Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant

Program Description

Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grants support master artists committed to teaching South Dakota’s traditional arts and cultures to qualified apprentices. Grants up to $5,000 support the continuation of time-honored skills that are vital to strengthening cultural communities across the state. Successful applicants demonstrate artistic excellence and a commitment to their cultural community.

The master and student artist(s) apply together. The grant provides funding for multiple teaching sessions (long-term), with the bulk of funds paying for the master's time ($3,500-$4,000), and the remainder paying for the student's expenses for tools, supplies and travel ($1,000-$1,500).


Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Applicants contact Annie Hatch, SDAC Traditional Arts Program Manager, 605-608-0490,


Traditional Arts (or Folk Arts): The artistic practices that have endured through several generations and reflect a cultural community's history, heritage or values. 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. Traditional arts are contemporary and change to reflect current events, values and the artists' aesthetic. A few examples include Lakota games and powwow regalia, Mexican American mariachi music and ballet folklorico dance, Scandinavian weaving, Black Hills woodcarving, Hudderite crocheted rugs, family quilts, old-time fiddle tunes, and Ethiopian embroidery and drumming, and more.

Examples that are not traditional include: the work of professional teachers or contemporary studio craftworkers, re-creations of antiques or past traditions like mountain man crafts, artists not supported by a cultural community, or contemporary interpretations of traditional art forms (for instance, a theater artist who wants to create a performance based on traditional story).

Cultural Community: A distinct group of people that a share a history, a geographic location, life experiences, common values, artistic practices and traditions. Typical communities are ethnic, tribal, occupational, regional or religious, but also include family and communities of practice rooted in tradition. The master artist and the apprentice must come from the same or related cultural community.

Apprenticeship: A time-honored system by which skills, techniques, values and artistry are learned under the guidance of a recognized master. An apprenticeship is not the same as private lessons and should include cultural and historical information related to the cultural group.

Master Artist: Someone who is recognized 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 and its community.

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 and its community.


  • Grants support between 100 and 120 hours of instruction over a 6-to 12-month period.
  • Applications cannot include more than 3 apprentices.
  • Apprentice(s) must reside in the state of South Dakota or within the borders of the state’s nine federally recognized Tribal reservations for at least one year at the start of the grant (July 1, 2023) and remain a resident through the end of the grant (June 30, 2024). The master artist may reside in South Dakota or a nearby state. (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.)
  • Apprentice(s) must be at least eighteen and cannot be pursuing a high school diploma, or graduate, undergraduate, or professional degree.
  • Master Artist and Apprentice(s) can only apply for one grant per cycle.
  • South Dakota Arts Council board members and staff cannot apply for this grant.

All grant applications will be reviewed by a panel made up of individuals with knowledge and experience in traditional arts. Each panel consists of in-state and out-of-state professionals and is facilitated by an Arts Council Board member. Service on panels is limited to two years. Members are rotated regularly to ensure new points of view. The public may not attend panel meetings.

Panelists use the following criteria to evaluate the artistic excellence and artistic merit of applications:

Artistic excellence is evaluated based on the:

  • Quality of the artist’s record of work and/or work that the artist wants to do and the relevance to the artist’s career.
  • Panelists assess the work samples/support materials as they relate to the proposed work to determine artistic excellence.


  • Proposed work is relevant to the master artist, apprentice, and shared community.
  • What is the impact of the proposed work, for example, how committed are both artists to the continuation of the practice in their shared community?
  • How feasible is the work plan and does the budget/narrative responses reflect a well-planned scope of work?

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