January 18, 2013

Master Minyo singer Matsutoyo Sato with her 2013 apprentice Nana Kaneko at a New Year's performance in L.A.'s Little Tokyo in 2013.Apprenticeship Program has supported California’s cultural traditions with 240 contracts to outstanding folk and traditional artists.  Now entering its thirteenth cycle, ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program encourages the continuation of the state’s living cultural heritage by contracting exemplary master artists to offer intensive training and mentorship to qualified apprentices. Contracts of $3,000 are made with California-based master artists to cover master artist’s fees, supplies and travel.  Participants work closely with ACTA staff to develop and document the apprenticeships, culminating in opportunities to publicly share results of the apprenticeship.

The 2013 Apprenticeship Program cohort of 35 artists reflects California’s breadth of cultural diversity and intergenerational learning, ranging from septuagenarian master artists to 12-year old apprentices, spanning from Sonoma to San Diego Counties.  Thriving traditions supported through these apprenticeships reflect indigenous California cultural practices that include Chumash regalia and textile construction; distinctly U.S. art forms such as Chicana/o muralism; and cultural traditions which have taken root in the United States hailing from regions such as Laos, North and South India, the Caribbean, West Africa, Japan, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Philippines.

ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program is supported by the James Irvine Foundation, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the California Arts Council, the California Community Foundation, and The San Francisco Foundation.


The 17 statewide artist pairs contracted in the 2013 Apprenticeship Program are:

Olu Batá, master batá drummer, Tobaji Stewart will be working with his sons and apprentices Ade Ogun Ire Thomas-Stewart and Adisa Brian Stewart sharing the cultural and performative significance of the sacred batá drum tradition.

Stewed chicken--cooking in the potKiazi Malonga will share with his apprentice Latanya Tigner (a former apprentice of Mukudji, stilt dance, with master Shaka Zulu) the historical significance and technical intricacies of Congolese drumming.

Master artist Gloria Toolsie, a former ACTA master of Trinidadian carnival regalia, returns to the program sharing with her granddaughter and apprentice Amanda Yochum the traditional delicacies of Caribbean foodways.

Master artist Dennis Newsome will share the rare cultural practice of Kalenda, African martial arts, games, and dance—a form of stick fighting, with his young apprentice Shiloh Williams.

North Indian Classical dance master Chitresh Das returns to ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program to share with his apprentice Rachna Nivas the cultural and technical significance of the dance form Kathak.

Master artist and National Heritage Fellow, Danongan “Danny” Kalanduyan will continue a long-time mentorship with his apprentice Conrad Benedicto focusing on the Filipino music form of Kulintang.

Master musician Hiroyuki “Jimi” Nakagawa will enhance the mentorship with his apprentice Debra Kajiyama focusing on the Japanese kumidaiko—ensemble drumming with the taiko drums.

Master artist Matsutoyo Sato will be working with apprentice Nana Kaneko, sharing the rich cultural traditions rooted in the Japanese folk songs, Minyo.

 Master Carnatic violoinst Saravanapriyan Sriraman (left) and his 2013 apprentice Divya MohanSaravanapriyan Sriraman will continue his mentorship with his apprentice Divya Mohan focusing on the centrality of the violin in Carnatic music.

Master artisan, Patricia Zavala de Arias will be sharing with her daughter and apprentice Maria Arias the intricate and intensive fabric work of Mexican open embroidery, deshilado.

Master artist of Chicana/o muralism Juana Alicia Araiza will be sharing with her apprentice Cece Carpio the significance and power of public visual art as a tool towards social justice.

Master Afro-Latino musician John Santos will be extending his musical lineage to Javier Navarrette, sharing with him the cultural and technical aspects of Latino percussion practices that extend from the Caribbean to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Master pan de muerto baker Maria Salazar kneads dough that is then shaped into human figures.Maria Salazar will share with her daughter and apprentice, Brisa Chacon, the ceremonial, cultural and social practice of preparing pan de muerto, bread for the Day of the Dead Mexican celebration.

Master artisan Leah Mata will be working with her daughter and apprentice Naomi White Horse to develop Chumash regalia utilized for song and dance ceremonies.

Master Kumu Hula (hula teacher) Sylvia Puananiha’aheo Edgar will be working closely with her apprentice Rona Pualanina’auali’ioha Koe focusing on the ipu heke, a double-headed gourd, while teaching music, chants, dance, and ceremonial aspects of Kahiko (ancient hula).

South Indian classical dance master Shreelata Suresh returns to ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with her young apprentice Ananya Ram, investigating the musical tradition that is sustained within the apprentice’s family to create new choreographies within the Bharata Natyam tradition.

Laotian master artist Leanne Mounvongkham returns to the Apprenticeship Program to mentor her daughter and apprentice Khampa Thephavong with the intention to document the ingredients and preparation of Northern Laos foodways.