Folklife is community life and values, artfully expressed in myriad forms and interactions. Universal, diverse, and enduring, it enriches the nation and makes us a commonwealth of cultures.

Mary Hufford, American Folklife: A Commonwealth of Cultures, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 1991

Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program

The Virginia Folklife Program invites people who are experienced in a cultural tradition to consider teaching another community member through the Folklife Apprenticeship Program. We provide funding for an artist who is considered a master of a tradition to train an apprentice of their choosing. Projects in music, dance, crafts, community storytelling, cultural reclamation, traditional healing, agriculture, foodways, and specialty trades are all welcome.

Since 2002, we have supported 147 teams from a wide range of communities and traditions by providing funding for a year-long, self-designed learning experience and a platform to their work with the wider public. To date, the Virginia Folklife Program has supported 330 people practicing traditions as wide-ranging as custom car bodywork, draft horse training, different kinds of cooking, baking and preserving, gunsmithing, auctioneering, instrument building, along with music-making and dancing in styles as wide-ranging and diverse as Virginia’s communities.  

Award Details

  • $5000 is awarded per team for a 12-month apprenticeship (mentor artists receive $4000; Apprentice artists receive $1000; additional funding may be available for supplies) 
  •  2023-2024 cohort application opens November 1, 2023 and is due Sunday, April 7, 2024
  • Application, eligibility and more information


Artists who are masters of a folkway work with an apprentice (or sometimes, more than one) over the course of a year to share cultural knowledge and skills. The specific places, times, and learning outcomes are defined by the artist team. Virginia Folklife Program staff collaborate with the mentor and apprentice artist to document their experience and share the story of the tradition through a short film. These films are screened in-person at select venues around Virginia in the summer and are published on the Virginia Folklife YouTube channel. By participating in the Apprenticeship Program, artists also have the opportunity to be part of other public programs presented by Virginia Folklife, including the annual Richmond Folk Festival.  

The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program is supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts Folk Arts Program.  

Apprenticeship Teams

Artist Profiles
Betty Vornbrock is seated next to Sharon Andreucci who is standing in Vonrbrock's music room, surrounded by colorful tapestries and instruments on the walls.Sights & Sounds

Betty Vornbrock & Sharon Andreucci

Betty Vornbrock of Hillsville has spent the last year teaching Sharon Andreucci of Galax old-time fiddle tunes—particularly repertoire played by Appalachian women.

Sights & Sounds

Bernadette “B.J.” Lark and Alanjha Harris

As a mentor artist in our Apprenticeship Program, B.J. Lark of Roanoke, Virginia, has spent the last year teaching 18-year-old Alanjha Harris the soul-stirring power of Gullah Geechee-style gospel singing.

Sights & Sounds

Kazem Davoudian & Alexander Sabet

Kazem Davoudian of Sterling, VA, is an experienced Ostad (master artist, in Farsi) of Iranian classical music. He is teaching Alexander Sabet of Washington, DC, how to play the tar, a traditional long-necked string instrument.

The 2023-24 Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Class

The Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities has awarded five teams of artists Folklife Apprenticeships for 2023–24.