Mahsa Vahdat (R), master Persian singer, and her 2018 apprentice Adrienne Shamszad in Berkeley. Photo: Jennifer Jameson/ACTA.
2007 apprentice Yafonne Chen (L) studies traditional Chinese wushu (sword dance) with mentor Ling Mei Zhang (R) in San Francisco. Photo: Sherwood Chen/ACTA.
Khmer classical dancer Prumsodun Ok perfects the posture of his sister and 2009 apprentice Khannia Ok in Long Beach. Photo: Russell Rodriguez/ACTA.
Master of Bulgarian/Romani wedding music (svatbarska muzika), Rumen Shopov (R), with his 2018 apprentice Jesse Stremski-Andrews in Berkeley. Photo: Shweta Saraswat/ACTA.
2010 apprentice Lance Zazueta studied leatherworking under his grandfather and master saddlemaker Gaylerd Thissell in Cottonwood. Photo: Sherwood Chen/ACTA.
2018 apprentice Nelia Marshall (R; Hupa) with master basketweaver Margaret Peters (L; Yurok, Karuk) after foraging for roots to use in the production of Karuk/Yurok baby baskets near the coast of Humboldt Bay. Photo: Shweta Saraswat/ACTA.
Mentor artist Gilbert “Magu” Lujan (L) and 2008 apprentice in lowrider vehicle construction and lowrider sculpture, Mario Trillo (R) in Los Angeles. Photo: Sherwood Chen/ACTA.
If selected for an Apprenticeship, ACTA enters into a contract with the mentor artist and apprentice to implement the work plan proposed in the application. The apprenticeship program period may last between six months to one year, in which ACTA staff will work closely with the apprenticeship pair to gauge and document progress and offer assistance and support.
Upon agreeing to the contract the apprenticeship pair will be required to go through an orientation. Near the mid-point of the apprenticeship period, a site visit will be scheduled in which ACTA staff documents the apprenticeship sharing through video recording and photography. The resulting materials become part of ACTA’s permanent archival collections, with many materials accessible to the public for educational purposes.
Each apprenticeship team will be required to organize a public presentation (performance, exhibit, lecture demonstration, etc.) in consultation with ACTA staff in order to share the results of their intensive learning cycle. We ask that each apprenticeship pair implement a survey at their public sharing, which ACTA will provide. Finally, submitting written evaluations of the mentor and apprentice’s experiences completes the requirements of the Apprenticeship Program contract.
Applications for the 2020 grant cycle are now closed.
Applications for the 2021 grant cycle will be available here in spring of 2020.
Learn about the 2019 Apprenticeship Cohort
The 2019 Apprenticeship Program cohort of 34 artists (17 pairs) represents California’s breadth of cultural diversity and intergenerational learning.
Apprenticeship applications open annually in the spring and close late summer. Specific dates are announced on our website once application is open. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for the most up to date info.
ACTA staff review submitted applications for eligibility in the summer and early fall. Eligible applications go forward to an external review panel in the fall. Applications recommended for funding are approved by ACTA’s Board in the late fall.
All applicants will be notified if they received the Apprenticeship by January.
Who is a mentor artist? Who is an apprentice?
A mentor artist is someone who is recognized as an exemplary practitioner of a traditional art form by their community and peers.
An apprentice is someone who learns from a mentor artist. Prospective apprentices should demonstrate an intention to enhance their established skills and cultural understanding of the art form by working with a master. The mentor artist and apprentice must apply together with a mutual desire to work with each other.
What are traditional arts?
Traditional arts are those art forms that are transmitted and engaged as part of the cultural life of a group of people whose members share a common heritage, language, religion, occupation, or region. These expressions are deeply rooted in and reflective of a community’s shared standards of beauty, values, or life experiences. Traditional arts are often passed on from one generation to the next, or from one community member to another, and express a collective wisdom, rather than only a unique personal aesthetic.
Some traditional arts have been brought to California from other countries or regions and have taken root here to become interwoven with the state’s cultural landscape and identity, while others have prospered on the more than 130 tribal reservations and rancherias in this state. Japanese bonsai; Cowboy poetry; Hmong reverse appliqué embroidery; Mexican corridos (ballads) and mariachi music; African American quilts; Native American basketry, ceremonial regalia construction and ritual music/dance; South Indian Bharata Natyam dance; Western saddle making; Chinese qin instrumental music; Portuguese fado singing; Native Hawaiian kahiko hula chant and dance; and Pilipino rondalla music ensembles are but a few of the many hundreds of distinctive forms found in this tremendously diverse and culturally rich state.
A panel of traditional arts specialists (artists, cultural workers, scholars, organizers, and advocates) will review applications and make recommendations for approval by the ACTA Board of Directors, according to the following criteria:
- Traditionality of the art form
- Artistic quality of the mentor artist’s work
- Demonstrated commitment and developed skill of the apprentice
- Shared membership of the mentor artist and apprentice in a cultural community (family, heritage, occupation, tribe, religion, etc.)
- Feasibility of the proposed work plan and timetable
- Urgency (for endangered art forms)