Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant

Program Description
Traditional Art Apprenticeship Grants of up to $5,000 encourage the continuation of traditional arts and cultures. The grant provides financial support for master artists committed to teaching their traditional art form to qualified apprentices.

This funding category is designed to:

  • Recognize the achievements of South Dakota traditional artists.
  • Provide support for traditional artists in passing on their skills and knowledge to committed apprentices.
  • Strengthen the commitment of South Dakota traditional artists to their long-term work.

Traditional Arts (or Folk Arts): Artistic practices that have a community or family base and express that community’s heritage. Most traditional arts have endured through several generations. Typical communities are ethnic, tribal, occupational, regional or religious groups. The skills are usually learned informally and passed on from one generation to the next by observation and imitation rather than through academic or formal means.

Apprenticeship: A time-honored system by which skills, techniques, values and artistry are learned under the guidance of a recognized master.

Master Artist: Someone who is recognized generally by his or her community and peers as an exemplary practitioner of a traditional art form.

Apprentice: Someone who learns under the guidance of a master artist. Prospective apprentices should have some prior experience in the traditional art form they wish to learn and have a serious long-term commitment to the continuity of the art form.


  • South Dakota Artists may apply for ONLY ONE artist grant.
  • The apprentice applicant must be a resident of South Dakota for at least one year at the start of your grant (July 1, 2021) and remain a resident through the end of the grant (June 30, 2022).
  • The master artist may be a South Dakota resident or reside in a nearby state.
  • Examples of eligible art forms include, but are not limited to, cowboy saddlemaking, Native American and European style quilting, rawhide and buckskin work, quill work, traditional music and dance such as Czechoslovakian accordion music or pow wow songs and dances, basket weaving, wood carving, rug braiding, lace making and other needlework.


  • Funding will not be granted for academic research or formal study toward an academic or professional degree.
  • Students pursuing high school diplomas or graduate or undergraduate degrees are not eligible.
  • South Dakota Arts Council board members, staff, and grant review panelists are not eligible to apply for Artist Grants.
  • Arrangements with more than three apprentices are not eligible. Apprenticeship Grants are not intended to support large classes, but rather, intensive individual teaching and learning experiences.
  • Examples of art forms that are not eligible under this program include the work of professional teachers or contemporary studio craft workers, re-creations of antiques or past traditions like mountain man crafts, or contemporary interpretations of traditional art forms (for instance, a theatre artist who wants to create a performance based on traditional storytelling or dance).

Grant Amounts
Each arrangement will consist of a master artist and 1 to 3 apprentices. Each prospective master and his or her apprentice(s) must apply together. Between $2,500 and $3,000 of the award funds will be designated for the master artist in recognition of his or her artistic expertise and commitment. Master’s fees are figured at $25 per hour. Additional funds of up to $1,500 may be requested for supplies, materials and travel costs of the master artist or the apprentice(s).

Fee payment will be made to the master artist in installments. Recipients should request funds as needed and should be no more than what can be expended in a 60-day period. Supplies, materials and travel costs will be reimbursed to the master artist or the apprentice artist as appropriate. In the case of an out-of-state master artist, all payments will be made to the in-state apprentice, who is then responsible for paying the master’s fee.

Apprenticeship Period
The apprenticeship must take place during the fiscal year which begins July 1 of the current year and ends June 30 in the next calendar year. Most apprenticeships in this program probably will include between 100 and 120 hours of guidance over a 6 to 12 month period. However, each art form has its own requirements and the lengths of the apprenticeships are expected to differ. During the apprenticeship period, a representative of the South Dakota Arts Council will visit with the master artist and apprentice to document the learning process. Recorded interviews may be conducted and photographs taken.

Criteria for Awarding Grants

All grant applications will be reviewed by a selection panel of individuals knowledgeable in traditional arts. The selection panel will use the following criteria to evaluate and rank the applications:

  • Traditional and artistic merit of the master artist’s work.
  • Extent of the apprentice’s prior familiarity with the art form and artistic merit of their work.
  • Significance of the art form to the community or group.
  • Shared membership of the master artist and apprentice in the cultural community (family, ethnic, tribal, religious, occupational, etc.) where the traditional art form originates.
  • Feasibility and thoughtfulness of the timetable and work plan.
  • Degree to which the art form is endangered.

Application Procedure
The master artist and apprentice must apply together and submit:

  1. Application Form.
    • Before completing the application, review the Guidelines. You may apply online, please visit Specific pages of the application must be signed by the appropriate master artist or apprentice(s). You may also submit the online PDF application available online
    • Section I is to be filled out and signed by the master artist. Be sure to include a summary of the proposed apprenticeship in the space provided.
    • Section II is to be filled out and signed by the apprentice artist. (If there is more than one apprentice, each one should fill out a Section II form.)
    • Section III is to be filled out by the master artist and apprentice(s) working together to describe how the apprenticeship will be carried out and specifying a budget.
    • Section IV, Artistic Documentation Forms, should be used to list the artistic documentation submitted by the master and apprentice artists. Each list must correspond with the actual documentation submitted.
  2. Artistic Documentation. Appropriate examples of both the master artist’s and apprentice’s (all apprentices if there are more than one) work. See Artistic Documentation for complete individual documentation requirements. Samples must consist of digital images, photographs, digital audio or video files, CDs, DVDs, newspaper stories, or other materials to support the application.
  3. Supporting Print Materials. Up to five pages of additional documentation may be submitted including newspaper stories, other support materials, and letters of support from people knowledgeable about the work and the artists’ commitment to the art form. Letters of support are encouraged.
  4. How to Submit. Hard copy application forms, must be printed out and mailed in to the South Dakota Arts Council, 711 E. Wells Ave., Pierre, SD 57501. Support materials may be emailed to; these can include digital photos, audio files, and videos, as well as links to online documentation such as YouTube videos and web sites.
  5. Return Mailer. A self-addressed envelope with correct postage if you want Artistic Documentation returned; otherwise it will not be returned. You may pick up the material at the Arts Council within 30 days after the grant announcements.

Make a copy of the application packet for your files before submitting the application.

Contact the South Dakota Arts Council office if you have any questions about this application.


Grant Evaluation Form:  Evaluations are due 30 days after the end of the fiscal year. An evaluation form will be provided with grant award materials. The evaluation narrative should give a brief description of work accomplished with grant funds during the grant period and a statement indicating the impact of the grant on the artist’s career development.   Subsequent grants are dependent upon receipt of complete evaluation reports.

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