About the Apprenticeship Program

One of the primary ways the Virginia Folklife Program supports cultural traditions of the Commonwealth is through its Apprenticeship Program. Since 2002, we have supported 142 teams of artists from a wide range of communities and traditions by providing funding for a year-long, one-on-one learning experience and a platform to celebrate and share with the wider public. To date, the Virginia Folklife Program has supported 319 artists 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.  

  • $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 December 7, 2022 and is due April 9, 2023
  • Application and eligibility

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 made available on the Virginia Folklife YouTube channel in the fall. 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.  

By providing direct artist support, we seek to give new energy to living traditions, while both invigorating master practitioners and engaging new learners. The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program receives funding support from 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. (Washington: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 1991), p. 1.

Apprenticeship Teams

Artist Profiles
Sights & Sounds

Margarita “Tata” Sanchez Cepeda & Isha M Renta Lopez

Bomba Dance Bomba is, as Margarita “Tata” Sanchez Cepeda puts it, “all about love. I was taught under love, bomba is a form of love, and we continue to carry …

Sights & Sounds

D. Brad Hatch, David Onks IV and Reagan Andersen

Four years ago, Dr. D. Brad Hatch was one of just two members of the Patawomeck Indian tribe who knew how to weave an eel pot. Now Brad is teaching fellow tribal members David Onks IV and Reagan Andersen how to make eel pots as part of the Virginia Folklife Program’s 2022-23 Apprenticeship Program cohort.

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 …

The 2022-2023 Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Class

2023 marks twenty years of the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program! Established in 2002, the 2022-2023 cohort is the twentieth class of mentor artists and their apprentices.