RFP: Contract Fieldworker Position for the Northeastern Mississippi Hills Folklife Survey
- Published: January 12, 2023
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:
- Complete a fieldwork plan based on preliminary research
- Submit a travel plan and budget
- Conduct between 10-12 high quality audio and/or video interviews (preferably in-person) with accompanying photography for each identified artist
- Complete appropriate forms for each interview (audio log, photo log, interview release form)
- Schedule periodic check-ins with MAC staff
- Submit relevant fieldnotes
- Complete a final report that includes the following: contextual documentation of the region and the communities identified, next steps for continued work and relationship-building in the area, and any leads and/or contacts for future fieldwork
- Complete artist biographies for each of the artists interviewed (400-500 words) to be published on the Mississippi Folklife Directory website
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.
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:
- Resume or Curriculum Vitae
- Cover letter (500 words) that displays how the applicant’s skills, experience, and qualifications best prepare them for the contractor role
- A project proposal that includes a timeline for the completion of the work and a preliminary budget proposal (up to $10,000 total for expenses and fees)
- The budget proposal should include in-state travel expenses: [lodging up to $140 per night, car rental/gas expenses or mileage at the state rate of $0.625 per mile, and food per diem at $46 per day] and a fee for the completion of the contract deliverables.
- 3 professional references (include contact information and relation to applicant)
- 2 writing samples
- Examples of samples include: folklife/ethnographic documentation, field notes, artist profile, an essay based on an interview, traditional arts public programming text, and/or an essay related to a traditional arts/folklife topic
- 6 samples of documentary photography
- 1 excerpt of a recorded interview (3-5 minutes)
MAC will Provide Contractor
- Preliminary contacts in the region
- Forms for fieldwork (audio/photo logs templates and release forms)
- If needed, audio recorder and digital camera
- SD cards, external portable hard drive, batteries
- Reimbursements for travel expenses
- Contractor fee for completed and approved fieldwork and deliverables
How to Submit a Proposal and Deadline
Please submit all application materials to Folk & Traditional Arts Director, Maria Zeringue, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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: email@example.com / Phone: 601-359-6034)