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: 

DEADLINE: May 1, 2021, extended to July 1, 2021  

The Southwest Folklife Alliance (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/mentees.

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. Apprentices have to demonstrate an existing relationship with the master artist and an intermediate level experience in the art form. The award can be used to support the master artist, offset costs of raw materials, and support any travel essential to the exchange. Supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts SFA will make 10 - $5,000 awards to artists and 10 - $500 awards to apprentices 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.

 Applicant Nominees 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.



Nomination: Artists are first nominated by peers within their community, cultural institutions, apprentices, or by self-nomination. Once a nomination has been made, SFA will invite nominees to apply. The nomination selection process is based on these three components:

  • Mastery of artform.
  • Nominees ability to describe how the mastery of this art form has been recognized by the artists cultural community and that the artists is able to share traditional knowledge.
  • Nominator/Master Artist is rooted in a cultural art form or geographic area in the State of Arizona.

*Preference is given to artforms or cultural communities not currently being supported by SFA.

Nominees will be invited to apply by SFA Staff based on the above criteria.

NOMINATIONS are made through this online portal. Please set up an account to submit your nomination. It is free and can be deleted by you at any time. If you have any questions or concerns about the nomination process please do not hesitate to call: Nelda Ruiz, Program Coordinator @ 520-621-4046.

Once invited to complete an application artists will be paired with SFA staff who will answer any questions you may have about the program and offer technical assistance with submission of a full application on the Submittable portal.

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

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 9/17/2021
  • September 30, 2021: Award Notification, extended to 11/15/2021
  • October 31, 2021: Award disbursement, extended to 11/30/2021
  • TBA-SFA staff site visit

Southwest Folklife Alliance Inc.