TRAC Arts Apprentice Program Gets Underway

Through grants from the Yancey Fund and the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the Toe River Arts Council is offering nine young adults in our two counties an opportunity to learn the “back end” of the art world while being paid to participate. The nine selected will complete 200 hours of work this spring and summer. They will spend time in galleries (TRAC, The Design Gallery, One of a Kind Gallery, and Penland Gallery), work with professional artists in their studios, visit local arts organizations and schools, and document some of the artists participating in the TRAC June Studio Tour. Also, they will be expected to attend artist targeted craft business classes sponsored through TRAC’s partnership with the Small Business Center of Mayland Community College and Handmade in America. By the end of their apprenticeship, they will develop their own business plan.
This is a special project for special young adults. The diversity is wide. Three will be attending Penland School of Crafts on scholarship this summer; three have attended some sort of school for the arts and although studied in art history and fine art, have little in the way of business acumen. And one wants to delve into landscape architecture.
Several weeks ago, project coordinator, Cassie Floan met with individual artists. She invited them to partner in the TRAC Arts Apprentice Program. Ten local clay and glass, wood, metals and design artists volunteered to share their knowledge with these young adults. The nine apprentices will spend time working as their assistants, learning the back end of being a professional artist in this area and working hands-on with them. Some of the match ups Cassie made seemed serendipitous. Tanner Buchanan, enthusiastic blacksmith-to-be and recipient of a scholarship to study with blacksmith Elizabeth Brim at Penland this summer, will apprentice with local blacksmith Paul Lundquist. Leaha Glover, another scholarship student in Kristin Tidwell’s class was thrilled to find out her Penland instructor is one of the artist volunteers. And ceramist, Michael Kline, had already been in contact with Sara Henson about future work possibilities, before Cassie approached him.
This is an opportunity for nine local young adults to learn about their budding passion—the arts. It is an opportunity for them to learn that career possibilities exist right here in their community. And it is an opportunity for them to learn about it all first hand. But, it doesn’t stop there. TAAP is an opportunity for established artists to share what they have learned through the years, and for a community to come together to help young residents find a place to work and live without having to leave “home”.
The apprentices from left to right: Ethan Peverall, Ashley McKenzie, Natalie Monaghan, Samia Phipps, Leaha Glover, Becca Burleson, Sarah Henson, Flynn De Bona, Tanner Buchanan.
The Toe River Arts Council is a non-profit organization committed to connecting the arts and the community. The TRAC Arts Apprentice Program was made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and the Yancey Fund. For more information about TRAC and its programs, please visit or call 828.682.7215.

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