The Tennessee Arts Commission’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program is an initiative designed to encourage the survival, continued development, and proliferation of our state’s diverse folklife traditions, especially those that are rare or endangered. Funding will be awarded to eligible teams of master artists and apprentices committed to preserving, through one-on-one training, a traditional art form deeply rooted in their community and cultural heritage.
A master artist is a tradition bearer who is recognized by fellow artists and community members as being exceptionally skilled and committed to sharing and perpetuating a traditional art form based in his or her cultural heritage. Master artists who apply must demonstrate expertise and excellence, teaching ability, and deep cultural knowledge of the art form.
An apprentice, who is selected by and applies with the master artist, should be a talented, committed student who desires to sharpen his or her skills in a community-based traditional art. The apprentice should not be a beginner artist. He or she should demonstrate enough experience in the traditional art to benefit from one-on-one training. Apprentices should also express an intention to train others in the art form in the future. Apprentices and master artists may be family members.
The master and apprentice teams must demonstrate a commitment to training for a period of eight months in a community-based folk or traditional art. Such practices include traditional music, visual art, crafts, dance, foodways, calendar and life-cycle customs, and occupational skills. Eligible traditional art forms are those learned and passed down informally by imitation, word of mouth, or observation in cultural communities that share family, ethnic, tribal, regional, occupational, or religious identity.
Ineligible art forms and activities include historical recreations and copies of antiques, the work of professional teachers or contemporary studio craft artists, and revivals of traditions outside of the originating cultural community. Applicants must be citizens or legal residents of the United States. The master artist is preferred to be from Tennessee. The apprentice must be a resident of the state.
The first class of Masters and Apprentices was selected in FY17 by a panel of specialists in traditional arts and folklife. The applicant pool was deep and highly competitive. Learn more about these remarkable traditional artists. The FY18 class of Masters and Apprentices will be announced in November 2017. Watch this page for future opportunities in this program.