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Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program


FY17 Application is available here for reference

Next application deadline will be March, 2017 for FY18 awards.


FY17 Guidelines are here for reference

Guidelines include instructions for preparing your application and other required materials.

Peer Review

Peer review meetings are held at the Wisconsin Arts Boardís office in Madison and open to the public. All applicants are welcome to attend.

The next Folk Arts Review Panel will be in April, 2017.

Final Report

6/30/17 for FY17 awards

6/30/16 for FY16 awards
FY16 Final Report


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Folk Arts Apprenticeships are designed to strengthen and preserve Wisconsin's heritage by supporting direct passage of knowledge and skills embedded in traditional arts. Skilled and experienced traditional or folk artists teach committed and talented apprentices of their choosing. The instructing artist should be locally or regionally respected in a traditional or folk art form important to a cultural community in Wisconsin. Both the instructing artist and apprentice should be committed to preserving and advancing the art form. The art form should be an important component of the heritage the instructing artist shares with the apprentice.

Grant Amounts

Maximum awards are $3,500 to the instructing artist or a fiscal receiver*. Successful applicants may use the apprenticeship award to help cover the costs of the instructing artistís fee, the supplies and materials needed during the apprenticeship, and in some cases, travel expenses.


Apprenticeships must involve only authentic traditional folk arts* that occur in a Wisconsin community* where they have value and a traditional place. See list of past and current awardees for examples of such art forms.

Instructing artists should be held in high regard by their peers for their skill, knowledge, and cultural practice. Apprentices should have some experience in the proposed or related art form, display motivation to learn deeply about the art, and care about its perpetuation in the community. Apprentices cannot be immediate family members under the age of 18. If the nature of the folk art allows, more than one apprentice may work with the same instructing artist at one time.

Returning applicants are not eligible to apply if they have received an apprenticeship award for three consecutive years; they may reapply after waiting one year. First time applicants should have a conversation with WAB staff to discuss eligibility prior to applying. Contact: Kaitlyn Berle, Folk Arts Specialist, 608-266-8106.

To be eligible, all applications must be submitted by the next deadline in March of 2017. Submit the electronic application, then print the PDF of the application, obtain all needed signatures, and mail for a postmark no later than the required March 2017 deadline. See FY17 guidelines as a reference.

Evaluation Criteria

Priority is given to apprenticeships that will help ensure the continuation of a traditional folk art in the community where it has value and a traditional place.

Applications to the Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. traditionality of the art form,
  2. artistic quality of the instructing artistís work,
  3. demonstrated commitment and skill of the apprentice,
  4. shared membership of the instructing artist and apprentice in a cultural community, and
  5. feasibility of the proposed work plan.

In addition, priority is given to instruction in art forms that are in danger of being lost or that help to preserve an endangered language.

Application Process

The instructing artist is the applicant; a fillable application is available for download from this website. The application will ask questions about the instructing artist, the apprentice artist(s), the art form, its connection to a cultural community, and the work plan. You will also be asked about your ideas for a final public presentation of the art created during the apprenticeship, a requirement of the program. You will also be asked to provide a budget for how you will spend the $3,500.

Along with the application, you will need to send work samples to WAB. This is supporting material that gives evidence of the master artistís and apprentice's skills. The application and work samples must be submitted by the application postmark deadline. Detailed information about the work sample are in the FY17 Guidelines and Application Form.

A folk arts review panel will convene to evaluate the applications and make funding recommendations. Anyone is allowed to attend these meetings as a silent observer. The panelís recommendations will be reviewed by the Wisconsin Arts Board at its May meeting. WAB staff will notify applicants as to how their application fared following the board meeting.

Apprenticeship Process

Awards will be distributed to the instructing artist in two payments: $2,000 at the start of the apprenticeship and the remaining amount after the public project has been completed and the final report has been accepted by WAB. All funds go to the instructing artist only, none to the apprentice. For the current fiscal year FY17, the apprenticeship and public presentation can occur during the period July 1, 2016 - May 31, 2017. The final report is due thirty days later, on June 30, 2017.

During the apprenticeship, a WAB folklorist will visit the apprenticeship to meet the artists, observe the instruction, and document the apprenticeship with photographs. The instructing artist and apprentice also will be asked to document the apprenticeship through photos, a diary, or other means.

Resources for Applicants

  • FY17 Panel Review Audio Files
  • Sample Work Plans
  • Defined Terms:
    • *Community - Communities can be geographic places or groups with shared ethnicity, language, religion occupation, recreational pursuits, or regional affinities.
    • *Fiscal receiver - An artist who works closely with a community agency may wish to have that agency serve as a fiscal receiver for the award. An incorporated, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that provides administrative and financial services to the instructing artist for the apprenticeship is a fiscal receiver.
    • *Traditional folk arts - These are artistic practices that express a shared aesthetic, heritage or tradition of a community. The art form might be folk, traditional or classically ethnic. It will have endured through several generations with creative innovations by skilled masters throughout its history. It may have been revived after a cultural break due to the efforts of a committed artist.
  • Map of FY15 Apprenticeship and Creative Communities Awardees

Resources for Grant Recipients



Updated:  Thursday, August 18, 2016