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Apprenticeships in the Folk & Traditional Arts Program - Guidelines and Application

The 2021 Apprenticeship Program application is now closed.

Thank you to everyone who applied!

Application and Additional Information Below

For Examples of Past Applications, Supporting Materials, & Answers to Common Questions, Please Click Here

2021 Program Guidelines and Application (Fillable PDF)

2021 Program Guidelines and Application (For Print)

2021 Pauta y Aplicación (Versión impresa)


Program Overview

Texas Folklife's Apprenticeship Program fosters the continuity of traditional arts in Texas by providing awards for artist mentors to train apprentices. Each award supports intensive, one-on-one training* for individuals who demonstrate skill for and dedicated commitment to a specific traditional art or cultural practice. If selected, the artist mentor and apprentice (the "artist team") will implement the self-designed and directed work plan proposed in the application. Over the course of the program, Texas Folklife will work with the artist team to document its apprenticeship while offering assistance and support. Each artist team will share the results of its apprenticeship in a final public presentation organized in consultation with Texas Folklife. Since 1987, Texas Folklife has awarded apprenticeships to over 250 artist mentors and apprentices including multiple NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipients.

*Note: The one-on-one, mentor-apprentice model may not fit within the framework of certain artistic traditions such as ensemble-based art forms. In these cases, group apprenticeship proposals will be considered.


What are the Folk & Traditional Arts?

Folk and traditional arts are transmitted, engaged, and reinvigorated within communities whose members often share a common heritage, language, religion, occupation, or region. The folk and traditional arts not only are rooted in and reflective of but actively shape a community's values, aesthetic ideals, and life experiences. Expressing this common ethos, these artistic traditions are typically passed on from one generation to the next, or from one community member to another, through extended periods of observation, demonstration, conversation, and practice.

An artist mentor is someone who is recognized by their community and peers for expertise in a particular traditional art form. As someone who studies under an artist mentor, an apprentice demonstrates an intention to enhance their established skills and cultural understanding of the art form as well as a long-term commitment to carrying the tradition forward.


Who Can Apply?

Texas Folklife welcomes applications from all folk art traditions that have been brought to, taken root in, or are indigenous to Texas. From conjunto accordion, horse saddlery, and char caning to Micronesian stick dance, West African dance-drumming, and Native American healing arts, the Apprenticeship Program has awarded apprenticeships to a diverse selection of cultural practices. 

Artist mentors residing in Texas or the four surrounding states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico are eligible to apply. Apprentices MUST reside in Texas to be considered. There are no age requirements for an artist mentor or apprentice to apply. 2019-2020 Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program participants must wait a period of one year to apply again. To see an interactive map of recent Apprenticeship Program participants, visit


Award Amount

Typical apprenticeship awards range from $2,500 to $3,000. The award covers artist mentor fees, supplies/materials, and travel; specefied amounts may also be used to support apprentice supplies/materials and travel costs. The amount of each award will vary depending on the number of training sessions, the amount of supplies/materials needed, and whether or not travel is necessary for the artist mentor or apprentice to reach the site of the training sessions.


How to Apply

Interested artist mentors and apprentices apply as a team. Applications are available in digital and print formats (see above). Before completing the application, artist teams should meet to discuss their ideas for the apprenticeship. Both the artist mentor and apprentice will need to agree on the following points: what material will be covered, where and how the sessions will be held, and how long the apprenticeship will last. Further, we hope that both the artist mentor and apprentice will discuss why participation in the apprenticeship program is valuable to each of them individualy and their shared community more broadly. The artist mentor and apprentice must complete the application form. One section of the application is to be filled out by the artist mentor and another by the apprentice. Both applicants should complete the rest of the applicaiton together. Applications can be handwritten.

Alongside the application, applicants will be asked to provide work samples (such as video, audio recordings, photos, print material, etc.) that demonstrate the artist mentor's and apprentice's experience in the traditional art form. In addition to work samples, up to three letters of support are required from fellow artists, family, community members, or other individuals who can speak to the qualifications of the artist mentor and apprentice as well as the apprenticeship's impant on the cultural community.

Please contact Texas Folklife for any application or supporting material assistance.


Evaluation Critieria/Eligibility

A panel of traditional arts specialists as well as past program participants will review complete applications and make recommendations for approval according to the following criteria:

  • Artistic strength of the artist mentor's work according to the standards of the traditional community
  • Role of the artist and significance of the tradition in community life
  • Established skill and demonstrated commitment of the apprentice
  • Feasibility of the proposed work plan and liklihood of successful collaboration between the artist mentor and apprentice
  • Potential impact of apprenticeship on the continuity of the tradition


The program will NOT fund: 

  • Recreations of historic artifacts or staged productions of village folk traditions that attempt to reenact lifestyles from the distant past
  • Contemporary and individual studio art projects
  • Artist mentors who are currently university students or teachers actively participating full time in a degree or certificate-granting program directly related to their art form
  • Ongoing classes where an artist mentor instructs in a classroom situation
  • International apprenticeships
  • 2019-2020 Texas Folklife Program Participants

Payment Process

Awards will be distributed over three payments: the first at the signing of contracts; the second when the Program Coordinator meets with the artist team and documents the apprenticeship; and the third at the completion of the public presentation and submission of the final report to Texas Folklife.


Application Deadline: December 11, 2020


For more information, please contact:

Pete Breithaupt, Apprenticeship Program Coordinator

(512) 441-9255 


This program is made possible in part by the board and members of Texas Folklife and 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 Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.