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Honoring individuals who continue traditions with excellence is the focus of two annual programs coordinated by the Michigan State University Museum:  the Michigan Heritage Awards (MHA) Program, and the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (MTAAP).

Nominations for 2012 awards and applications for the apprenticeship grants are due Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011.

2012 Michigan Heritage Awards:

Since 1985, the MSU Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program has -- through its Michigan Heritage Awards -- honored the achievements of Michigan artists for traditions in family and community.  The awards recognize these traditions in the areas of performance, material culture and community leadership.  Previous awardees receiving the 2011 MHA awards were: Deborah Caryl, Davison (Genesee County), sheep shearing; Calvin E. Cooke, Detroit (Wayne County) and Georgia, sacred steel guitar; and Gaylord Klancnik, (deceased), formerly of Carleton (Monroe County), polka music and polka band leader. 

"The attention and honor extended to these artists through the Michigan Heritage Awards are important not only to them but to all of us who cherish the state's cultural heritage," explains LuAnne Kozma, assistant curator of folk arts at the MSU Museum and coordinator of the MHA program.  "We seek nominations from all over the state so that the award program continues to reflect the great diversity of skills, ethnicities and backgrounds of Michiganders," she adds.

2012 Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program:

The Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program supports the continuation of traditional folk arts practiced in Michigan that are learned informally from one another in small groups and families -- ranging from decoy duck carving and birch bark canoe making to storytelling, mehendi (henna) art application, and regional and ethnic foodways.  A master artist works with an apprentice artist in the same community, passing on the skills and knowledge about a particular traditional art.  The Apprenticeship Program awards a stipend in support of the instruction time the master artist spends with the apprentice.

"Like its natural resources, Michigan's cultural traditions are a treasured resource to be nurtured for future generations, which is why the Apprenticeship program is so successful in providing incentives to traditional artists to pursue their art and pass on these skills to others," says Kozma. "Many master and apprentice teams tell us that their apprenticeship was one of the most meaningful times of their lives, providing the opportunity and the means to pass on a living tradition to someone who will continue the tradition as well," she adds.

The National Endowment for the Arts and MSU Museum fund these traditional arts programs.  Kozma encourages anyone considering putting together an application for either program to please contact her with any questions to insure the strongest application possible.  Contact Kozma at the MSU Museum, (517) 353-5526 Heritage Award nomination forms and apprenticeship application forms are available on line at


A gallery of past awardees is online at  Heritage Award winners and MTAAP masters and apprenticeships are featured in a special exhibition at the MSU Museum, "Michigan Artists: Passing on Traditions," and are recognized at the MSU Museum's annual Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing each August. Many of these tradition-bearers also demonstrate their skills and/or perform at the festival in workshops and showcases.


The MSU Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Program promotes cross-cultural understanding in a diverse society through documentation, preservation and presentation of the state's folk arts and folk life.  The MSU Museum is located on West Circle Drive, next to Beaumont Tower on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, and is the state's first Smithsonian Institution affiliate.