Traditional Arts Programs for Students (TAPS)

TAPS provides community organizations (arts councils, schools, community centers) with funding for after-school programs that connect North Carolina students with local traditional artists. Students receive instruction in an art form that has deep cultural roots in their community, taught by experts utilizing traditional instructional techniques. Local county arts councils have often taken the lead in sponsoring TAPS programs.

North Carolina communities have always fostered shared artistic traditions. Indigenous arts such as carving, basket making and storytelling have characterized N.C. Indian communities for thousands of years. Five hundred years of immigration has introduced numerous traditional arts that distinguish communities of European, African and Asian descent. New traditional arts develop as communities interact and adapt to each other. The N.C. Arts Council supports the continued performance, transmission and appreciation of traditional arts throughout the state.

TAPS programs in mountain counties often call themselves JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians). JAM programs offer weekly instruction in banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin taught by regional traditional musicians. Each program serves from 20 to 60 students. JAM students frequently perform at community venues and are often invited to compete at fiddlers’ conventions. JAM programs are affiliates of

Other current TAPS programs include instruction in Seagrove’s famous pottery traditions, the ethnic arts practiced by the Haliwa-Saponi and the Lumbee Indian tribes, and the arts of the urban immigrant Korean population. Eastern N.C.’s Lenoir County hosts a jazz and funk TAPS program that utilizes instructors documented through the N.C. Arts Council’s African American Music Heritage Trails project.

All TAPS programs must meet basic requirements. Each program is expected to set yearly goals in the areas of program development, evaluation, local support, community connections, professional development and public communication.

Successful TAPS programs take place in communities that identify strong local arts traditions.  Community organizations must receive an invitation to submit an application for a TAPS program. Interested organizations should contact Folklife Program Director Sally Peterson.

Arts Council grant funds support qualified TAPS instructors and can be used for supplies such as musical instruments and art materials. Grant funds may contribute to transportation costs, entrance fees and administration. TAPS grants must be matched dollar for dollar.

Grant Application Assistance
North Carolina Arts Council staff are here to assist with grant applications. Visit our application assistance page for resources and grants staff contact information. 

For accessibility questions or accommodation requests, please contact the North Carolina Arts Council's Arts in Education Director & Accessibility Coordinator, Kathleen Collier, at or .

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Requirements for TAPS programs
TAPS Program Requirements

Additional Guidelines
Growing TAPS: The Commitment Program 
Fulfilling TAPS Goals

For more information, contact
Zoe van Buren
Folklife Director
(828) 250-3123