Folk Arts Fellowship

NOTE: Grant applications are due on October 1, 2021. 

Click here to access the RISCA grant portal for individuals.

Click here to see grants awarded in 2019.

Folk Arts Fellowships provide support to individual artists who demonstrate the highest level of skill and accomplishments in their craft.

The folk arts are defined as those artistic practices which are community or family-based and express that community’s aesthetic heritage and tradition. The learning process is informal and is passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth, apprenticeship, and imitation.

All potential applicants to the Folk Arts Fellowship Program must contact Elena Calderón Patiño to discuss their application before the deadline. Applicants who need assistance completing an application and/or who require the assistance of an interpreter should contact also contact Elena by phone at (401) 222-6996 or by email at well in advance of the application deadline.

Artists seeking Folk Arts Fellowship support will apply online at

During months when the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will be 11:59 PM on the next business day. Late or incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Fellowship applications must be submitted online and all artistic support materials must be received online by the deadline. (Hard copy materials must be received in the RISCA offices by no later than 4:30pm on deadline date. Postmarks do not apply; materials postmarked by the deadline date but received on a later date will not be counted as part of your application.)

One application per year will be accepted from each individual applying in any Folk Arts category.


You must be A United States citizen or Green Card holder and a current, legal resident of the State of Rhode Island. You must have established legal residence in Rhode Island for a minimum of twelve consecutive months prior to the date of application and you must be a current legal resident of the State of Rhode Island at the time that grant funds are disbursed. Rhode Island State Law (§44-30-5) defines a “resident” as someone “who is domiciled in this state” or “who is not domiciled in this state but maintains a permanent place of abode in this state and is in this state for an aggregate of more than one hundred eighty-three (183) days of the taxable year. If an individual selected for a grant award is no longer a resident of the State of

Rhode Island when funds are to be disbursed, the grant award may be withdrawn. Applicants must be at least eighteen years of age. Students attending high school or students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in an arts discipline or an arts-related subject area at the time of application may not apply.

Only one Folk Arts Fellowship application is allowed per person per deadline. Individuals may not apply for a Folk Arts Fellowship and a Folk Arts Apprenticeship at the same deadline.

Folk Arts Fellowship applicants are ineligible to reapply for one fiscal year if they have received funding in this category for three consecutive years.

Past RISCA grant recipients may not reapply for RISCA funds unless all final reports for previous awards have been submitted.

RISCA staff, Council and their spouses and immediate relatives are ineligible to apply for RISCA funds.

Funding Considerations

The following conditions for funding apply to all Folk Arts Fellowship applicants:

One $5,000 Folk Arts Fellowship and one $1,000 Folk Arts Fellowship Merit Award will be granted each year. The Council reserves the right to increase or decrease either the amount or the number of awards granted in any given year.

Grants awarded by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts are provided by the Rhode Island State General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, on behalf of the citizens of Rhode Island. For that reason, Fellowship recipients must credit the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts on all printed material where funders and supporters are listed and on all printed programs.

All RISCA grant awards are contingent upon the availability of funds from the Rhode Island State General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Grant applications are considered on a competitive basis. No applicant is guaranteed funding at any level, even if all basic criteria have been met.

Review Process

All application materials are reviewed by staff to determine compliance with eligibility and submission requirements (see Eligibility section above and Supporting Document Requirements below). Council staff may call upon applicants or grantees to furnish proof of their eligibility.

An external review panel reviews each applicant’s proposal and artistic support materials. The panel will recommend a Fellowship Winner and a Fellowship Merit Award Winner. The panel is strongly encouraged to recommend awards, but reserve the right to decline to make a recommendation, if they feel that no application warrants a fellowship or a merit award.

The panel’s recommendations are presented to the Council for approval. Notification of grant awards will be made within eight to ten weeks of the application deadline.

Be aware that there is no guarantee that the process will move according to this schedule, and it may take more time to review and award grants at certain times of the year.

Once a grant has been awarded, applicants should understand that the grant processing procedure is lengthy. In some cases, grant funds may not be received prior to the start of a project. Applicants should be aware of this possibility and plan their cash flow accordingly.

Review Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of artistic quality, as defined by traditionality in the case of applicants for the Folk Arts Fellowship. Since panels assess Fellowship applications solely on the review of support materials such as manuscripts, images, and recordings, applicants should submit the best quality support materials possible. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that support materials are prepared and submitted adequately to RISCA for panel review.

