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Program Guidelines - FY 2017

Program Overview
The Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program supports the teaching/learning relationship between craftspeople, musicians, dancers, and other traditional artists, and the qualified apprentices who want to study with them. The program pairs an experienced master artist with an apprentice in a 9-month long, one-on-one learning experience that helps ensure the continued vitality of a traditional art form. Apprentices learn directly by observing and imitating, and by processing the critique of the master artist. The program is designed to fund more than just lessons; it is intended to support a special, mentoring relationship between master artist and apprentice. It does not fund an ongoing class or school, nor is it intended for a situation where there is already a strong infrastructure in place for the cultural transmission of the art form.

Master artists have achieved a high level of skill in a particular traditional art form, are regarded as masters by their peers, and have learned and developed their skills within a traditional context. Apprentices demonstrate interest and competency in the art form prior to the apprenticeship, show serious commitment to learning the nuances of the tradition, and are committed to carrying the tradition on into the future.

Traditional arts are part of the cultural heritage of a group of people whose members share a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These artistic traditions are passed down through generations and reflect the values of their shared culture. Skills are typically learned directly through observation and imitation from someone steeped in the tradition, rather than through classes, books, or other means of institutional instruction.
The Mass Cultural Council welcomes applications for apprenticeships in all forms of traditional arts–traditional music and instrument making, sacred and secular crafts, occupational traditions, folk and ethnic dance, and traditional arts associated with annual celebrations.

One of the goals of the program is to help communities preserve their own cultural heritage. The strongest applications tend to be those that include the pairing of masters and apprentices who are members of the same ethnic, religious, or occupational group. That said, applications in an art forms that are widely taught in Massachusetts will be less competitive than those in which there is limited availability of master teachers.

Apprenticeships are awarded every other year to support the teaching of traditional arts specific to a particular folk group or ethnic community. Funds (ranging up to $10,000 per apprenticeship) are intended to compensate the master artist for teaching time. However, supplies, materials, and travel expenses may also be included in the application. A master artist and an apprentice must apply together.

Eligibility Requirements
To apply as a master artist, an individual must be 18 years or older. Please note that both the master artist and the apprentice must be legal residents of Massachusetts. Mass Cultural Council board members, staff, and their immediate family members are ineligible.

Training Period
The apprenticeship will be conducted for 9 months and must take place between September 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. The master artist is responsible for monitoring the apprentice's progress as outlined in the application work plan. During the apprenticeship period, a site visit will be made by the Folk Arts & Heritage Program Manager or another folklorist to document the teaching/learning process. Photographs of the session may be taken and audio-recorded interviews may be conducted.

Public Event Requirement
The master artist and apprentice are expected to give a joint public presentation near the end of the apprenticeship period. Examples include performing at a venue or public event, offering a master class, holding an open studio, or exhibiting at a local library or gallery. If you have questions about this requirement, contact Program Manager Maggie Holtzberg.

Review Criteria
An independent panel of experts in traditional arts will use the following criteria to evaluate applications on a 100-point scale:

  1. Artistic quality of the master’s work according to the standards of the traditional community. (Is the master artist recognized within the traditional community as an exemplary practitioner? Does he/she have sufficient stature within the community to merit passing on this art form?) 20 points

  2. Traditional nature of art form (as opposed to commercial or popular).
    (Is this art form part of the traditional expressive culture of a group of people whose members share a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geographic area? Are skills typically learned directly through observation and imitation from someone steeped in the tradition, rather than through classes, books, or other means of institutional instruction) 15 points

  3. Skill and commitment of the apprentice. (Does the apprentice have sufficient skill to benefit from working with the master? Is the apprentice dedicated to continuing and disseminating the tradition?) 20 points

  4. Feasibility of work plan. (Does the plan provide sufficient and well thought-out interaction to achieve meaningful results?) 15 points

  5. Limited availability of master teachers in this art form or skill in Massachusetts. (Is the opportunity to study this art form or skill very limited in Massachusetts?) 15 points

  6. Potential impact of the apprenticeship on the continued vitality of the tradition. (Will this apprenticeship make a significant impact on the cultural transmission and sustainability of this art form?)15 points

Legal and Other Requirements
The Mass Cultural Council is committed to access not only as a matter of law, but also as a policy designed to encourage the participation of all segments of the Commonwealth's population in Mass Cultural Council-funded programs. The Massachusetts Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity currently designates the following as underserved: African Americans, Asian Americans, Latin Americans, Native Americans, people with disabilities, Vietnam-era veterans, and women. The Mass Cultural Council also considers low-income communities, rural populations, and citizens over 65 years old as underserved. The Mass Cultural Council does not discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion, color, or disability. Minorities and other affirmative action populations are encouraged to apply.

