2021 Folk/Traditional Arts Guidelines

Folk/Traditional Arts

Application Deadline: Wednesday February 10, 2021 11:59 PM EST

NYFA only accepts applications submitted online at apply.nyfa.org/submit 


Folk/Traditional Arts

This category accepts works of traditional folk art and creative and cultural expressions. Folk/Traditional Arts is rooted in tradition and is connected to the cultural life of a community.

Work that is traditionally practiced within and among ethnic, regional, occupational, and religious groups as well as other kinds of communities with a common identity. Artistic forms can include: performing traditions in music, dance, and drama; traditional storytelling and other verbal arts; festivals; traditional crafts, visual arts, architecture, the adornment and transformation of the built environment, and other kinds of material folk culture. 


When Submitting an application to the FOLK/TRADITIONAL category you will need to complete:


  • Artist Statement – up to 100 words
  • Work Statement – up to 100 words 
  • Cultural Statement – up to 400 words 
  • Work Samples – up to 8 digital images and/or 2 videos up-to 2-minutes each in length, and or 2 audio excerpts up-to 2-minutes in length

Optional written statements:

  • Excerpt Explanation – up to 400 words 
  • Technical Statement – up to 200 words 


NYFA is committed to supporting artists from every background, and at all stages in their creative careers. We strongly encourage artists of color, LGBTQ+ artists, artists with disabilities, and artists living outside of the metropolitan area to apply.

To request an accommodation or assistance in applying, please email [email protected]. We ask that requests for accommodation be made as soon as possible or by January 12, 2021 to allow adequate time for staff to support you in submitting an application before the deadline.


Images and/or Video Footage, and/or Audio of your Artistic Practice

Work samples are a representation of your artistic work created within the last five years. This is the most important part of your application, as it will be the primary point of review. Keep in mind the panel reviews a large volume of material in quick succession, therefore, it is very important that you present your work clearly. 

Work Sample Inventory: 

Applicants do not need to upload work samples in all types, however they can if they wish. Applicants should upload work samples in a format that best represents their practice.


Applicants can submit up to 8 digital images. You do not need to submit all 8 work samples if you feel your practice is represented well with fewer. 

We do not recommend applicants upload composite images. Each application can only have up to 8 artworks represented across work samples. Images of diptychs, installations, and multi-part works are not considered composites. 


Applicants may submit two 2-minute video footage of their work

If submitting video footage, the application will need to select one video to be reviewed during the first round of review. The second video will be presented in the later rounds of review. Please ensure you uploaded the first-round video in the corresponding questions in the application form. 

The two videos may relate to the same project or to two different projects. Submitting video samples consisting of multiple clips from different projects is not allowed. “Demo Reels” or highlight reels should also be avoided. 

Titles and credits (without artist’s name) are allowed, although applicaticants should consider whether this is needed within the video footage itself or if this information is clearly communicated in the labeling of the file and use of metadata. Video footage is never reviewed separately from the metadata included.


Applicants may submit two 2-minute audio excerpts of their work.

If submitting audio excerpts, the application will need to select one audio file to be reviewed during the first round of review. The second video will be presented in the later rounds of review. Please ensure you uploaded the first-round audio excerpt in the corresponding questions in the application form. 

Each excerpt can not exceed 2 minutes in duration. Excerpts can be taken from one individual work or two separate full length audio works.

Work Sample Descriptions:

Before you upload your files to your application, you will need to name your files. Do not label any work samples with your name. Instead, label each uploaded work sample starting with a number 01, 02, 03 ex. followed by the title of the work. 

After your work samples have uploaded, you will be able to provide descriptions (metadata) for each submitted work sample, including title, date the work was created, duration, and additional information. If your piece is largely conceptual, and requires additional written context, please explain this in the “additional information” section using 1 – 2 sentences.

File Format: IMAGES

  • File name: label each image starting with a number 01 through 08, followed by the title of the work, ex. 01_Landscape.jpg Do not label the file with your name. 
  • File size: No larger than 4.0 MB (each image)
  • File format: .jpg

When formatting your images, RGB is the recommended color profile for screen viewing and your image resolution should be at least 72 dpi to avoid pixelation. You can use image editing software such as Photoshop or Preview to edit, resize and format your images.

