Missouri hosts one of the oldest, continuous statewide folk arts apprenticeship programs in the United States, established in 1984-1985. In that first year, the apprenticeship program featured Missouri’s musical traditions, from old-time and gospel, to blues and jazz. The project sponsored ten apprenticeships. In the following year, the range of art forms was nearly equally divided between music traditions and material culture. Since then, over five hundred individual traditional artists–many in rural counties, urban centers, and ethnic communities in every corner of the state–have participated in the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.
Please request assistance from Folk Arts Specialist Deb Bailey via voicemail at 573-882-3653 or email at BaileyDA@missouri.edu. For in-depth application assistance, please start your conversation with with Deb Bailey well prior to August 15, 2023.
St. Louis Blues artist Bennie Smith
Sierra Leone master tie-dyer Mahmound Conteh
Basketmaking team apprentice Aaron Holsapple, with master artists Alice & Joe Dudenhoeffer.
Master banjo player Van Colbert and apprentice Cindy Parry perform at Jefferson Landing in 2017. Photo credit: Deborah A. Bailey
Luthiery team Bernard Allen (right) and Chad Eads
Potawatomi master beadworker Peggy Kinder (left)and apprentice Cindy Jarrar
Missouri Folk Arts follows its project sponsor, the National Endowment for the Arts’ definition: The folk and traditional arts are rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community. Community members may share a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These vital and constantly reinvigorated artistic traditions are shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice.