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RFP: Contract Fieldworker Position for the Northeastern Mississippi Hills Folklife Survey

RFP: Contract Fieldworker Position for the Northeastern Mississippi Hills Folklife Survey

Request for Proposals (RFP)

Northeastern Mississippi Hills Folklife Survey


Project Description and Goals

The Mississippi Arts Commission’s (MAC) Folk & Traditional Arts program seeks to hire a contractor to identify traditional artists and conduct ethnographic fieldwork in 9 counties of the Northeastern Hill Country region of the state. Those counties include Benton, Union, Pontotoc, Tippah, Alcorn, Prentiss, Lee, Itawamba, and Tishomingo counties.

This fieldwork survey is part of an ongoing effort by MAC to increase its presence in all counties of the state. MAC aims to expand its outreach more broadly in Northeastern Mississippi to increase access to its grant funds, networks and services to artists living and working in this region. An additional goal of this project is to identify and build relationships with traditional artists and community members who are interested in being a part of MAC’s in-person and online programs to increase awareness of the diverse traditional arts of Mississippi. Examples of this programming may include artist talks, pop-up exhibits, performances, featured essays in MAC’s online publication, Mississippi Folklife, and being a part of the Mississippi Folklife Directory website. This project is a first step in developing new and lasting relationships with artists in the Northeastern Hill Country to gain a deeper understanding of their communities and how MAC and the Folk and Traditional Arts program can best serve their needs.

About the Mississippi Arts Commission

The Mississippi Arts Commission was established in 1968 by the Mississippi Legislature as the official grants-making and service agency for the arts in the state. MAC provides funding and technical assistance for arts programming to artists, arts organizations, and educational institutions throughout Mississippi.

The Northeastern Mississippi Hills Folklife Survey is a project of MAC’s Folk & Traditional Arts program and is funded by the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Folk & Traditional Arts Director, Maria Zeringue, will manage the fieldwork contract.

Scope of Contract Work

A successful project will include the identification and documentation of 10 to 12 traditional artists residing in the 9 counties of the Northeastern Hill Country of Mississippi. At least a third of the artists documented should include underrepresented and emergent traditional art forms and communities.

The Contractor’s work will include the following tasks:

This work should be completed between February 27 and June 30, 2023.

Areas of Focus for Fieldwork

The contractor should consider the following folklife genres when conducting fieldwork. These areas of focus serve as a guide. The contractor is not required to document artists and communities in all genres mentioned here: Craft, Visual Arts, Music and Performance, Foodways, Custom/Rituals, Belief Traditions, Occupational Traditions, and Folklife and Civil Rights. 

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate should have a degree in folklore or a related field such as anthropology, ethnomusicology, history, humanities, southern studies, etc. As a substitute for a degree in folklore or a related field, the candidate should have at least 3 years’ experience in community documentation and/or oral history work. Applicants should have prior knowledge of folklife/ethnographic documentation techniques. Experience and proficiency operating a computer, audio recording equipment and a digital camera is required.  

The contractor must be an excellent communicator (verbal and written) and possess the interpersonal skills required to actively listen, connect with new people, and carry out the interview process. As this project will require self-guided tasks, the ideal candidate must be self-motivated and organized.

Proposal Submission Requirements

To successfully apply for this contract position, proposals should include the following materials:

MAC will Provide Contractor

How to Submit a Proposal and Deadline

Please submit all application materials to Folk & Traditional Arts Director, Maria Zeringue, via email ( Email Subject line should be FOLKLIFE SURVEY CONTRACT.

The deadline to submit a proposal is Feb 8, 2023, at 11:59 pm.

For more information about this position, please contact Maria Zeringue. (Email: / Phone: 601-359-6034)

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