If you’ve followed M&T for any amount of time, you know that we are zealous about pre-industrial craft. From furniture making to timber framing to chair-seat weaving to blacksmithing, we tend to get sucked into the rabbit hole of a given trade and try to learn all we can about it. The authors who write for the magazine are much the same, and we love to connect with new artisans or students of a discipline who excel in their particular field and are passionate about sharing their knowledge. Having fresh voices with unique viewpoints does wonders to breathe new life into the sometimes-dry realm of historical research.
Over the years, we have met many such individuals who are fired up about their particular area of study but may not have a way forward to pursue deeper investigation. They may want to look closely at a particular early maker or immerse themselves into a craft tradition practiced by their ancestors, but the cost of traveling to distant institutions or blocking out the time to line up interviews and research is prohibitive. The M&T Research Grant is for those passionate individuals.
The purpose of this business – why we do what we do – is “to cultivate reverence for the dignity of humanity and the natural world through the celebration of handcraft.” Joshua, Grace, and I have been brainstorming about how we can broaden the scope of this mission – how we can get more people in on the celebration part! We want to try to remove the hurdle of cost for those who want to pursue deeper knowledge of craft through research. So beginning in January 2021, we will begin accepting applications for the M&T Research Grant. Our plan is to award two grants per year, each for up to $3,000 depending on the nature and scope of study. Once a grant is awarded to a recipient, we will offer assistance to him/her in the research, which will culminate in an essay to be published in the magazine.
Readers, you can help promote this kind of opportunity for new voices. First off, spread the word: if you or someone you know has a fascination for Mongolian horse bows or Appalachian folk woodworking, this grant may be the means to dive deeper into that field and share that knowledge with others. Second, we’ve had a number of readers asking us how they can financially support the research of future authors, so as we begin this program we will be opening it up for supporters to donate. 100% of those donations will go directly to the Research Grant fund. Donors will receive regular updates about the research they are supporting, as well as a special wax-sealed trade card denoting their support of that year’s grant recipients. Note that this is not a tax-deductible donation; at present, we’ve found that setting this program up as a non-charitable corporate grant offers us the greatest efficiency and flexibility – we’re not inclined toward red-tape arrangements.
Next month, we will be sharing more about the program on our blog and email newsletter, so if you aren’t signed up to receive those in your inbox, you can do so here. Joshua, Grace, and I are extremely excited about offering this new opportunity in pre-industrial research, and we hope that you’ll consider supporting this work!