Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program

Now accepting applications through April 7, 2024

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 individual 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


Individuals 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 team. Virginia Folklife Program staff collaborate with the mentor and apprentice 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, teams 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.  

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

Apprenticeship Teams

Artist Profiles
Sights & Sounds

Nelly Zapata & Paloma Zapata

The Beauty of Bolivian Dance A line of dancers wearing gold and red move in step, the tassels and beads of their costumes shaking. Black shields on their chests are …

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.

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.