To ensure that all Mass Cultural Council review panels are free from conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts, panelists are required to disclose any current or prospective affiliations they or their immediate family members have with an actual or potential applicant. "Affiliations" applies to employment, board memberships, independent contractual relationships, advisory or policy relationships, substantial contributor relationships, or other financial relationships. In addition, panelists are required to disclose any past or current adversarial relationships with actual or potential applicants. Mass Cultural Council board members are not permitted to participate in discussions or votes relating to any applicant with whom they have an affiliation or relating to any applicants competing with that applicant.

An applicant may request reconsideration of an Mass Cultural Council decision on an application if the applicant can demonstrate that the Mass Cultural Council failed to follow published application and review procedures. Dissatisfaction with the results of a review is not sufficient reason for an appeal. The first step in the process is to consult with the appropriate program staff member to review the considerations that went into the Mass Cultural Council's decision. If the applicant wishes to pursue an appeal, a written request must be sent to the Mass Cultural Council's Executive Director within 30 days of the date of notification of the decision. Such requests will be reviewed by the board no earlier than its next scheduled meeting.

Application Process
All items are required for an application to be considered complete. Incomplete applications will affect the outcome of an application. Email and faxed materials are not acceptable.

  1. Create an individual profile to be able to access the online application. Because master artists are considered the applicant in this process, they must complete this step. Once the profile has been created, master artists may then choose to share their username/password with their apprentices so they can assist in completing the online forms.

  2. Complete the online application forms.
    (Be sure to click the "final submission" button of the online application by the deadline – April 12, 2016. The electronic component of your application will then be automatically received by the Mass Cultural Council.)

  3. Mail or hand deliver the following support materials to the Mass Cultural Council, by the deadline - April 12, 2016

    ____ Letter of Support for Master Artist

      Please submit one letter of support for the master artist. The letter of support should be written by a practicing peer and/or member of the community knowledgeable about your traditional art explaining why you qualify as a maser artist. The letter should address where your work stands within the tradition and what experience you have had in successfully passing on the art on to others.

    ____ Letter of Support for Apprentice

      Please submit one letter of support for the apprentice. The letter of support should be written by someone knowledgeable about the traditional art you wish to study. The letter should address what experience you already have in the traditional art, your potential for learning one on one, and any other details regarding your potential as an apprentice to this particular master artist.

    ____ Master Artist and Apprentice Work Samples

      Work samples should demonstrate artistic quality and technical ability. Both the master artist and the apprentice must submit samples of their own work. This enables the selection panel to evaluate the artistic quality for both applicants. Panelists may review some or all of submitted material. We strongly recommend that work samples not exceed 30 minutes.

      Submit up to ten images of your work -- digital images on CD are preferred. If possible, include an image that shows the place in which your work is created. Be sure to provide details for each of these images in the appropriate form of the online application. In addition, up to three pieces of actual work may be submitted for review (optional).


      Music/Verbal Arts
      Submit two copies of one sound recording (CD, DVD). Label each item with applicant names, participants, titles, dates, and locations. Indicate the important sections for review (list track numbers).


      Dance/Ethnic Theatre
      Submit two copies of one DVD that best demonstrates the quality of your work. Label the DVD with title, length of work, applicant names, participants, dates, and locations. Indicate track number(s) to preferred starting point(s).

    Address mail to:
    Maggie Holtzberg
    Program Manager, Folk Arts and Heritage
    Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program
    Mass Cultural Council
    10 St. James Avenue, 3rd Floor
    Boston, MA 02116

    The electronic submission of all the application pages, and the mailing or hand delivery of the materials listed above constitutes the final application.

Proceed to the Online Application

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