The Traditional Arts Program of the Maine Arts Commission works with communities on strengthening and presenting their cultural traditions through apprenticeships, fellowships, program development and project support. Through direct support for artists as well as community-based projects, the program also brings recognition to those traditions that are so much a part Maine’ cultural landscape, whether it be Franco fiddling, Yankee boat building, Wabanaki ash basketry, Cambodian music or Sudanese dance.
Traditional arts hold great meaning in the everyday lives of individuals and communities. For example, in Maine’s growing immigrant and multi-lingual communities, being able to maintain cultural traditions in textile arts, music, dance and foodways can help navigate the challenges of establishing a new home. Passed down from one generation to the next, traditional arts are learned in an informal way, give and take way, usually through observation and example rather than through classes, books or formal instruction. Now celebrating its 24th year, the program acts as a kind of cultural aquifer, honoring elders as well as encouraging new artists to pass on their skills to future generations.
Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program
Based on their experience and commitment to the traditional art form they practice, masters and apprentices apply to work together in a one-on-one instructional setting. Passed down from one generation to the next, traditional arts are learned informally, usually through observation and example rather than through formal academic instruction. Preference is given to selecting apprentices who are members of the same ethnic, religious, occupational, tribal or familial group as the master artist. Visit the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program page for more information.
Maine Artist Fellowship Program
Maine Artist Fellowship are awarded annually to recognize artistic excellence and advance the careers of Maine artists. Fellowships are merit-based awards that are informed by an applicant’s work.
Project Grant for Artists
The Project Grant for Artists supports creative projects throughout Maine, assisting artists with the creation of new work and the continuation of existing arts programs. Projects can be in any artistic discipline and on any scale.
Project Grant for Organizations
The Project Grant for Organizations is designed to support creative projects throughout Maine. Grant funds assist arts organizations with the production of high-quality creative activities, the creation of new work, and the continuation of successful arts programs. Projects can be in any artistic discipline and on any scale.