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Consider Applying for an Apprenticeship in the Traditional Arts

Maggie Holtzberg, Program Manager

mentor artist and apprentice sitting cross-legged on a living room floor, facing one another. Their drums on the floor between them. In the foreground, a video camera is set up to record them.
Mentor artist Sandeep Das teaching apprentice Veerane Pratap, 2021. Photo: Maggie Holtzberg.

Mass Cultural Council is delighted to announce the opening of a new cycle of grants in the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. These two-year grants provide funding for highly-skilled craftspeople and performing artists to mentor apprentices in one-on-one learning experiences. In addition to supporting individual artists and their cultural communities, apprenticeships are intended to make a positive impact on the continued vitality and sustainability of traditional music, craft, and dance in Massachusetts.

The opportunity to learn from someone with embodied knowledge and skill is invaluable. Sarah Guerin is currently mentoring Diana Wagner in boot-making – the nearly lost craft tradition of hand-made footwear that was almost eradicated by mechanization.

“The apprenticeship is truly the only way to impart this vernacular tradition and craft from one person to another; a structured plan of action fostered by a cultural institution will indeed help keep this knowledge alive in Massachusetts,” Guerin said.

boot maker standing behind a boot mold on a worktable. All around are raw materials and sketches and other hand-crafted boots
Sarah Madeliene Tierney Guerin in her ten-footer boot making studio. Photo: Daniel Jacobs.

The most recent apprenticeships provided learning experiences in Arabic calligraphy, Wooden boat restoration, Khmer ornaments, North Indian tabla playing, the design and making of wooden ship wheels, bird taxidermy, bespoke western boot-making, Wampanoag wampum art, Irish step and set dance, music of Epirus, Nepalese sarangi playing, needlework embroidery, and Ottoman/Turkish makam.

The application deadline has been extended to April 3, 2022. Check out the program guidelines and feel free to contact Maggie Holtzberg for more information.

mentor artist and apprentice sitting at a table working with a needle. Across the back of the frame are various taxidermied animals hanging in a row.
Victor F. Cole and Nicole Baldelli, bird taxidermy apprenticeship. Photo: Maggie Holtzberg.

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