File Format: VIDEO

  • File name: label each file starting with a number 01 through 02, followed by the title of the work (label if an excerpt), ex. 01_Landscape.mov /  01_Landscape_Excerpt.mp4. Do not label the file with your name. 
  • File size: No larger than 2 GB
  • Length:  2 video files, no longer than 2-minutes each
  • File format: .mov/.mp4

If your video files are too large, you’ll need to compress them in order to upload them to the application. You can do so using video editing software, such as Movie Maker, Premiere, Final Cut, iMovie, etc.

When editing your video it is important to ensure your file is formatted correctly so that your video will play across a range of platforms whilst maintaining quality. Therefore it is important to choose the right codec and container for your file.

A codec is a method for encoding and decoding data and is used for compressing data, particularly video. Choosing the right container can depend on several desired outcomes, i.e. file size, playback quality, capabilities for re-editing etc. There are many codec and container combinations but h.264 and .mov or .mp4 are preferred as they are supported by a wide range of media players with little loss of quality.

File Format: AUDIO

  • File name: label each file starting with a number 01 through 02, followed by the title of the work ex. 01_Landscape.mp3. Do not label the file with your name.
  • Length: Maximum of 2 minutes
  • File Size: No larger than 2 GB
  • File Format: .mp3/.m4a/.wav/.aiff


Written statements about your artistic practice 

Support statements are available to the panelists in the later rounds of review.

Artist Statement: A short concise statement giving an overview of your artistic practice. This statement should give a brief introduction to ideas, themes and methods in your practice. This is not an Artist’s Bio. Up to 100 words. 

Work Statement: A statement explaining your artistic vision as directly related to your submitted work samples. This is not an artist statement, but should instead reflect only the ideas and inspiration relevant ONLY to the work submitted. Up to 100 words.
The work statement is available to panelists in the first round of review.

Questions to consider for your Work Statement: Referencing only the submitted Work Samples

1. What is your submitted work about?

2. How does this work represent the primary concerns and intentions of your artistic practice as described in your artist statement?

Cultural Statement : A supplemental statement describing how your work is rooted in a specific cultural technique, tradition or community. Up to 400 words. 
The cultural statement is available to panelists in the first round of review. 

Write a Cultural Statement if: Referencing only the submitted Work Samples

1. Your practice stems from a specific and/or unique cultural tradition.

2. The understanding of your work is dependent on the context of a cultural community.

Excerpt Explanation (optional): A supplemental statement further explains the context, concept, and execution of your work sample(s). This statement should explain how the excerpted work sample relates to the entire original piece. Within the Excerpt Explanation you can itemize each submitted work sample(s) and discuss them individually. Up to 400 words. 

Questions to consider for your Excerpt Explanation: Referencing only the submitted Work Samples

1. How does your work sample(s) relate to the full work?

2. What information is needed to give context to your work samples?

Technical Statement (Optional): A supplemental statement describing the key technical aspects of the work. Use this statement to highlight your role in creating/executing the work. Be sure to note whether your work samples represent documentation of a performance, installation, experience, etc. You can also describe the circumstances in which the viewer/audience should experience the work. Please include instructions on how to navigate your work if it’s interactive. Up to 200 words.

Questions to consider for your Technical Statement: Referencing only the submitted Work Samples

1. How was the work created/executed?

2. What specific technology is integral to creating the work?


How are applications reviewed?

Folk/Traditional Arts applications are reviewed over the course of 3 elimination rounds. 

In Round 1, panelists review all applications remotely and vote online. In the following round panelists meet online and discuss applications and select Fellowship recipients.  

In the preliminary rounds, applications are assigned a number and reviewed anonymously. In these rounds panelists are directed to review and score applications by the work samples;  8 images, one 2-minute video, and one 2-minute audio (selected by the applicant). In addition, the work statement and cultural statement will also be reviewed by the panel during preliminary rounds. 

In later rounds panelists will have access to all submitted information. 

Please note, panelists will not look at websites of any kind during the application review process.
Submitting any work that has been awarded a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in the past will automatically disqualify your application.

Once Submitted, you will no longer be able to make changes to your application!

You will receive an automatic confirmation notification from Submittable once your application has been successfully submitted. If you do not see this confirmation, please contact [email protected] . 

Applications submitted after the stated deadline will not be accepted and no exceptions will be made. We highly recommend completing your application before the deadline to allow time for work samples to upload and to avoid potential technical problems.