How to Apply

Applicants must submit a completed Folk Arts Fellowship application online at, including:

  • One copy of the applicant’s resume or CV
  • Applicant’s biographical statement
  • Complete answers to the application questions
  • Required work samples as specified in the Support Materials section of the application

Support materials must be submitted online, with the exception of film and video which can be sent to the RISCA offices on disc or submitted as links to websites. All materials must be submitted online by 11:59pm on the deadline date or received hard copy in the RISCA offices by 4:30pm on the deadline date.

If you are mailing physical support materials to the RISCA offices, please include a self- addressed stamped envelope with sufficient postage if you wish for the return of these materials.

Support Material Requirements

Applicants should consult Elena Patino prior to the deadline for assistance in identifying and/or obtaining the appropriate support materials.

Submissions should reflect the artist’s most recent work, preferably work created within the last three years.

All work submitted for review must be complete and not a work-in-progress.

The applicant must be the primary creative force behind the work. Consequently, no other artist may submit the same piece as their own support material at this deadline or in any future RISCA application.

Support Materials or materials used as the basis for awarding a past Fellowship or Merit Award may not be used in a new application in any Fellowship category.

Applicants are eligible to apply in more than one Fellowship category provided they have a sufficient amount of work to submit entirely different artwork for each discipline. Different images of the same piece do not constitute different work.

Artists MAY submit the same support materials for a Fellowship and a Project Grant to Individuals.

Support materials may include:

  • Sound files or CDs of original compositions
  • Images of visual art pieces
  • Videos of performances
  • Video of the artist talking about their art form, why it’s important to the artist, and how the art form was learned
  • Letters of recommendation from the community, community leaders, testimonials about the importance of maintaining this traditional art form
  • Press or articles

Reviews, articles, writing samples, letters of support, testimonials from audience or community members, etc may be uploaded as PDFs or Word or text documents.

If you do not have a PDF converter, the online application system has a Fax to File function (left side bar) that allows you to fax document pages to a designated fax number that will convert them into a PDF. This PDF can be saved to your computer and then MUST BE uploaded to this application. Free PDF conversions are also available online.

PLEASE NOTE: The online system can upload images, text documents, video and audio in most formats, however, there is a 25 MB limit for ALL support materials combined. Video and audio work samples can be submitted as four copies of a CD or DVD, mailed or delivered to the RISCA offices no later than 4:30pm on deadline day. Video can also be submitted as a link to a site such as Vimeo or Youtube in the url lines in the Support Materials section of the online application.

A links to your artist website can also be submitted in the url line in the Support Materials section of the online application.

In the Support Materials List section of the application, you will upload a numbered list of all support materials you are submitting with your application (including website links). For artistic samples, please include title, materials, and year of completion. Also list letters of support and any additional materials.

Fellowship Award Requirements

Recipients must acknowledge their RISCA support in a prominent manner in all materials and announcements, both audio and visual related to the performance or exhibition of work created as a result of their support from RISCA. (e.g., “This project is supported in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts”.) Recipients must also display, in a prominent manner, the RISCA logo in association with the acknowledgment. Further detail regarding acknowledgement can be found at

Award recipients should also post events in Rhode Island that present their work (grant related and otherwise) to the RISCA Arts Calendar at

Final Report

All Fellowship and Merit Award recipients are required to submit a final report detailing their activities over the previous year within 30 days of the completion of the project or by no later than July 31, whichever comes first. Final forms are found with your original application in the online grants system:,.

All grantees are subject to periodic audit or review by RISCA or the State of Rhode Island and must retain fiscal records for a period of seven (7) years following completion of the grant period.

Tax Liability

RISCA recommends that individuals concerned about tax liability regarding their grant award follow the advice of their accountant.

Limits of Liability

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is not responsible for damage or loss of materials submitted to its office, whether or not such damage or loss is caused by negligence of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, its employees, or agents.

All supporting materials submitted must be duplications of work. No original or single editions of works will be accepted.

Support Materials will be mailed back to an applicant only if a self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage is provided (with the exception of manuscripts which will not be returned). Support Materials from applications without a self-addressed stamped envelope will be held for sixty (60) days following the award decision and may be picked up during normal business hours, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, at the Council offices. See the Assurances section at the end of the Fellowship application form for additional information regarding RISCA’s use of support materials from funded projects.