We build more equitable and vibrant communities by celebrating the everyday expressions of culture, heritage, and diversity in the Greater Southwest. 

Southwest Folklife Alliance 2021 Master-Apprentice Award Program Guidelines

The SFA Master-Apprentice Award seeks to support and encourage the preservation and perpetuation of traditional art forms present and thriving in Arizona. With the goal of strengthening the transmission of community-based traditions in the region, it fosters and supports the critical teaching/learning relationship between traditional artists and their apprentices.

The award supports a master artist or tradition bearer who has identified a qualified apprentice (or group of apprentices) to engage in a one-year long teaching-learning relationship that includes one-on-one mentorship and hands-on experience in a traditional artistic practice. Our highest priority is to support apprentices to learn from master artists within their own cultural traditions. The award can be used to support the master artist, offset costs of raw materials, and support any travel essential to the exchange. SFA will make ten $5,000 awards in the State of Arizona in 2021.

Applicants may include but are not limited to a wide variety of traditional artists such as;

  • Artisans: weavers, basket makers, jewelers, mask makers
  • Occupational folklife: adobe brick makers, leather workers, iron workers, ranchers
  • Oral traditions: storytellers, musicians, poets
  • Performance: dancers, traditional garments, ritual objects

*Note: Several art forms straddle the line between academic artistic disciplines, decorative arts, contemporary arts, and the traditional arts. Some examples of these hybrid practices may include various types of Crafts, Choreography, Fashion, and Paintings. While we recognize that blurred lines of definition can exist and applications will be accepted in blurred genres, please know that the SFA  Master-Apprentice Award program aims to support those art forms that orient primarily to the transmission and preservation of traditional,heritage-based practices learned informally and most importantly, that are embedded and are reflective of a group/community’s identity and cultural expression repertoire.

Applicants must be:
· United States citizens, lawful permanent residents, or have permission from the U.S. Department of Immigration to work in the United States.

· Full-time residents of Arizona for a minimum of one full year.

· Master Artists must be at least 18 years of age. Apprentices must be at least 16 years of age.

· Recipients must remain residents of Arizona for the duration of the award year.

Restrictions regarding award funds:

Southwest Folklife Alliance award funds may be used for any form of expression that advances the transmission of cultural knowledge such as:

· Compensation for the Master Artist and Apprentice(s)

· Travel expenses

· Materials, regalia, and/or purchase of equipment

Funds may NOT be used for:

· Presenting or touring.

· Artistic project work that does not clearly articulate the apprentice’s educational component.

Program Timeline:

  • May 1, 2021: Nomination Deadline, extended to 7/1/2021
  • May 15, 2021: Application Notification, extended to 7/17/2021
  • July 31, 2021: Application Deadline, extended to 9/30/2021
  • September 30, 2021: Award Notification, extended to 11/30/2021
  • October 31, 2021: Award disbursement, extended to 12/15/2021
  • TBA-SFA staff site visit

Applications are reviewed by a panel of community members, experts and final recommendations for awards are made by SFA’s board of directors.

Master artists’ applications will be evaluated based on how artists demonstrate the following:

  • The artistic excellence of the artists’ work and the cultural community's connection to their art form (60%)
  • The apprentice's level of commitment to the art form and demonstration of readiness (20%)
  • The effectiveness of the master and apprentices proposed work plan (20%)


Apprentices should be able to demonstrate the following:

· A minimum of intermediate-level experience in the art form -a high level of potential to become a master artist themselves.

· A commitment to the demands of the apprenticeship.

Priorities are given to masters and apprentices within the same cultural community, as well as to underrepresented traditional art forms with few remaining local practitioners.

How to Apply

1) Read all of the guidelines before beginning your application.

2) Applications are available online.

3) Applications must be completed online by the application deadline: September 17, 2021. All applicants must create an artist profile (username and password) on Submittable to complete an application. There is no fee.

4) For more information, questions, or assistance with the online application process contact Jennifer Juan, Technical Support at 520-621-4046 or e-mail: swfolklife@gmail.com. SFA Staff will offer one-on-one support to artists to ensure program standards and goals are met.

Please complete all of your application. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Awardee Responsibilities

Master artists are awarded $5,000.00. Apprentices are awarded $500.00 to cover costs associated with the one-year apprenticeship (travel, materials, supplies). Upon award notification, SFA will require an official photo/portrait taken by our staff photographer for promotional purposes. Interviews, filming, and other photo documentation may also be required at the mid-project site-visit or at the end of your project. SFA will have an official photo release form for each member of your project available upon request.

Key Definitions

Traditional arts: Folk arts, or traditional arts, are forms that are informally learned and passed through a cultural community, rather than in a formal educational setting. Such forms of art reflect community values, experiences, and worldview, and can include such things as crafts, music, and storytelling.

Cultural communities: Communities that are culturally bonded through region, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, age, or occupation, and share customary and artistic expressions within such communities.

Master Artist/ Apprentice Artist: Master Artists are highly skilled practitioners who have learned through traditional means, and are recognized as masters by their peers and their community. Apprentices are practitioners with previous experience in the art form and a desire to advance through one-on-one mentorship; they show a serious commitment to sustaining the art form and its informal practices.


Southwest Folklife Alliance Inc.