Four Maine artists have received the title of Traditional Arts Master through the Maine Arts Commission’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program.

Through their work, these masters seek to preserve Maine’s cultural traditions by teaching apprentices in the coming year. Each received $4,000 to facilitate handing down Maine’s traditions to a new generation.

The four masters are:

• Ellen Gawler, a fiddler and caller from Belgrade;

• Harry Richter, a violin maker from Waterville;

• Brian Theriault, a snowshoe maker from Fort Kent;

•  Cindy Larock, a Franco stepdancer from Lewiston.

Many of these practices are rooted in a long-standing sense of place, community and cultural identity. Master traditional artists seek to share this understanding of their culture with their apprentices.

Such an exchange is learned informally through example or imitation rather than formal academic training, and can take many forms including vocal and instrumental music, folk and ethnic dance, instrument making, dance, storytelling, crafts and occupational traditions such as boat building, chainsaw carving and sail making.

For more information about the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program, go online to