South Arts Announces In These Mountains Emerging Traditional Artists Program

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Please note: This program is distinct from the Emerging Leaders of Color program in the South Arts nine-state region. Guidelines for that program are available on the Emerging Leaders of Color page. The following information comes directly from South Arts.

South Arts is pleased to announce the In These Mountains: Central Appalachian Folk Arts & Culture – 2021 Emerging Traditional Artists Program (ETAP). This program recognizes and supports a new generation of traditional artists ages 18-35 that have demonstrated a high level of skill in, commitment to, and leadership in their traditional art form in Appalachian Regional Commission counties in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Awards provide financial support to ETAP participants to ensure the continuation of traditional knowledge and artistic skills within their respective cultural communities. 

The 2021 ETAP will award $5,000 grants (with limited restrictions) to participants for learning opportunities including training, networking, and promotion. These opportunities should equip traditional artists to provide greater impact within their communities. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, South Arts urges potential applicants to consider safe, socially distanced opportunities. 

In addition to cash awards, selected individuals will be required to participate in a series of networking and team-building workshops (three online, three in-person) with other ETAP awardees, at no cost to themselves, over a period of three years. Awards will be granted to emerging traditional artists from eligible counties in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee, with an anticipated maximum of twenty-four awards.

What are folk and traditional arts?

The South is home to an abundance of folk and traditional art forms. Folk and traditional arts share the aesthetics, practices, and values of families, geographic communities, occupational groups, ethnic heritage groups, etc. Folk and traditional arts are learned orally, or by observation and imitation, often through a mentor artist instructing an apprentice. They are usually maintained without formal instruction or academic training. Some traditional arts have a deep-rooted history with little change, while others are constantly evolving and adapting to their changing environment.

For the purposes of this application, the folk and traditional arts of Central Appalachia include music, handcrafts/material culture, and foodways. Some examples of traditional arts practiced in Central Appalachia are Cherokee stamped pottery, African American buck dancing/clogging, Anglo American ballads, seed saving/seed sharing, and many more.

Program Goals

The Emerging Traditional Artists Program advances the purpose of the In These Mountains initiative to “provide intergenerational opportunities to share, teach, learn, preserve, document, and carry forward the folk and traditional arts and culture of Central Appalachia.” For emerging traditional artists who have demonstrated a commitment to their artform and community and exhibit a high skill level, this award will provide them with resources to engage in learning opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible.

A learning opportunity can take many forms. Here are a few examples:

  • Online opportunities for continuing education and collaboration.
  • Establishing/growing network by traveling within the Appalachian region or beyond to meet other leaders/potential mentors in your art form.
  • Taking courses and purchasing software/hardware needed to build an effective online presence.

Ultimately, each of the awardees has the freedom to determine their own learning opportunity—on their own or, if they wish, with assistance from South Arts staff and/or mentors/leaders within their own communities.

Over the course of the three-year award period (Fall 2021-Spring 2023), recipients will participate in at least one in-person or distanced site visit from South Arts staff or other representative that will include documentation (recorded interview and photographs) about their art and the learning experience resulting from their ETAP award. Funding has limited restrictions, and awardees are not required to submit a final report, produce a commissioned work, or engage in any public program.

Through the series of six convenings (one virtual and one in-person per year), the ETAP program is designed to build long-term relationships between emerging traditional artists across the region, beyond state and local boundaries, through:

  • Building a cohort of emerging traditional artists in Central Appalachia who are committed to the advancement of folk and traditional arts.
  • Encouraging and equipping artists to be advocates for their traditional art forms and for the traditional culture of their communities.
  • Deepening participants’ understanding of the importance of public arts support in the United States. 

Awardees will sign an annual letter of commitment expressing their intention to continue participating in ETAP and to attend convenings.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Application Deadline: 5:00 p.m. ET on November 3, 2021 for online applications; mailed applications must be postmarked by November 1, 2021

Applicants will be notified of their status by November 22, 2021

Funds for supported projects must be used by June 30, 2023

The first virtual convening will be held December 11, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET; additional virtual and in-person convening dates are TBD

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants for the Emerging Traditional Artist Program must:

  • Be an individual folk or traditional artist practicing music, handcrafts/material culture, and/or foodways. 
  • Be 18-35 years of age.
  • Have not had an opportunity to participate in high-quality professional development sessions.
  • Be a United States citizen, lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence, or have permission from the Department of Homeland Security to work permanently in the U.S.
  • Have been a resident of a Kentucky, North Carolina, or Tennessee ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission) county for a period of at least two years immediately before the application deadline.
  • Expect to maintain residency in an ARC county during the three-year cohort cycle.
  • Submit a complete and accurate application.

Please note: Past recipients of the In These Mountains Folk & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellowship are not eligible for the Emerging Traditional Artists Program.

Eligible applicants do not need to rely on their traditional art form as their primary source of income, but they should demonstrate a high level of commitment to their art form and an understanding of its history/role within their community. “Community” may be defined as your family, the geographic area where you live, a religious/worship group, a group of other traditional artists, etc.

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