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Announcing this Year’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeships

Maggie Holtzberg, Program Manager

a banner image containg 5 smaller photos - 2 Taiko drummers, a seated man with a blues guitar, an example of exquisite paper cutting, a violinist playing, 2 Carnival goers in festive dress
FY23-24 Traditional Arts Apprenticeships (L to R): Taiko drumming, Karen Young & Mica Rose; Paul Rishell, country blues & guitar; Chinese papercut by Zhonghe Elena Li; Beth Bahia Cohen, traditional Greek music on violin; Dominican carnival traditions, Stelvyn & Leonardo Mirabal.

Mass Cultural Council’s governing Council recently approved our largest investment ever in Traditional Arts Apprenticeships – $180,000 in FY23 – to preserve and help revitalize traditional expressive arts valued by cultural communities throughout the state. From Yiddish song and dance, Dominican carnival traditions, and African American quilt making to restoration of Middle Eastern musical instruments, Irish uilleann piping and fiddling, and North Indian Kathak dance and Mithila painting – these traditions reflect who we are in Massachusetts.

These mentoring partnerships help sustain traditional art and artists and support inter-generational learning. A Traditional Arts Apprenticeship can even help bring endangered traditions back from the brink, like this year’s apprenticeship in the Nipmuc traditional skill of brain-tanning animal hides for use in regalia. Or Uyghur calligraphy, a form of art script vital to perpetuating the cultural heritage of the Uyghurs; for the small community of recent Uyghur refugees in Massachusetts this is especially important as their language has been banned in their homeland of Eastern Turkestan by the Chinese government.

For some artisans, it can take time and perhaps a bit of luck to find an apprentice with potential to carry the tradition forward. Upon hearing that his apprenticeship in traditional sign painting and Celtic knotwork was funded, Vincent Crotty shared his enthusiasm, “I feel like I found a perfect person to pass on what I know; we’re thrilled, just beyond happy!”

It is with delight that we announce the funding of 18 new mentor artists and their apprentices in the following traditions:

Violin in traditional Greek music
Beth Bahia Cohen mentoring Rebecca MacInnes

Samba Traditional of the Recôncavo da Bahia, Brasil
Isaura Oliveira mentoring Brittany Owens

Nipmuc brain-tanning, paddle making, wampum & other crafts
Andre Strongbearheart Gaines mentoring Nazario Daishuan

Chinese papercutting with scissor
Zhonghe Elena Li mentoring Jason Wang

Uyghur calligraphy
Aimaiti Abulikemu mentoring Munawwar Abdulla

Traditional Irish fiddling: regional styles
Laurel Martin mentoring Fern Tagamini-O’Donnell

African American quilt making
Sharon Correnty mentoring Christine Brown

Taiko Kumi-daiko style
Karen Young mentoring Mica Rose

Bomba & Plena: music, dance, chants
Jorge Santiago-Arce mentoring Sandra Marcelino

Dominican carnival traditions
Stelvyn Mirabal mentoring Leonardo Mirabal

Irish Uilleann piping
John J. Abarta mentoring Eva Meier

Traditional sign painting
Vincent Crotty mentoring Lori Greene

North Indian Mithila painting
Sunanda Sahay mentoring Anjana Bhargava

Yiddish song and dance tradition
Judy Bressler mentoring Adah Hetko

North Indian Kathak dance
Urmi Samadar mentoring Nandini Lal

Country blues and guitar
Paul Rishell mentoring Ira Klein

Lutherie and restoration of Middle Eastern musical instruments
Chris Pantazelos mentoring Jesse Collins

Chinese long ribbon dance
Chu Ling mentoring Abby Lin

Congratulations to all the recipients! We wish them well in their learning endeavors.

a banner image containg 4 smaller photos - a Chinese ribbon dancer performing, two Native American people holding a paddle and another object they made, an example of Uyghur calligraphy, and a headshot of 2 dancers smiling
FY23-24 Traditional Arts Apprenticeships (L to R): Chu Ling, Chinese ribbon dance; Nipmuc brain tanning hides, paddle making, Andre Strongbearheart Gaines (on right) & Nazario Daishuan; Uyghur calligraphy by Aimaiti Abulikemu; Kathak dancers Urmi Samadar (on right) & Nandini Lal.

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