Apprenticeships ensure that cherished cultural traditions are passed along to future generations. Since 2002, the Virginia Folklife Program has provided support for mentor artists to provide one-on-one learning experiences to apprentices in all forms of Virginia’s traditional, expressive culture.

More than 150 master practicioner and apprentice teams—in art forms as wide-ranging as decoy carving, fiddle making, boat building, country ham curing, African American gospel singing, Mexican folk dancing, just to name a few—have received financial support and a public platform to help ensure that Virginia’s treasured folkways continue to receive new life and vibrancy.

The apprenticeships are more than “workshops” or “lessons.” The apprentices learn their chosen craft not in classrooms or lecture halls, but in their traditional contexts, calling upon the complete engagement of the senses, and a deeper appreciation for the many ways in which the traditional art form operates within its larger cultural landscape.

Join us for an upcoming screening of In Good Keeping in 2022, a feature-length documentary film introducing the artists in the 2021-2022 apprenticeship cohort. Upcoming events.

New Application Coming Soon!

We are making updates to the program as we mark its twentieth anniversary! Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship awards are available for 12-month apprenticeships. Beginning in 2022, qualified mentor artists will receive a $4,000 stipend and apprentices will receive $1000 to help offset the cost of travel and expenses. We are making some changes to our application, which we will open again in summer 2022. Sign up for our e-newsletter to receive future program announcements.

Past Application Requirements


The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program welcomes applications for apprenticeships in all forms of Virginia’s traditional, expressive culture. The master artist and apprentice should both be residents of Virginia. If one or both of the participants reside outside of Virginia, a compelling case must be made regarding the connection of the applicants to Virginia, and the importance of their proposed traditional skill to Virginia culture. It is also preferred, though not required, that masters and apprentices belong to the same cultural community.

Completing the Online Application

Part A is to be completed by the master artist, Part B is to be completed by the apprentice, and Part C is to be completed by both the master artist and the apprentice together. Please answer all questions as thoroughly as possible.

Support Materials

Both master artists and apprentices are strongly encouraged to include audio/visual and/or written support materials that speak to their abilities. Support materials will be returned at the conclusion of the review process only upon request, and only if a self-addressed USPS or UPS paid mailer is provided. Letters of recommendation that attest to the qualifications of the master artist are a critical component of the application review process. Hard copy items can be sent to:

Virginia Folklife Program
Re: Apprenticeship Application
946 Grady Ave. Suite 100
Charlottesville VA 22903

All applications must be submitted by March 1, 2022, though we encourage you to submit your application before the deadline.

If you have questions about the application or need assistance, please contact folklife@virginia.edu or call at (434) 924-3296.

Selection and Notification

The Folklife Apprenticeship Committee, comprised of regional folklife experts, will review each application based on the following criteria:

  • Traditional nature of the proposed art or skill
  • Expertise of the master artist
  • Demonstrated level of commitment by the master artist and the apprentice to the apprenticeship
  • Potential impact of the apprenticeship on the continued vitality of the tradition
  • Relevance and importance of the tradition to the cultural history of Virginia
  • Feasibility of work plan and the coherence of the overall apprenticeship

Applicants will be notified about the committee’s decisions by March 15, 2022.

Requirements and Payments

Teams accepted into the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program must:

  1. Attend the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase at the beginning and end of their apprenticeship. Lodging and mileage costs will be provided as needed. This event is a public celebration and recognition of Virginia’s Folk Masters and their apprentices. NOTE: because of the pandemic this is a shifting requirement.
  2. To receive the stipend, the master and apprentice each must register the University of Virginia, providing all W-9 information. Instructions for registering will be provided upon acceptance.

Accepted master artists will receive the first $1000 honorarium in August of 2022 and the second $1000 in April of 2023. Apprentices will receive $300 in April of 2023. (Payments are made based on availability of grant funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and UVA’s Office of sponsored programs.) 

Apprenticeship News

Sights & Sounds

Lemlem Gebray and Datta and Akeza Seyoum

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and Ethiopian beans are arguably some of the best in the world. As legend has it, coffee was first discovered by …

Sights & Sounds

Yara Cordeiro and Ruthie Lezama

Capoeira Starting in the 1500s, Brazilian plantation owners trafficked in enslaved Africans for free labor. In this brutal system, enslaved people worked to death on plantations that benefited of the …

Sights & Sounds

Horace Scruggs, Hannah Scruggs and Niya Bates

Horace Scruggs, his daughter Hannah Scruggs and historian Niya Bates are working together exploring family roots, and navigating the waterways themselves, on the rivers of central Virginia.

The Ingramettes and world-champion oyster shucking sisters Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon demonstrated their crafts at Venable Elementary School in Charlottesville on Friday, 2/17/17. They were at the school for the annual Soul Fest program.

Our cultural traditions have the power to inspire hope and strengthen our communities as Virginians.

This work has never been more important, and we’d be thrilled to have you make a gift.