork, bowl hewing, Gulf Coast boatbuilding, southern food traditions, storytelling, blues music, hip hop music and dance, bluegrass fiddle playing, quilting, duck-call carving, leather working, blacksmithing, instrument making, Celtic dance, Chinese New Year celebrations, Delta cowboy traditions, Our Lady of Guadalupe dance processions, and many other material, festive, and performance-based forms of art. 

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. (30 points)
  • Evidence that the master artist’s work demonstrates creativity within a community-based tradition. (20 points)
  • Evidence that the apprentice has a commitment and connection to the traditional art form and sufficient skill to benefit from working with the master artist. (30 points)
  • Feasibility of the project and timeline. (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. The eGRANT application will require the following documentation:

  • 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 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.
  • 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 review the guides and video tutorials available on MAC’s Frequently Asked Questions page, then contact MAC staff if you have any questions.

Work Samples

Work Sample Format

If you have trouble uploading the work sample files to eGRANT, please consult the tutorials available in MAC’s Frequently Asked Questions before contacting MAC staff.

  • Performance-based Artists: Applicants such as traditional musicians or dancers should submit one copy of an audio or video recording demonstrating their performance ability. 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). Files 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 will be required to submit six digital images that feature work completed within the last three years. The images should be saved in JPEG format at 72dpi, with no image wider than 1240 pixels. 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 video files at least five-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 file 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 recording 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.

Work Sample File Types

Ineligible File Types: Items uploaded from the following file types will be disregarded in adjudicating applications and may result rejection of an application for incompletion:

  • Pages (.pages)
  • Numbers (.numbers)
  • Keynote (.key)

Video & Audio

  • If you share media from your website, link directly to the video/audio rather than the home page.
  • MAC recommends applicants upload using the following file types: MP3, MOV, MP4, WMV, WMA.
  • MAC recommends applicants upload links to video or audio files. Applicants can link to websites such as YouTubeVimeoSoundcloudBandcamp, etc.

Images & Documents

  • MAC recommends applicants upload using the following file types: Word (.doc or .dox), Excel (.xls, .xlr, or .xlsx), PDF (.pdf), or JPEG (.jpeg).
  • You may upload links contained in a Word Document or PDF.

Application Timeline

March 8, 2021 – Folk Art Apprenticeship application deadline

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

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

July – 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