(article) Texas Folklife Seeks Participants for Its 2017 Apprenticeship Program

Austin, Texas – September 13, 2016 – Texas Folklife has made its 2017 application for the Apprenticeships in the Folk & Traditional Arts program available to the public. It is available at:  http://texasfolklife.org/article/apprenticeship-in-the-folk-traditional-arts-program

Program guidelines and additional information are also available through this link on the Texas Folklife website. The call for applicants for the 2017 program has been issued, with a postmark deadline of October 28, 2016.

The Apprenticeship Program encourages the continuation of traditional arts in Texas by providing awards to master artists to train apprentices. The awards will compensate the master artist for his or her time and training; a specified amount may also be used to help offset the costs of travel and supplies. The amount of each apprenticeship award will vary, but will range between $1,000 and $1,500.

Master artists and apprentices should apply together and submit one application. Apprentices should have a significant amount of experience with their chosen tradition and be strongly committed to improving their skills and working with the community in order to carry on the tradition. Master artists should be among the finest practitioners of their craft in their community. Applications from all traditions are welcome. The organization does, however, specialize in the accordion-based musical traditions found in the state of Texas. For that reason, special consideration will be given to Polka and Zydeco applicants.

The traditional arts, commonly referred to as folklife, folklore, traditional culture, or simply tradition, are art forms practiced by groups who share similar cultural values, and/or a common heritage. The traditional arts are often learned informally, passed from generation to generation orally. These skills and trades are taught to apprentices under the direct supervision of a master artist, who is recognized as an expert in their field. The apprentice not only learns the art or craft directly through an experienced individual, but also how to teach it to his/her own apprentices. This system assures the perpetuation of these skills through successive generations and facilitates the longevity of cultural practices.

In the past, Texas Folklife has awarded apprenticeships to a diverse selection of practices, including everything from lute-making and horse saddlery to South Indian vocal music and African dance. To see a list of previous Apprenticeship awardees and their traditions, visit www.texasfolklife.org/apprenticeships.html.

Apprenticeships awarded in 2016 included the following pairs:

  • Master Derrick T. Hulin (Humble) and apprentice Tyrone Gray (Marvel) in the art of Mardi Gras Indian suit sewing;

  • Master Lee Miller (Austin) and apprentice Dana Perrotti (Katy) in the art of fitting custom cowboy boots;

  • Master John Dujka (Brenham) and apprentice Mason Nesvadba (Guy) in the art of Czech polka and waltz on piano accordion;

  • Master Daniel Malik (Shiner) and apprentice Sydney Jon Hermann (Shiner) in the art of Czech polka and alto saxophone;

  • Master Brian Marshall and apprentice Michal Marshall (Tomball) in the art of Texas Polka fiddling;

  • Master Ed Poullard (Beaumont) and apprentice Dan Chevalier (Houston) in the art of the Creole fiddle;

  • Master Eva Ybarra (San Antonio) and apprentice Iliana Vasquez (Austin) in the art of conjunto accordion;

  • Master Valerie Ryals (Burleson) and apprentice Jessica Sell (Willow Park) in the art of Texas fiddling;

  • Master Bob Suttie and apprentices Charlie Bubenik and Robbie Bubenik (Meadows Place) in the art of Czech polka accordion;

  • and Master Gus Escobar (Schertz) and apprentice Bradley Williams (Austin) in the art of accordion tuning and repair.

As can be seen from this list, not only are diverse folk arts represented, but also hometowns all across the Lone Star State are represented.

The deadline for the applications for this year’s Apprentice Program is October 28. A review panel will meet in November to evaluate the applications, and applicants will be notified of their awards in January 2017. At that time a press release will go out to announce the 2017 Apprentice Program awardees.  2017 Program Awardees will participate in an interview with Texas Folklife, where they will discuss their experience with the tradition, its significance, its continuation, and demonstrate what has been learned through the apprenticeship. Apprentices will also illustrate their training by doing a public performance at the conclusion of the apprenticeship period.

“The Apprenticeship Program is an example of Texas Folklife doing what we do best,” said Charlie Lockwood, Acting Director. “Our mission is to preserve, present and document the traditional arts in the state. With this program we are involved in the direct transmission of cultural heritage between individual artists, and in some cases from one generation to the next. And in doing so, our goal is to help these traditional arts survive and, in the best possible scenario, thrive.”


This program is made possible in part from a State Partnership award from the National Endowment from the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, in partnership with the Texas Commission on the Arts.Additional support provided by the city of Austin Cultural Arts Division.  

About Texas Folklife

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. For over 30 years, Texas Folklife has honored cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences.

1708 Houston St.

Austin, Texas 78756

T (512) 441-9255

F (844) 386-2091


Media information: Sheree Scarborough (512) 922-5483 / sheree.scarborough@gmail.com


Program information: Ian Hallagan (512) 441-9255 / apprenticeships@texasfolklife.org