SFA Will Host ACLS Research Fellow to Survey Support Systems for Traditional Artists in Southwest US

Professional Opportunities

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has selected the Southwest Folklife Alliance as a host organization for a Leading Edge Fellowship. This fellowship demonstrates the potential of humanistic knowledge and methods to solve problems, build capacity, and advance justice and equity in society. Leading Edge Fellowships place recent humanities PhDs with nonprofit organizations committed to promoting social justice in their communities.

The American Center for Learned Societies will provide fellows with an annual stipend of $60,000, as well as health insurance and professional development funding. Fellows lead substantive projects that draw on the skills and capacities honed in the course of earning the humanities PhD, including advanced communication, research, project management, and creative problem solving. This initiative is made possible through the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

One Leading Edge Fellow will join SFA’s staff team as a Research Manager to conduct a field scan of the existence and efficacy of support systems for traditional artists in the Southwest.

Despite the popularity of southwestern art and ethnic cultural styles and events, research reveals the traditional artist is particularly vulnerable to ebbs and flows in the economy. The COVID pandemic has affected the artisanal economy disproportionately. In surveys across the country and from data collected by SFA, traditional artists report losing up to 75% of income over the last year. The traditional artist is more than an individual acting on her own behalf; heritage-based artists function as epicenters of community cohesion, wellness, and vitality. In many cases, they also spur multi-family and multi-generational artisanal and creative economies that ground a sense of identity, civic participation, and social justice. Support for the traditional arts depends on a web of relationships that range from the household and extended family to local financial institutions, nonprofits, tribal, and philanthropic entities.

Using quantitative and qualitative methods, the Fellow will produce a report that will help inform strategic directions for the wellbeing of the heritage arts economy in the region, identifying patterns, gaps, networks, and opportunities. The Fellow will also work with the editor of our online journal, Borderlore, to use the data collected to help inform and craft profiles, narratives, and featured stories that can amplify advocacy efforts.

Application deadline: May 6, 2021 (9pm EDT).

Applicants must apply through ACLS here (not through SFA).

Find out more about the ACLS program here.

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